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There is a way to "abbreviate compound words" in german, for example "Sitz- und Liegefläche", where "Fläche" is part of both words. What is this grammatical construction called? And are there rules for how to write them (is "Sitz und Liegefläche" correct as well?)

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  • I don't know the grammatical jargon, but I do know how to search for examples in the DWDS usage database. The German Wikipedia article may help with the terminology.
    – RDBury
    May 6, 2022 at 13:30

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There is no such specific, grammatical term, as this is a typographical construction. The term then is Ergänzungsbindestrich. When talking about grammar, "Syngraphem" would be closest, but this is broader then mere hyphens.

The typographical category of "Ergänzungsstriche" is used in composite and derivative words in place of the common part. When used in the way you mention, they're called "Ergänzungsbindestriche".

A fun example for doubled use of said hyphen is

Laserstrahlschmelz-, -brenn- und -sublimierschneiden

where both the lead (hyphens 2 and 4) and the head (hyphens 1 and 3) are supplemented by hyphenation of this kind.

Warenein- und -ausgang

is another, actually quite famous example.


As for the rule: omissions of this kind are generally allowed whenever the supplemented part is common in all words. This can be a prefix, the stem or, althout with caution, a suffix, and the span can be drastically long, over several lines; they can even include futher usage in between. Also, when context in unambigious, there is some leeway, e.g. " Grün- und andere Spechte".

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  • "Grün- und andere Spechte" appears marginal to me. The meaning is clear, but it sounds parodistic. May 7, 2022 at 12:38
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I don't know of any special term for that sort of construction. The dash in "Sitz-" is definitely necessary and "Sitz und Liegefläche" would be wrong - or, rather, meaning something else.

"Sitz" (about: "sitting place", not necessarily a chair, but something serving the same purpose. The "Sitzfläche" of a chair, for instance, is the part where you put your behind, in contrast to the other parts, i.e. arm rests, etc.) is a word itself and "Sitz und Liegefläche" would then be iterating a list of things (a "Sitz" and a "Liegefläche"). "Sitz- und Liegefläche" is also iterating, but the things iterated are a "Liegefläche" and a "Sitzfläche" instead.

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