Modernising German spellings

I have been listening to German audiobooks from again. They have a fine selection. Also they have links to the books, DRM free. What’s not to like?

Well, as it turns out, the spelling. It’s all very well seeing the old-fashioned spellings once in a while, but for LingQ the modern ones would be better.

It occurs to me that running the text through a German-language spell-checker, one with auto-correct, ought to do it. I’ve never tried it and I’m not even sure I have such a spell-checker. Has anyone any experience of doing this? what did you use and how well did it work?

The spelling may be one problem. I don’t think that there will be an automated transformation into modern German spelling.

But this is not the only problem. The words and even the word order is old-fashioned.

If you read “Die Leiden des jungen Werther”, you will see strange word order, word selection and word usage. e.g. “Übrigens befinde ich mich hier gar wohl.” or “…, sie möchten den Herrn inkommodieren.” or “Ich will nun suchen, auch sie ehstens zu sehn, oder vielmehr, wenn ich’s recht bedenke, ich will’s vermeiden.”. That’s even for me very difficult to read …

If you look for texts, older than 70 years, in the public domain, try to read something written after 1900. Even those texts may be “strange”, but easier to swallow. But the really good stuff like from Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, etc. will be still copyrighted.

I agree with u50623.

I’ve shared a novel from librivox on LingQ once, and I used a spell-checker to correct it. But I read the whole novel too to make sure that I’ve corrected all the old spellings. That was a lot of work why I stopped to add more lessons from librivox. As you know I take really care for my lessons, and I hate lessons that are simply put in the library by copy&paste.

Personally I would prefer newer stuff if your goal is to speak German as natural as possible. I sometimes hear some odd expressions from German learners that sound quite antiquated.

It all depends on what a learner is looking for. Personally, I would never read a novel with modernised spelling. I doubt anybody decides to read a novel in order to learn how to speak a language fluently, anyway. So, I prefer reading the original texts. I also like modern literature and other kinds of contemporary texts, but if I read a novel from the 19th century, I expect it to be written in its original style (including the spelling).

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Yeah, if the novel was written a century or two ago, and if the spelling was different from today, I think I’d read it anyway (as long as I was interested in the novel), but of course I’d make a mental note regarding odd expressions.

Right, so basically, I should read old novels to groove on to the language, and new novels to LingQ and learn. I can do that :wink:

I’m always fascinated that German learners insist on the original spelling while German students in school use textbooks with modern spelling. Only students of linguistic (German studies) use original texts.

19th century novels in whatever language simply use more words, I think! I love Dickens,Trollope, George Eliot etc. (Middlemarch - best book in the english language imo!) but they do use a lot of words and are stylistically different from modern language usage. After them I need a bit of a break.

In German Goethe just doesn’t do it for me - he is hard work even for a fluent speaker. Reading a more modern writer eg. Siegfried Lenz (Deutschstunde) is more satisfying.

I read Max Havelaar in Dutch (with old spelling) which is a real challenge, but worth the effort 'cos I am interested in that period of Dutch history.

I agree with Jeff L.( and Steve Kaufman) we should read what interests us to make progress, but sometimes we might just have to go out and buy a book as not everything is out there on the web!


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@Revtrev: I agree. When I wanted to read my first book in English I went to a book store and started to read the first 2 or 3 pages. Finally I found a book that was not to hard for me. It was fun to read it for me. A new experience!