4

Dictionaries now have to list it under 'B', along with a number of "new" verbs such as 'beiseitelegen, beiseitestellen/drängen/schubsen/ziehen/führen etc etc. Eradicating the previously official gap between 'beiseite and a following past participle, infinitive or verb in the end position is essentially a spelling change, so why pretend that a whole new set of verbs has been created? Moreover, the gap between a grammatical 'zu' and any of these infinitives also has to be eradicated if 'beiseite' is added, so that it seems to act as a conglomerating agent to produce 'beiseitezuschieben'. As a perfectly normal adverb it should be treated in the same way as 'nachhause', which has not (as yet!) been used to create dozens of new verbs to clog up the 'N' section of our dictionaries.

4
  • 9
    I disagree at step one: beiseiteschieben is not new, see this math book from 1887 .
    – guidot
    May 13 at 9:20
  • ... but only officially recognised as correct since 2006 according to my sources .... ?
    – Georg
    May 15 at 8:26
  • 1
    The key point here (imho) is that the reform from 2006 reversed several questionable decisions of the reform from 1996, restoring rules in charge before 1996. The state before 1996, however, was that not every rule was written down explicitly (which was one of the reasons that the reformers thought that the reform was necessary).
    – Holger
    May 15 at 11:13
  • 1
    Found a reference to back up my assumption: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Holger
    May 15 at 11:19

2 Answers 2

7

There are a lot of misconceptions at work here:

the same way as 'nachhause'

"Nachhause" is in fact written "nach Hause". "Hause" here is a Dativ (with the old and nowadays mostly unused Dativ-ending "-e") and that is because the Dativ in German took over the function of one of the dropped Kasus in the Proto-Indo-European language, the Lokativ.

Eradicating the previously official gap between 'beiseite and a following past participle, infinitive or verb in the end position is essentially a spelling change, so why pretend that a whole new set of verbs has been created?

It is one of the distinct features of German to be able to create composites out of thin air. Sometimes these composites mean what their constituents suggest, sometimes - not quite. A "Putenschnitzel" is a "Schnitzel" made from "Pute(-nfleisch)", a "Rindsschnitzel" one made from "Rind(-fleisch)", etc. - but a "Kinderschnitzel" is made for, not from children.

Also notice the difference between composites written together or apart, e.g. "viel versprechend" (promising a lot) and "vielversprechend" (very promising). "Hausapotheke" is the medicine cabinet, whereas "Haus Apotheke" is the name of a noble dynasty, like "House Windsor".

Many times the resulting words won't be in any dictionary at all: if I'd speak about a (completely made up):

Verhüttungsabgasreiniger

every German speaker would understand what I talk about (a machine or material to clean the exhausts of smelting processes). From the translation you can see that English needs a complete multi-part phrase to accomplish the same.

And, finally, coming back to "Nachhause": there is e.g. the Nachhauseweg.

13
  • A little off topic, but how would you know what the difference between "viel versprechend" vs "vielversprechend" is, especially if you (somewhat) make it up on the spot? May 14 at 4:29
  • Also gory the classic Rapsöl, Olivenöl, Babyöl. Natural language simply is not orthogonal. In all reality, the joke works almost equivalently in English. Bitching about German compounds and then doing exactly the same thing but leaving the words separate just to confuse the reader and make parsing harder seems quite ... hypocritical ;-). May 14 at 11:27
  • @BlauKakaPOW: honestly - I can't explain and perhaps no native speaker can't either. I could say something like "the better you know German the better your ability to understand those will be" but that doesn't really explain anything (even though being true). See Peters comment below yours - language isn't orthogonal.
    – bakunin
    May 14 at 12:41
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica this native English speaker, at least, finds that spaces between the components of a compound make parsing easier, not harder (or, if you prefer, that a noun phrase or verb phrase is easier to parse than a long compound). But maybe that's why you winked. I occasionally misconstrue German compounds; for example, another answer mentions Fahrradsport, which I might read as Fahrrad + -s + Port. I imagine that if my German were better this would be less of a problem.
    – phoog
    May 14 at 15:12
  • @phoog: your example overlooks the fact that - by the rules of German "Fugenlaute" - a hypothetical word like "Fahrrad + Port" would be spelled "Fahrrad-port" and not "Fahrrad-s-port". A "Fugen-s" would simply be wrong here.
    – bakunin
    May 14 at 18:26
6

German dictionaries traditionally list all compounds when they are somewhat common, even if their meanings are obvious from its parts. As an example, duden.de has "Fahrradschloss, -schlüssel, -schnellweg, -sport, -stadt, -ständer". None of them have surprising meanings. If I recall correctly, all of these are usually in the same paragraph, starting with "Fahrrad" in the printed version.

So it is only consistent to do the same for the compounds with "beiseite".

As for why "beiseite" is treated differently from "nach Hause", we have, according to PONS, Rule 4.5:

Immer zusammengeschrieben werden Verben, die eine Verbpartikel als ersten Bestandteil haben, die auch den Hauptakzent trägt.

"Beiseite" takes the accent, "nach Hause" not not always.

I don't know what your definition of a word is, but given the definition of a word being something you write together, then it was the "spelling change" that created dozens of new words that unfortunately now "clog" up your "B" section. I mean, dictionaries can't just go and pretend these words don't exist.

3
  • How exactly would the stress distribution differ between beiˈseiteˌschieben and nach ˈHause ˌgehen? To me, they have identical stress patterns, which isn’t really surprising since they have the same origin: a verb modified by a prepositional phrase consisting of a preposition and a noun in the dative case. May 15 at 7:45
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Hm, in nach Hause gehen "nach Hause" takes the accent, that's right. Maybe the reasoning should be as follows: Because the meaning of "Seite" faded, bei Seite is beiseite and therefore a particle and the rule applies. In "nach Hause" there is no meaning difference. Furthermore, "nach Hause" does not always do that, like in nach 'Hause 'schicken.
    – Dodezv
    May 15 at 8:31
  • Dictionaries could simply indicate that 'beiseite' et. al. behave in the same way as 'Partikeln' (ab/an/ein/nach etc), instead of trying to list all the possible infinitive forms. In the 100 or more "verbs" beginning 'herum' listed in Collins, from 'herumalbern' to 'herumzigeunern' only one 'herum' means anything other than 'around/about'.
    – Georg
    May 15 at 9:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.