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This is an excerpt from an article about a German citizen who was elected mayor of a town named in the text "Die Stadt Temeswar" which is not in Germany.

The question is who has mixed origins (German and Jewish) the town or its new mayor, Dominic Samuel Fritz?

Bürgermeister, der ganz Europa in einer Stadt fand. ... Für den neuen Job gab der 37-jährige Politik- und Verwaltungswissenschaftler, der Studienaufenthalte in den USA, Großbritannien und Frankreich absolvierte, eine Karriere in Deutschland auf: Er war zeitweilig bei den Grünen engagiert gewesen und hatte von 2016 bis 2019 für Ex-Bundespräsident Horst Köhler gearbeitet, zuletzt als Büroleiter. In der EU dürfen auch Einwohner, die keinen Pass des jeweiligen Landes haben, zu Wahlen antreten. In Temeswar mit seinen deutschen und jüdischen Wurzeln und seinem Sprachengemisch habe er begriffen, sagte Fritz seiner ehemaligen Heimatzeitung, dem Schwarzwälder Boten, "was Europa ist". Er spricht mittlerweile akzentfrei Rumänisch und hat als passionierter Musiker, der Cello und Klavier spielt, einen beliebten Gospelchor begründet. Als eines von acht Kindern habe er, so Fritz, in der Großfamilie kämpfen, verhandeln und Niederlagen einstecken gelernt, das habe ihn zum Politiker gemacht. (source: https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/profil-dominic-fritz-1.5049943)

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There is a simple grammatical reason that makes the given sentence unambiguous.

In Temeswar mit seinen deutschen und jüdischen Wurzeln und seinem Sprachengemisch hat er begriffen, was Europa ist.

The bolded phrase occurs in first position (Vorfeld; grammis), which means that the phrase functions as a single grammatical unit — in this instance, a prepositional phrase describing a location, with the comitative phrase mit seinen deutschen und jüdischen Wurzeln und seinem Sprachgemisch modifying Temeswar.

If the comitative phrase is to be understood as referring to the person, it has to be split off from in Temeswar.

Mit seinen deutschen und jüdischen Wurzeln hat er in Temeswar begriffen, was Europa ist.

In Temeswar hat er mit seinen deutschen und jüdischen Wurzeln begriffen, was Europa ist.

Was Europa ist, hat er mit seinen deutschen und jüdischen Wurzeln in Temeswar begriffen.

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  • 1
    This is the better answer, and should be accepted. +1 for making clear and explaining that the sentence is actually not ambiguous. The other answer and its comments might contribute to the wrong impression that there would be ambiguity. Oct 31 '20 at 19:09
  • Your answer is highly technical and likely, in a short time, I will select it. However, the ethnic distribution of the population in that town, Temeswar, is this: Romanians=259,754; Hungarians=15,564; Roma=2,145, Other ethnic groups=13,137 ( Source: citypopulation.de/en/romania/timis/_/155243__timi%C8%99oara ).
    – Filmora
    Nov 2 '20 at 9:59
  • @Filmora I assume the impression is more based on history than on the present. See Wikipedia.
    – David Vogt
    Nov 2 '20 at 21:18
  • According to data from 1774, the population of the Banat of Temeswar (the town and the surrounding region) was composed of: Romanians = 220,000; Serbs and Greeks = 100,000; Germans = 53,000; Hungarians and Bulgarians = 2,400; Jews = 340. (see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banat_of_Temeswar) Germans formed an important group then but the number of jews was insignificant. Temeswar does not have jewish origins.
    – Filmora
    Nov 2 '20 at 22:17
  • @Filmora The article linked previously by cbeleites seems to suggest otherwise: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judentum_in_Timi%C8%99oara (But the grammar is clear either way.)
    – David Vogt
    Nov 2 '20 at 22:36
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Two items suggest, that the town is intended here:

  • ...und seinem Sprachgemisch... It is difficult to imagine, that applies to a single person.
  • mit seinen deutschen und jüdischen Wurzlen directly follows the town name, while Fritz is placed in a different subordinate clause.

I admit, it is somewhat difficult to recognize.

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  • Besides German, Dominic Samuel Fritz is fluent in a few other languages and he can switch between them during a discussion. Can "und seinem Sprachgemisch" refer to his polyglotism or not?
    – Filmora
    Oct 30 '20 at 22:14
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    @Filmora: No, Persons don't have a Sprachengemisch, but eventually a Mehrsprachigkeit. Oct 30 '20 at 22:45
  • no. Temeswar being neutrum here, and the forms seinem and seinen, which would be the same for m., contribute to the perceived ambiguity. Sprachgemisch allows for no other interpretation; this answer is correct.
    – dlatikay
    Oct 31 '20 at 12:18
  • Besides, Temeswar does have some German (de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donauschwaben) and Jewish (de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judentum_in_Timi%C8%99oara) history and while the wikipedia page about de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominic_Fritz does not mention his religious roots, no "connections" to Jewish institutions are mentioned - he seems to be more closely aligned with Roman-catholic institutions (Jesuit school, volountary social year with a Jesuit organization - AFAIK, Jews may attend Roman-Catholic schools, but the likelihood is of course on the side of attendants being Roman-Catholic) Oct 31 '20 at 14:56
  • 1
    The answer of David Vogt is better, because it makes clear that there is actually no ambiguity in this sentence. Your answer leaves some space for interpretation that there might be ambiguity which there is not. Oct 31 '20 at 19:10

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