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Gustav Adolph Hennig : Reading Girl , 1828
Hans Thoma : Mother and Daughter (1866)

Reading refers to the process of reading as well as the read object itself, the reading material. Reading can therefore consist of any type of written text . In particular, the term is applied to classic print media such as books and newspapers .


In school language and literature classes , reading usually refers to the primary texts (i.e. short stories, novellas, dramas) that are used in addition to textbooks and other teaching materials to deepen language skills and / or learn methods of text analysis and interpretation. The term “ compulsory reading ” comes from teaching at school and university , as the amount of reading that has to be completed in order to achieve a certain learning goal. In a figurative sense, required reading is also used in other areas of life, in order to demand a certain publication as indispensable for a certain subject area (example: "This book should be required reading for every health politician"). In this respect, both school reading and compulsory reading describe a literary canon - however composed .

Reading can consist of text excerpts in textbooks or as a photocopy or of complete works, which are usually purchased as a book or reading book. The latter are referred to as full scripts , especially in school lessons .

Word history

The word reading was borrowed in the 18th century from the equivalent French lecture , which in turn goes back to the Latin lectura . The borrowing this originally Latin word is strictly speaking a case of Doppeltentlehnung because on the one hand in the 18th century in the form of reading (or Lecture , Reading ) from the French, previously but already in the form lectur from Latin was transferred directly into German.

Lectura and Lectur

In medieval teaching, Latin lectura had, in addition to the meaning "reading", also the meanings "lecture, commentary lecture on a text, text commentary " and was used in these meanings especially for philosophical, theological and legal lectures and as a title in the form Lectura super ( ...) ("Lecture on, commentary on") for the resulting commentaries on Aristotle , the Bible, the theological sentences of Petrus Lombardus or the collections of secular and ecclesiastical law.

In early New High German of the 16th century, the Latinism Lectur (with the plural form Lecturen ) was formed from this, e.g. B. in the title of the German-language publication of the ordinal lectur ("ordinary lecture") on the Institutiones des Corpus Iuris , with which Thomas Murner received his doctorate in 1519 ; or in the title of Samson Hertzog's collective work on the notarial will right outside of the most important (...) legal lectures, writings and advice drawn up (1597), between commentaries ( lectures ), other "writings" and expert opinions (lat. consilia , literally "advice ") differs.

In addition, in early New High German, in philological technical language usage, there was the meaning "reading, reading", which was also pre-formed in Latin, with reference to the reproduction of a text in a specific handwritten or translation tradition, e.g. B. in the title of Martin Luther's interpretation of the 108th Psalm according to the Hebrew Lecture , which means the psalm text of the Hebrew Bible in contrast to the Greek version of the Septuagint .

Lecture and reading

With the rise of French to the European lingua franca of science and learning in the Age of Enlightenment, French also became formative for the second borrowing into German in the 18th century. In the meanings of "well-read" ( Mann von Groszer lecture , Benjamin Hederich ) and "process of reading, reading" ( for a second thoughtful reading with a pen in hand , Lessing ), the German dictionary of the Brothers Grimm occupies it for this period . Lecture with the meaning of "reading books" appears in the Oeconomic Encyclopedia by Johann Georg Krünitz . Meyer's Konversationslexikon from 1888–90 then explains reading with "(French," reading "), both reading as an action and the practice in it as the reading material presented in writings, namely printed matter."


“The books that people don't read while driving are read in bed. [...] Very unhealthy. […] Ask your ophthalmologist. Better not ask him; he will forbid you to read it in the evenings and you will not leave it - very unhealthy. In bed you should only have light and entertaining reading as well as exciting and calming, furthermore very difficult, scientific and frivolous as well as moderately difficult and any other, but not other types. "

- Kurt Tucholsky : Where do we read our books? , 1930


  • Alberto Manguel : A History of Reading (Original title: A History of Reading ). Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1999, ISBN 3-499-22600-6 .
  • Wolfram Aichinger: A jubilee year for Don Quixote? To abolish literature in schools and universities . In: Romance Studies , No. 2 (2015), pp. 261–270 (online)

Web links

Wiktionary: reading  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations