Mangled German (and Orthography reform)

Britta Koch bkoch at
Sat Jul 22 06:08:22 EDT 2000

On 21 Jul, lpuszcz at wrote:
> Britta wrote:
> Someone else said that in English you can "verb nouns" or otherwise
> change the language. Well, in German you aren't as free, only with the
> creation of composite nouns (or the use of English words - I still
> wonder how to write that past of "recyclen").
> Hmmmm...In my Elementary German text last fall we learned the verb as 
> "recyclieren" (with a past tense, IIRC, of "hat recycliert." Incorrect, or
> just variation in usage?  Sometimes I wonder about elementary language
> textbooks.  My experience with Spanish has revealed time and time again
> that textbooks on ho3w to speak Language X and the language X that native
> speakers speak somtimes have odd variations...

That sounds more like Swiss German to me than "German" German (they
write Chocolade instead of Schokolade - a bit pretentious, if you ask
me). I think the textbook may not be up to date with current usage -
but then, official texts tend to just use "Recycling" (and the Duden
"Fremdwoerterbuch" says "recyceln", but fails to give a past tense... -
I'd go for "hat recycelt", because the "re" is a preposition, but then
it would have to be "regecycelt" - German _is_ hard sometimes ;)

> I sympathize, Britta, with your frustration over the mangling of German (I
> hate how American pop culture deals with Spanish, e.g., the infamous 'Yo
> quiero Taco Bell" ad campaign, which to the nit-picky (me) means something
> more like "I want the Taco Bell company" instead of "I want some(thing
> from) Taco Bell.)

My little Spanish appears to have left me... 

> Interestingly, I've found German to be a tough language to learn
> (comnpared to French and Spanish anyway), while the German student I
> stayed with last month said he felt English was very easy.  I know we have
> several non-native English speakers on the list; any reaction to that?

OK, so I didn't have to learn German the way I learnt English, but at
first I thought it was easier than French, but when I hear Germans
speaking English, I wonder... firstly, because of pronounciation (I was
amazed when I learnt that "kindle" isn't pronounced like "kind"), and
secondly because people tend to use German grammar, or trust false
friends so much.

Another question for the people who know German on this list: have you
heard about the new orthography? They've made eszet (ß or ß)
become ss after a short voewl, so that "daß" (daß) is now "dass",
and changed the writing together of certain words, even Enlish ones
(like "Come-back"!). Some people say it's too little of a reform, that
we should drop capitalization of nouns and use the English way, others
say that even that reform is too much (and I'm just happy to ignore it
as long as I can...)

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