Questions about the German language reform of 1996

Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
Skynet
Green Belt
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:37 pm
Location: Cyprus
Languages: BILINGUAL: Shona & English
PURSUING: French (DELF B2), German (B1?), Spanish (A2?)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8686
x 823

Questions about the German language reform of 1996

Postby Skynet » Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:20 pm

I am currently studying French intensively, but am already thinking about my next language: GERMAN!

I have a penchant for collecting "old" courses, but, unlike French, German has had an orthography reform. Does this mean that any courses prior to the reform are not appropriate for me to use?

So far, I have planned to use these courses for German (1/4th of the number of courses I am using to revive my French to B1):

Assimil: German Without Toil (1965)
Assimil: German With Ease (2001)
Linguaphone (1960)
Linguaphone (1990)
Living Language Ultimate: Beginner - Intermediate (2000)
Cortina (1954)

Any advice would be most helpful! Thank-you!
Last edited by Serpent on Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Please avoid using caps lock
1 x

Lawyer&Mom
Blue Belt
Posts: 547
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:08 am
Languages: English (N), German (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7786
x 1415

Re: QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GERMAN LANGUAGE REFORM OF 1996.

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:42 pm

Don’t worry about it. At all. Ever.

Okay, *maybe* when you are a solid B2.

I started my German degree in 1997. We heard about the language reform constantly. The changes are really minor in relation to all the stuff you will need to worry about when learning German.
5 x

Skynet
Green Belt
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:37 pm
Location: Cyprus
Languages: BILINGUAL: Shona & English
PURSUING: French (DELF B2), German (B1?), Spanish (A2?)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8686
x 823

Re: QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GERMAN LANGUAGE REFORM OF 1996.

Postby Skynet » Sat Aug 25, 2018 7:59 am

Lawyer&Mom wrote:Don’t worry about it. At all. Ever.

Okay, *maybe* when you are a solid B2.

I started my German degree in 1997. We heard about the language reform constantly. The changes are really minor in relation to all the stuff you will need to worry about when learning German.


WOW! L&M came to my rescue again! Thank-you so much for the quick response! That has taken a huge load of my back! :)

It looks like I can continue my search for older courses with impunity! :lol:
2 x

User avatar
tastyonions
Blue Belt
Posts: 961
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:39 pm
Location: Dallas, TX
Languages: EN (N), FR, ES, IT, PT, DE, NL
x 1872

Re: QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GERMAN LANGUAGE REFORM OF 1996.

Postby tastyonions » Sat Aug 25, 2018 8:13 am

Skynet wrote:...unlike French, German has had an orthography reform.

French did have one: https://fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rectifi ... is_en_1990
2 x

User avatar
tiia
Blue Belt
Posts: 531
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:52 pm
Location: Finland
Languages: German (N), English (?), Finnish (~B2), Spanish (B1), Swedish (A2?)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?t=2374
x 918

Re: QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GERMAN LANGUAGE REFORM OF 1996.

Postby tiia » Sat Aug 25, 2018 9:06 am

The first reform was in 1996, so some of your resources listed should already include it. (You also see it's no surprise this was a huge thing in 1997.) But there had been some reform of the reform, making some old orthography valid again in the earliy 2000's. But in general I still find the new orthography more logical and easier, but for some words it seems just odd, which is also a reason why for some words both options exist.

Regarding material from the 1950's or 60's I would even more worry about the word choice and cultural aspects than the orthography.



Some aspects of the reform which may help to recognise the changes:
- ss and ß are now following the rules more strictly: ss comes after a short vowel, ß after a long one. So for a forgeiner it should be easier to guess the length of the vowel.
- ph and f - words that were written with ph can now be written with f, except for more "education related words" or something like that. So Pharmazie will never become Farmazie. This is one of the rules that was opend up again later on, so that Delfin and Delphin are now both correct, however, Delfin is recommended.
- Triple consonants in compound words. Most common example is Schifffahrt, consisting of Schiff + Fahrt. Before the reform one f was omitted: Schiffahrt. Triple consonants look odd at first, but I think it actually makes things easier, because you can be sure, that you have to split the word after the second of the three consonants. You will never encouter triple consonants in non-compound words, except when some made a typo (or maybe making fun of something).
- some words that were written as one may now be split into their components (not used for nouns, but it's relevant for verbs!)
- words (often of French origin?) can now be written how they sound, so Friseur and Frisör are both ok. Same as Portemonnaie, that can be now written as Portmonee. - But remember the education related rule from above: Ingenieur cannot be written with ö.

In general, some of the changes were adapted sooner than others. People are getting used to the new options more and more, so for example Frisör doesn't look as odd as it did for people just in the beginning.
5 x
Corrections for entries written in Finnish, Spanish or Swedish are welcome.
Project 30+X: 22 / 30

Skynet
Green Belt
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:37 pm
Location: Cyprus
Languages: BILINGUAL: Shona & English
PURSUING: French (DELF B2), German (B1?), Spanish (A2?)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8686
x 823

Re: QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GERMAN LANGUAGE REFORM OF 1996.

