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I just came across "ich schnippte einen Flusen von meiner Bluse" in a novel. As Flusen is plural and in the accusative I'm guessing einen here means some or a few, possibly a colloquial expression?

But I thought ein could only be singular, and anyhow taking keine as a model it would be eine?


info: The novel is "Männer und andere Ballaststoffe" by Isabella Rau, I think it's set in Southern Germany, modern with lots of colloquial expressions

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    I know Flusen both as singular and plural of the word, although Duden only lists Fluse as singular. Dec 16 '20 at 17:30
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    Thanks, I didn't find Flusen in any dictionary - is it masculine? Then I would understand the grammar - hurrah!
    – David V
    Dec 16 '20 at 17:37
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    I also thought the singular is Flusen. Learned something today :)
    – choXer
    Dec 16 '20 at 18:02
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    @infinitezero Since the standard dictionaries (duden, dwds, wiktionary) only list die Fluse and not der Flusen I'd not close this question. It deserves an explanation on the colloquial/regional/... (?) use of *der Flusen", imho.
    – Arsak
    Dec 16 '20 at 18:44
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    In Bayern sagt man auch "die Kapuzn" (Einz.), allerdings ohne Geschlechtsumwandlung zum Maskulinum. Von Hatzius ("Die Echse") gibt es dazu auch einen Gag, den ich aber bei YT leider nicht finden konnte. Schlechte Verschlagwortung. Aber siehe auch "Eine Watschn", "Die Wiesn" usw. - vielleicht müsste "ein Flusn" auch ohne e geschrieben werden. Dec 16 '20 at 22:51
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The word Fluse/Flusen is one of the words, that exists in two variations. Here are other examples:

The feminine form ends with -e and is standard German in all regions where German is spoken.

The masculine form ends with -en and is not so frequently used as the female form. The further you go to the south, the more often you will hear the masculine form.

  • Karre(n)
    In Duden the word »die Karre« is marked as besonders mitteldeutsch, norddeutsch, »der Karren« as besonders süddeutsch, österreichisch

  • Socke(n)
    In Duden »die Socke« has no regional marker, but »der Socken« is marked as süddeutsch, österreichisch, schweizerisch

  • Zacke(n), Scherbe(n)
    same status as Socke(n)

  • Schraube(n)
    In Duden »die Schraube« has no regional marker, and »der Schrauben« is not listed at all, but it exists in Bavarian dialects and many dialect speakers (like the owner of the Viennese tool shop) even use it when they try to produce standard German

  • Fluse(n)
    Here is the situation similar to Schraube(n): The masculine version exists in Bavarian dialects and is not part of standard German. But still some people use it in a standard German context.

The density of masculine variations of words that match this pattern, is very high in Vienna. Maybe it is high elsewhere too, but I lived in Vienna for many years (1997-2016), and still visit this city approximately twice a week to meet friends (except now, during the corona lockdown), so I know the language spoken in Vienna very well.

And guess who else lives in Vienna? It is Isabella Rau, the author of the sentence in question. I didn't read her book »Männer und andere Ballaststoffe« (»men and other fiber«, »men and other ballast materials«), so I don't know if she willingly uses a language that is close to the colloquial speech of Vienna, of if she just used the word because she is more used to the masculine form than to the standard feminine form.


Addendum

About »die Fluse« being a Low German word. (Reaction to comments)

People in Austria are much more exposed to variations of German spoken in northern regions of Germany than People from Germany are exposed to Austrian specialities. Austria has 8.9 million residents, Germany has 83 million. So, the market for books and magazines is dominated by speakers of German German. Even books and magazines produced in Austria are not published in Austrian German, but in German German (with some extremely rare exceptions for books, but not a single exception for magazines).

So, when you are in Vienna and buy and read a book or magazine, then you always will be exposed to the vocabulary that is in use in Germany, including vocabulary that has its origin in Low German. It never happens the other way round: When you are in Hamburg and buy any available book or magazine, you will never ever be exposed to Austrian vocabulary.

