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See also: German (By McElroy Translation)

See also: Swiss German

See also: Austrian German

See also: German Language and Nation - a Brief History


Contents:

1. Grammar and Spelling
2. Punctuation
3. Measurements and Abbreviations
4. Hyphenation
5. Miscellaneous Peculiarities
6. Geographic Distribution
7. Character Set

General note on German language reform:

This relates to spelling and grammar and aims to standardise the German, Austrian German and Swiss German forms as well as systematise the whole German language, making it less complicated.

Since 1 August 1998, the 'new' rules have been being taught in schools across Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Lichtenstein. Since 1 January 1999, the 'new' rules have been in use by all of the official authorities and since 1 August 1999, German-speaking news and media agents have been subscribing to the 'new' rules, although they have slightly modified them.

The transition is expected to be complete by 31 July 2005, at which time the 'old' form of the language will be regarded as incorrect. Until that time, the 'old' form is to be regarded not as incorrect, but as obsolete. However, minor changes to the reform are expected to be implemented before then.

http://www.ids-mannheim.de/reform/ (in German)

http://www.goethe.de/kug/prj/dds/en137878.htm (in English)

Section One - Grammar and Spelling

1. Gender: Three genders to be aware of - masculine (der), feminine (die) and neuter (das). Articles, pronouns and some word endings (mostly only when in the plural) have to be declined according to the case they are in. The definite article is der, die, das (see above), the indefinite article ein (m + n) and eine (f).

2. Cases: Four cases exist - nominative, accusative, genitive and dative.

3. Spelling: All nouns in German begin with a capital letter. The polite form of address (including possessive pronoun) also begins with a capital letter, i.e. Sie, Ihr.

The 'new' German rules can be most easily recognised by the diminished use of the ß in words where it used to be preceded by a short vowel i.e. daß becoming dass etc. (In Switzerland, the ß is not used at all, however, as before). Other reforms include the use of commas; the tolerance of the same 3 letters appearing in a row (i.e. Schifffahrt is correct); the germanisation of 'ph, th, rh' into 'f, t, r' (i.e. foto instead of photo etc.) and the spelling of compound verbs and participles as one word or two separate words (e.g. ‘so genannt’ instead of ‘sogenannt’).

In upper case, ß is never used, but always written SS, even following the 'old' rules.

Plural: there is no foolproof way of identifying the plural form of nouns, as it is dependent on the gender and case of the word. However, the most common plural endings are '-e' or '-en'.

Section Two - Punctuation

1. Commas: Punctuation is very important to German grammar, particularly where commas are concerned. As a general rule, there is a comma before (and after) every subordinate clause introduced by a conjunction or a relative pronoun. Though the rules for commas have become somewhat more relaxed with the grammar reform, they should still be treated with caution.

2. Full stops: No full stops after headings/sub-heads/bullet points.

3. Speech marks: German uses mostly „...“ or «...» (in printed texts), although it is not now uncommon to see the same speech marks in use as in English.

When the sentence within speech marks ends with a full stop, the speech marks are written after the full stop: Sie sagte: „Ich komme morgen.” But if the main verb is after the cited phrase, the comma separating it is after the speech mark: „Ich komme morgen”, sagte sie.

When the phrase within the speech marks ends with a ! or ?, the speech marks are set as follows:

1. „Geben Sie mir mehr Arbeit!”, schrie Chloe. (“Give me more work!”, shouted Chloe.)

2. „Will noch jemand Tee?”, fragte George. (“Would anyone like some tea?” asked George.)

3. „Mir ist langweilig - kann ich jetzt heimgehen?”, sagte Michala. (“I’m bored – can I go home now?”, Michala said.)

4. Apostrophes: The apostrophe is used when a letter is left out (i.e. mostly in reported speech – e.g. ‘mir reicht’s’ instead of ‘mir reicht es’) or to define the genitive case in words that end in s, ? or z. Hannes’ Geburtstag, Karl Marx’ Philosophie.

5. Colons, semi-colons and ellipsis: Basically used the same way as in English, with the first two not being as frequently used as in English sentences.

6. Capitalisation: This is a wide field and should be handled in accordance with Duden. In headings etc. capitalisation does not differ from the rules for other sentences.

Section Three - Measurements and Abbreviations

1. Measurement: It is now a legal requirement that all measurements be written only in metric in German texts, although there are some exceptions: pipes/tubes, threads, computer monitors and computer disks which are given in Zoll (= inch).

Paper sizes: The form A0/E is American. In German, the letter following the initial size (i.e. 'E' in this case) is omitted, and DIN inserted before: DIN A0

Use a decimal comma.

Numbers above 999: Use either a space or a dot to separate groups of thousands.

SWISS GERMAN uses apostrophes (instead of commas) to separate groups of thousands.

Currency: There are various correct ways of writing German currency: 5,00 €; 5,- €; € 5 (the latter is used mostly in financial documents or presentations where the focus is on figures).

The same with other symbols: US$ 50; £ 23,50 but 3 Millionen Dollar, 300.000 Pfund. The international 3-letter code, e.g. GBP is only used by banks and similar institutions.

Time: Tends towards the 24hr system, and should use the format either 6.30 [Uhr] or 6:30 [Uhr].

Date: Two formats - either 20. Februar 2005 or 20.02.2005

A space is generally left between numbers and their measurement abbreviations, i.e. 21,5 kg (but see the two points below).
% symbol: As in English, preceded by a space unless it is being used in an adjectival position, i.e. eine 10%ige Erhöhung [a 10% increase].
°C: A space, i.e. 3 °C (technical use) or 3° C (general use)
It is not uncommon to see figures adjacent to letters: 4teilig (4-part); 10fach (tenfold); ½-, ¼-und ¾zöllig (a half, a quarter and three-quarters of an inch).

2. Abbreviations:

N/a = na (nicht anwendbar)
No. = Nr.
e.g. = z.B. i.e. = d.h.
Q&A = F&A
WxLxHxD = B x L x H x T
1. / 2. / 3. / 4.
Herr (Hr.) / Frau (Fr.)
Frl.
Sehr geehrter Herr (name) / Sehr geehrte Frau (name)
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren (only way of salutation without using a name)
m (for metre)
cm (for centimetre)
g (for gram)
km (for kilometre)

Days of the week: Mo., Di., Mi., Do., Fr., Sa., So.

Months: Jan., Febr., März, Apr., Mai, Juni, Juli, Aug., Sept., Okt., Nov., Dez.

