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As far as I understand, "Zusammenstellung" means a compilation, a grouping of something. That is what I gather from Duden, Wictionary, etc.

But in Linguee, it is also sometimes translated by "summary". To me, a "summary" is a completely different concept as a "compilation". Indeed, with a "summary" one would necessarily lose some substance, while a "compilation" contains the concept of exhaustivity, without losing any of the "elements".

Therefore: can the German word "Zusammenstellung" really mean "summary", or is it just a bad translation in Linguee?

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    Dict.cc lists "collocation" as the most frequent translation. This has a number of meanings in English, most rather technical, but none could be confused with "compilation" or "summary".
    – RDBury
    Dec 19, 2023 at 2:43
  • Wow, that is a strange one, I would never have thought to "collocation" for "Zusammenstellung"! Thanks RDBury for the reference! Dec 19, 2023 at 9:37

4 Answers 4

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In my feeling, "Zusammenfassung" and "Zusammenstellung" are clearly different, I don't see how context might influence this. "Zusammenfassung" = "summary" is about a reduced informational content (or it is a piece of text that has such a kind of content), while "Zusammenstellung" is a combination of things. The latter could also cover bits of information, but "Informationen zusammenstellen" does not entail that the result will be short. You might in turn want a summary for what you get from this Zusammenstellung.

PS: I've just noticed something: "Zusammenfassung" can also be used in a sense like "combination / Zusammenstellung" - e.g. "Inhalte zu einem eigenen Kapitel zusammenfassen" (grouping contents as a separate chapter). But this is not a problem for our question, for it doesn't work the other way round: "Zusammenstellung" still cannot mean "summary".

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    Thanks Alazon! Based on your explanations, I will prefer "Zusammenfassung" to express a "summary", and keep "Zusammenstellung" for "compilation"! Dec 18, 2023 at 14:48
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The question is difficult to answer without context - a concrete sentence or paragraph, where the word is used.

"Zusammenstellung" is a Verb (verb) made "*Nomen" (noun). The Verb is "zusammenstellen", which itself is a composite word: "zusammen" means "together" and "stellen" which means "to put" or "to position". "Zusamenstellen" means "to put together" (to compile, but sometimes also "to assemble") and a "Zusammenstellung" is the result of this - something which has been put together.

This is usually a "compilation" but sometimes what was put together might be an overview, a summary or similar things. This is why context is important.

So, in the general way you asked, your answer is: it depends. I hope to have made clear what actually it depends on.

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  • Thanks @bakunin for the explanation! Dec 19, 2023 at 9:39
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In contrast to what the currently accepted answer claims, there is at least one notable resource that suggests that a Zusammenstellung may be used to mean "summary": Here's what the DWDS provides as one of two meaning explanations for Zusammenstellung:

geordnete Übersicht

Beispiel: das Buch bringt eine übersichtliche Zusammenstellung der wichtigsten Forschungsergebnisse

The provided example clarifies that in this sense, a Zusammenstellung is not just a compilation of all relevant findings, but a condensed compilation of only the most important ones – or in other words, a summary of the most relevant findings.

Note, however, that Zusammenfassung and Zusammenstellung are still not fully synonymous. A sentence like Ich gebe dir mal eine Zusammenstellung des Films von gestern ("I'll give you a summary of yesterday's movie") is very unidiomatic, while Zusammenfassung would be fully acceptable here. My suspicion is that Zusammenstellung can be used to mean "summary" in academic genres in particular (as in the DWDS example), but not in more general contexts.

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    The difference here is: "Zusammenfassung" means to create a new shortened version of the original content (like a summary) and "Zusammenstellung" means to create a collection of the original content (possibly omitting some parts).
    – allo
    Dec 20, 2023 at 0:13
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    @allo: I'm not sure that your distinction will always be valid. Taking the DWDS example, I find it difficult that the intended meaning is that there's a whole book just containing the abbreviated collection of original content. But regardless of that, I'm fairly sure that both meanings can be subsumed under the English word "summary".
    – Schmuddi
    Dec 20, 2023 at 0:41
  • Thanks Schmuddi for your answer! The first & second paragraphs of your answer look a bit strange though, I think you wrote "Zusammenfassung" when you actually meant "Zusammenstellung", oder? Dec 20, 2023 at 9:27
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    @SylvainGadenne: You're absolutely right, what a stupid oversight. I'll fix that straight-away.
    – Schmuddi
    Dec 20, 2023 at 12:09
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It doesn't mean the same thing. I don't know how Linguee works, but it may have found some documents where people put "Zusammenstellung" at or near the end of the document. If I found that at the end of certain documents (Think receipt type documents with a list of line items), I might very well interpret it as a type of summary. But I don't think it's conventional.

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    Thanks Robse for your answer! Dec 20, 2023 at 14:29

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