Excerpt from A Grammar of the German Language: Designed for a Thorough and Practical Study of the Language as Spoken and Written to-Day
Although attention has thus been carefully directed to early n.h.g. And also to the language of the classical period and the conspicuous aut... hors of the first half of the lgth century, the main stress lies in the direction of present usage. Seven hundred works of varied styles published since 1850 by authors from various parts of the German Empire, Austria, and Switzerland, have been carefully read. Representative newspapers from different parts of these same countries have been studied. In this work, however, the political lines that have been drawn across the map of Germany, dividing it up into Austria, Switzerland, etc., have in all points of a general nature been disregarded, and terms North, South, etc., have been used as designations of the different parts of one country - one at least in language. In little points, usage differs considerably, not only in different parts of this territory, but also in the same section, and 'the author has not been able to share the assurance of certain grammarians who are so positive that they have prescribed the correct forms. The plain fact is that there is considerable fluctuation in present usage, though not so much as earlier in the period, and this ¿uctuation is found even in the highest forms of current literature. Everywhere throughout these pages will be found double and triple forms for the same thing, that is a picture of the language as it is. A table of many ¿uctuating forms has been kept by the author constantly before him, and data inserted from time to time. In some cases the prevailing form has become apparent, and has been recorded. In other cases the situation will not become clear until many minute investi gations have been made by many scholars. In still other cases nothing can be fixed, as the language itself has not assumed definitive form. To prescribe forms at this point, as many German grammarians do, is quite pernicious, for the capricious decisions of different scholars, differing widely as they often do, add to the general confusion and arrest natural linguistic tendencies. However, between forms that ¿uctuated in Lessing's day a final decision has often been made, or both forms have been retained with different shades of meaning.
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