Seasons: Frühling, Sommer, Herbst, Winter (not normally abbreviated in German)

Section Four – Hyphenation

German hyphenation follows strict rules - please consult the latest "Duden" for correct hyphenation. The general rule is that compound nouns are spelt without a hyphen unless it consists of more than two or three nouns or one of the nouns is of foreign origin.

German sometimes uses a hyphen to connect one or two nouns to a compound noun in a list of words which have the second part of the final compound noun as a common element i.e. Groß- und Kleinschreibung [where Groß- represents Großschreibung]. The use of the hyphen is the equivalent of writing 'upper and lower case writing' instead of 'upper case writing and lower case writing'.

Short (N) dashes are used in sentences.

Section Five – Miscellaneous Peculiarities

There is often considerable language expansion when going from English to German.

The need for hyphenation is, by and large, unavoidable in German, due to the frequency of long, compound words.

Section Six – Geographic Distribution

German is one of the main cultural languages of the Western world, spoken by approximately 100 million people. It is the national language of both Germany and Austria, and is one of the four official languages of Switzerland.

Additionally it is spoken in eastern France, in the region formerly known as Alsace-Lorraine, in northern Italy in the region of Alto Adige, and also in eastern Belgium, Luxembourg, and the principality of Liechtenstein. There are about one and a half million speakers of German in the United States, 500,000 in Canada and sizable colonies as well in South America and such far-flung countries as Namibia and Kazakhstan. Like the other Germanic languages, German is a member of the Indo-European family. Written German is quite uniform but spoken dialects vary considerably, sometimes to the point where communication becomes a problem.

German is spoken/used in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Moldova, Namibia, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia (Europe), Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, USA, Uzbekistan.

Language Family
Family: Indo-European
Subgroup: Germanic
Branch: Western

Dialects vary in Austria as well. Its written German (High German) differs slightly from the variety used in Germany (mainly in vocabulary and in its preference for the south German variants of the language). In Switzerland,the spoken German language (Swiss German) is rarely used in written communication, where High German is used (again with some changes). This is why print media and books are distributed in all three countries. When targeting only one of them in a marketing campaign, texts should be localised to their specific variety of German.

Source: http://www.worldlanguage.com/Languages/German - Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge. http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=deu (accessed July 2005)

Section Seven – Character Set

[ ] = Alt key codes

LOWER CASE
UPPER CASE
a ä [0228] A, Ä [0196]
b B
c C
d D
e E
f F
g G
h H
i I
j J
k K
l L
m M
n N
o ö [0246] O, Ö [0214]
p P
q Q
r R
s S
ß (only Germany and Austria, NOT Switzerland)
t T
u ü [0252] U, Ü [0220]
v V
w W
x X
y Y
z Z







German

By McElroy Translation,
Austin, Texas 78701 USA

quotes at mcelroytranslation com
http://www.mcelroytranslation.com/

 

Overview

For the next few months, McElroy will be running a series of articles that highlight some of the characteristics of top languages used in doing business globally. This month, we look at German, in an interview conducted with McElroy Translator Gerhard Preisser.

What are some pitfalls to avoid, specific to this language, a client should be aware of when translating into this language?

First off, a general observation: A good German translation of an English source text is not only a product of good linguistic skills in both languages on the part of the translator; it also depends to a smaller or greater extent on the content, specifically the degree to which a given text is steeped in cultural/societal idiosyncrasies. English texts that draw heavily on concepts or experiences that are foreign to the intended German reader will require more than a translation to have the same impact they possess in English. Some examples: Advertising material with liberal baseball analogies, biographical texts highlighting school and university degrees commonly offered only in the US, product literature highlighting devices mostly unknown in Germany (such as a food disposal).

Some comments about technical documents (such as user manuals):

  • Clients should be aware that lengthy introductions common to US publications, expressing gratitude and appreciation for the customer for having bought a specific product, are considered somewhat ingratiating; a simple “we’re happy you bought our widget” will suffice perfectly.
  • Technical documents produced in the US sometimes tend to be quite personal in tone—this does not translate well into German and should be avoided (no need to say “please”).
  • Warranty information should reflect EU or German conventions and legal requirements; it is pointless to have finer legal points such as those regulating commerce between US states translated.
  • Toll-free phone customer service phone numbers are of no special help to potential callers from abroad.
  • Advising users of any given product to use non-metric tools (e.g. a “3/8 inch socket”) to manipulate non-metric devices/fasteners is rather pointless.

What are characteristics of this language that are unique or different from English and/or other languages?

  1. Unlike English, German is a highly declensional language, based on a system of a multitude of inflections and cases. For each word in each word class—noun, verb or adjective—there is a substantial set of possible inflections. This makes stemming considerably more complicated compared to English.
  2. It is possible in German to build compounds by joining two or more words, e.g. “Haustür” (front door) or “Schulbusfahrer” (school bus driver). In theory, any number of combinations—noun+noun, adjective+adjective, adjective+noun, adjective+verb, verb+noun, etc.—is conceivable. A popular example is the word “Donaudampfschifffahrtskapitän”—captain commanding a steamboat on the [river] Danube.

How do these characteristics make it important to use properly qualified, professional translators?

Given the complex system of endings, it is not surprising that even native speakers of German with an average education occasionally get it wrong. Infamous trouble spots are the weak vs. strong declension of adjectives, correct endings of adjectives following certain indefinite numerals, verb forms in the subjunctive I, and strong vs. weak past participle forms of verbs. Yet mistakes of this sort, while relatively common, DO get noticed by discerning readers and anyone who thinks they have an above average grasp of the language (i.e. the vast majority of Germans holding post high school degrees), and they do cause irritation. Professional translators can be trusted to avoid such errors.

While declension and conjugation follow precisely and comprehensively defined rules, the issue of word building through compounding is by nature a bit more intuitive. Compounds lend themselves to the formation of perfectly acceptable neologisms; a police car is a “Polizeiauto,” the moon vehicle a “Mondauto,” and should there ever be a car made to ride on the surface of Venus, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be called a “Venusauto.” Compounds enlarge the available vocabulary almost endlessly, and I can think of dozens of perfectly legitimate compounds one won’t find in most dictionaries. Forming a compound, however, is not always as easy as taking one adjective/noun/verb and simply adding another adjective/noun/verb. Many require linking letters—such as s, es or er—and depending on the letter(s) chosen, the very same compound word may take on a different meaning: “Kinderkopf” is a child’s head, “Kindskopf” a childish person; “Geschichtenbuch” is a story book, “Geschichtsbuch” a history book.

