Difference between revisions of "German language"

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(The four cases)
(Adjective declension: third wiki table)
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| schlau'''en''' Schweine'''n'''
 
| schlau'''en''' Schweine'''n'''
 
| schlau'''er''' Schweine
 
| schlau'''er''' Schweine
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|}
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 +
So-called "mixed declension" is used with indefinite articles and possessive articles. Both the article and the adjective take an ending, but the masculine and neutral forms change in the nominative case to carry the "lost" ending caused by the use of an indefinite determiner:
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{| class="wikitable"
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|-
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!
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! Nominative
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! Accusative
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! Dative
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! Genitive
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|-
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! Masculine
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| mein schwarz'''er''' Hund
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| mein'''en''' schwarz'''en''' Hund
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| mein'''em''' schwarz'''en''' Hund
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| mein'''es''' schwarz'''en''' Hund'''es'''
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|-
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! Feminine
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| mein'''e''' gelb'''e''' Ente
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| mein'''e''' gelb'''e''' Ente
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| mein'''er''' gelb'''en''' Ente
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| mein'''er''' gelb'''en''' Ente
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|-
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! Neutral
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| mein schlau'''es''' Schwein
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| mein schlau'''es''' Schwein
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| mein'''em''' schlau'''en''' Schwein
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| mein'''es''' schlau'''en''' Schwein'''s'''
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|-
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! Plural
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| mein'''e''' schlau'''en''' Schweine
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| mein'''e''' schlau'''en''' Schweine
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| mein'''en''' schlau'''en''' Schweine'''n'''
 +
| mein'''er''' schlau'''en''' Schweine
 
|}
 
|}
  

Revision as of 22:24, May 28, 2009

German (Deutsch) is a major world language, spoken by some 120 million people worldwide. The German vocabulary is closely related to English and Dutch, and all three use the Latin alphabet in writing. German is widely spoken in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.[1] Liechtenstein is the only state that has German as its only official language.

German Alphabet

The German alphabet consists of every letter in the English alphabet, with additional letters. German makes use of the letter ß, called the scharfes S ("sharp s"), which is a ligature of the letter "s" and "z" from cursive scripts. It is used for occurrences of the voiceless alveolar fricative, the sound of the "s" in the English word "sea", after long vowels and diphthongs, for which German otherwise uses "s" or "ss". This to avoid confusion with the voiced alveolar fricative, the sound of "z" in the English word "zoo", for which German always uses the letter "s". It is sometimes called the by the German pronunciation of "sz," however, if the letter is not available it has to be replaced by the letters "ss", and not by "sz". In Switzerland and Liechtenstein this letter is generally omitted in favor of "ss". The other additional letter are the three vowels ä, ö and ü, also known in English as Umlauts. If not present on a keyboard they customary are substituted by ae, oe, and ue.

History

The modern German language is descended from the language known as Proto-Germanic, which is believed to have been spoken in central and northern Europe during the first millennium BC. Proto-Germanic was eventually divided into several different but similar languages, specifically East Germanic, West Germanic and North Germanic. Gothic is the only known East Germanic language, while North Germanic evolved into the modern Scandinavian languages.

Generally, the later development of the West Germanic language can be divided in two distinct lines of descent: Upper German, spoken in Central and Southern Germany, and Low German, spoken in Northern Germany. "Low" and "Upper" are geographic terms, referring to the lowlands of Northern Germany and the more mountainous areas of Southern Germany, respectively.

The term "High German" refers to the standardized version of German that derives mostly from Upper and Central German dialects. It evolved through Old High German (c. 200-1000 AD), Middle High German (c. 1000-1500 AD), Early New High German (c. 1500-1700) and finally to the present New High German, which is the standard modern German language. Low German went through a similar development, starting with Old Saxon and similar languages, through Middle Low German into the modern Low German, which is in linguistics often referred to a Low Saxon. It was the standard language of the Hanseatic league, but was superseded as standard language in North Germany when High German was accepted as official language in Prussia. Due to the influence of Prussia as political power, and later Hamburg as media center, a more Northern German pronunciation has been adopted as standard pronunciation in television and radio. It is said that the best High German is spoken in Hanover, while the traditional dialect of the Hanover area is a dialect of Low German.

German Dialects

Dialects of Low German or Low Saxon spoken in the North of Germany are Westphalian, Eastphalian, East-Frisian, North Low Saxon, Sleswickian, and Holastian, and Pommerian, Margravian. The Low Saxon dialects spoken in the east of the Netherlands are often included as East Dutch Low Saxon. One might encounter also Missingisch, a Low Saxon - High German pidgin. In modern times however standard New High German with a Northern accent has become the norm for spoken language in the North of Germany.

The dialects of German are classified as central and upper German. Central German dialects are Ripuarian, Central Franconian, Rhine Francoinian, Hessian, Thurinigian, Saxonian, and Berlinerish. Luxemburgish is often included as a Moselle Franconian dialect. Upper German dialects spoken in the South of the German speaking area, which includes Bavaria, Austria, Liechtenstein and northern areas of Italy, the northern part of Switzerland, and eastern parts of France are Bavarian, East and South Franconian, Swabian, Allemanic, and Alsatian.

