​Coining brand-new words is a cinch in German. However not every theology belongs in a dictionary. Around sifting through long word lists for the following edition that the “Rechtschreibduden”, the typical German spelling dictionary.

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Konrad Duden released his Vollständiges orthographisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache (“Complete Orthographic thesaurus of the German Language”) way back in 1880. That was a excellent stroke that false heralding of course since there’s no such thing – and never will be together a thing – as a "complete" dictionary of German.But how numerous words go the German language have actually anyway? This question has been a bone the contention in current years. Computational linguistics methods currently make it possible to determine far an ext accurately 보다 ever before how big the language actually is. Roughly the year 2000, during my very first years together a Duden editor, the standard German lexis was estimated at 300,000 to 400,000 words. Recently, an analysis of the Dudenkorpus, our digital collection that texts, came up v a count of 17.4 million base creates (i.e. Various words in uninflected form). Has the vocabulary grown so lot so fast? How can we define such a huge difference?

What’s a word?

First the all, we need to settle the concern of what a word actually is. Is Müllautohintendraufsteher (i.e. A garbage collector that stands ~ above the earlier of a garbage truck) a word? also if you"ve never ever heard words before, yes, that is. Why? since it’s a so-called developmental (i.e. Minimal syntactic unit) with a meaning that we understand. The is capitalized (like any type of German noun), with a space before and also after it; you deserve to construct a female kind (Müllautohintendraufsteherin) and also so on. Yet some human being have qualms about accepting this link coinage together a word, more than likely owing to just how rarely that occurs, which makes it a so-called “nonce word” or “occasionalism”. However is this word part of our traditional language? certainly not. It merely isn’t used regularly enough, in reality it doesn"t happen at all in our corpus. And also there room thousands and also thousands of indigenous attested by only a single occurrence in our text database, which method they space rarely, if ever, used.That describes the large difference. But of course the number of German words is infinite anyway, because we can kind new words all the time. Among other things, this has to do v the truth that the system for forming brand-new words in German is perfect for placing together new combinations the words and parts of native whenever us like. So there will never be a finish dictionary the the German language.

Dictionaries winter the age we live in

Five thousand brand-new entries have been added to each of the critical editions the the Rechtschreibduden. Exactly how do Duden editors choose them native the spate of new words? us zero in on indigenous that have actually been newly added to our corpus of messages in the three or four years in between two editions and are not provided in a vault edition. The an outcome is a very, very long Excel perform of thousands of words. The editors go through the list choosing words that could be worth including in a assignment dictionary since they’re tough to spell. This criterion wouldn’t be very important for a specifying dictionary, ~ above the various other hand. The list likewise includes lot of of street names, surname of soccer players and the like because they often come increase in the papers we analyse. However they’re not an extremely important for us either because we’re not putting together a “who’s who” of famous people. What is important, however, is i beg your pardon words have social relationship or belong come people"s daily vocabulary. For this reason a dictionary, particularly a assignment dictionary, is constantly a reflection of social advances in that day and also age. The words we picked in 2017 because that the 27th execution of the Rechtschreibduden consisted of Lügenpresse (the “lying press”), Mütterrente (lit. A special “mothers’ pension” to counting time spent increasing preschool children), Späti (a convenience store that’s open late), Willkommenskultur (“welcoming culture”) and Zipphose (“zip turn off trousers”). My next write-up will be about integration – integrating foreign “loanwords” right into the German language.

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February 2020