The creation of compounds that make sense and are formed correctly is difficult to learn by a non-native speaker of German and, since compounds cannot always be verified by checking an available dictionary or glossary, a “finer point” of the language best left to experts.

Do you know examples where translation or localization mistakes have occurred with this language, such as problems with text expansion, date/time formats, counting errors, character encoding, etc., or mistakes with the translation itself?

In an average year, I edit/review anywhere between half a million and one million words. These projects are assigned to me by a number of translation agencies—on average, I accept projects from about 30 agencies a year, and about 80 percent of those projects come from about 30% of those agencies. Not surprisingly, those 10 or so agencies are my favorite clients; without exception, they have comprehensive translator selection and quality assurance processes in place, and accepting editing projects from them is relatively risk-free.

For business reasons, however, I also accept occasional reviewing assignments from a host of other agencies with less exacting quality standards, and in the past, I have encountered just about all the problems mentioned in your question. Two recent examples come to mind:

I was asked to edit a 20,000+ word brochure by an organization dedicated to educating consumers about timber native to the western US. The brochure was highly technical in nature; it offered descriptions of timber grades and standards and provided detailed descriptions of the criteria for each grade.

The project was completed on a tight schedule, and I was given a total of 12 hours to complete the edit. Any time extension was out of the question. Upon asking about the identity of the translator, I was told she was extremely qualified with experience in that particular field. Plus, she was an ATA accredited translator, and I should expect to make small, stylistic changes only. I did not know the translator by name, but accepted the assignment based on the assurances I received from the agency.

Unfortunately, the translation was of a very poor quality and required substantial revisions. The chosen style was inappropriate for its intended purpose and readership, and—more importantly—the terminology was frequently wrong, which I determined by spot-checking a few terms early on in the revision process. I contacted the agency to inform them of my concerns and to point out to them that I would need more time to do a proper job as the editor. I was told to do the best I could; no additional time could be granted.

Needless to say, despite my efforts at improving the translation, this project was delivered in a somewhat unfinished state. I was unable to verify all the chosen terminology, and I am convinced that the translation was seriously flawed—a fact that the end customer was most likely not informed of.

While this translation may have been created by a “professional translator,” it was not created by a translator competent in the field she was working in, and it was produced under unacceptable time pressure.

Another example: I was asked to edit a relatively short translation of descriptions of print advertisements for a large IT manufacturer. The German text read as though it was produced by either a non-native speaker with an above-average command of German or a native German speaker who was somewhat out of touch with his/her native language. The translation was both too colloquial and terminologically flawed. (A particularly annoying mistake was the consistent translation of the term advertisement with “Werbung,” which refers to a TV/radio commercial, but not to a print ad.) Had the translation not been edited, it would have been completely unacceptable to the end client.

One comment regarding text expansion: that’s an issue I run into all the time, especially with one particular client who produces software for printing equipment. I am usually allowed as many characters for German as there are for the English source word, which leads to almost comical efforts on my part to find shorter substitutes or to abbreviate the only available terms. Ex.: press (as in an offset press) is “Druckmaschine” in German, and there really are no substitutes. Thus a 5 letter word in English becomes a 13 letter word in German, and I usually have no choice but to create a strange acronym such as “Drckm.” Professional translators complain about this problem all the time, and many of them are engaged in intense client education efforts to convince the authors of such software to allow for a certain expansion factor in other languages.

Relate an example or two where you found a website page or form difficult to use because it was poorly localized into your language/locale. How might a business lose money, prestige or incur legal risk due to this bad translation?

All modern translators engage in web research in order to properly prepare for technical/scientific translations. To me, the Internet has become an invaluable resource, specifically in new and rapidly developing fields where printed dictionaries cannot possibly keep up with frequent changes and discoveries.

While conducting research in such areas, I have in the past frequently come across web sites originating in the US or other countries, describing complex technologies and/or processes in German (usually with the intent of generating interest in that company’s products or services in German speaking countries). I have quite often found that these companies decided not to invest in professional translators for these types of projects, but instead went with cheaper alternatives, to include machine-generated translations without any post-editing. The results are always predictable and range from unreliable terminology to incomprehensible gibberish.

Some time ago, I was working on a translation of a “float zone system” used in growing crystals for the semiconductor industry. During my initial web research, I came across the site of a small manufacturer of crystal growing equipment trying to promote his products to potential German buyers. The site was translated by a person other than a professional translator, as evidenced by the fact that ALL technical terms were left in English and put between quotation marks, rendering the translation basically useless (even when accounting for the fact that there is a fair number of technical terms in this industry that should indeed be left in English). It is hard to imagine that this particular buyer found even a single German buyer through their web site.

And about 4 years ago, I was translating information for German visitors to the Washington DC area, specifically information on how to use the local subway system. Imagine my surprise when I found an existing site, published by the same transit company, that was obviously created by translation software—with all the street names of subway/bus stops “translated” and directions for buying fare cards and using the systems that would have ensured that not one German tourist would be able to buy a ticket and get to where they really wanted to go. Obviously, a major blow to an image-conscious city like Washington, DC!

If possible, provide one example of a particular phrase or concept that only a properly qualified, professional translator would be able to correctly communicate.

I do a fair amount of translation work in the fields of printing and publishing, especially with the translation of manuals describing offset presses, register guidance systems, color control systems etc. The language used to describe this type of equipment is quite idiosyncratic and specific to this industry; terms that have a rather general meaning in common language take on a very specific meaning in connection with printing.

So, having worked in this field for over 12 years (and investing thousands of dollars in dictionaries and applicable reference books), I know that an “alley” is the space between columns of texts, except for a certain manufacturer, who uses “alley” as a synonym of “page.” I also know that a “circumferential position” is nothing more complex than a position in the up or down direction of a web (as opposed to a “lateral” position), and that “trapping” is the printing of one ink (color) over another. While the notion that common terms have a special significance when used in a particular technical field, applies to a host of specialties (IT is another prominent example), this is particularly true of the printing industry, and perplexing to anyone not familiar with it.

When I first started out as a professional translator and ventured out into this field, I was quickly humbled by falling into quite a few of these linguistic “traps” (pun intended!), and I didn’t waste any time in deciding that I had to invest a lot of time and effort in educating myself in this subject matter. As a professional, I simply had no other choice.

