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Tuesday, 1 August, 2000, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
German paper dumps new language rules
German language changes
Changes to the German language have divided people
By the BBC's Peter Miles

One of Germany's leading daily newspapers has abandoned controversial new rules on spelling and grammar which became compulsory a year ago.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reverted to the old rules in Tuesday's edition, saying the new system was doing more harm than good.

It says it has done its best to abide by the rules, but it sees no point in carrying on.

The old and new
Kommuniqué - Kommunikee
Geographie - Geografie
Pappmaché - Pappmaschee
Gangsterboß - Gangsterboss
The head of the Institute for German Language has accused the paper of attention-seeking in what, in terms of news, is the silly-season.

But the return to the old system does reflect widespread unease.

The changes were adopted by Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with the aim of simplifying the language.

Many of the changes Germanise words of foreign origin. Ketchup becomes ketschup, mayonnaise is now majonaese and telephone changes to telefon.

But many people have been confused rather than helped by the new rules, and only a few have adopted them for themselves.

Legal challenge

The paper says most Germans have failed to change over, many publishers have ignored the rules and the print media has adopted its own versions.

There has been particular resistance from German authors, and parents went to court to fight the use of the new rules in schools but eventually lost.

Publishers of dictionaries are much happier, though, as their new-rule editions have topped the list of bestsellers for months.

The newspaper says it has received hundreds of letters - some in praise and some critical - after announcing its plans.

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See also:

02 Aug 99 | Europe
Germany adopts new language rules
01 Aug 98 | Europe
Germany's war of words
12 May 98 | Despatches
Spelling reform divides Germany
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