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Thread: Musings on Language #2

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Even in German there is some confusion about it. The last spelling reform introduced the rule that in the case of nouns you either write it as a single word or with a hyphen, depending on wether or not it seems a good idea to maintain readability.

    Kühlschrank (refridgerator; "cooling locker") is quite short for a German word and so common that everyone recognizes it instantly, so no hypen.
    Kühlschrankhersteller (refridgerator manufacturer) is considerably longer and not a word you encounter with any regularity. You can get away with Kühlschrankhersteller but this is really one of the cases where Kühlschrank-Hersteller might be the better way to do it, but it's not completely neccessary.
    Kühlschrankherstellerversammlung (refdridgerator manufacturer convention) is clearly too long. This really needs a hypen and be written as Kühlschrankhersteller-Versammlung.

    (However Kühlschrank-Herstellerversammlung would be wrong. That would kind of look like a "manufacturers convention of refridgerators", which doesn't make any sense.)

    Anyone here speaking Danish or might be helping out with Swedish or Norwegian, possibly even Icelandic?
    What are the constituents of the word Edderkop? In German we have the word Spinne for spider, similar to English. But still my gut tells me that Edderkop is a compound word made from Edder and Kop. What do those mean? Adder Head? Because it's poisenous like a snake but just as big as a snakes head plus legs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    That still exists in German. Durchschlagen, durchdringen, several others, probably. With "durch" meaning "through", here.
    That's actually somthing that is very common in German. It's not even special, it's really one of the most basic gramatical elements to make new words. It's something I really love about German. Not because it sounds great or it is effective in transporting information, but because it's just a bit odd and funny.

    There's a load of prefixes which can be added to almost every verb.
    durch- (through)
    auf- (on, upon)
    bei- (by, with, next to)
    um- (turning around)
    über- (over, above)
    unter- (under, below)
    mit- (with)
    an- (next to, connected)
    zer- (dividing)
    ab- (seperating, removing)
    weg- (away)

    And probably quite a number more. Unfortunately, knowing the two parts doesn't tell you much about the meaning.
    For example legen (laying, placing, putting):

    auflegen (putting a venyl record on the player)
    Anlage (an industrial facility)
    Anlage (documents put into the envelope with a letter)
    Anlage (a music center) [that's what wikipedia calls them]
    anlegen (investing)
    anlegen (mooring a ship)
    Anleger (investor)
    Anleger (a pier to moore ships)
    anlegen (getting a gun in ready position)
    anlegen (provoking a fight)
    ablegen (removing something, like a coat or hat)
    ablegen (a ship leaving the pier)
    beilegen (the act of putting forms or documents into the envelope with a letter)
    beilegen (to end a conflict)
    Beilage (side dishes)
    festlegen (commiting to something)
    unterlegen or drunterlegen (putting something like a pad or cloth under a hard thing that might scratch the table)
    Unterlage (something to put under something else to protect a table for example)
    Unterlage (document) [No clue why?!]
    überlegen (thinking about something, considering, pondering)
    durchlegen (wearing through a matress or couch from lying on it over many years)
    umlegen (to move something to a different location)
    umlegen (killing someone)
    erledigen (getting something done)
    zulegen (adding speed)
    zurücklegen (putting something back to it's place)
    zurücklegen (saving something for later)
    weglegen (putting something away)

    That's probably most of them. Like 60% or so.
    And that's just a single verb. You can do the same thing with gehen (walking, leaving), kommen (coming), laufen (running), schieben (pushing), ziehen (pulling), schreiben (writing), sagen (saying), sprechen (speaking), reden (talking), fahren (driving), fliegen (flying), brechen (breaking), biegen (bending), fallen (falling), drehen (turning), sehen (seeing, watching), lesen (reading), hören (hearing), treten (kicking), schlagen (punching), heben (lifting), rufen (shouting), schreien (yelling), geben (giving), and probably some more.
    Interesting that all that come to my mind are about moving, transforming, communiction, and perception.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-10-01 at 05:00 AM.
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