How To Fix German Grammar
by Julian Stacey (An English man in
Germany a quarter century).
If you want to debate it, not by email, come to a Beer Garden
If German speakers want their language to die later rather
than sooner, they need to make 2 simple
to the German they write.
Why will the German Language die ?
- Globalisation is occurring: Ever more Internet,
satellite TV, cheap telephony, aviation, trade, tourism,
& working abroad.
Not just goods compete. Not just countries; But languages
Some languages will die sooner, some later. First it
was obscure village & tribal languages eg in Africa
etc that went, Cornish has gone (last old lady late in
20th cenury Irecall). The next will be dialects &
small area languages such as Bavarian & Welsh; then
the smaller national languages, Swedish, Dutch,
Portuguese; Then bigger national languages: German,
then French, then Spanish, then will come the final
competition of Chinese & English. It might take a
few centuries to get that far, but as global
communication accelerates, maybe it'll be far quicker.
With old, ill educated, & marginalised folk
speaking just local.
People will keep their local languages for local use for
Some languages will not quite die ( Latin hasn't
entirely died yet, but neither is it significant)
People will globally communicate in big languages.
Example: Already English is the language of choice for
Germans who don't speak Spanish in South America.
The international English that's coming won't be quite
the English of England, or America etc,
which will both become subset dialects of International
English, an ad hoc internationally agreed language
defined by peoples whose first languages mostly won't
even be English, people trying to simply communicate
with each other ( & discarding some of the
illogicalities & inconsistencies of English).
Most of those deciders will be traders & consumers,
Not the linguists & academics appointed by
politicians who currently define languages. Not the
translators & interpreters who are happy to get
paid because people can't communicate together without
them - currently. (Would you go back to the middle
ages, & pay a scribe to write or read a letter ?
... A translator/interpreter is the modern equivalent
of a scribe - an expensive delay, unaffordable for
many. Of course all those educated professionals,
politicians, academics, linguists, translators
interpreters don't want People to be able to
communicate without the paid professionals, that would
undermine their power base, & the people might
learn other poloitical ideas & economic markets
than the one their local language confines them in.
China lurks in the wings,
world's booming & eventual number one
- Not using the Latin/ Roman character set.
In international business, Europeans, eg Germans,
French, Swedish etc, have a choice
- Cling to local divided languages, with weird
national extensions to the Roman character set
(French cedilla, German umlauts, Swedish O with a
line through it etc), that not even their European
neighbours know how to handle. ... OR
- Consolidate & adopt a form of simplified
rationalised form of English ( but not the
progressively Germanicised English of Internet
language jokes), & also bolster use of a common
subset of Roman characters (the ASCII A-Z subset
The British, Americans, Australians, & some
Europeans (Dutch & Italians etc) use, omitting
the troublesome extra national
glyphs/chars/letters/accents of Germany France
Spain etc. (Expansion rules exist for German
Umlauts, similar could exist or be invented for
- If there's not a cohesive Western grouping
America etc, using a common English with
(ASCII) Roman character subset,
Roman/Latin font & English may eventually
come under more competitive pressure from China
- A Chinese resident in California,
wrote in his blog "Bi-lingual readers,
did you notice my Chinese posts are always
- German is 15 or 20% less efficient
than English (measure the thickness of any
computer text book),
- So just as English is more competitive than
German language, could Chinese script threaten
Latin/Roman font set some day ?
Progressive marginalisation: Unite & rule, Divide
- The world owes no living to those who deliberately
use inefficient tools.
Languages & written character sets (eg A-Z) are
tools worthy of improvement for better efficiency.
Preserving unchanged fossilised iconic cultural icons
makes no real sense when it hinders our wider efficient
communication & trade.
- We don't benefit from awkward languages, they just
give advantage to others, eg: Europe maintains it's plethora
of divergent languages, many people not adopting much
English at work even in international industries like
computing. In EU government it's a nightmare of
- Many Europeans not unifying on English, gives
commercial advantage to North America: a unified market
with mobility of labour of 250+ Million all speaking
just English (& a bit of Spanish).