 


 

Austrian German

 

By Wordbank Ltd,
33 CHARLOTTE STREET, LONDON W1T 1RR, U.K.
TEL: +44 (0) 20 7903 8800, FAX: +44 (0) 20 7903 8888,
word at wordbank com
www.wordbank.com

Amended by Ms. G. Searle, MSc, MBCS
gig.searle meduni-graz at
www.meduni-graz.at

 

Contents:

1. Grammar and Spelling
2. Punctuation
3. Measurements and Abbreviations
4. Hyphenation
5. Miscellaneous Peculiarities
6. Geographic Distribution
7. Character Set

General note on Austrian German and German:

Austrian German adheres to the grammatical system of the German standard language and only differs in minor points, e.g. in some cases of plural formation.

Furthermore, in some cases, prepositions are used differently.

The auxiliary of the perfect is a form of “sein” (to be) in Austrian German for all verbs that describe a body posture as opposed to the use of the auxiliary “haben” in standard German.

Since the language reform of 1996, differences in spelling have mostly been adjusted and are now negligible.

Austrian standard language as used by the general public as the officially recognized and mostly standardized language, is a regional variety of German as spoken in Germany. This standard language is used and understood throughout the German-speaking region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland).

Therefore all rules of standard German as to grammar and spelling, punctuation, measurements and abbreviations and hyphenation, client specific points, miscellaneous features and geography are applicable in the same way as they are to standard German.

When compound words are used, they are sometimes formed in a slightly different way than in standard German, e.g. an “-s-“ is included to connect the words, e.g. ‘Zugsverkehr’ (train traffic). In standard German, this would be ‘Zugverkehr’ without the “-s-“.

Another feature of word formation (only in colloquial Austrian German) is the diminutive form “-erl” that differs from standard German usage (diminutive form “-chen”).

There are a wide range of idioms that are specific to Austrian German. Most of these are, again, a feature of colloquial language. However, the use of these phrases and idioms should be handled with care when translating for a target audience, since they are often not appreciated if not adjusted to the region e.g. the colloquial German phrase for ‘I don’t care’ – “Das juckt mich nicht die Bohne” would cause amusement or even slight contempt, when used in Austria. Austrians would say “Das ist mir Wurscht”, a phrase that causes amusement among German speakers in Germany.

In addition, usage in specific situations may differ, e.g in Austria a university degree is included in the name e.g. “Magister/Magistra” (abbreviated : “Mag.” and added before the name itself).

Section One - Grammar and Spelling

1. Gender: Three genders to be aware of - masculine (der), feminine (die) and neuter (das). Articles, pronouns and some word endings (mostly only when in the plural) have to be declined according to the case they are in. The definite article is der, die das (see above), the indefinite article ein (m + n) and eine (f).

2. Cases: Four cases exist - nominative, accusative, genitive and dative.

3. Spelling: All nouns in German begin with a capital letter.

The polite form of address (including possessive pronoun) also begins with a capital letter, i.e. Sie, Ihr.

The 'new' German rules can be most easily recognised by the diminished use of the ß in words where it used to be preceded by a short vowel i.e. daß becoming dass etc. (In Switzerland, the ß is not used at all, however, as before). Other reforms include the use of commas; the tolerance of the same 3 letters appearing in a row (i.e. Schifffahrt is correct); the germanisation of 'ph, th, rh' into 'f, t, r' (i.e. foto instead of photo etc.) and the spelling of compound verbs and participles as one word or two separate words (e.g. so genannt instead of sogenannt).

In upper case, ß is never used, but always written SS, even following the 'old' rules.

Plural: there is no foolproof way of identifying the plural form of nouns, as it is dependent on the gender and case of the word. However, the most common plural endings are '-e' or '-en'.

Section Two – Punctuation

1. Commas: Punctuation is very important to the grammar of Austrian German, particularly where commas are concerned. As a general rule, there is a comma before (and after) every subordinate clause introduced by a conjunction or a relative pronoun). Though the rules for setting commas have become somewhat more relaxed with the grammar reform, they should still be treated with caution.

2. Full stops: No full stops after headings/sub-heads/bullet points.

3. Speech marks: Austrian German uses mostly „...“ or «...» (in printed texts), although it is not now uncommon to see the same speech marks in use as in English.

When the sentence within speech marks ends with a full stop, the speech marks are after the full stop: Sie sagte: „Ich komme morgen.” But if the main verb is after the cited phrase, the comma separating it is after the speech mark: „Ich komme morgen”, sagte sie.

When the phrase within the speech marks ends with a ! or ?, the speech marks are set as follows:

1. „Geben Sie mir mehr Arbeit!”, schrie Chloe. (“Give me more work!”, shouted Chloe.)
2. „Will noch jemand Tee?”, fragte George. (“Would anyone like some tea?” asked George.)
3. „Mir ist langweilig - kann ich jetzt heimgehen?”, sagte Michala. (“I’m bored – can I go home now?”, Michala said.)

4. Apostrophes: The apostrophe is set when a letter is left out (i.e. mostly in reported speech – e.g. mir reicht’s instead of mir reicht es) or to define the genitive case in words that end in s, x or z. Hannes’ Geburtstag, Karl Marx’ Philosophie.

5. Colons, semi-colons and ellipsis: Basically used the same way as in English, with the first two not being as frequently used as in English sentences.

6. Capitalisation: This is a wide field and should be handled in accordance with the Duden. In headings etc. capitalisation does not differ from the rules for other sentences.

Section Three - Measurements and Abbreviations

1. Measurement: It is now a legal requirement that all measurements be written only in metric in Austrian German texts, although there are some exceptions: pipes/tubes, threads, computer monitors, computer disks which are given in Zoll (= inch).

Paper sizes: The form A0/E is American. In Austrian German, the letter following the initial size (i.e. 'E' in this case) is omitted, and DIN inserted before: DIN A0

Use a decimal comma.

Numbers above 999: Use either a space or a dot to separate groups of thousands.

SWISS GERMAN uses apostrophes (instead of commas) to separate groups of thousands.

Currency: There are various correct ways of writing Austrian German currency: 5,00 €; 5,- €; € 5 (the latter is used mostly in financial documents or presentations where the focus is on figures). The same with other symbols: US$ 50; £ 23,50 but 3 Millionen Dollar, 300.000 Pfund. The international 3-letter code, e.g. GBP is only used by banks and similar institutions.

Time: Tends towards the 24hr system, and should use the format either 6.30 [Uhr] or 6:30 [Uhr].

Date: Two formats - either 20. Februar 2004 or 20.02.2004

A space is generally left between numbers and their measurement abbreviations, i.e. 21,5 kg (but see the two points below).

% symbol: As in English, preceded by a space unless it is being used in an adjectival position, i.e. eine 10%ige Erhöhung [a 10% increase].

