BC -- Philology; Languages; Linguistics

Bio-bibliographisches Handbuch zur Sprachwissenschaft des 18. Jahrhunderts: die Grammatiker, Lexikographen und Sprachtheoretiker des deutschsprachigen Raums mit Beschreibungen ihrer Werke [Bio-Bibliographical Handbook of 18th-Century Linguistics: Grammarians, Lexicographers, and Language Theorists of the German-Speaking Countries, with Descriptions of Their Works]. Ed. Herbert E. Brekle. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 28 cm. ISBN 3-484-73020-X (set) [05-1-098]

Vol. 8. Schu-Z. 2005. xii, 447 p. ISBN 3-484-73028-5: EUR 132

This concluding volume of the BBHS comes some 15 years after the publication of volume 1 in 1992 (see RREA 2:93 for a review of volumes 1-4, and 9:335 for volumes 5-7). The complete work includes approximately 1,615 longer and shorter articles. With 278, volume 8 contains the most entries, but many more of these are shorter articles than in previous volumes. The trend toward briefer entries reaches it peak toward the end of the alphabet, so that from the letters V-Z the number of shorter articles climbs to 62%. Across all eight volumes, the distribution is around 73% longer articles, 27% shorter entries.

As in previous volumes, this final one also contains many repetitions and continues the unnecessary practice of diplomatic title entry of primary works. In addition, the articles based on earlier research have not been updated, the result being incomplete holdings information, even though a search in German regional online catalogs would have provided much of the information on locations in German libraries. The greatest deficit, however, is the absence of detailed indexes, especially an index of authors treated in the BBHS. Even the index of languages is only partially successful and would have benefited from more descriptive subheadings, especially for lesser known languages.

Despite its shortcomings and eccentricities, the BBHS is a rich resource for research into 18th-century linguistics in German-speaking countries—a point of departure in need of correction and expansion, especially in terms of holdings, editions, and locations. [sh/jb]

Duden, Die Grammatik: unentbehrlich für richtiges Deutsch [Duden Grammar: Indispensable for Correct German]. Ed. Kathrin Kunkel-Razum. 7th rev. and expanded ed. Mannheim [et al.]: Dudenverlag, 2005. 1,343 p. 20 cm. (Der Duden in zwölf Bänden, 4). ISBN 3-411-04047-5: EUR 21.95 [05-2-335]

For the first time, the advertising slogan "indispensable for correct German," normally reserved for the book jacket, has become part of the title of this Duden grammar. But in the end, this "indispensable" reference work is not particularly useful for any audience. Usability has suffered greatly with the new type face: small, pale, and uniformly hard to read, despite the larger overall dimensions of the volume.

In recent years, the Duden publications have had to reflect the developments of German spelling reform: in the 5th ed. of 1995 (see RREO 95-4-571) and the 6th edition just three years later in 1998 (see RREA 9:25). Seven years on, this new 7th edition takes into account the second large-scale revision (2004) of the new spelling rules. One example of this is the variation between separating or combining adjective/adverb combinations such as "bitterernst" or "schwerkrank," which have appeared separated in earlier post-reform editions but are back as single words in this edition.

Duden’s grammar has always struggled with the question of how scholarly it needs to be, given the "popular" nature of Duden publications in general. A slight change has occurred here, in the near elimination of footnotes and references to the scholarly literature. But orientation within the text is still difficult. Even the table of contents is confusing, given that it lists seemingly unrelated terms with a decimal "classification" scheme lacking any logic. The basic keyword index is of very little help. Even the running chapter titles offer very little orientation; for example, the heading "The Inflected Parts of Speech" goes on for 400 pages, and 180 pages are dedicated simply to "The Verb."

The chapters themselves are too long and poorly subdivided. Barely intelligible for the interested layperson, this volume doesn’t seem suitable for use by foreigners or high school students either. The book never quite finds a balance between grammar "rules" and popular use, despite the fact that some chapters use extensive references to recent usage influenced by or taken directly from the Internet. The final section, which deals with spoken language, is characterized by unnecessary complex, verbose expositions on trivialities. Purchasers expecting an easy-to-use, well-organized grammar book to utilize as a reference—a "practical helper," as promised by the introduction—will be disappointed. How a chiefly theoretical work such as this could be considered "indispensable for good German," that is, applicable to the improvement of one’s language usage, is hard to imagine. [ti/hh]

Kleine Enzyklopädie deutsche Sprache [Concise Encyclopedia of the German Language]. Ed. Wolfgang Fleischer, Gerhard Helbig and Gotthard Lerchner. Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 2001 [published 2003]. 845 p. ill. 24 cm. maps. ISBN 3-631-35310-3: EUR 91 [05-2-336]

Though this encyclopedia carries on the tradition of the work bearing the same title published by the Bibliographisches Institut in Leipzig in 1970 and 1983, it has been completely revised. The majority of contributors still belong to the linguistic tradition of the former GDR, but they are joined by some West German scholars. The ideological tint of the past editions—including the Soviet-Marxist arrangement of historical epochs—has been completely eliminated. The articles are of varying quality and usefulness. The lengthy section titled "History of the German Language" by Gotthard Lerchner consists mainly of a socio-historical survey lacking concrete linguistic references for any period more recent than the Middle Ages, rendering it far too abstract. One of the best chapters is the expanded one on onomastics. On the other end of the spectrum, the final chapter, titled "Basic Questions of Language Culture," remains as vague as the expression "language culture" itself. In the chapter "Graphemics/Orthography", Dieter Nerius of Rostock discusses traditional German orthography so persuasively that one wonders how he could have been the main protagonist of the spelling reform movement of 1996. [ti/hh]

"Trübners Deutsches Wörterbuch" (Band 1-4): ein Wörterbuch aus der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus: eine lexikografische Analyse der ersten vier Bände (erschienen 1939-1943) ["Trübner’s German Dictionary" (Vols. 1-4): A Dictionary of the National Socialist Era. A Lexicographical Analysis of the First Four Volumes (Published 1939-1943)]. Wenke Mückel. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2005. viii, 220 p. 24 cm. (Lexicographica: Series maior, 125). ISBN 3-484-39125-1: EUR 96 [05-2-337]

The first four volumes of Trübners Deutsches Wörterbuch were published between 1939 and 1943 under the editorship of Giessen Germanist Alfred Götze. Following his death in 1946, Walther Mitzka took over and was able to complete the project by 1957. "Trübner," as it is still called, imitated the style of the Deutsches Wörterbuch (German Dictionary) of the Brothers Grimm. Its stated purpose was to create a reader for Germans that would teach them about the complex nature of the German vocabulary as well as German culture using simple, entertaining stories about its words.

The author shows in this, her dissertation, how and why this goal was not met. Among other things, she demonstrates systematically how many word definitions were influenced and changed by the national socialist ideology of the time. Examples for the dictionary were so often borrowed from writings by Nazi party functionaries, including Adolf Hitler, or authors favored by the party, that they were instantly obsolete after 1945. Missing from this dissertation is any consideration of the history of German linguistic research, which would have helped to put Götze’s work in context and pointed out that German linguistics did not suddenly change in 1933 with the ascendancy of the Nazi party, but had already broken with international linguistics (e.g. Ferdinand de Saussure) following World War I. The description of the "Trübner" and the evaluation of its entries provide an interesting insight into the influence of ideology on the humanities in the Third Reich. [frh/hh]

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