Postby Skynet » Sat Aug 25, 2018 9:30 am

tastyonions wrote:
Skynet wrote:...unlike French, German has had an orthography reform.

French did have one: https://fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rectifi ... is_en_1990


TastyOnions,

Thank-you for the correction. 8-)

You know, I had always wondered why newer course books used English words like "weekend" as "weekend" whilst older ones had "week-end." Quatre vingts (old) became "quatre-vingts" (modern), grand'mère became grand-mère, aiguë became aigüe and even verbs looked different arguer became argüer and aimé-je changed to aimè-je . In all of this time (ie, the past 5 weeks) it had never occurred to me that an orthography reform had changed French spelling. :lol: :lol: :lol:
Attachments
FRENCH MATRIX.jpg
WHEN THERE'S A REFORM THAT IS NOT COMPULSORY, THEN YOU CAN WRITE USING THE PRE- AND POST-REFORM ORTHOGRAPHY.
FRENCH MATRIX.jpg (48.49 KiB) Viewed 348 times
2 x

Skynet
Green Belt
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:37 pm
Location: Cyprus
Languages: BILINGUAL: Shona & English
PURSUING: French (DELF B2), German (B1?), Spanish (A2?)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8686
x 823

Re: QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GERMAN LANGUAGE REFORM OF 1996.

Postby Skynet » Sat Aug 25, 2018 9:46 am

Thanks for the feedback!

tiia wrote: there had been some reform of the reform, making some old orthography valid again

I found this to be utterly hilarious :lol: , but to be expected since language reforms always upset ultra-language conservatives (I am one of them and would oppose any change to Shona and English orthography vehemently!)

tiia wrote: Regarding material from the 1950's or 60's I would even more worry about the word choice and cultural aspects than the orthography.
Very valid concern indeed! I have subconsciously dropped anachronistic French phrases in the middle of my conversations before, only to be met with, "I see that you like old French movies!" :lol:


tiia wrote: Some aspects of the reform which may help to recognise the changes:
- ss and ß are now following the rules more strictly: ss comes after a short vowel, ß after a long one. So for a forgeiner it should be easier to guess the length of the vowel.
- ph and f - words that were written with ph can now be written with f, except for more "education related words" or something like that. So Pharmazie will never become Farmazie. This is one of the rules that was opend up again later on, so that Delfin and Delphin are now both correct, however, Delfin is recommended.
- Triple consonants in compound words. Most common example is Schifffahrt, consisting of Schiff + Fahrt. Before the reform one f was omitted: Schiffahrt. Triple consonants look odd at first, but I think it actually makes things easier, because you can be sure, that you have to split the word after the second of the three consonants. You will never encouter triple consonants in non-compound words, except when some made a typo (or maybe making fun of something).
- some words that were written as one may now be split into their components (not used for nouns, but it's relevant for verbs!)
- words (often of French origin?) can now be written how they sound, so Friseur and Frisör are both ok. Same as Portemonnaie, that can be now written as Portmonee. - But remember the education related rule from above: Ingenieur cannot be written with ö.

In general, some of the changes were adapted sooner than others. People are getting used to the new options more and more, so for example Frisör doesn't look as odd as it did for people just in the beginning.


This is invaluable! Now I know how to pronounce "-sör" and "-onee." I really cannot wait to start German in Feb 2019! Thanks again, Tiia!
0 x

Speakeasy
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2524
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 5:19 pm
Location: Canada (Montréal region)
Languages: English (N), French (C2). Studying: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Polish, and Russian; all with widely varying degrees of application, enthusiasm, and success.
x 6570

Re: QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GERMAN LANGUAGE REFORM OF 1996.

Postby Speakeasy » Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:33 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with Lawyer&Mom, this is a non-issue for the average language learner. Going further, …

I reject the argument that you should avoid absorbing vocabulary that no longer has the purchase that it once had (deliberate and instructive use of a somewhat “dated” expression). I assume that you are an intelligent adult, someone who is capable of appreciating the great value that many vintage language-learning materials offer, not to mention the truly vast contributions of German writers whose works are likely never to be revised. In short, I assume that you are someone who can distinguish between what was once prescribed and remains so and that which has since become proscribed. I have confidence in your ability to navigate the current linguistic shoals.

My advice is that you give no heed to the dire warnings of the “tongue troopers” who wish to protect your presumed delicate sensitivities from exposure to banished and offensive vocabulary; on the contrary, you should learn to savour it for its richness, its tradition, and for its plain-old quirkiness! Don’t hide it in that “special place” in your bedroom, taking it out when everyone else has gone to bed and, with the aid of a flashlight, visually caressing it. Tattoo “Fraülein” on your chest and wear a camisole designed to reveal the upper-half of its now-offensive letters. Tattoo the “gnädige” on the palm of your right hand and “Frau” on the palm your left hand, and greet one-and-all with a double-barrelled “high five.”

Suggestions that you should unrelentingly avoid Pre-Reform materials smacks to me of “linguistic prescriptivism” in its most purist tradition, a form of New Speak. In any event, all languages provide unlimited opportunities for making errors that others may or may not notice.

EDITED:
Tinkering.
4 x


Return to “Practical Questions and Advice”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests