German Print Media Adopt New Language Rules
BERLIN -- A year after the top court upheld the government's right to change the way people write, Germany's print media began yesterday following official new rules meant to simplify the notoriously cumbersome language.
But opponents of tampering with the language of Goethe and Schiller hope that once the public is confronted with new spellings and grammar in black and white with their morning paper, more will join their campaign to turn back the changes.
"We're not giving up the fight," said Matthias Draeger, spokesman for an anti-reform initiative.
Officials of German-speaking countries agreed in 1996 to changes intended to simplify what Mark Twain dubbed "The Awful German Language."
Compound nouns are broken up, many comma rules eliminated and the use of the old German letter for a double "s," which looks like a cursive B, is curtailed. Spellings are also made more consistent and foreign words "Germanized."
Although Austria and Switzerland have taken the changes in stride, many Germans, including the country's bestknown author, Guenter Grass, fought them. But they went into effect for most schools and government offices last year after the Constitutional Court rejected a legal challenge. …