4

In an article from the Neue Zürcher Zeitung I read:

An mehreren Orten wurden gleichzeitig Hausdurchsuchungen durchgeführt und Fahrzeuge sichergestellt, wie die Kantonspolizei am Dienstag mitteilte.

I am confused about the usage of "wurden [...] durchgeführt" and, by analogy, "wurden [...] sichergestellt".

If I understand correctly, this is in the Indikativ Präteritum in the passive voice; but the journalist is here reporting a communication from the police, so I would expect the Konjunktiv I to be used instead.

Why is it not so? I can think of a few possible reasons:

  • Peculiarity of Swiss usage -- although, as far as I know, the NZZ is considered to have good standard German style
  • "Seien [...] sichergestellt worden", although technically more correct, is simply too verbose
  • No need for Konjunktiv I because the sentence makes it clear already that it's reported speech
  • Konjunktiv I is simply not used in the passive voice
  • This is not "reported speech" because the "Mitteilung" from the police was likely a written message instead of anything oral
4

Your example is not indirect or reported speech.

The part after the comma (shortend: »wie die Polizei mitteilte«) is a »Konjunktionalsatz« (subjunctional clause). It starts with a subjunction (in German: unterordnende Konjunktion), the subject comes immediately after it, and the verb is at the end. Separable verbs are not separated. So, the part before the comma is the main clause and it is a normal statement. This is not how reported speech is constructed. On a semantic level we have:

  • before the comma:
    A statement. What is said in the sentence is a fact. This happened really. So you have to use indicative mode.
  • after the comma:
    A conditional clause that provides information about the source of the statement.

But you can convert this sentence into reported speech:

An mehreren Orten seien gleichzeitig Hausdurchsuchungen durchgeführt und Fahrzeuge sichergestellt worden, teile die Kantonspolizei am Dienstag mit.

Here, the part before the comma uses Konjunktiv I. But you also can have the second part before the first, and then you get the most often used pattern for reported speech:

Die Kantonspolizei teilte am Dienstag mit, dass an mehreren Orten gleichzeitig Hausdurchsuchungen durchgeführt und Fahrzeuge sichergestellt worden seien.

Now it is more obvious, that the whole clause about house search and vehicles that starts with »dass« is an object of the clause about the police's announcement. It is an »Objektsatz« (object clause) because the whole clause is there instead of an accusative object. (Was teilte die Polizei mit?)

6

This is a common figure in journalistic writing. They say what has happened in indicative, and then name their sources in an appended clause like "wie [Quelle] mitteilte".

Note that grammatically, this is not reported speech, because "wie die Kantonspolizei am Dienstag mitteilte" is the subordinate clause while the reported facts are in the main clause. Reported speech would have the contents of speech in a subclause, like this:

An mehreren Orten seien gleichzeitig Hausdurchsuchungen durchgeführt und Fahrzeuge sichergestellt worden, teilte die Kantonspolizei am Dienstag mit.

Semantically, the indicative form signals more trust in what is reported that the Konjunktiv indirect speech form. The newspaper seems to trust the police report with the fact that searches have taken place and cars have been seized, so they don't bother with indirect speech. For more delicate statements of the police they would possibly be more careful and decide to use reported speech using Konjunktiv.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.