Hermann Paul (Germanist)

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Hermann Paul

Hermann Otto Theodor Paul (born August 7, 1846 in Salbke ; † December 29, 1921 in Munich ) was a German medievalist , linguist and lexicographer . Paul belongs to the group of young grammarians .


Hermann Paul was born as the son of a master mason and "Kossethen" (material goods dealer) in the village of Salbke, which is now incorporated into Magdeburg . After attending the village school in Salbke , in 1859 he switched to the pedagogy of the monastery of Our Dear Women in Magdeburg. He took private lessons from Franz Heyne . There he passed the Abitur in 1866 .

Initially interested in mathematics, he enrolled in Philology with Heymann Steinthal at the University of Berlin in the winter semester of 1866 . In the summer semester of 1867 he moved to Leipzig , where he received his doctorate from Friedrich Zarncke in 1870 with a dissertation on the original arrangement of Freidank's modesty . In October 1872 he then completed his habilitation with the work on Critique and Explanation of Gottfried's Tristan . In 1874 he received a call to the University of Freiburg im Breisgau as an associate professor for German language and literature. In March 1877 he was appointed full professor. In 1888 he turned down a call to Giessen .

In 1892 he was appointed a foreign member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , the following year he became a full member of the learned society. In 1907 he received the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art .

In 1893 he accepted a full professorship for German philology at the University of Munich as the successor to Matthias Lexer , where he was promoted to rector of the university in 1909 .

In 1905 Paul married at the age of 59. Since 1864 he suffered from an eye disease that later led to almost complete blindness , so that from 1916 he was released from the obligation to hold lectures and had to rely on helpers for further work.

Scientific achievement

As one of the founders and exponents of the “young grammar” school, Paul became one of the most important research personalities in the history of German linguistics. We owe him, as the systematist of the young grammar school, many important impulses and insights, especially on semantics , lexicography and language historiography. As early as 1873, one year after his habilitation, he and Wilhelm Braune published the first issue of his articles on the history of the German language and literature , which are still under the label PBB (Paul and Braunes Contributions) , at the time in Halle (Saale) resident Max Niemeyer Verlag . A Medievalist by nature, he edited Middle High German texts, including works by Hartmann von Aue and the poems of Walther von der Vogelweide . In 1881 he wrote the widely used Middle High German grammar and began to publish Middle High German texts in the Old German Text Library, of which he is considered the founder. In the 1880s, Paul increasingly turned to the contemporary language and, as a lexicographer and theoretician of language change, introduced linguistic historiography to the language of his time. He designed a systematic theory of meanings for the German language through his two main works, Principles of Language History and the lexicographical work on the German dictionary, and played a decisive role in the development of linguistics of his time. By coupling it with historical studies, he made linguistics a useful instrument for cultural research. His linguistics has a strong empirical component. Hermann Paul also achieved great things as a university professor . As rector of Munich University, he advocated increasing the proportion of seminars and exercises - similar to those in medicine and the natural sciences - also in humanities courses in order to encourage students to work independently.

The principles of the history of language are Hermann Paul's main work. They served generations of linguists as a canonical book of linguistics. Like several other books by Paul, they have become a standard work, particularly in German linguistics, and are in the form of a manual . They are constantly experiencing new editions and revisions, have been translated into many languages ​​and are highly regarded.

The German dictionary aims neither at completeness nor at scientific distinction, but at usage requirements, also for school. In doing so, it collects variants of dialect, regional and special language types in order to make things that are not generally known available.

Publications (selection)

