Random DWJ discovery of the day

Bettina Bubach liril at gmx.net
Thu Mar 17 06:47:07 EST 2005

Dorian wrote about the spelling "reform" 

> Have all those Es replaced the A-umlauts?  Why?  

You are right that it isn't really the same sound, but generally it sounds
very very similar and it's nearly impossible to tell which is which. I
suppose it has more to do with flexion and word origins. And in the case of
behende and Stengel it's the other way round, e is old, ä is new. The idea
was that it should be easier to remember how the words are spelled if the
use of Umlauts was "logical" Only that behende doesn't have its origin with
"Hand" and as it generally has to do with movements the now established
connection is akward (Ein Otter schwimmt behände - nur hat er keine
Hände...) And Stengel has nothing to do with Stange. Stängel makes me think
of flowers as big as pillars...
> Huh?  Capital letters for the beginnings of sentences and for all nouns. 
> What was wrong with that?  What are the new rules?

The trouble is that this is only the basic rule. A true reform would have
been have been to abolish all other rules, but that wasn't done either. The
difficult thing is that once a verb or adjective is used as a noun, it is
also written with a capital letter, "Ich habe dir etwas Schönes
mitgebracht." "Meine Hobbies sind Schwimmen und Lesen" and there were many
exceptions, which the new rules done away with - a sensible part of the
reform, even I have to admit. Still "es tut mit Leid" (new rules)looks very
strange, reminds me of sorrow instead of sorry... 

> Abolishing words and meanings sounds both idiotic and futile to me. 
> Languages don't change by legislation!  

Indeed. It makes me angry that they even thought they could do that. I still
write those words the way they're supposed to, and I'm glad that my
newspaper does that, too.

> Hehee!  "Look, let's organise our language...oh bugger, we've made it 
> utterly *dis*organised!"  

And it seems a terribly German thing to do. <hangs head> The only nice thing
about it is that most many people just ignore the rules they don't like, and
that arguing over language and meanings of words and looking for examples in
literature is interesting and fun.

>Does German have an equivalent of the        
>phrase "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"?

Can't think of one now. Obviously it needs one :-)


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