°C: A space, i.e. 3 °C (technical use) or 3° C (general use)

It is not uncommon to see figures adjacent to letters: 4teilig (4-part); 10fach (tenfold); ½-, ¼-und ¾zöllig (a half, a quarter and three-quarters of an inch).

2. Abbreviations:

N/a = na (nicht anwendbar)
No. = Nr.
e.g. = z.B. i.e. = d.h.
Q&A = F&A
WxLxHxD = B x L x H x T
1st/2nd/3rd/4th = 1. / 2. / 3. / 4.
Herr (Hr.) (Mr.) / Frau (Fr.) (Ms/Mrs.) / Fraulein (Frl.) (Ms/Miss)
Sehr geehrter Herr (name) / Sehr geehrte Frau (name)
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren (only way of salutation without using a name)
m (for metre)
cm (for centimetre)
g (for gram)
km (for kilometre)
Days of the week: Mo., Di., Mi., Do., Fr., Sa., So.
Months: Jan., Febr., März, Apr., Mai, Juni, Juli, Aug., Sept., Okt., Nov., Dez. Seasons: Frühling, Sommer, Herbst, Winter (not normally abbreviated in German)

Section Four – Hyphenation

Austrian German hyphenation follows strict rules - please consult the latest "Duden" for correct hyphenation. The general rule is that compound nouns are spelt without a hyphen unless it consists of more the two or three nouns or one of the nouns is of foreign origin.

Austrian German sometimes uses a hyphen to connect one or two nouns to a compound noun in a list of words which have the second part of the final compound noun as a common element i.e. Groß- und Kleinschreibung [where Groß- represents Großschreibung]. The use of the hyphen is the equivalent of writing 'upper and lower case writing' instead of 'upper case writing and lower case writing'.

Short (N) dashes are used in sentences.

Section Five – Miscellaneous Peculiarities

There is a regional vocabulary that is the main feature of Austrian German.
However it is hardly noticeable in written texts or formal documents. Regional vocabulary is concentrated in colloquial language, i.e. slang and dialect and specific areas of everyday or “household” language, such as food, for example. For these items different words are used.
Some words are used throughout the German-speaking region, but have a different or additional meaning in Austrian German.

Pronunciation - this might be the most distinctive feature, since the difference between speakers of Austrian German and German in Germany becomes evident through pronunciation. Consonants are pronounced less clearly, suffixes are “swallowed”, different stress is applied to some words, in general there is a more noticeable sequence of stressed and unstressed syllables which is a major characteristic of the Austrian pronunciation.

Section Six – Geographic Distribution

Language Family: Indo-European.

98% of the population of Austria speak German, which is the official and national language. Slovenian (regional) is the other national language. 93% of non-nationals include Croatians, Slovenes, Hungarians, Czechs and Slovaks.

Source: The World Factbook: Field Listing - Language. Central Intelligence Agency. Available from:
http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fields/2098.html (accessed 2 March 2004).

(Adapted from: Österreichisches Wörterbuch, öbv&hpt, Verlag Jugend und Volk, Wien).

Section Seven – Character Set

[ ] = Alt key codes

LOWER CASE
UPPER CASE
a ä [0228] A Ä [0196]
b B
c C
d D
e E
f
g G
h
i I
j
k
l L
m
n N
o ö [0246] O Ö [0214]
p P
q Q
r R
s S
t T
u ü [0252] U Ü [0220]
v V
w W
x X
y Y
z Z

 





Swiss German

 

By Wordbank Ltd,
33 CHARLOTTE STREET, LONDON W1T 1RR, U.K.
TEL: +44 (0) 20 7903 8800, FAX: +44 (0) 20 7903 8888,


word at wordbank com

www.wordbank.com

 

Contents:

1. General note on Swiss German
2. Grammar and Spelling
3. Punctuation
4. Measurements and Abbreviations
5. Hyphenation
6. Miscellaneous Peculiarities
7. Geographic Distribution
8. Character Set

Section One - General note on Swiss German

Two forms of German are used in Switzerland. High German, or Hochdeutsch (also known as Schriftdeutsch, "Written German") is the same language used throughout German-speaking Europe. Swiss-German, or Schwyzertütsch, comprises dozens of regional dialects unique to Switzerland, and is unrecognizable to speakers of High German.

No one speaks High German in everyday situations in Switzerland - oral use of High German is restricted to school education, the mass media and public speaking. In all other situations, everyone naturally uses their own local dialect of Swiss-German. And unlike in Britain or France, no one in Germanspeaking Switzerland strives to copy a Zürich accent or a Basel accent in order to gain greater credibility. Using the dialect of your home town is a source of pride.

However, Swiss-German is hardly ever written. It"s only relatively recently that a dictionary laying down agreed spellings has been compiled, and it"s still open to some controversy.

The written German variety used in Switzerland follows all standard German grammar rules with the exception of a few stylistic and idiomatic idiosyncrasies. Most importantly, ß is NOT used in Switzerland, but replaced by ss.

NOTE:

ESSENTIALLY, THE GRAMMATICAL, PUNCTUATION AND HYPHENATION RULES OF WRITTEN SWISS GERMAN ARE IDENTICAL TO HIGH GERMAN, AS THE WRITTEN LANGUAGE IN SWITZERLAND IS STANDARD (HIGH) GERMAN.

Section Two - Grammar and Spelling

1. Gender: German has three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.

2. Case: German has four cases: Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genitive. The case of a noun is determined by its function within the sentence.

3. Articles: The definite article is der/die/das; the indefinite article is ein/eine/ein (depending on the gender).

4. Plurals: German noun plurals follow one of the following patterns:

no ending
-e ending
-er ending
-en , -n , or -nen ending
-s ending

5. Capitalisation: The formal "you" address in letters is capitalised: Sie/Ihnen. Example: Ich begrüsse Sie in unserem Club und wünsche Ihnen viel Spass&

Section Three - Punctuation

1. Full stops: Full stops are used at the end of sentences, but also in decimals, dates etc.

2. Speech marks: Speech marks should strictly be "...".

Examples:

1. "Gib mir Arbeit!", schrie Chloe.
2. "Will jemand Tee?", fragt George.
3. "Mir ist langweilig - ich gehe nach Hause", sagt Michala.

3. Quotation marks: German uses single quotation marks for a quotation within a quotation in the same way English does. Example: "Das ist eine Zeile aus Goethes ,Erlkönig' ", sagte er.

