Shortening german words

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JakeL
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Shortening german words

Postby JakeL » Wed Apr 21, 2021 6:32 pm

I have seen people shorten words like Möchengladbach = M'gladbach.. Is this valid syntax?
If yes, are there any rules? Like only using the 1st-character, followed by last two syllables?
Its very confusing because I cannot find a list of rules, or even a list of online examples.

So if anybody can explain, or has links to example pages, its very much appreciated.
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Re: Shortening german words

Postby Iversen » Wed Apr 21, 2021 6:43 pm

I'm not a native German, but this phenomenon is not limited to Germany. For instance Amsterdam in the Netherlands is often referred to as "A'Dam". And I have seen other examples in street signs or other communication channels with a space problem. However a list is probably hard to find, since this usage typically will be limited to the area where a place as got an annoyingly long name.

As for leaving out single phonemes (or letters in writing) from town names (as the first n in Mönchengladbach) .. well, that's another matter. I can't exclude that this is done in certain dialects, but it is not something I have noticed to often during my travels or in German media - not even in speech, but even less in writing. However I have noticed that the zoo keepers in TV programs from Stuttgart zoo and other in that area have a tendency to drop a final -n, so speakers with that habitude will of course also drop the final -n i geographical names.
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Re: Shortening german words

Postby tungemål » Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:38 pm

On a tangent - what could "Mönchengladbach" mean? Mönchen is monks, Bach is a brook, and glad could be glatt, i.e. slippery or smooth. A slippery brook? Near some monks?
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Re: Shortening german words

Postby Dragon27 » Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:38 am

The short form is actually related to the fact that it wasn't originally Mönchen at all. I understand the deeply entrenched desire to just have rules for everything (this way of thinking is mostly a product of how they teach us at school), but that's not what you usually expect with natural languages.
The original name of the city was Gladbach, which is even today often applied to the town. To distinguish the town from another town of the same name (the present Bergisch Gladbach), it took the name München-Gladbach in 1888. Between 1933 and 1950 it was written München Gladbach (short: M. Gladbach), without hyphen. This spelling could mislead people to think that Gladbach was a borough of Munich (München in German), and consequently the name was changed to Mönchen-Gladbach in 1950 and Mönchengladbach in 1960.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%B6nchengladbach
Seit dem 10. Jahrhundert sind mehr als 20 unterschiedliche Schreibweisen des Stadtnamens bekannt, u. a. Gladebach, Monichgladebach, Moenchsgladbach, Monnike Gladbeeck und Munneke Glebbek. Bis zum Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts hieß die Stadt in wechselnden Schreibweisen Gladbach. Als Gladbach am 1. Januar 1888 kreisfrei wurde, erhielt es den Namen München-Gladbach, abgekürzt M.Gladbach, um es besser von Bergisch Gladbach unterscheiden zu können. Der Name leitet sich von den seit 974 in Gladbach siedelnden Mönchen ab.

Vom 1. August 1929 bis zum 31. Juli 1933 war München-Gladbach zusammen mit Rheydt und anderen Gemeinden ein Teil der kreisfreien Stadt Gladbach-Rheydt mit etwa 200.000 Einwohnern. Nach deren Auflösung hieß es München Gladbach (ohne Bindestrich), abgekürzt wiederum M.Gladbach.

Am 20. Dezember 1950 wurde die Schreibweise M.Gladbach beibehalten, die Aussprache aber in Mönchen Gladbach geändert, um Verwechslungen mit München zu vermeiden.[9] Am 11. Oktober 1960 wurde die heute noch gebräuchliche Form Mönchengladbach eingeführt, die auch bei der erneuten Zusammenlegung aufgrund des Düsseldorf-Gesetzes am 1. Januar 1975 mit Rheydt und Wickrath gewählt wurde; diese Namenswahl war in der Bevölkerung umstritten.

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%B6nchengladbach


tungemål wrote:On a tangent - what could "Mönchengladbach" mean? Mönchen is monks, Bach is a brook, and glad could be glatt, i.e. slippery or smooth. A slippery brook? Near some monks?

Well, there is Glattbach.
Der Name "Glattbach" setzt sich aus den althochdeutschen Wörtern glat, was hell oder klar bedeutet und bach zusammen. Der Bach gab der Gemeinde Glattbach ihren Namen.

So I don't think Gladbach would have such a name if it was derived from "glatt" + "bach". Here's a version of the name's origin from Bergisch Gladbach's site:
Zur Entstehung des zweiten Namensteils "Gladbach" führt Heimatforscher Anton Jux aus, "dass man dem Bach, der aus dem Tale stürmisch hervorbrach und im Sumpf versank, vermutlich in zwei Bauabschnitten ein künstliches Bett durch die Rheinterassen zum Rhein grub". Dies geschah zur Merowingerzeit, also im frühen Mittelalter.

