Der neue Duden ist da
07/11/2013

The new Duden is out

To fully appreciate the humour of this article and its relevance, please read the original German version.

The 26th edition of the most well-known German dictionary, Duden, is now in bookshops near you. It is a more voluminous version containing around 5000 new words and expressions. It is more feminine too with various words specifying top jobs in companies when held by a woman, even feminine forms of words previously associated with boys, such as yobbo, can be found. What else? Bonehead, love lock, and even gasping, previously only used in a medical sense, which is now used in German when someone is gobsmacked! Another new entry is shitstorm, a term that has come into inflationary use in German-speaking media to describe any clamour of outrage on the Internet, especially by posting and writing in social media. Good to know that a work like Duden is willing to give a term once voted “Anglicism of the year” space in its latest edition. 

As always with dictionaries, some older, and now obsolete, terms have had to be removed from the dictionary to make space for new ones. But don’t worry, Duden has created its own “word cemetery” so that these terms are not forgotten all together. And after all, the editors were very restrained, only removing words that went out of use in the last ten to fifteen years.

Interesting figures: the Duden now contains 140,000 entries. An average German speaker today is thought to have an active vocabulary of somewhere between 12,000 and 16,000 words, in other words around a tenth of words contained in the dictionary. 

As you can see, German vocabulary is changing. And it’s good to know that there are lots of Germans out there who are fully aware of the fact that cross-dressing is not the latest sauce to put on a salad! 

Incidentally: the highly qualified proofreaders at Apostroph are always on the ball linguistically and make sure your texts fit in with all the latest spelling and grammar rules.

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