Unlike English, German introduces a direct quotation with a colon rather than a comma. Example: Er sagte: "Ich gehe jetzt nach Hause."

4. Apostrophes: Contrary to English, German does NOT use apostrophes to denominate Genitive. Examples: Sandras Schwester, Bettinas Hund.

5. Colons and semi-colons: Colons and semi-colons are used in much the same way as English.

6. Brackets: Brackets or hyphens are frequently used (instead of a comma) to add additional information.

7. Capitalisation: Headings, product names, proper names etc. are normally written in capitals.

The greeting in letters (Dear…) is separated in German by a comma and the first sentence starts in lower case.

Example: Sehr geehrter Herr Direktor,
ich freue mich…

Section Four - Measurements and Abbreviations

1. Measurements: The metric system is used for all measurements. Imperial measurements are generally not used.

A comma is used to denote decimals. Example: 4,5 cm. Exception: Currency (see below).

In contrast to High German, thousands are separated not by a full stop, but either by an apostrophe or a space: 4000 = 4'000 or 4 000 / 50 000 = 50'000 or 50 000.

Times are written as follows: 10.30 am = 10.30 (Uhr) / noon = Mittag / 4.30
pm = 16.30 (Uhr) / midnight = Mitternacht.

Dates are written as follows:

20 February 2004/ 20th February 2004/ February 20 = 20. Februar 2004
20/02/2004 = 20.2.04 or 20.02.2004

There is normally a space between a figure and a measurement abbreviation.

There is normally a space before the % symbol, although this is not compulsory.

There is normally a space between ° C. Example: 30° C.

Currency symbols are usually written with a space before the actual number, i.e. Fr. 500, Euro 45. Numbers with more than 6 digits are generally written out in words.

Example: $ 6 million = 6 Millionen Dollar.

The international 3-letter code e.g. GBP for £, CHF for Swiss Francs, appears instead of the symbol, i.e. before the number. Examples: GBP 200, CHF 500.

Unlike the German version, full stops are used to indicate decimals in currencies.
Examples: Fr. 3.50, Euro 500.12

2. Abbreviations:

N/a = -
No. (nos.) = Nr.
e.g. = z.B.
WxLxHxD = B x L x H x T
1st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th = 1./2./3./4.
Mr. / Mrs. = Hr. / Fr.
Messrs. = Herren
Miss = Frl. (or Frau)
Dear Sir / Madam = Sehr geehrte Dame/ sehr geehrter Herr
m (for metre) = m
cm (for centimetre) = cm
lb (for pound weight) - not used
g (for gram) = g
km (for kilometre) = km
yr (for year) - not used
k (for 1000) - not used
EMEA (Europe, Middle-East & Asia)

Days of the week: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun = Mo, Di, Mi, Do, Fr, Sa, So

Months: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec = Jan, Feb, Mär, Apr, Mai, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Okt, Nov, Dez

Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (not normally abbreviated in English) = Frühling, Sommer, Herbst, Winter (not abbreviated)

Section Five - Hyphenation

Hyphens are used frequently to split words over lines (there are specific rules on where words are to be split, generally based on the syllabic structure).

As there is a tendency towards long noun clusters, hyphens are also used to split up long nouns into their composites: Zug-Fahrplan or Zugsfahrplan.

"N" dashes ( - ) can be used instead of commas to structure long sentences.
The longer "M" dashes (—) are not used.

Section Six - Miscellaneous Peculiarities

Road signs in Switzerland are often given in two languages simultaneously, i.e. Basel/Basle in places bordering on two language regions. Similarly, packaging of Swiss products is usually tri-lingual: German, Italian and French.

Surnames are sometimes given before first names, i.e. people introduce themselves or are referred to as Schmid Peter (Smith, Peter).

The typeface of High German in Switzerland does NOT include the ß, but ONLY ss.

Section Seven - Geographic Distribution

Language Distribution in Switzerland:

German
German is by far the most widely spoken language in Switzerland: 17 of the 26 cantons are monolingual in German.

French
French is spoken in the western part of the country, the "Suisse Romande." Four cantons are French-speaking: Geneva, Jura, Neuchâtel and Vaud. Three cantons are bilingual: in Bern, Fribourg and Valais both French and German are spoken.

Italian
Italian is spoken in Ticino and 4 southern valleys of Grisons.

Rhaeto-Rumantsch (Rumantsch)
Rumantsch is spoken only in the trilingual canton of Graubünden. The other two languages spoken there are German and Italian. Rumantsch, like Italian and French, is a language with Latin roots. It is spoken by just 0.5% of the total Swiss population.

The many foreigners resident in Switzerland have brought with them their own languages, which taken as a whole now outnumber both Rumantsch and Italian. The 2000 census showed that speakers of Serbian/Croatian were the largest foreign language group, with 1.4% of the population. English was the main language for 1%.

SUMMARY Language Situation:

In Switzerland, [standard] High German is first and foremost a written language, which Swiss German children have to learn in school. All lessons are taught in it, and it is the language of newspapers and magazines and most books. It is also widely used in the media.

The language spoken in German-speaking Switzerland is quite different from standard German - called High German - as spoken in Germany. The German Swiss speak Swiss German - which itself is broken up into numerous local dialects. These are different enough to make it possible to determine where a speaker comes from, but generally not so different as to be incomprehensible to other Swiss German speakers.

Sources:

-"Switzerland is yours" website: http://switzerland.isyours.com/e/guide/contexts/german.html

"Schweiz in Sicht" website:
http://www.schweiz-insicht.ch/eng/index.html?siteSect=601&sid=4039995&rubricId=14010

-Goethe Institute website:
http://www.goethe.de/dll/mat/gra/lks/enindex.htm

-German language website:
http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa031901b.htm

Section Eight - Character Set

[ ] = Alt key codes

LOWER CASE
UPPER CASE
a, ä [132] A
b B
c C
d D
e E
f F
g G
h H
i I
j J
k K
l L
m M
n N
o, ö [148] O
p P
q Q
r R
s S
t T
u, ü [129] U
v V
w W
x X
y Y
z Z

 




German Language and Nation - a Brief History


By Karel Kosman,
Freelance Translator,
Prague, Czech Republic

travel at kenax cz
http://travel-europe.kenax.cz/



History of the German Language

German is a member of the western branch of the Germanic family of languages, which in turn is part of the Indo-European language family.

There are 90 -120 million native German speakers around the world and, according to Guinness book of world records, most translations performed in the world are into and from German. 32% of the EU-15 countries say they can converse in it.

The language is closely related to English and Dutch, as is explained in the History of English section.

