Wolfgang Riebe Biography & Facts
The German orthography reform of 1996 (Reform der deutschen Rechtschreibung von 1996) was a change to German spelling and punctuation that was intended to simplify German orthography and thus to make it easier to learn, without substantially changing the rules familiar to users of the language.
The reform was based on an international agreement signed in Vienna in July 1996 by the governments of the German-speaking countries—Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Luxembourg did not participate despite having German as one of its three official languages: it regards itself "as a non-German-speaking country not to be a contributory determinant upon the German system of spelling", though it did eventually adopt the reform.
The reformed orthography became obligatory in schools and in public administration. However, there was a campaign against the reform, and in the resulting public debate the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany was called upon to delineate the extent of reform. In 1998 the court stated that because there was no law governing orthography, outside the schools people could spell as they liked, including the use of traditional spelling. In March 2006, the Council for German Orthography agreed unanimously to remove the most controversial changes from the reform; this was largely, though not completely, accepted by media organizations such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that had previously opposed the reform.The rules of the new spelling concern the following areas: correspondence between sounds and written letters (this includes rules for spelling loan words), capitalisation, joined and separate words, hyphenated spellings, punctuation, and hyphenation at the end of a line. Place names and family names were excluded from the reform.
Sounds and letters
The reform aimed to systematise the correspondence between sounds (phonemes) and letters (graphemes), and to strengthen the principle that derived forms should follow the spelling of the root form.
ß and ss: In reformed orthography the grapheme ß (a modernised typographical rendering of how sz appeared in traditional Gothic script; it is seldom used in Switzerland) is considered a separate letter that is to appear only after long vowels and diphthongs. In general in German, long stressed vowels are followed by single consonants, and short stressed vowels by double consonants. In the traditional orthography, ß was written instead of ss if the s phoneme belonged to only one syllable, thus in terminal position and before consonants ss was always written as ß, without regard to the length of the preceding vowel. In the reformed orthography, a short stressed vowel is never followed by ß. This brings it into line with the two-letter spelling of other final consonants (-ch, -ck, -dt, -ff, -ll, -mm, -nn, -rr, -tt, -tz). Thus Fass [fas] – Fässer [ˈfɛsɐ], by analogy to Ball [bal] – Bälle [ˈbɛlə]; compare the old spelling: Faß – Fässer, in contrast to Maß [maːs] – Maße [ˈmaːsə] like Tal [taːl] – Täler [ˈtɛːlɐ].
Nevertheless, the new German spelling is not fully phonemic, and it is still necessary to know the plural of a noun in order to spell its singular correctly: Los [loːs] – Lose [ˈloːzə], Floß [floːs] – Flöße [ˈfløːsə] (note that it is however phonemic; cf. the usage of voiced versus voiceless plosives at word end).Exempted from change are certain very common short-vowelled words which end in a single 's' (such as das, es), echoing other undoubled final consonants in German (e.g. ab, im, an, hat, -ig). So the frequent error of confusing the conjunction dass (previously daß) and the relative pronoun das has remained a trap: Ich hoffe, dass sie kommt. (I hope that she comes.) Das Haus, das dort steht. (The house that stands there.) Both are pronounced [das].
The so-called s rule makes up over 90% of the words changed by the reform. Since a trailing -ss does not occur in the traditional orthography (which uses -ß instead), the -ss at the end of reformed words like dass and muss (previously muß) is now the only quick and sure sign to indicate that the reformed spelling has been used, even if just partly, in texts (except those of Swiss origin). All other changes are encountered less frequently and not in every text.
Triple consonants preceding a vowel are no longer reduced (but hyphenation is often used in these instances anyway):
Schiffahrt became Schifffahrt from Schiff (ship) + Fahrt (journey)In particular, triple "s" now appears more often than all the other triple consonants together, while in the traditional orthography they never appear.
Flußschiffahrt → Flussschifffahrt
Mißstand → MissstandDoubled consonants appear after short vowels at the end of certain words, to conform with derived forms:
As → Ass because of plural Asse (ace, aces)
Stop → Stopp because of the verb stoppenVowel changes, especially ä for e, are made to conform with derived forms or related words.
Stengel → Stängel (stalk) because of Stange (bar)Additional minor changes aim to remove a number of special cases or to allow alternative spellings
rauh → rau (rough) for consistency with blau, grau, genauSeveral loan words now allow spellings that are closer to the "German norm". In particular, the affixes -phon, -phot, and -graph can be spelled with f or ph.
Capitalisation after a colon is now obligatory only if a full sentence or direct speech follows; otherwise a lower-case letter must go after a colon.
The polite capitalisation of the formal second-person pronouns (Sie, Ihnen, and Ihr) was retained. The original 1996 reform also provided that the familiar second-person pronouns (du, dich, dir, dein, ihr, euch, and euer) should not be capitalised, even in letters, but this was amended in the 2006 revision to permit their optional capitalisation in letters.
The reform aimed to make the capitalisation of nouns uniform and clarify the criteria for this. In the original 1996 reform, this included the capitalisation of some nouns in compound verbs where the nouns had largely lost that property, for instance, changing eislaufen to Eis laufen (to ice-skate) and kopfstehen to Kopf stehen (standing upside down). However this was reversed in the 2006 revision, restoring verbs like eislaufen and kopfstehen.
As before, compound nouns are generally joined into one word, but several other compounds are now separated.
Nouns and verbs are generally separated (but see above):
radfahren → Rad fahren (to ride a bicycle)Multiple infinitive verbs used with finite verbs are separated:
kennenlernen → kennen lernen (to get to know)
spazierengehen → spazieren gehen (to go for a walk)Other constructions now admit alternative forms:
an Stelle von or anstelle von (instead of)There are some subtle changes in the meaning when the new forms collide with some pre-existing forms:
vielversprechend → viel versprechend (lit.... Discover the Wolfgang Riebe popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Wolfgang Riebe books.