View Full Version : Orthography War in Germany Flames Up Again

Sunday, August 8th, 2004, 06:29 PM
Spelling revolt grips German press

German newspapers give much attention to the decision by the country's two most influential news publishers to ditch a spelling reform agreed on only eight years ago.
The Axel-Springer and Spiegel-Verlag publishing houses, which between them cater for 60% of the German population, said on Friday that the new rules had created a "state-ordered dyslexia".

They announced they would immediately return to the old style of spelling in their publications.

"Enough is enough," declares the main Axel-Springer title, the best-selling tabloid Bild. "We are going back to the good old method of spelling."

"Six years after its introduction, the bad spelling reform has finally run its course. Axel-Springer and Spiegel yesterday dealt the death-knell."


The two companies are not the first publishers to abandon the 1996 spelling rules, which included changing the spelling of many compound words and cutting the distinctive "sz" sound represented by a beta character.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung gave up on the new style only a year after introducing it. It sees the latest move as further vindication of that decision.

"The spelling reform has broken down. The move by Spiegel and Springer shows that with the best will in the world, it's just not working," the paper declares.

It describes the new rules as a "public disaster", saying their introduction had confused Germans so much that "parents write differently from their children, children write differently from the authors whose works they read at school and authors write differently from the newspapers and magazines in which they are printed."

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung has also declared its support for the latest move. The paper quotes its editor-in-chief, Hans Werner Kilz, as saying that "the new orthography has led to greater confusion, not greater clarity."

"Publishers are saying no to the new orthography - some sooner than others. At some point they will all go down that road," the paper notes.

"In the meantime it is the school children above all who have to suffer - and they won't understand why they are told off for doing things that are printed in black and white..."


But not all the papers agree. Several seem to suspect that the Bild campaign is more about cultivating brand loyalty.

The Frankfurter Rundschau detects "a whiff of populism" in the style of the campaign.

"At the house of Springer they have a good command of the German language - most of the time, at least," the paper observes.

The centre-left Berliner Zeitung feels that the renewed controversy over the spelling reform is simply a side-show diverting attention away from the problems of the German economy and reducing press coverage of the government's unpopular proposed welfare reforms.

"At last the Republic has an issue on which everyone has something to say, at last the reform of the job market is no longer the number one irritation," it says.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


Germans bridle at language law

Luke Harding in Berlin
Sunday August 8, 2004
The Observer

It is the language of Goethe, the Brothers Grimm and Bertolt Brecht. But an official attempt to reform German has provoked an unprecedented denunciation of the changes by writers, publishers and literary critics as 'stupid and confusing'.
A committee of bureaucrats introduced the reforms - known as neue Rechtschreibung, or new spelling - six years ago to make the complex language easier to learn. Since then opposition to the changes has grown. It culminated in Germany's two leading publishing houses, Axel Springer and Der Spiegel, announcing on Friday that their publications would revert to the old spelling.

The reforms had failed, the publishers said, providing neither 'enlightenment nor simplicity'. They urged other newspapers to follow the example of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which had gone back to old spelling.

Leading literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki dismissed the changes last week as a 'national catastrophe'. In an essay, he declared: 'Chaos has broken out ... In no other major European country is the gap so deep between the language of the people and the language of literature.'

GŁnter Grass and other members of Germany's literary establishment have refused to allow their books to be printed using the new forms. Even page three girls have joined the rebellion. A model called Theresa, wearing only orange knickers, told Axel Springer's tabloid Bild she had her doubts about the wisdom of abandoning classical German orthography.

Under the new rules, the old-fashioned double S or S-Zett in German - which looks like a fat B - has been replaced in some cases with a double 'ss'. Other words have been capitalised for the first time, while compound verbs like radfahren - to ride a bike - have been split up, into Rad fahren.

Although the changes only affect 5 per cent of the vocabulary, they have provoked widespread confusion. They also appear to have been rejected by most Germans. But Professor Rudolf Hoberg, a member of the committee that introduced the changes, was unapologetic. 'The changes are sensible. They make German simpler. I believe the language is substantially better off as a result.'

Others are unconvinced. 'The reforms are simply stupid. These sorts of things happen when the state meddles in areas which shouldn't concern it,' Dr Friedrich Dietman, a writer and the vice-president of Saxony's Academy of Arts, said.

Germany's leaders have already gone over to the new spelling, which from next August will become compulsory for every German official. But there are signs of a growing political revolt, with the heads of three of the federal states - all of them run by the right-wing opposition CDU party - announcing that they want to go back to the old rules. The federal culture ministers will discuss the subject in October.

What would Goethe, and other dead German authors, have made of the row? 'We only agreed on a unified German spelling a century ago,' Roberg said. 'Goethe spelled his name several different ways. I don't think he would have cared.'

Sunday, August 8th, 2004, 06:38 PM
Do you know why Nietzsche uses such an obscure grammar style?

Monday, August 9th, 2004, 12:14 AM
Do you know why Nietzsche uses such an obscure grammar style?

Was Du genau meinen?

Dr. Solar Wolff
Monday, August 9th, 2004, 04:43 AM
Do you know why Nietzsche uses such an obscure grammar style?

Please explain.