20 million people around the world speak it as their non-native language, creating such interesting varieties as Pennsylvania Dutch (a west central German variety), Texas German, and Aleman Coloniero in Venezuela, depending on the dialect spoken of the Germans who first moved there or colonised the area.

German is the third most taught foreign language in the world and apparently 7.7% of webpages are written in the German language (second to English), with 12% of google surfers using its German interface.

The recorded history of the language begins between the 6th and 8th century when a major consonant shift took place, while various dialects seemed to form across the many states and regions of the German lands. Writers had a habit of merging the various dialects in hopes that their works would be readable across the greatest population possible, and this approach was applied by Martin Luther when he translated the bible in 1522, although his translation had many subnotes translating various terms into local dialects.

The Catholic church put out its own version, while the protestant and Catholic renditions, although not that much different, battled it out until an acceptable standard was agreed upon in the middle of the 18th century.

Up to the middle of the 19th century, the language became the medium of commerce of the Habsburg empire, covering a large area of Central and Eastern Europe. Local languages remained, but German was the language of merchants from as far as Milan, Zagreb and Bratislava.

This standard or high German which was developed to encompass a broader region was often learned and considered as a foreign language by the various dialects, and frequently was not even uttered until early school, although television and the media are now reaching to preschool levels. The first dictionary of the Brothers Grimm, written in 1860, remains the most comprehensive guide to this created language.

The language underwent a spelling reform in 1996, but which led to much controversy, primarily over the issue whether a language should represent its regional cultures or whether it should be a means to facilitate communication. The battle went as far as the Supreme Court, until the federal government intervened to officially adopt a new standard just in time for the 2006 school year.

The German language is composed of three main dialects.

Not only does the German speaking area encompass a large region of many varied dialects, whose speakers frequently do not even understand each other, and not only does the adopted standard or high German also differ across regions, the way surrounding countries call Germans is also quite varied. For example, the Slavic countries apply some rendition of the word mute ("nemoj" in Russian), signifying that the Germans were the first peoples the Slavs came across who they could not communicate with. [In Italian the sole name for German is still tedesco, from the Latin theodiscum, meaning "vernacular".]

History of Germany

Records start around the 6th century, when the Merovingian kings of themselves dynasts of the Germanic Franks, conquered several other German tribes and placed them under control of autonomous dukes of mixed Frankish and native blood.

Roman provinces north of the Alps had been Christianised since the fourth century, with missionary work revived in the 6th century by Irish-Scottish monks.

Located in the heart of Europe, the German lands underwent the usual European bloody history of power struggle.

In the early 16th century, there was much discontent in Germany due to the abuses of the Catholic church, with Martin Luther nailing his call for reformation onto the church door in 1517. In 1545 the counter reformation began by the Spanish Jesuit order, dividing Germany into central and north-east protestant areas, and western and southern Catholic areas. In 1618 the Protestant nobility in Prague exercised its interesting invention of defenestration, which is a form of execution by simply pushing someone out the window of a high tower. However, the fact that this time it was the emperor of Europe sparked a major war, the main theatre of which took place in Germany, wiping out one third of its population and laying the country to waste. After this Thirty Years' War, the country was divided up among the waging powers, and Germany grew weaker as the controlling powers each exercised their rights.

Over time Prussia grew into a great European power, as did Austria, under the Habsburgs, and thus started their rivalry for control over Germany. And as is akin to European history, various wars moved boundaries, with parts of West Germany going to France under Napoleon, parts of Poland going to Prussia with the Partition of Poland, and then both moving back in the original power's favour.

After the fall of Napolean in 1815, European nations gathered in Vienna to redraw the continental map and set new rules. The Holy Roman Empire had already dissolved in 1806, and at the Congress of Vienna, the Holy Empire of the German Nation had been transformed into a loose federation 39 states, called the German Federation. Nationalist sentiments were kindled, eventually leading to the Austro-Prussian war of 1866, favouring Prussia, which came into control of a new North German Federation, Austria remaining outside German affairs through the 19th and 20th centuries.

National sentiment grew stronger, eventually leading to a dissolution of the German Confederation and the creation of the German Empire in 1871, led by Otto Von Bismark. A dispute with France led to a war which brought German troops as far as Paris, French emperor Napolean III was taken prisoner and the Second French Empire collapsed. Much land previously lost to France was regained, and then some to add even French speaking areas.

Bismark wanted to consolidate power and focus on a "little Germany", but powers within were ambitious to colonial acquisitions abroad. There was a policy of Germanisation where Polish, Danish and French minorities were discriminated against, and Bismark had a hard time repressing the growing influence and ultra nationalistic and inflamatory tendencies of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Bismark formed an alliance with Austria (the Dual Alliance), and eventually Italy, to form the Triple Alliance as a deterrence against France's possible ambitions to team up with Russia in order to regain lost soil.

But Bismark eventually ceded to expansionist pressure, led by Wilhelm II, and many German colonies in Africa and Asia were formed. Wilhelm's expansions abroad led to various frictions, which Bismark wanted to avoid, and from 1898 Germany started constructing warships to protect its various overseas possessions, directly threatening Britain and isolating itself further.

General imperialist ambitions between the various European powers, the armaments race, generally differing policies between the European states, German-British rivalry, difficulties of the Austro-Hungarian multinational empire and Russia's Balkan policy contributed to a tinder box which exploded when the Austrian heir apparent Franz Ferdinand was shot in 1914 with his wife by a Serbian nationalist while they were visiting Sarajevo. Overhasty mobilisations and ultimatums, the concerned powers believing that a conflict would be short, led to Germany taking the side of Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire against Russia, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and others to initiate the First World War, the fighting spreading to the Near East and around Germany's colonies abroad.

The war was one of attrition, with borders barely moving. Germany's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare provoked the Americans and marked a decisive turning point against Germany, and Britain's blockade in the North Sea with its crippling effects on Germany's supply of raw materials and foodstuffs brought Germany to its knees and led to the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Germany and her allies were to accept full responsibility for the war and all its damages, parts of Poland were restored free of German rule, administration of the country's important industrial Rhine region was handed to the League of Nations for the next 15 years, the coal fields were to be administered by France, Germany's standing army was reduced to 100,000, and the production of all military arsenal was severely curtailed.