Official Minority languages in Germany are Frisian, a west germanic language, Sorbian, a slavic language, and Danish.

Grammar

German has a great deal of inflection compared to English, including three genders of nouns (plus the plural), and four cases. Adjectives are also given endings based on their gender and case. The plural forms of nouns follow complex patterns that are difficult for a non-native speaker to master. The system of auxiliary verbs for various tenses works similarly to English. Word order has some definite differences compared to English, but also has greater flexibility in several aspects.

Noun inflection

German nouns can have one of three genders: masculine, feminine, or neutral. The definite articles in the nominative case are as follows:

  • Der Hund (Nouns are always capitalized in German.) = The dog
  • Die Ente = The duck
  • Das Schwein = The pig

These three genders collapse into a single plural form, using the definite article die, as in

Die Schweine = The Pigs

Indefinite articles are represented by only two types in the nominative case, ein and eine:

  • Ein Hund = A dog
  • Eine Ente = A duck
  • Ein Schwein = A pig

As in English, there is no indefinite article for plural nouns.

The four cases

In German, four cases are used, known as the nominative, the accusative, the dative, and the genitive. Nominative is the case which is used in the subject of sentences, or to say A=B. Accusative indicates a direct object relationship, as in "I bought the book." The dative case shows an indirect object relationship, as in "I gave you the book." The genitive case has slowly into disuse, but indicates possession; this usage is often replaced by the dative in most cases.

The definite and indefinite articles change according to the case:

Definite Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive
Masculine Der Hund Den Hund Dem Hund Des Hundes*
Feminine Die Ente Die Ente Der Ente Der Ente
Neutral Das Schwein Das Schwein Dem Schwein Des Schweins*
Plural Die Schweine Die Schweine Der Schweinen* Den Schweine
Indefinite Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive
Masculine Ein Hund Einen Hund Einem Hund Eines Hundes*
Feminine Eine Ente Eine Ente Einer Ente Einer Ente
Neutral Ein Schwein Ein Schwein Einem Schwein Eines Schweins*

*With the genitive case, masculine and neutral nouns take the "s" or "es" ending, while the plural form of masculine and neutral nouns take the "n" ending in dative.

Any other articles take endings by gender and case according to one of these two models. Other examples of article types include possessive (mein Hund = my dog) negative (kein Schwein = no pig), and "this one" (diese Ente = this duck).

Adjective declension

When adjectives appear modifying a noun, their ending must agree with both the case and gender of the noun. These endings follow separate rules from those of the definite and indefinite articles, making this extremely difficult for the non-native speaker.

The endings with a definite article always take either an "e" or "en" as ending:

Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive
Masculine Der schwarze Hund Den schwarzen Hund Dem schwarzen Hund Des schwarzen Hundes
Feminine Die gelbe Ente Die gelbe Ente Der gelben Ente Der gelben Ente
Neutral Das schlaue Schwein Das schlaue Schwein Dem schlauen Schwein Des schlauen Schweins
Plural Die schlauen Schweine Die schlauen Schweine Der schlauen Schweinen Den schlauen Schweine

(schwarz = black, gelb = yellow, schlau = clever)

So-called "strong" declension occurs when there is no article, or when the determiner has no gender (as in "some" or "many"). In strong declension, the ending of the adjective takes on the ending of the definite article:

Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive
Masculine schwarzer Hund schwarzen Hund schwarzem Hund schwarzen Hundes
Feminine gelbe Ente gelbe Ente gelber Ente gelber Ente
Neutral schlaues Schwein schlaues Schwein schlauem Schwein schlauen Schweins
Plural schlaue Schweine schlaue Schweine schlauen Schweinen schlauer Schweine

So-called "mixed declension" is used with indefinite articles and possessive articles. Both the article and the adjective take an ending, but the masculine and neutral forms change in the nominative case to carry the "lost" ending caused by the use of an indefinite determiner:

Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive
Masculine mein schwarzer Hund meinen schwarzen Hund meinem schwarzen Hund meines schwarzen Hundes
Feminine meine gelbe Ente meine gelbe Ente meiner gelben Ente meiner gelben Ente
Neutral mein schlaues Schwein mein schlaues Schwein meinem schlauen Schwein meines schlauen Schweins
Plural meine schlauen Schweine meine schlauen Schweine meinen schlauen Schweinen meiner schlauen Schweine

Plural forms

In contrast to English's simple addition of "s" to make a noun plural, German uses several different inflections depending on the word. They fall into seven types:

  1. No change — der Lehrer (teacher) → die Lehrer
  2. No ending, with Umlaut — der Apfel (apple) → die Äpfel
  3. Add -e — das Jahr (year) → die Jahre
  4. Add -e, with Umlaut — die Hand (hand) → die Hände
  5. Add -er, with Umlaut — das Tal (valley) → die Täler
  6. Add -n or -en — die Frau (woman) → die Frauen
  7. Add -s — das Auto (car) → die Autos

References

  1. Ethnologue:German