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Something you will often find is a phrase like:

original italienisches Eis

What kind of word is original here though? An adverb? Shouldn't this phrase be one of the following?

original-italienisches Eis
originales italienisches Eis

You never say the latter and never see the former though. Is this a case of a very common “Deppenleerzeichen” or is it me who is the “Depp”?

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    Maybe this explains some of the confusion: In English most adverbs are marked by ‑ly while adjectives are not inflected. If an adverb modifying an adjective cannot be recognised as such (e.g., fast), you would use a hyphen to indicate that the adverb modifies the adjective and not the noun. For example fast-growing group (schnell wachsende Gruppe) vs. fast growing group (schnelle wachsende Gruppe, here the group is fast and growing, but not fast-growing). In German distinction is easy, since adjectives are inflected and thus recognisable as such. – Wrzlprmft May 15 '13 at 8:40
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    (Which makes this one of the rare cases, in which the Deppenleerzeichen phenomenon is reversed, i.e., a hyphen is used in English, but a blank is used in German.) – Wrzlprmft May 15 '13 at 8:42
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The function of adverbs is to qualify verbs, adverbs or - as in this example - adjectives. Adverbs do not have any inflexion.
If original would be an adjective, describing the noun, only then this word had to be adapted to indicate number, case etc.

That said, originales Eis would describe Eis as original which, obviously, is not what this sentence intends to convey.

In this particular phrase, original specifies italienisch to convey that the ice cream is genuinely Italian style.

For that reason, it's correct to say original italienisches Eis.

One thing left, what's about original-italienisches Eis. Here again, as a compound adjective original describes the noun which is not the intended sense.

  • "originales Eis would describe Eis as original which, obviously, is not what this sentence intends to convey" - it's actually not that obvious. original might refer to the substance, but it could just as well refer to the recipe. Just as original italienisch could mean that the ice cream was physically shipped from Italy. Lastly, your claim about original-italienisch sounds rather questionable to me. – O. R. Mapper Oct 2 '17 at 11:36

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