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Why is it "Humboldt Forum" and not "Humboldt-Forum"?
"Humboldt" is not an uninflected adjective like "Pariser" or "Deutscher" is, which would make it okay to be used like this. The capitalization makes sense of course, since it belongs to the name. But it seems to be part of a compositum, and these need hyphen, I thought?

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4 Answers 4

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"Humboldt Forum" is a proper noun selected by the sponsor - the Federal State. Proper nouns don't necessarily need to follow rules, and, for some reason (to be "more international"), the founders chose not to:

Wie der Sprecher der verantwortlichen Stiftung am Mittwoch auf dpa-Anfrage mitteilte, hat der Stiftungsrat in seiner Frühjahrssitzung die im Englischen übliche Schreibweise mit zwei Hauptwörtern ohne Bindestrich offiziell festgelegt. Auch in den Architekturbeton an der Ostfassade ist das inzwischen so eingemeißelt: Humboldt Forum.

"Steinharte Germanisten halten das im Deutschen für nicht zulässig", so der Sprecher. "Aber es steht auch für den internationalen Anspruch, den das Projekt hat." Das Kulturzentrum, das an die Brüder Wilhelm und Alexander von Humboldt erinnert, soll ein Ort der Weltkulturen und des internationalen Dialogs werden. Auch die als Bauherrin verantwortliche Stiftung wurde entsprechend umbenannt. Hieß sie früher "Stiftung Berliner Schloss - Humboldtforum", firmiert sie heute als «Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss".

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They do, but lately there is a strong and probably unstoppable trend to omit the hyphens just as English does. Even the NDR-Sinfonieorchester is now officially the "NDR Sinfonie Orchester". Almost certainly this will be considered correct in the near future.

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  • +1, aber das Orchester heißt jetzt "NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester". ndr.de/orchester_chor/elbphilharmonieorchester/orchester/…
    – HalvarF
    Jul 19, 2023 at 7:38
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    I think you're seeing the "unstoppable trend" a bit to hard. Had the Humboldt Forum been opened 10 years ago, it would most likely have a camel case denomination such as HumboldtForum, as that occurred to be the "unstoppable trend" of that time. Such stuff goes in and out of style a lot.
    – tofro
    Jul 19, 2023 at 7:43
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    i suppose we should be glad it's not the "NDR Elb Philharmonie Orchester". Jul 19, 2023 at 7:53
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    @tofro: I sure do hope such stuff goes in and out of fashion , as there is quite a difference between a "vielversprechender Politiker" and a "viel versprechender" Politiker" and I would like to use a language capable of expressing this difference. We have a "Haus Meister" and I wonder if this guy, perhaps related to Haus Habsburg or Haus Hannover, has a place in the succession to the english throne - and why he is cleaning the stairs.
    – bakunin
    Jul 19, 2023 at 14:37
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    @KilianFoth You have to wonder who this Phil Harmonie guy is, and where he’s got so many orchestras named after him. Jul 20, 2023 at 13:35
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Unfortunately (if you ask me) there has been a strong trend in recent years to forgo the rule that compounds like this have to either be written together or hyphenated and instead mimic the custom from English-speaking countries to just put a space in there. It's probably not too far-fetched to suppose that this has to do with the ubiquitousness of the internet and people's ever-growing familiarity with English that results from it.

I'm seeing other examples too where English spelling or grammar customs "spill over" into German, for example when giving year dates in a sentence, normally you would not use any kind of preposition with it: "2006 haben wir eine Reise durch die Slowakei gemacht." But since English does it, many Germans have also inadvertently (?) begun saying "In 2006 haben wir eine Reise durch die Slowakei gemacht".

So, to come back to your question, Humboldt Forum should definitely spell itself Humboldtforum or Humboldt-Forum, correct. But especially in business/advertising, English is still seen as THE way to make a product seem hip and state-of-the-art, so advertisers love using the spelling with a space in between. (And contrary to actual written texts, brands can spell themselves however they like, so it's not like anyone is gonna stop them.) It's catching on more and more to the point that compounds still spelled with a hyphen are starting to carry a distinctly old-timey feel, like, 80s or something. I don't like this development, but that's the way language goes, I guess. Let's see if Duden changes the rules in the next few years.

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  • This is, unfortunately, more of a rant than an answer.
    – tofro
    Jul 20, 2023 at 8:08
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Yeah, strictly speaking classic case of Deppenleerzeichen! According to German grammar rules for composite nouns, this is indeed wrong; there should be a hyphen.

However, as already noted, in names of institutions with an international profile this is increasingly common, and I think that the reason is that they want to use the same name in English (where the hyphon would seem clunky and unfamiliar) for international contacts and in German.

So really, the name should maybe be viewed less like a German-language expression and more like an English/international proper noun with German inspiration.

For other institutions with such names, see "Leibniz Universität Hannover" (Hyphen missing between first two words; this one really bugs me) or "Cornelsen Verlag" (who make textbooks for schools).

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