1901 Orthographic Conference

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At the Orthographic Conference of 1901 in Berlin (also called the Second Orthographic Conference ), a common German orthography for all German-speaking countries was established for the first time, which was largely based on the Prussian school orthography, but also adopted proposals from the Orthographic Conference of 1876 , which had not yet been implemented by Prussia. The next all-German "spelling reform" took place in 1996 .

The then standardized German spelling was used uniformly in the German-speaking countries (countries of the German Empire, Austria, Switzerland) with minor changes (apart from the ß , which never caught on in Switzerland in Antiqua and from 1935 on in Zurich schools either was taught). The double and triple forms that still existed in large numbers after the conference were eliminated in different house orthographies, in particular by the Buchdruckerduden of 1903. Shortly after the conference, deficiencies were complained from various sides and there was a need for further reform, which was only rarely accepted.


Efforts to standardize German spelling had a long history, but were articulated particularly clearly after the founding of the German Empire in 1871. In 1876, from January 4th to 15th, "Negotiations for the creation of greater agreement in spelling" took place in Berlin Prussian Minister of Education Adalbert Falk and became known as the I. Orthographic Conference . The results were rejected by the governments of the individual countries, so that initially there was no uniform spelling in the German Reich.

In 1879 Bavaria published its own orthographic set of rules. In Austria, too, an own orthographic set of rules was published that used the Heysesche s spelling . In 1880 Prussia followed with its own set of rules, which was developed by the Germanist Wilhelm Wilmanns , a close confidante of Konrad Dudens, for the Prussian schools (hence also called "Prussian school orthography") and hardly differed from the Bavarian set of rules. According to the school orthographies of Prussia and Bavaria, verbs ending in -iren / -ieren were written uniformly with -ieren (this standardization proposed by Rudolf von Raumer had been rejected at the 1st Orthographic Conference). On -niß / -nis were uniformly with ending words -nis written (on the II. Ortho Graphic Conference confirmed). In the same year Konrad Duden published his dictionary on the basis of these two sets of rules with the title "Complete Orthographic Dictionary of the German Language - According to the New Prussian and Bavarian Rules", which contained around 27,000 headwords and was first in Germany and then within a decade spread throughout the German-speaking area. In 1892 the so-called Duden was officially introduced as the official dictionary in Switzerland. A largely uniform German spelling was thus taught in schools. Most of the state authorities, with the exception of Württemberg, still used an old spelling.

At the invitation of the State Secretary of the Reich Office of the Interior, “Consultations on the Uniformity of German Spelling” took place in Berlin from June 17 to 19, 1901, which became known as the Second Orthographic Conference. 26 representatives from the German federal states and an Austrian commissioner as well as representatives of some institutions and the book trade came together and discussed the standardization of a uniform German orthography. In addition to state officials, a few specialists took part, including Konrad Duden and Wilhelm Wilmanns, who were also present at the First Orthographic Conference.


The following resolutions were passed, which were based on the Prussian standard school work and the dictionary.

  • In native words, the h should always fall after t ( Tal , Tür instead of Thal , Thür ). In foreign words such as throne and theater as well as Germanic terms such as Thing and Thor , the th spelling was retained.
  • Final ß in words ending in -niß became -nis as in mystery , since this syllable is not stressed. The change that had been decided 20 years earlier was thus confirmed.
  • Foreign words should be integrated more consistently into the German writing system. However, this did not lead to an extensive replacement of c by k or z , but rather thousands of foreign words could be written in two ways (e.g. accent next to accent, central next to central, social next to social ). For many other foreign words, two spellings were also possible (e.g. shawl next to scarf , guitar next to guitar , liqueur next to liqueur ). In some cases even three spellings were possible (e.g. company next to company and company , detto next to ditto and ditto , disinfecting next to disinfecting and disinfecting ). Individual foreign words could even be written in four ways (e.g. Baccheus next to Bacchius , Bakcheus and Bakchius ). In some cases, a single spelling has been set (for. Example editor instead Redacteur, literature instead of literature , drug instead drogue ).
  • Foreign words on -iren / -ieren should be written consistently with -ieren (e.g. govern, add ). This confirmed another change taught in the school for about 20 years.
  • In many cases, double overrides have been approved (see. Above, as well. Eg nettle next nettle , morning next morning , Briton next to Briton , flower beds next to Pray , Sahlweide next sallow , with nieces next to no means , teigicht next doughy ). Words ending in -ie and -ee had two possible spellings in the plural (e.g. monarchies next to monarchies , avenues next to avenues ). (It was not until the following years that the admission of several spellings was restricted, not least due to the amalgamation of general Dudens with Buchdruckerduden 1915, which Konrad Duden first published in 1903.)
  • With regard to the word separation at the end of the line, it was stipulated that pf and dt always, st (in those cases in which, according to the rules of the Fraktur sentence, a long s is used) may never be separated (e.g. fighting, relatives , funny ). Previously allowed dt not be separated while pf and st could only be separated when they preceded by a vowel character (eg. Trop-fen , but FIGHTING-pfen; Verwan DTE; lus-tig , but dur-stig ). A single-letter syllable should not be separated, but this was not prohibited.
  • Another point were changes that affected the distribution of round and long s .
  • For compounds separately or spelling and punctuation (punctuation) no rules were formulated.
  • Further innovations, as planned for the failed First Orthographic Conference, were dispensed with in order not to change the familiar typeface too much. In addition, the conference participants feared that individual state governments would not agree. Therefore z. For example, the Heysian s notation was not introduced and Adelung's s notation was retained. Austria sacrificed its own regulation “in the interests of uniformity”.