  • About the original arrangement of Freidank's humility. CP Melzer, Leipzig 1870 (dissertation University of Leipzig 1870, 66 pages).
  • Was there a written Middle High German language? Lippert, Halle 1873 ( digitized version ).
  • The vocals of the inflection and derivative syllables in the oldest Germanic dialects. in: Contributions to the history of German language and literature 4, 1877, pp. 314–475.
  • On the history of Germanic vocalism. In: Contributions to the history of German language and literature 1879, pp. 1–15 ( digitized version ).
  • Contributions to the history of sound development and form association. 1879-1882.
  • Principles of the history of language. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1880, digital version of the 5th edition from 1920 , currently: 10th edition 1995, ISBN 3-484-22005-8 .
  • Middle High German grammar. 1881; 15th edition edited by Ludwig Erich Schmitt; 18th edition edited by Walther Mitzka ; 20th and 21st editions provided by Hugo Moser and Ingeborg Schröbler (Tübingen 1969 and 1975); 22nd edition provided by Hugo Moser, Ingeborg Schröbler and Siegfried Grosse (ibid 1982); 23rd edition provided by Peter Wiehl and Siegfried Glosse (Tübingen 1989); current: 25th edition 2007 (= collection of short grammars of Germanic dialects. A, 2), ISBN 3-484-64035-9 .
  • Contributions to the history of sound development and form association. II: Vowel stretching and vowel shortening in New High German. in: Contributions to the history of the German language and literature 9, 1884, pp. 101-134.
  • (Ed.): Outline of Germanic Philology. Strasbourg 1891–1893 ( Volume 1 ; Volume 2 ).
  • About the tasks of scientific lexicography with special regard to the German dictionary. in: Meeting reports of the philos.-philol. Class of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . Issue 1. 1894, pp. 53-91.
  • To the theory of word formation. German dictionary 1896.
  • German dictionary. Niemeyer, Halle, 1897 ( digitized version ); last in 10th edition 2002, ISBN 3-484-73057-9 .
  • About the description of the perfect tense in German with 'haben' and 'sein'. Treatises of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, I. Kl. Vol. 22 (Abh. 1), 1902 ( digitized version ).
  • The importance of German philology for contemporary life. (Speech at the beginning of the rectorate of the Ludwig Maximilians University, delivered on December 11, 1909) in: Supplement to the Allgemeine Zeitung Munich, No. 258 of November 15, 1909, Munich
  • German grammar. 5 volumes, Halle, 1916–1920.
  • Task and method of the historical sciences. Berlin u. Leipzig 1920.
  • About language teaching. Hall 1921.


  • Hermann Paul: 1. My life; 2. Writings, in: Contributions to the history of the German language and literature 46, 1922, pp. 495–500.
  • Wilhelm Streitberg : Hermann Paul . In: Indo-Germanisches Jahrbuch 9, 1922/23 [1924], pp. 280–285.
  • Portraits of Linguists. A Biographical Source Book for the History of Western Linguistics, 1746-1963. University of Indiana Press, Bloomington, London 1966, pp.?.
  • A Short History of Linguistics. Longman, London and New York 1967, pp.?.
  • Konrad Koerner: Hermann Paul and Synchronic Linguistics. In: Lingua 29, 1972, pp. 274-307, also in: Toward a Historiography of Linguistics: Selected Essays by Konrad Koerner (Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science 19). ISBN 90-272-0960-X .
  • Gisela Schneider: On the concept of phonetic law in linguistics since the young grammarians (= Tübingen Contributions to Linguistics 46). Tübingen 1973 ISBN 3-87808-46-8
  • Dieter Cherubim: On the study edition of H. Paul's 'Principles of Language History'. In: Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik 40, 1973, pp. 310–322.
  • Herman Parret (Ed.): History of Linguistic Thought and Contemporary Linguistics. De Gruyter, Berlin and New York 1983, ISBN 3-11-005818-9 .
  • Armin Burkhardt, Helmut Henne (Hrsg.): German studies as cultural studies: Hermann Paul - 150th birthday and 100 years of the German dictionary. Reminder sheets and notes on life and work. On the occasion of the exhibition in Magdeburg (January 21, 1997) and Braunschweig (February 4 to February 11, 1997). Ars & Scientia, Braunschweig 1997, ISBN 3-9802066-5-3 .
  • Jörg Kilian, Helmut Henne (ed.): Hermann Paul: Language theory, language history and philology. Speeches, treatises and biography. (German Linguistics Series; 200). Tubingen 1998.
  • Ulrike Haß-Zumkehr:  Paul, Hermann Otto Theodor. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 20, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-428-00201-6 , p. 115 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Frederick J. Newmeyer: The History of Linguistics. Linguistic Society of America, 2005.

Web links

Wikisource: Hermann Paul  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hermann Paul obituary in the 1922 yearbook of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (PDF file).