Administrative language

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Under administrative language or authorities language which is on the one hand the official language understood by law or commonly spoken in offices and administrations of a country or territory and - is written (for example - even more French , the language of administration in France). Sometimes, for example in a multi-ethnic state , one of several administrative languages ​​can be used.

On the other hand, administrative language or official language (colloquially also official German or official German ) denotes a very formal expression, as is often used in correspondence from authorities, parliaments and administrations (e.g. in the judiciary, in the railways and post offices), but also in many private companies. The Duden uses the expression paper German for this . The article deals with this meaning of the term.



The compact and precise style is used to convey an administrative decision based on objective and purely legal considerations. Terms and definitions from laws and ordinances are often adopted unchanged for this purpose.

The general public regards administrative language as a cumbersome and typical way for authorities to use the German language. It is a sociolect and in parts a technical language . Similar to legal language , it hardly contains any foreign words of its own, but is mostly incomprehensible due to its grammatical constructions with overlong and often nested sentences (so-called tapeworm sentences ) and makes the official text non-transparent for average readers. According to some, it therefore does not meet the requirement for customer-oriented communication between authorities and citizens.

In 2000, the city administration of Bochum decided to write letters to authorities in a citizen-friendly language in future. A group of Germanists from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum is helping all German municipal administrations to design official texts in such a way that they are easier for citizens to understand and better accepted. The German Research Institute for Public Administration Speyer also researches and advises on understandable administrative language.

The previously common use of empty phrases (“devotedly”, “with great respect”), which is now felt to be swollen , has already declined significantly in the last decades of the 20th century.


A characteristic of the administrative language is that nouns are preferred over active verbs ( nominal style ). For this purpose, activities are substantiated (“display” instead of “display”) or adjective , that is, expressed in adjectives . Often passive is used instead of active . As a result, one can often only see from the context who the acting person is. In addition, noun chains ("Application for the revocation of the regulatory office's decision on removal ...") and multiple nouns ("duty to provide evidence of performance") are often used, which further condense the text.

Furthermore, formulaic descriptions of circumstances (“for the purpose of granting an estate”, “putting my concerns aside”), complex adjectives (“consideration under child benefit law”) and frequent passive formations (“It is recognized here”, “We ask for a reply”) are found in administrative language.

Elimination of the joint s

In official correspondence (e.g. also legal texts) there is no orthographically correct fugue s that is common in everyday language and is not used for many compound words . So it says something like:

This way of writing and speaking is also used in the insurance industry in particular. So the damage is s case to the claim.

Examples of official German

  • Parenting: Finding a foster family for a child
  • Accompanying green : green space , green strips or urban greening when building roads
  • Schooling: attending school or completing compulsory schooling
  • Direction indicator : Blinker (The technical term also includes the previously permitted blinker.)
  • Large green : tree
  • Traffic lights, changing lights, traffic lights (The technical term "traffic lights" is more comprehensive and also includes traffic signs.)
  • Spontaneous vegetation: non-cultivated greenery (e.g. weeds , meadows, etc.)

English as an administrative language

The English language , which is considered the global lingua franca , is offered by various foreign language authorities. In some cities it has also become the official language of administration, for example in Düsseldorf in 2015 . The accessibility for z. B. Expats and international scientists on the German labor market should be increased, these workers usually have high incomes and would rather decide to stay in Germany if they understand the authorities better and can use them to learn the German language later.

See also


  • Bernhard Asmuth : Administrative language. In: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of rhetoric . Volume 10: Supplements A – Z. de Gruyter, Berlin et al. 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-023424-4 , Sp. 1417-1441.
  • Peter Heinrich: Language as an instrument of administrative action. An introduction to linguistics for members of the public administration (= administration, law and society. Vol. 4). Hitit, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-924423-21-0 .
  • Kent D. Lerch (Ed.): The Language of Law. Studies of the interdisciplinary working group Language of Law of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. Volume 1: Understand Right. Understandability, misunderstanding and incomprehensibility of law. de Gruyter, Berlin et al. 2004, ISBN 3-11-018008-1 .
  • Thomas Tinnefeld: The syntax of the 'Journal officiel'. An analysis of the jargon of law and administration in contemporary French. (= Foreign languages ​​in teaching and research; vol. 13). AKS, Bochum 1993, ISBN 3-925453-16-4 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Administrative language  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Official German  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Eckart Roloff : Why easy when it can be complicated? Post and its language. In: The archive. Issue 2/2012, ISSN  1611-0838 , pp. 14-21.
  2. - ( Memento of the original from May 28, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ^ "Die Welt" of December 10, 2006: Family drama: In terms of K ...
  5. Schooling outside the school district ( Memento from February 11, 2013 in the web archive )
  6. § 5 StVO
  7. z. B. Guidelines for traffic lights
  8. § 37 StVO
  9. Sign 131 of the road traffic regulations
  10. seine-sache/ spontanvegetation
  11. ^ English as another administrative language in Düsseldorf , portal of the FDP , August 6, 2015
  12. English must become our administrative language , Die Welt , December 15, 2014