Questions tagged [history]

For questions on the history of grammar, orthography, pronunciation and similar – with the main exception of word and phrase meanings, for which the etymology tag should be used.

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Specific cases for time indications, and their origin

German uses the accusative for definite time expressions, both for durations ("Ich mache es den ganzen Tag") and points in time ("Ich mache es nächsten Samstag"), and the genitive ...
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2 votes
2 answers
211 views

How did the German case system end up as it is?

How did the irregular German case system develop, specifically that the same article such as "der" occurs in different places in terms of gender and case, and there is no strict overarching ...
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3 votes
1 answer
180 views

Carl von Clausewitz in original German

Though I'm sure this is simpler than I'm making it I've been unable to find the German original of the Carl von Clausewitz quote Next to victory, the act of pursuit is most important in war. I don't ...
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Warum wurde"abend" in "Dienstag abend" früher klein geschrieben?

Seit der Rechtschreibreform 1996 werden Fügungen aus Wochentag und Tageszeit zusammen geschrieben: Dienstag + Abend = Dienstagabend Die Überlegung hinter dieser Regel scheint zu sein, dass die ...
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3 answers
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Streusel-Schnecke oder Schneck? [closed]

Backt mich auf bitte, eine Streuselschnecke hat ja keine Schneckenform. Ähnliche Snacks, die eine derartige Form doch aufweisen, möchten wohl augenfällige Wortspiele sein. Was war zuerst, die Schnecke ...
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1 answer
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Origins of the unified German declensions chart?

In this website , a chart is provided which when combined with the rules to it, one can derive all the other standard declension chart. Here is a picture of the same: However, the only other place I'...
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2 votes
1 answer
124 views

Dialect that voices "achtzig" as "achtlig" or "achtling"

About 25 years ago I was traveling in a remote part of Graubünden, Switzerland, and I noticed at a kiosk that the elderly woman behind the counter voiced multiples of ten as ending in "lig" ...
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2 votes
1 answer
337 views

Why is the section sign (§) placed so prominently on the QWERTZ layout of keyboards?

Today I noticed, that in the past decades, until today, I never typed § (Shift+3) even once in my life intentionally as part of a sentence. However @ (Alt Gr+q) and € (Alt Gr+E) I need fairly often in ...
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4 votes
3 answers
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How did präteritum come to be primarily used in writing and mostly unused in everyday speech?

As a native English speaker learning German, one thing that has caught my imagination is the Präteritum. The idea of a tense which you mostly don't really say (with a few exceptions such as sein, ...
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1 answer
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Help translating the old German word hewrigenn

I'm digging into old German cookbooks from 1400-1600 and I came across the following book. Kochbuch des Meisters Eberhard which contains a recipe for a liver dish in which this passage is found: ...
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What could the old German (or maybe Bayrish?) word gestu:ep mean?

I'm digging into old German cookbooks from 1400-1600 and I came across the following book https://www.uni-giessen.de/fbz/fb05/germanistik/absprache/sprachverwendung/gloning/tx/feyl.htm which contains ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Proto-Indo-European language or "Indogermanische Ursprache"?

Can someone please explain me, why does the subject call "Indogermanische Ursprache" in the german version of the article about Proto-Indo-European language? If I'm not wrong, there was Indo-...
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1 vote
3 answers
254 views

What's exactly the background of the word “Mädis”?

In the operetta Die Csárdásfürstin they sing in the part 2 about "Mädis vom Chantant". While I do understand Mädis stands obviously for Mädels (or are there additional connotations?), I fail ...
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1 answer
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When did Germans start write nouns with a capital letter?

When did Germans start write nouns with a capital letter?
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1 answer
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Did the gender of "der Ozean" change?

I was looking through some old maps published in Hamburg in the 1790s and the label Atlantische Ocean stuck out to me. I would expect it to show Atlantischer Ozean (and looking at modern maps seems ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Why is the h in OHG "riohhan" geminated?

Why is the "h" in the Old High German word "riohhan" (riechen, Engl. "to smell", cognate with Engl. "to reek") geminated?
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13 votes
1 answer
345 views

What greetings were common before "grüß Gott" became universal?

Today, the overwhelming majority of German speakers in Southern Germany and Austria greet each other using grüß Gott. The English Wikipedia article on grüß Gott claims, without a supporting reference,...
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4 votes
1 answer
175 views

When did most East Prussians start speaking German?

