Decay or enrichment ?: Why our German is becoming more moderate


KPessimistic is the word formation syllable -moderate a perennial favorite of linguistic criticism. Since the sixties, it has excitably been at the top of the list, when somewhere is being considered about the decline of the German or even about the stylish sloppy handling of our mother tongue.

Although the suffix is ​​in expressions like regularly. evenly and military precision since ancient times an established part of the German word formation possibilities. But as disturbing was, as so often, felt the mass emergence of new forms: Karl Korn described in 1958 the moderateWords in his bestselling “Language in the Managed World” as a typical element of bureaucratic misanthropic language. And Gerhard Storz, one of the authors of the proverbial work “From the Dictionary of the Unhuman” on Nazi vocabulary, denounced them in 1962 as a decay phenomenon of the German language. The difference between Korn and Storz was: Korn held the moderate-Sager for vicious and devious, Storz thought she was stupid and believed, of course, they confused moderate With according to,

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In 1963, the Germanist Wilfried Seibicke confirmed what Korn had already assumed: words on –moderate were initially used conspicuously often by language cleaners who wanted to replace their unwanted words imported from abroad with their new growth. But they unintentionally shot the beloved German language to the knee.

Regardless of bureaucracy and linguistic purism exist moderateWords since then as Zeitgeist phenomenon, and to this day, representatives of a well-kept style feel their use as never ending torture. Above all, they feel threatened by ad hoc formations in sentences such as “Nutritionally, Germany is in a crisis of meaning” (from the “taz”) or “Bundestrainer moderate Klinsmann is now history, Merkel kanzlermäßig not yet” (from the “time” ).

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Ad hoc formations are spontaneous new formations that arise through creative applications of word formation rules. As spontaneous as they emerge, so Queen Elizabeth-moderately durable, the phenomenon has settled in German.

Important function

Such a stubborn presence of linguistic phenomena is rarely a coincidence and even rarer sheer stupidity owed the speakers. But almost always, the new element fulfills a purpose for which there was no suitable means. Proof of this will now be provided by German philologist Fabienne Salfner from the Leibniz Center for General Linguistics in Berlin. In her dissertation “Semantics and Discourse Structure. The -like-adverbial in German “she writes,” that the much scolded moderateEducations have their legitimate place in the German language and fulfill an important information-structural function “.

These words, according to Salfner, have a “characterizing” and “limiting” effect. In the first case, they allude to a typical property of what has been described. hammer default means “like a hammer”, scorpion-wise means “as usual with scouts” and rockstarmäßig describes typical Rockstarverhalten. But also the good old belongs to this group military precision – which presupposes that in a German general staff from Schlieffen 1914 to Sichelschnitt 1940 actions were planned in great detail.

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The second, the limiting group names according to Salfner “domains or topics, against the background of which the statement should be interpreted”. These include, for example experientially. Germany coach moderately and chancellor moderately from the mentioned newspaper quotations. The “taz” just does not want to say that Germany is generally in a crisis of meaning, but only nutritionally.

What the language critics at this moderateExcitement is perhaps her casual hipster attitude. The speaker or writer wants to suggest to the listener or reader that they both know exactly which wide cosmos of specialized knowledge is behind a snotty word like Germany coach moderately of course, but with insiders it is of course not necessary to specify this now too detailed. This supposedly inaccurate language makes the outsider, who does not understand the game, aggressive.

Can not be avoided

Speech therapists are especially excited about the limiting ones moderate-Expressions. Salfner tries to prove that these can not simply be exchanged for existing alternatives in the German language. An example is the sentence: “Alma has categorized the plants biologically / biologically” “categorize biologically” means “according to biological criteria”, “categorize biologically” my “as is customary in biology”. The type of categorization does not have to be identical: “That means that both forms are needed in the German word formation inventory.”

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The germanist is sure: suffixes like -lich. -isch or shapes like as far as x is concerned or in terms of x can -moderate do not replace. Only educations with technically could take on comparable functions. These are just as hated by critics. The requirement, moderateTo avoid expressions as possible, she considers “unrealizable”.

For their usefulness also speaks that in other languages ​​similar exists – above all education with -wise in English. Interestingly enough, they are more akin to the moderate formations than to expressions with etymologically related roots -matig in Dutch or in Swedish. However, similar word-forming means are also available in Slavic languages, Romanian and Armenian.

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Unsurprisingly, then, the Germanist gives the words she studied 300 pages of a residence permit in the German language: “In contrast to other fashion phenomena in the language, which disappear again after some time, the moderateHowever, expressions are also firmly established in written language and are gaining in significance. “She is convinced that these formations have their legitimate place in German and that in particular the limiting ones are indispensable for the information structure.

Or, scientifically speaking, “With the much scolded moderate expressions, there is obviously a powerful tool available to make statements about a thematic domain that includes all the world knowledge of a speaker he associates with that domain.”

. (tagsToTranslate) Languages ​​(t) Korn (t) Karl (t) Seibicke (t) Wilfried (t) One man one word (column) (t) Storz (t) Gerhard (t) Words (t) Heine-Matthias (t) t) Karl Korn (t) Matthias Heine (t) Music (t) Wilfried Seibicke (t) Gerhard Storz


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