Wednesday, August 03, 2005

In honor of my sister-in-law's return from the hinterlands, here is this post over at Metafilter about German language reform. Hope she enjoys it. I'm pretty sure Ken will too.


Blogger Ken said...

Thanks Peter.

As one who is really only familiar with the (now) older version of the language, I see no reason to change. It was fun learning the ins and outs of a new language. The double-s (B) should remain a fixture in the German language.

Is this another instance of the German language getting more Americanized? Kat has mentioned a general German dislike for words co-opted from English.

I'll have to talk to her about all this. Either here or in person. She's the one that will really feel the impact of this. Will it alter the way she teaches her classes or will it influnce her students' abilitiy to learn the language?

Sorry for the long post.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

That's not too long. Be as wordy as you want to be. I wish more people would comment. I know some people visit my blog sometimes but never leave comments.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Phillip said...

I like to lurk.

4:12 AM  
Blogger munkee girl said...

So this, my friends, has actually been brewing for many years now. And by brewing, I mean like a cauldron of slime cooked up hot and tasty in a Faustian kitchen.

When this was first put into law in the late 1990's, people went ballistic. A lot of famous authors refused to abide by the new regulations and insisted they would continue to turn in manuscripts in the old style. Valiant attempt, but now that they've been teaching it in the schools for a few years, there's likely no turning back.

Our problem is the U.S. textbook market. The books for the first year program already use the reforms, but those for the second year don't. So, we've just been accepting either version for now. This is also fun when teaching, as I have to remember while standing at the board which system the current book is using, and as any teacher can tell you, chalkboards are made of Kryptonite and suck away your ability to remember anything.

I'd be all for a spelling reform if it truly made the language even MORE easy than it already is, but they aren't universally getting rid of the ess-tsett (the double s that looks like a capital b). [FYI: the Swiss don't use the ess-tsett anyway, so that would not be without precedent.] Also, they're now allowing triple letters in compound words, so you get things like this:

Fussballlehrer (new) vs.
Fussballehrer (old)

(Fussball=soccer, lehrer=teacher)

Basically, my theory is that some government officials needed to justify their jobs by wreaking havoc on the existing language. Also, this doesn't really have much to do with the anglicising of German (and other European languages), although that is also a bane because they make up words they think are English (like "Handy" for cell phone or "Beamer" for projector). OY!

9:01 AM  

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