According to Gedanken und Fakten zur Bevölkerungsentwicklung in Ostpreußen, even as late as 1708, only 25% of East Prussians were deutsch (Presumably, these were the people whose primary language was ...
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21 votes
3 answers
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New German irregular verbs. Are there any?

New verbs in English are invariably regular. Sneak, an old verb in English dating from the 16th century, is one of the very few that have, at least in some parts of the world, become irregular (with ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Herkunft Aussprache Ordinalzahlen 4 "Virrtä" und 7 "Sippte" im Rheinland/Süddeutschland

Verfolgt man bspw. die öffentlich-rechtlichen Medien (wie den DLF, vornehmlich im Rheinland produziert), gibt es offenbar insbesondere im rheinländischen und südlichen Teil Deutschlands die ...
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2 answers
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Why do translations of German books read so differently from other books?

I'm unsure whether my question is on-topic here, but it's about the German language, so I've decided to try. I am an undergraduate student from Japan who learns foreign languages and loves reading ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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War das Deutsch des 18., 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts präziser, ausdrucksstärker und wortgewaltiger als das heutige? [closed]

Wenn ich Werke aus dieser Zeit lese, egal ob sie nun literarischer, philosophischer oder wissenschaftlicher Natur sind, fällt mir dabei nicht nur auf, dass sie aufgrund der damals noch international ...
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10 votes
3 answers
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Why was ⟨ß⟩ discontinued in Switzerland?

I can think of three different reasons why ⟨ß⟩ was discontinued in Switzerland. However, I do not know which one to prefer, and there may be other explanations. That is why I am asking. Here are the ...
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15 votes
6 answers
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What is the origin of the two past tenses in German?

In my German class, we learned that there are two past tenses, which we referred to as the "narrative" and "conversational," the former only being used for writing, and the other used exclusively for ...
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11 votes
1 answer
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Need help to read Fraktur from a 18th century book

I am reading Euler's German translation of his work on differential calculus entitled Vollständige Anleitung zur Differentialrechnung (Complete instruction on Differential Calculus). I am struggling ...
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5 votes
3 answers
269 views

Which word did people use before "interessant" got borrowed from French?

The etymology of the word "interessant" seems to be that it was borrowed from the French word "intéressant" - at least that is what wiktionary claims. Which word was used before this word was ...
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1 answer
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2nd phrase. Help me please to read old german writings?

The writings are pretty old: 1912, 1913 and earlier I guess... That are the writing on the back cover of an old clock. So probably the writings might be about the works being done on it and who did ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
151 views

1st phrase. Help me please to read old german writings? [duplicate]

The writings are pretty old: 1912, 1913. That are the writing on the back cover of an old clock. So probably the writings might be about the works being done on it and who did this works, or about ...
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12 votes
1 answer
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Kennzeichnung aspirierter Plosive (z.b. TH in Theater, Thron usw.)

Als Plosive bezeichnet man jene Konsonanten, bei denen der Laut dadurch gebildet wird, dass der Luftstrom für einen kurzen Moment unterbrochen wird. Das anschließende geräuschvolle Entweichen der ...
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4 votes
4 answers
400 views

vowel length in Mutter and Vater

Mutter used to have a long u realized as a diphthong (MHG, OHG muoter). Vater had a short a, as evidenced in the Grimms' remark about Vater : "der stammvocal, im älteren deutsch stets kurz, wird nhd.,...
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3 votes
3 answers
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What were the main German words for a prostitute before 1800?

Prostitution is referred to as the oldest profession, but the German word "Prostituierte" is a borrowing that started being used in the German language around 1800. I would like to know what the ...
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4 votes
1 answer
336 views

Did German have a "possessive apostrophe"?

There is an old question asking whether contemporary German uses the apostrophe to mark possessive constructions in a way similar to contemporary English – or at least, that's the issue that all the ...
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3 votes
1 answer
391 views

Dativ der Fragepronomina wer und was - wem und … *wam*?

Eine kaiserliche Randnotiz zu einem Telegramm des Reichskanzlers lautet wie folgt: Woher ist das zu entnehmen? Aus dem mir vorgelegten Material nicht. Dies versteht man natürlich problemlos, aber ...
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6 votes
3 answers
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What is the origin of the German "n-Deklination"?

Being completely unfamiliar with the answer, I would dare say that it is a legacy of Latin, although I fail to recognize any similarity between Latin declensions and this sort of noun alteration. Is ...
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2 votes
1 answer
155 views

Which fighter has the right stance?