In the face of such humiliation, bitter indignation was provoked throughout Germany and its fragile democracy was seriously weakened. Extremist left and right wing parties flourished, and with so many troops leaving the military to attain the newly imposed 100,000 limit, the abundance of disgruntled army personnel was exploited by the right wing powers. With the US pulled out of Europe, Germany was the first state to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, and the two powers agreed to cancel all pre-war debts. In 1923 Germany refused to pay war reparations, inciting French and Belgian troops to occupy the heavily industrial Ruhr district. The German government encouraged passive resistance and the local population cooperated by not providing any services to the invading forces. This proved effective but led to hyperinflation. Many lost their fortune, blamed the democratic government, and eventually were to support the anti-democratic right.

The passive resistance proved too costly, eventually dismantled, a new currency introduced, and hyperinflation was brought under control. Economic stability resumed and over the next 6 years Germany's industrial production returned to pre-war levels. Adolf Hitler, born in Austria and a former volunteer of the German army in WWI, tried a coup d'etats with his storm troopers, but was arrested and put in jail on a five year sentence, serving less than a year of that.

Subsequent national elections gave power to the extreme left and right wing parties, and the stock market crash in 1929 on Wall Street initiated the Great Depression and led to economic deterioration in Germany, with 6 million unemployed. This created more fertile ground for the right, and with the right wing party winning 38% of the vote in 1932, pressure from the former Chancellor and other conservatives forced President Hindenburg to accept Hitler as Chancellor.

Hitler was ambitious for more power, called general elections in the hopes of winning a majority for his party, and even took quick advantage of a fire set in the Reichstag building by painting an alleged Communist uprising on the wall. With this and the beginnings of his propaganda machine, he convinced President Hindenburg to repeal the liberal constitution and remove important political and human rights.

Eleven thousand Communists and Socialists were placed in concentration camps under the rule of the Gestapo, the newly established secret police force, and nine thousand of the abductees were found guilty, many of them executed.

But despite the terror and extensive propaganda, Hitler still failed to win a majority for his party. However, by various manoeuvres, such as the arresting or killing of opposition deputies and defining their absense from key votes as voluntary, and by forming a coalition with the German National People's Party, Hitler managed to negotiate dictatorial powers for himself, which he used to gain further power, even weeding out by execution without a trial opposition forces within his own Nazi SA. The SS became an independent organisation in command of the Gestapo, the rights of Jews were severely repressed, and Hitler began a military expansion - in fragrant breach of the Treaty of Versailles but faced with little more than written protest by Britain, France and Italy.

The people of Germany were generally happy with his strong show of force, and the 1936 Summer Olympic in Berlin proved another opportunity for Hitler's propaganda machine, winning him greater popularity.

Hitler now felt stronger and began a more aggressive foreign policy, signing an Anit-Cominterm Pact (against communists) with Italy and Japan, and moving into Austria to force an annexation, which was applauded by 99% of Austrians. And hence the dream of a greater Germany first shunned by Bismark in favour of his "little Germany" had been realised, and the age old aspirations of a German Reich had come to fruition, this illegal annexation once again only merely protested by the western powers.

After Austria Hitler turned to the Sudeten portion of Czechoslovakia and where the 3.5 million strong German minority was demanding equal rights and self government. This move was ratified at the Munich Conference by the leaders of France, Britain and Italy, and Hitler declared that all of Germany's territorial claims had been fulfilled.

But the lust for greater power can never be quenched by such a dictator, and Hitler used a quarrel between the Czechs and Slovaks as pretext to take over the entire country and become the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. He secured the return of some land from Lithuania, and the British Prime Minister was forced to acknowledge that his policy of appeasement with the Germans was a mistake.

The next six years were spent preparing for World War II. Hitler wanted to strengthen nationalist allegiance and subsequently promoted throughout his entire domain the identity of a superior Aryan race by subjugating and repressing Jews, Gypseys, Poles, Russians, and even the mentally and physically handicapped. In Alliance with the Soviet Union, he then invaded Poland in 1939.

But the forces against evil conquered, after 60 million mostly civilian deaths throughout all of Europe (including 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews in the Holocaust), with Germany ending in economic devastation and suffering much territorial losses, and the partition. This devastation and near total collapse referred to by Germans as the zero hour.

Once again the western powers, and this time also Russia, imposed restrictions on Germany, carving it up amongst themselves into four military occupied zones, abolishing the entity of Prussia, and forced the repatriation of many Germans abroad, leading to a mass exodus from East Europe during which millions died of exhaustion and dehydration.

Once again, the western powers aimed to hamper Gemany's industrial potential, to avoid future possible conflict, but the US soon decided that economic prosperity in Europe, a major trading partner for the US and hence imperative for its own economic might, was dependent on a strong Germany, itself traditionally dependent on a robust industrial base. The strategy of the US forces in Germany was now changed to promote peaceful prosperity, and economic reforms together with the Mashall Plan to help reconstruct Europe led to a long period of recovery for West Germany, which joined NATO in 1955, was a founding member of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1958, and soon became the richest and most advanced country of the Warsaw Pact.

Longings for a unified Germany persisted, a policy of two German states in one German nation was adopted, and in 1973 East Germany and West Germany were admitted to the United Nations.

With the aggressive armament race policy of the US aimed at bankrupting the Soviet Union, and continued civil unrest in Poland making control of Eastern Europe increasingly costly and unprofitable for the Soviets, the ruling communists decided on moving towards a free enterprise system. Much of the communist elite, strategically placed in politics and the bureaucratic maze of starting a business, became the rich capitalists, and the communists chose to free themselves of the burden of Eastern Europe and give up on the arms race against the Americans. The two Germany's reunited a year later, and the new Germany has taken a leading role in the European Union, applying the historical record of a stable German mark to take the forefront of exploiting the momentum of monetary union to advance the creation of a more unified and capable European political, defence and security apparatus. Lately it has expressed interest in a permanent seat for Germany on the UN Security Council, citing France's, Russia's and Japan's support to strengthen its bid.

With decades under the influence of western powers, a culture of intolerance to war has been nurtured and educated into the German population, the country joining France and others to oppose the US invasion of Iraq.

With Germany's historically strong industrial base, it is natural that it would win many EU tenders for the manufacture of Europe's military arsenal. Following the US invasion of Iraq and in spite of the foreseeable objection of the Bush administration, the EU has begun the creation of its own rapid deployment force, outside the control of Nato. The Germans joke at the extreme right wing party in power in Austria, and at an Austrian born representative now as Republican governor of California, whereby conservative powers in the US seek to change legislation and enable Schwartzeneggar to run for presidential office. With the rise of China, it will be interesting to see the turn of events in this increasingly dynamic world and what this great and strong nation will achieve in it.

* * *





Published - July 2009









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