These resolutions were implemented in official regulations in the course of 1902 by the governments of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The German Kaiser Wilhelm II was initially against the use of the new spelling by the authorities. However, he was persuaded and in December 1902 agreed to the official use, but insisted until 1911 that documents submitted to him had to be written in the old spelling.

Due to the many double forms, several house orthographies were created in the following years. In particular, the above-mentioned Buchdruckerduden shaped the typeface of numerous publications, but must not be equated with the official regulation.

Classification as reform

There are different judgments as to whether the Second Orthographic Conference of 1901 can be classified as a spelling reform that can serve as a precedent for the 1996 reform of German spelling . The reform critic Theodor Ickler writes:

"The" spelling reform of 1901 "- a legend: Experts know that the spelling customary around 1900 was by no means" reformed "after the Second Orthographic Conference (1901), but on the contrary was placed under state protection against arbitrary changes. Wolfgang Kopke in particular demonstrated this again in his excellent dissertation (1995). "

The former reformer Horst Haider Munske stated in connection with the spelling reform of 1996:

“In terms of the type and scope of the proposed changes, this spelling reform is actually a reform, a major intervention in the structure of the German writing standard. And it is the very first spelling reform in German language history. Because in 1901 only the current custom was practically sanctioned. Therefore a one-time conference of three days was sufficient for this. "

Konrad Duden writes in the foreword to the Duden from 1902 (7th edition, p. IV f.):

"If you [d. H. The main advantage of the orthography described therein is that it is there at all and has general validity [with which he praises the unification that has been created ], it also has, and not only compared to the many old orthographies [sic!], but also compared to the previous school orthography to show significant improvements. By eliminating the th and the ph from all words of German origin and also making extensive concessions to the use of German phonetic designations, in particular the k and z instead of the c, the sch instead of the ch in the foreign words, it has en route which the development of German orthography since Rudolf von Raumer's opposition to the reforms of the historical school has struck and pursued, has made significant progress. When I speak of 'progress', I am already suggesting that, in the opinion of those who worked on the creation of the new, uniform spelling, there should by no means be a standstill for all time. "

See also


  • Dieter Nerius (Ed.): The orthographic conferences of 1876 and 1901 (= Documenta Orthographica , Department B, Volume 5). Georg Olms Verlag , Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 2002, ISBN 3-487-11444-5 .
  • Dieter Nerius: Orthography. 4th edition, Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 2007.
  • Dieter Nerius: The role of the II. Orthographic Conference (1901) in the history of German spelling. In: Journal for German Philology ( ISSN  0044-2496 ), 119th year 2000, No. 1, pp. 30–54.
  • Hiltraud Strunk (Ed.): Documentation on the history of German orthography in Germany in the first half of the 20th century, Volume 1 (=  Documenta Orthographica , Department B, Volume 7.1). Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 2006, ISBN 3-487-13186-2 .
  • Johannes Meyer: The deviations between the new and the old spelling, along with exercises, dictations and a dictionary. 6./7. Edition, published by Carl Meyer (Gustav Prior), Hanover / Berlin 1902.
  • Jürgen Scharnhorst: The way to the uniformity of the German orthography. In: Deutschunterricht ( ISSN  0012-1460 ), 46th year 1993, No. 9, pp. 423-431.
  • Konrad Duden: Orthographic dictionary of the German language. 7th edition, Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1902.
  • Michael Schlaeffer: The way to the German uniform orthography from the year 1870 to the year 1901. In: Sprachwissenschaft ( ISSN  0344-8169 ), 6th year 1981, pp. 391-438.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ulrich Ammon: The German language in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The problem of national varieties . Walter de Gruyter, 1995, p. 254.
  2. ^ Edited by Gerhard Helbig, Lutz Götze, Gert Henrici, Hans-Jürgen Krumm: German as a foreign language. An international manual. 1st half band. Walter de Gruyter, 2001, p. 496 f.
  3. Christian Stang: 125 years of the Duden. The “People's Dictionary” celebrates its birthday ( Memento from September 30, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), (PDF, 709 kB)
  4. ^ Theodor Ickler: Regulatory power. Background of the spelling reform. Leibnitz-Verlag, St. Goar, 2004, ISBN 3-93115-518-8 , p. 67 ( Online , PDF; 1.9 MB).
  5. Horst Haider Munske: How essential is the spelling reform? In: Hans-Werner Eroms, Horst Haider Munske (eds.): The spelling reform: Pros and cons . Erich Schmidt, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-503-03786-1 , pp. 143–156, quotation p. 154 f.