This means, that almost everybody in Austria is fluent in two variations of German: The Austrian variation that is used to talk with other Austrian people which is our first language, and the German variation, that we use when we write. And sometimes, without any intention, we use words from one of both variations when we produce sentences in the other variation.

So, using a word that comes from Low German in a standard German text produced by a native speaker of the Viennese dialect (which belongs to the Bavarian dialects) is not so strange as it might seem at first glance.

About »der Flusen« not being listed in any dictionaries:

You also will not find »der Schrauben« or »der Noppen« in any dictionary, but they are still used in real life. Not to be listed in a dictionary does not mean that the word doesn't exist. Most dialect words are not listed. For example the very common word rean is not listed in any dictionary because it is not standard German but Bavarian.

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    This is wrong, the Low German word Fluse does, as is confirmed by dictionaries, not belong to one of those doublett words. Dec 16 '20 at 22:09
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    Is there a dictionary for dialects that supports the usage of "der Flusen"? I'd say that would further improve this answer.
    – Arsak
    Dec 16 '20 at 22:59
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    @BjörnFriedrich My conclusion so far is that 1) die Fluse has a Platt origin and is Standard German (thanks to your post) and 2) there seems to be a non-standard usage of der Flusen as well, apparently in southern dialects. I am asking for a dialect dictionary entry to back up the experience of several users. I wouldn't say your references are ignored. I assume, declaring der Flusen as plain wrong just because it's not standard German is too bold.
    – Arsak
    Dec 16 '20 at 23:28
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    I support the statement that "der Flusen" is a Bavarian / Austrian variant of "die Fluse". By the way, "ich schnippte eine Fluse von meiner Bluse" contains a rhyme - perhaps the author wanted to avoid that.
    – Paul Frost
    Dec 16 '20 at 23:53
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    @BjörnFriedrich: Bitte lies mein Addendum, dann sollte einiges klarer werden. Die Autorin des Satz lebt in Wien, daher ist es durchaus vernünftig, von einem Einfluss bairischer Dialekte auszugehen. Dec 17 '20 at 8:17
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… ich schnippte einen Flusen von meiner Bluse …

This is a typo. Die Fluse, meaning lint or fluff, is a feminine word of Low German origin (see e.g., DWDS, Wiktionary). In conjunction with the indefinite article, the accusative (singular) form is eine Fluse:

… ich schnippte eine Fluse von meiner Bluse …

My ancestors have spoken the Low German dialect Platt, and I have never heard anybody use a masculine variant der Flusen or einen Flusen.

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    Even though this may not be correct, many Germans (at least in my experience) still use "der Flusen". I have never heard "die Fluse". It may be that this is a regional difference.
    – choXer
    Dec 16 '20 at 19:14
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    I know both versions and was really surprised that only the female one is listed in the dictionaries. Maybe the genus and the ending were changed when more speakers without a Platt-background used the word.
    – Arsak
    Dec 16 '20 at 20:59
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    It is not a typo. It is a form that comes from Bavarian dialects. It is not standard German, but colloquial German in southern regions. Dec 16 '20 at 22:03
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    Schon interessant, wie irrelevant hier meine eigene Herkunft und Verweise auf Wörterbücher, die nichts anderes sagen, zu sein scheinen. Die Gemeinschaftsstandards von Stackexchange können ja dann in die Tonne. Frohe Weihnachten! Dec 16 '20 at 22:07
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    You are right, it is wrong, but it is not a typo. A typo has an unintentional character, but most likely the author wrote it as she was used to speak. I guess she is Austrian; see here "... Isabella Rau, die mit ihrem Sohn in Wien lebt". But at least she is accustomed to "österreichisch". And therefore Hubert Schölnast's explanation is sound: The OP will understand the reason for the use of "einen Flusen".
    – Paul Frost
    Dec 17 '20 at 0:14

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