Dieser Bach, Strunde genannt, wurde also "gelegt". In unserer Sprache, dem Bergisch Platt, heißt das "gelaat". Wie das Wasser der Strunde die Kieselsteine poliert, so schliff der Volksmund in Jahrhunderten den Stadtnamen rund. Gladbach, der gelegte Bach: Zahlreiche Mühlen machten sich die unerschöpfliche Wasserkraft zunutze und legten so den Grundstein zur Wirtschaftskraft unserer Stadt.

https://www.bergischgladbach.de/namenskunde.aspx
"Gladbach, der gelegte Bach" - not the most convincing explanation. If anybody has a link to a more reliable source for the etymology, feel free to share!
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Re: Shortening german words

Postby Sonjaconjota » Thu Apr 22, 2021 6:56 am

JakeL wrote:I have seen people shorten words like Möchengladbach = M'gladbach.. Is this valid syntax?
If yes, are there any rules? Like only using the 1st-character, followed by last two syllables?
Its very confusing because I cannot find a list of rules, or even a list of online examples.

So if anybody can explain, or has links to example pages, its very much appreciated.


I would say that this is something that is used informally, either in spoken language or text messages. There are no rules.
I was thinking of other names of places. The first one that comes to mind would be Düsseldorf, which would often be abbreviated "Dü'dorf".
In this case it's the first and the last syllable.
But then there is the land "Mecklenburg-Vorpommern", usually abbreviated to "Meck-Pomm", where the second one is just a random syllable from the middle of the word.
My sister lives in a small town called "Bad Lippspringe", and they usually say "BaLi", so it's the first syllables of the two words.
It's just about what sounds good, I guess, and as you can see, there isn't even a consensus about how to write things.
I have to say that the way of writing an abbreviation with an apostrophe was completely new to me, but I have found "Dü'dorf" more often online than "Düdorf" or "Dü-dorf", so it seems to be a thing.
When it comes to abbreviations in the German language in general, maybe this link could be helpful:
https://www.dartmouth.edu/~deutsch/Grammatik/Wortbildung/Abbreviations.html
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Re: Shortening german words

Postby alexkelbo » Thu Apr 22, 2021 8:45 pm

JakeL wrote:I have seen people shorten words like Möchengladbach = M'gladbach.. Is this valid syntax?
If yes, are there any rules?

(1) Yes and (2) yes, but not really.

Let's delve into the Official Rules as published by the Council for German Orthography.
Specifically, we are looking into Chapter E (Interpunctuation), Section 4 (Indications of Omission), Sub-section 1 (Apostrophe), Rule §96.

Section 4.1, Rule §96 states:
  1. Apostrophe is used to indicate that one or more letters have been omitted from a word.
  2. There are three groups of cases in which an apostrophe is used.
    1. ...
    2. ...
    3. Words with omissions in their interior, such as
      D’dorf (= Düsseldorf), M’gladbach (= Mönchengladbach), Ku’damm (= Kurfürstendamm)
[Translation is my own.]

I have not quoted groups 1 and 2 but, lo and behold, your example in in the official rules. So in plain English the rule says, you can omit letters from the middle of a word and indicate it using an apostrophe. And which letters you leave out is up to you!

So technically there is nothing in the rules that prohibits you from writing M'ch, Mön'bach, etc. However, we typically follow the pattern in the rule above; meaning, first or first few letters, and last syllable(s). I would also add that omissions in this manner are rather infrequent.

Sonjaconjota wrote:I have to say that the way of writing an abbreviation with an apostrophe was completely new to me, but I have found "Dü'dorf" more often online than "Düdorf" or "Dü-dorf", so it seems to be a thing.

I think you're selling yourself a bit short here. If you look into the rules, you will find examples that I'm certain you're familiar with.

in wen’gen Augenblicken
’s ist schade um ihn
das Wasser rauscht’
der Käpt’n
mit’m Fahrrad
Bitte, nehmen S’ (= Sie) doch Platz!
Das war ’n (= ein) Bombenerfolg!

Council for German Orthography: http://www.rechtschreibrat.com/
Orthography: https://grammis.ids-mannheim.de/rechtschreibung
Section 4.1: https://grammis.ids-mannheim.de/rechtschreibung/6208#
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Re: Shortening german words

Postby Iversen » Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:03 pm

... and there are even more examples if you look into poetry
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Re: Shortening german words

Postby Sonjaconjota » Fri Apr 23, 2021 9:38 am

I think you're selling yourself a bit short here. If you look into the rules, you will find examples that I'm certain you're familiar with.


True! But it was a bit strange for me in this context.
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Re: Shortening german words

Postby tiia » Fri Apr 23, 2021 4:21 pm

Sonjaconjota wrote:But then there is the land "Mecklenburg-Vorpommern", usually abbreviated to "Meck-Pomm", where the second one is just a random syllable from the middle of the word.

I'd like to add that "Pomm" is not a random syllable from the middle of the word. Back in the times there was the province of Pommern, of which only Vorpommern is nowadays located in Germany, but the region of Hinterpommern in Poland.

Fun fact: Although the English name of the state is exatly the same as in German, the prefix can be detected as such in the Finnish translation of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Mecklenburg-Etu-Pommeri. (etu- is (here) just a prefix meaning the very same as vor in German.)
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Re: Shortening german words

Postby JakeL » Sat Apr 24, 2021 2:12 am

I just wanted to thank everybody for getting so many helpful answers, great forum over here!
I was really hoping for steadfast rules but at least now I know, and dont have to keep searching.
Thanks again!
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