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Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod (German: The Dative is death to the Genitive) is a series of books by Bastian Sick which deal in an entertaining manner with areas of contention in grammar, orthography, and punctuation, and unappealing and clumsy uses of the German language. The author’s intention is to counter thoughtlessness and linguistic degeneration. The book is comparable to Lynne TrussEats, Shoots & Leaves.

Contents

Origins

The books are collections of the author’s column ‘Zwiebelfisch’ which has appeared since May 2003 in the Spiegel Online. Since February 2005 it has also appeared in print in Der Spiegel’s monthly culture supplement. The column’s title originates from a printers’ term, literally meaning ‘onion fish’, which denotes a single character in a block of text which has been set in an incorrect typeface. The series runs currently to four volumes which reached the top of the book sales lists, the first volume selling more than 1.5 million copies within two years.

Reception

In several German states, articles from the books have been used officially as teaching materials, and—according to Sick’s foreword of August 2005—the series has been added to the set text list for the Abitur in Saarland. The material in the book series has been adapted into a DVD, a board game, and a computer game.

Meaning of title

The book’s title is actually a reference to a linguistic phenomenon in certain dialects of German in forming noun phrases showing possession. In these dialects, the qualifying noun, which would be in the genitive case in standard German, is replaced by a noun in the dative case and the qualified noun is preceded by a possessive adjective. For example, instead of saying das Buch des Mannes (the man’s book), one says dem Mann sein Buch ([to] the man his book) or das Buch vom Mann (the book of the man). This is similar to the his genitive phenomenon that once occurred in English. This is perpetuated in English, where an apostrophe replaces the first part of the possessive pronoun; "the man[ hi]s book" becomes "the man's book".

Thus, the book’s title, Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod (literally ‘the dative is [to] the genitive its death’) is a dialectal manner of saying Der Dativ ist der Tod des Genitivs, which can be translated into English as ‘the dative is the genitive’s death’ (or ‘the dative is the death of the genitive’).

Book titles

  • Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod – Ein Wegweiser durch den Irrgarten der deutschen Sprache. Kiepenheuer und Witsch, Köln 2004, ISBN 3-462-03448-0 (audio book: ISBN 3-89813-400-8)
  • Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod, Folge 2 – Neues aus dem Irrgarten der deutschen Sprache. Kiepenheuer und Witsch, Köln 2005, ISBN 3-462-03606-8 (audio book: ISBN 3-89813-445-8)
  • Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod. Folge 3 – Noch mehr aus dem Irrgarten der deutschen Sprache. Kiepenheuer und Witsch, Köln November 2006, ISBN 3-462-03742-0 (audio book: ISBN 3-89813-566-7)
  • Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod. Folge 4 – Das Allerneueste aus dem Irrgarten der deutschen Sprache. Kiepenheuer und Witsch, Köln 2009, ISBN 3-462-04164-9

DVD title

  • Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod – Die Große Bastian Sick Schau. Sony BMG Music Entertainment GmbH, 2008, ASIN B000X1YDCC

Game titles

  • Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod. KOSMOS, 2006, ASIN 3440690237
  • Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod – Das PC-Spiel. (PC & Mac) United Soft Media Verlag GmbH, 2007, ASIN 3803228301

External links

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Simple English

Der Dativ ist dem Genitv sein Tod (German: the dative case is the genitive case's death) is a book series written by Bastian Sick which deals with doubtful cases of grammar, orthography, and punctuation. Because of that, the writer wants to fight against unthinking habit and what he believes to be a change to a lower state of the language. The book came from a collection of Zwiebelfisch-collumns of Bastian Sick, which appear weekly in the Spiegel Online. At present, the second and third volumes are available. The volumes are from one time to another at the top of book sales lists.

In several states of Germany, writings from the books have been officially recognized as teaching documents after Sick's foreword was used in Saarland in August 2005.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves written by Lynne Truss is a book which in a similarly popular style discusses punctuation in English. In Sweden, a similar book, which is based on Lynne Truss' book, has come out, describing the interesting aspects of the Swedish pronunciation.

Original Book Titles

  • Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod – Ein Wegweiser durch den Irrgarten der deutschen Sprache. Kiepenheuer und Witsch, Köln 2004, ISBN 3-462-03448-0 (Hörbuch: ISBN 3-89813-400-8)
  • Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod, Folge 2 – Neues aus dem Irrgarten der deutschen Sprache. Kiepenheuer und Witsch, Köln 2005, ISBN 3-462-03606-8 (Hörbuch: ISBN 3-89813-445-8)
  • Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod. Folge 3. Noch mehr aus dem Irrgarten der deutschen Sprache. Kiepenheuer und Witsch, Köln November 2006, ISBN 3-462-03742-0 (Hörbuch: ISBN 3-89813-566-7)


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