- The world is not going to
switch to trading & communicating in eg French or
German - that boat has long gone. The lingua franca is
2 Fixes To German Language to delay
Grammars have many inconsistencies & logical errors.
When a whole bunch of foreigners from different cultures all
make the same mistake in speaking a common 3rd language ...
its the language that's wrong, not all the foreigners.
German grammar is a nightmare, stacking a cascade of verbs
& a nicht (Not) at the end, & male, female &
neuter nouns (worse than & inconsistent with French
genders), & capitalising single nouns (a discarded habit
of old English a few hundred years back), & inverted
couplets in the number sequences, &
Worst of all: German grammar rams nouns together,
discarding spaces (OK English also does that a bit too but
It makes German harder to look up in dictionaries &
Germans sometime have fun trying to make sentences out of
single words rammed together)
Donau- dampf- schif- fahrts- gesellschafts- kapitaens-
muetzen- halte- nagel
Danube steam ship trip company's captains'' caps holding
A Welsh name extended in 19th century:
- Typically, a Brit new in Germany doesn't realise
"Rotkreuzplatz" is Rot- Kreuz- Platz - just too long
a blur to recognise.
- Rothschild in Britain gets pronounced as "Roth's
Child", as no one has a clue it derives from a German
immigrant named "Rot- Schild" (Red Shield) & not
- Another ludicrous word to fail to look up in a
dictionary is Urinsekt One might wrongly guess that
meant Urin- Sekt (Pissy Champagne ?) - But No, one might
eventually guess Ur- Insekt (Ancient less evolved Insect
- The 2 German Rechts- schreib- reforms around 2000 (1996
& ? ) could have (but failed to) put spaces back, &
(they only half dumped Scharf Ess = Eszett =
ss = ß , & they retained umlauts ä
ö ü. (That's my crude take on it, I invites
to create a web page about it). PS lucky
Switzerland eradicated it between 1906 & 2006 .
There is a "rule" in the "official governmental ruleset"
that suggests using the hyphen, just as it has been done
500 years ago, to indicate a word gap. But it's hard to
find out where exactly to apply it.
Some examples of reforms:
||(but not: nachhause)
||(but not: zutisch)
Some questions of inconsistency:
(English is also an inconsistent language, but the 2
above worth remembering next time one meets eg fellow
Brits enthusing how regular German is.
- Why is "zusammen schreiben" written separatedly,
but "auseinanderschreiben" compunded?
- Why is it "Blut saugend", but "blutstillend"?
- Adding spaces & dumping umlauts could have made it
Much easier to learn German, (& sort text, without too
many variant sorting conventions), & could have avoided
stultifying debates on triple S in some cascaded noun
- Worse, the clowns who messed up Rechtsschreibreform,
changed their minds a few years later, & did a 2nd
bodge job, causing a 2nd lot of dictionary reprints (&
near compulsory purchases for firms & parents ) &
confusing the kids & profiting the publishers &
- German officialdom blew their chance.
- Germans make mistakes - a page in German: Schreibreform:
- German was never an easy language to learn, & they
failed to fix the basics.
- It's now down to German speakers individually, to fix
the German language to be more learnable: to re-insert
spaces & swop out the umlauts for eg AE OE UE. (Whoops!
I'm guilty here too! Plenty of my web pages have "proper"
singular byte Umlauts (in proper HTML escape sequences)
instead of the 2 byte equivalent. I put them in to make my
pages look "better" to Germans, forgetting logic demands
scrap single byte umlauts. (Actually German language is
lucky, apparently some other European languages dont have
standard 2 byte sequences to replace weird local-only
national characters in their extended Latin font
- Germans should Not feel constrained by the incompetent
language professionals who have failed them, its their
language to change if they will
. (English by
contrast doesn't need or have an official body to define or
protect it, it evolves, adopting foreign words as needed.
Compare that with eg German (as above) pontificated on by
academics,, & compare with French, where more modern
French people are persecuted by French laws against foreign
[English] words in newspapers), & Welsh (with
government broadcasting etc subsidies to survive)) Darwinan
evolution & "Survival Of The Fitest" is rather patchy
on human languages.