Here is the text we are transcribing: Item schickh dich also Inn das Prechfennster. stand mit deinnem rechten fuosz vor. vnd halt dein gehultz vor deinem haupt. das dein daumen vnnden stee. den ort ...
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2 votes
3 answers
222 views

Why are there no Empathen

There are Psychopathen, Soziopathen, Homöopathen,... But why are there no Empathen? Why are they called Empathiker? duden.de, for example, has an entry for Empathiker, but not for Empath. And what ...
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16 votes
6 answers
2k views

Why is "das Weib" grammatically neuter?

The word das Weib, meaning woman, is grammatically neuter. While the gender of nouns is generally unpredictable from their meaning, it is unusual that a word with such an explicitly feminine meaning (...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Capitalization in 18th Century German - »GOttes« and »GOTTES«

I am working on texts from the composer Telemann and have come across an eighteenth-century text about the writer, Fabricius. In a single paragraph both GOttes and GOTTES appear. I take it that both ...
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2 votes
1 answer
194 views

Pronunciation of "Ainpöckisch Bier"

While doing research on German beer, I came across the story that beer from Einbeck, Einbecksch or Einbeckisch Bier, came to be pronounced Ainpöckisch Bier in Bavaria in the 16th century, and this ...
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1 vote
2 answers
181 views

Origin of "zu wehen" and relation to "att vina" in swedish?

I read at Wiktionary https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/wehen that in proto-germanic there is the word *wēaną which I suspect (Well, I don't know for sure as I don't know any live Proto-Germanic speaker) ...
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0 votes
3 answers
156 views

Translating "Axis powers" from an English World War II documentary (1942, Eastern Front)

I am translating subtitles from an English documentary. In this documentary they use only the term "Axis" or "Axis powers" to refer to the troops advancing from Germany to the East. According to ...
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-9 votes
1 answer
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Origin of "Toll jemandem sein" [closed]

What is the origin of "Toll jemande* sein". For example "wenn du toll mir bist" in this song. https://youtu.be/CK5MdsewTjM (Can someone please help me embed it? (Lol, what's that supposed to mean ...
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4 votes
2 answers
463 views

Why are adjectives declined in German?

This is a rather specific question not of language syntax but rather of its origin/history. I’m just trying to understand the specific reasons behind the need for adjective declension. I have read ...
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6 votes
3 answers
544 views

Gebrauch von »worden« statt »geworden«

Ich unterrichte Deutsch als Fremdsprache für Philosophen und bin kein Deutschmuttersprachler. Ich bin neuerlich auf einen Gebrauch von worden gestoßen, den ich mehrmals gelesen habe aber worüber ich ...
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1 vote
4 answers
5k views

Was bedeutet der Ausdruck: “Die Suche nach der Nadel im Heuhaufen?”’

Woher kommt die Redewendung: Die Suche nach der Nadel im Heuhaufen? Was ist damit gemeint? Für welchen Ausdruck im Englischen ist dies eine deutsche Entsprechung?
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3 votes
5 answers
370 views

Was bedeutet Thée auf Deutsch?

What is the meaning of the word Thée in the attached picture? Is it German? Here is whole photo and in context of book. Here is the cover of the book from where the above photos were taken:
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3 votes
1 answer
337 views

Stochastic: Why are permutations (nPr) called variations in German?

First of all, you should be at least a little familiar with combinatorics to understand that question. Some often used calculator keys in stochastic are the nCr and nPr ones. Edit: Also posted on ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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War die n-Deklination im Akkusativ früher häufiger?

In »Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame« (Übersetzung: Helmuth Leonhardt) steht der folgende Satz: Die einfache Glasscheibe ersetzte das Kirchenfenster, der handwerkliche Steinhauer folgte auf den ...
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2 votes
2 answers
178 views

Popularisierung von „wir haben ein Problem“

Ich bin nicht ganz sicher, ob sich Daten für eine objektive Antwort werden finden lassen, aber da sich hier auch Germanisten tummeln, will ich es versuchen. Meiner Familie ist ein eklatanter Anstieg ...
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10 votes
1 answer
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Origin of the word "Abenteuer"?

The other night for one reason or another, I started thinking about the word "Abenteuer", (eng: adventure). I saw how close "Abenteuer" is to the words "Abend" (evening) and "teuer" (expensive). ...
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