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Gisela Zyvonnon's book "German as a European Language"

Gisela Zyvonnon’s book “German as a European Language”

Hauptmann von Czako stated in “Everything about grammar and exams is never higher” Theodor Fontanes “Stichlin”. To this day, most bases are a boring set of rules and pesky drum material without intellectual brilliance. German Gisela Zyvonnon, formerly at the German Language Institute, likes to convince her readers of the opposite and bring them closer to the fascination of language structures and forms. In order to identify the German language in its specificity, but also in family relations, she repeatedly used other languages ​​for comparison in her book. Anyone interested in the language itself, rather than simply viewing it as a playground for school administrators or as an object of political exploitation, should feel addressed.

In the first sections, the author draws a broad arc that covers the different aspects of language and focuses on philosophical questions such as the relationship between words and reality. But the rules are the focus of the book. This is not only because Gisela Zyvonnon is a recognized expert in the field, but also because sentence structure, word formation and influence in their interaction between logic and communicative functions and the often irregular sediments of language history form the core of what characterizes human language. It is among the signaling systems in the world.

Perception interface

For example, the reader can begin to get acquainted with the secrets of the German adjective inflection: “beautiful tree” loses the r for the adjective “beautiful tree” and n for “beautiful trees” if it is only “beautiful trees” . This change between “strong”, “weak”, or “mixed” inflection is not perceived by native speakers. On the other hand, those who learn German as a foreign language may see it as just a traditional language. Zifonun cannot relieve him of the burden of learning, but he makes the system underlying these complexities visible: the article, adjective, and noun distribute grammatical information among each other in such a way that the formal effort involved in backtracking within the confines of all words is involved. The principle of “flexible cooperation” is a German specialty.

Gisela Zyvonnon: “German as a European Language.” personalized plate.

Photo: Walter de Grueter Verlag

In the field of sentence structure, Zifonun states “well-ordered ambiguity”: German uses two basic patterns of sentence structure that can be found in the world’s languages: in the main sentence the verb is in the second position as a sentence, in the subordinate clause, however, It moves to the end. In addition, there is a special German feature of the structure in parentheses: because of them, when they arrive exhausted at the end of the sentence, some have already lost sight of the beginning of the sentence.