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In physics there is the term geradlinig gleichförmige Bewegung/geradlinige, gleichförmige Bewegung. I wonder what the correct variant is. In my understanding, the variant with comma

geradlinige, gleichförmige Bewegung

is correct, because the attributes geradlinig and gleichförmig are independant of each other. The rule says:

  • If the attributes have the same rank, a comma must be written.
  • If the attributes have different rank, a comma must not be written. If the attributes had different rank, there would be a difference in their order. But as they are independant, the order has no meaning. (Geradlinige, gleichförmige Bewegung means the same as Gleichförmige, geradlinige Bewegung)

Alas, must sources use the variant without comma

geradlinig gleichförmige Bewegung

So which one is correct?

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All variants are correct and possible:

geradlinige, gleichförmige Bewegung

gleichförmige, geradlinige Bewegung

As you correctly write, attributes have the same rank here.

However, in German you can also express by grammar, that they don't have the same rank in the context you are talking about.

geradlinig(e) gleichförmige Bewegung

"geradlinig" further specifies what kind of "gleichförmige Bewegung" you are referring to. You could use this if your topic are different kinds of "gleichförmige Bewegung".

gleichförmig(e) geradlinige Bewegung

"gleichförmig" further specifies what kind of "geradlinige Bewegung" you are referring to. You could use this if your topic are different kinds of "geradlinige Bewegung".

I think "geradlinig gleichförmige Bewegung" might be a bit more common because kids learn first about "gleichförmige Bewegung", which is assumed to be "geradlinig", but often not called that until "Kreisbewegung" is introduced.

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  • I think that *geradlinige gleichförmige Bewegung is wrong. If geradlinig is an attribute to gleichförmig, it is supposed to be geradlinig gleichförmige Bewegung (geradlinig would not be declined). Sep 11 '20 at 11:18
  • @jonathan.scholbach I think both are possible. In "geradlinig gleichförmig" we further specify "gleichförmig". In "geradlinige gleichförmige Bewegung" we further specify the "gleichförmige Bewegung". There is a nuanced difference in meaning. I'm sure both are correct but I don't know the technical terms for this.
    – Roland
    Sep 11 '20 at 11:21
  • I guess you are right. I didn't see the possibility that geradlinige could refer to the whole termn gleichförmige Bewegung. Sep 11 '20 at 11:24
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I disagree with previous answer and with your assumption, that geradlinig and gleichförmig are independent of each other, therefore I see no benefit in discussing their ranks.

I consider geradlinig gleichförmige Bewegung as a technical term (see Lexikon der Physik) and geradlinig on its own does not sufficiently clarify, what kind of movement you have.

Note, that according to Duden adding an adjective to a fixed term already having one adjective permits no comma.

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  • The link contradicts your answer. Its heading is already "geradlinige Bewegung".
    – Roland
    Sep 11 '20 at 11:09
  • Also, the technical term is "Translation".
    – Roland
    Sep 11 '20 at 11:09
  • I don't consider this an answer to the question. Even if it is a technical term, it still would need to be clarified why geradlinige, gleichförmige Bewegung should be considered wrong. I also miss an argument why you disagree with the reasoning of Ronald's answer, which seems fine to me. Hence I give -1 here. Sep 11 '20 at 11:15
  • Also it is pretty unclear what you mean by "sufficiently". This term seems to come out of the blue, because what is sufficient information, depends on context. So your argument, that the two adjectives cannot be (grammatically) independent, seems to be based on weak ground. Sep 11 '20 at 11:26

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