Consider the following sentences, which could have appeared as such in academic texts:

Obiges Zitat ist aufschlussreich. Genanntes Beispiel hilft uns weiter. Besagte Theorie wurde schon längst widerlegt.

These sentences turn ungrammatical as soon as we remove "obiges", "genanntes" or "besagtes". Furthermore, the noun phrases are definite (in contrast to, say "honey"). This leads to the conclusion that the leading words of the sentences ain't adjectives but determiners.

I believe it is a curious feature that German has a set of determiners (thus, grammatical words) that are derived from adjectives and only occur in literal and formal language. Something similar is the case for 'aforesaid' in English, compare Wiktionary.

  1. Is there academic work on this?

  2. How did these forms evolve?

PS: I just noticed to following description of the tag 'article' : "An article is a word that precedes a noun and determines its gender." It should be known that this is nonsense.

  • The tag wikis are, um, wikis.
    – chirlu
    Jul 31, 2013 at 1:52
  • I'm not sure I totally follow your logic, starting with the sentences becoming ungrammatical by removing the lead words. Can you explain that? Also, "obig" is the only true lead adjective whereas "genannt" and "besagt" are technically participles acting as adjectives, so your examples seem to be a mix of types for what you seem to be asking. Regardless, they are functioning as if an indefinite article preceded them and don't determine the nouns' genders themselves. Can you please clarify a little further what you're asking? Maybe I'm missing something here. :)
    – Kevin
    Jul 31, 2013 at 5:13
  • 2
    Actually, at least Genanntes Beispiel hilft uns weiter is ungrammatical to me, too. I guess it is just that some people drop das out of parsimony.
    – chirlu
    Jul 31, 2013 at 5:40
  • 1
    Frankly speaking, those sentences don't seem as they could have appeared in academic text but rather headlines. In an academic text there definitely would be a definite article preceding them. "Das obige Zitat" "Das genannte Beispiel" "Die besagte Theorie". And in a headtitle, you can do this with every adjective.
    – Em1
    Jul 31, 2013 at 7:09
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    Statt in einer akademischen Arbeit würde ich besagte Formulierungen eher in Beamten- oder Juristendeutsch vermuten. Jul 31, 2013 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


I think that you are missing out on one aspect of German grammar as a whole. Nouns do NOT always need a determiner.

  • Rotwein passt nicht gut zu Fisch.

So we have 3 possible arrangements:

  • definite determiner - adjective (or other descibing stuff) - noun
  • indefinite det. - adjective - noun
  • empty - adjective - noun

That is why there are 3 declension tables for German adjectives. And it doesn't matter which adjective we are talking about. It works with lexical adjectives as well as with derivatives. So what you found are 100% rule compliant examples. Here are 2 more examples:

  • Roter Wein passt gut zu rotem Fleisch.
  • Großer Hund wird von mutig agierendem Mann von frisch gebauter Autobahn getragen.

The second example does sound like a headline and an ugly one at that. But it is correct anyway and it uses the whole variety of what is possible.

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