Wilhelm Wilmanns

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Wilhelm Wilmanns

Franz Wilhelm Wilmanns (born March 14, 1842 in Jüterbog ; † January 29, 1911 in Bonn ) was a German specialist in German.

School, university and academic career

Memorial plaque for Wilhelm Wilmanns at Domstrasse 30 in Greifswald

The son of the Royal Prussian Building Councilor Franz Wilmann grew up as a child in Jüterbog. Around 1847 his father was transferred to Berlin, where Wilhelm attended the Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster from 1852 . In 1860 he began studying classical philology and German at the University of Berlin . His academic teachers included August Boeckh , Johann Gustav Droysen , Moriz Haupt and Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg , but above all Karl Victor Müllenhoff and Emil Hübner . In 1864 Wilmanns wrote his dissertation on the subject of " De Didascaliis Terentianis ", with which he received his doctorate.

Initially, Wilmanns was a tutor for three years and as such also in England. Then he got a job as a high school teacher at the Gray Monastery . In 1874 Wilmanns was appointed professor of the German language at the University of Greifswald and finally succeeded Karl Joseph Simrock at the University of Bonn in 1877 , where he held the post of rector in 1897/1898. He gave his inaugural address on the subject of the “ History of the German Language Community ”.

In 1906 he was elected a corresponding member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences .

Main research areas

Wilmanns' research area was initially medieval poetry. Among other things, he published a publication on the Kudrundichtung in 1873 . In other works he has dealt with the history of the Nibelungenlied (1877) and the corner song (1871). His work on Life and Poetry by Walther von der Vogelweide , which first appeared in 1869 and was subsequently edited in several editions, most recently in 1924, by Victor Michels, has had a lasting effect on linguistics .

German spelling

Wilmanns played a decisive role in standardizing German spelling. As a grammar school teacher at the Gray Monastery, he and other colleagues were entrusted with the development of the so-called " Berlin orthography " by the Association of grammar school teachers and grammar school teachers on the recommendation of Hermann Bonitz , who was then director of the grammar school . In addition, Wilmanns wrote a book entitled “ Commentary on Prussian School Orthography ” (Berlin, 1880) during this time , which was reissued in 1887 under the title “ The orthography in schools in Germany ”.

Due to this preliminary work, among other things, Wilmanns was invited to participate in the First Orthographic Conference of 1876 alongside Rudolf von Raumer , Daniel Sanders , Wilhelm Scherer and Konrad Duden . At this conference, Wilmanns belonged to the "phonetically moderate camp" along with Duden and Raumer, which advocated a careful change to the existing spelling. Since no agreement could be reached at this conference, some of the German federal states created their own sets of rules. The corresponding rule book for the Prussian schools was written by Wilhelm Wilmanns on behalf of Minister of Education Robert Viktor von Puttkamer and published in 1880.

Wilmanns also took part in the Second Orthographic Conference , which took place in Berlin in 1901, and was the only expert besides Konrad Duden who had already participated in the first conference in 1876. He played a major role in the final text of the rules and was often referred to as its author at the time.

Wilmanns also wrote a " German School Grammar " (7th ed., Berl. 1887, 2 parts) and played an important role in the German spelling established by the Prussian Ministry of Education, on which he made a detailed commentary (2nd ed., Berl. 1887) published.


Wilhelm Wilmanns came from a family of merchants and scholars. His father was a building officer in the Prussian civil service and had temporarily worked under Karl Friedrich Schinkel . The lawyer and member of the Reichstag Karl Wilmanns and the ancient historian Gustav Heinrich Wilmanns were his brothers. His son Wolfgang Wilmanns was a professor for agricultural management. The psychiatrist Karl Wilmanns and the chemist Gustav Wilmanns were sons of his brother Franz Rudolph Florenz.

The surgeon Richard Wilmanns and the historian and historian Ernst Wilmanns were sons of his brother Hilmar Franz Günther.


  • Franck, Johannes: Wilhelm Wilmanns. Journal for German Philology 43: 435-449. 1911 ||| [3]
  • Schröder, Edward: Wilhelm Wilmanns - commemorative speech. Business communications from the Royal Society of Sciences in Göttingen 1: 89-95. Goettingen 1911.
  • Kremers, Hermann, Johannes Franck and Leopold Ellerbeck: Wilhelm Wilmanns, born on March 14, 1842 in Jüterbog, died on January 29, 1911 in Bonn: Address at the funeral on February 1, 1911.
  • Wagner, Wilhelm: Wilhelm Wilmanns. Self-published, Hamborn am Rhein 1913.
  • Munske, Horst Haider: Praise the spelling. Why we write how we write. Munich Beck 2005. ISBN 978-3-406-52861-3
  • Kocks, Harald: Konrad Duden and his contribution to the constitution of German orthography. Munich: GRIN Verlag GmbH 2010. ISBN 978-3-640-58727-8 .

Fonts (selection)

  • The development of the Kudrundichtung. Hall 1873.
  • Contributions to the explanation and history of the Nibelungenlied. Hall 1877.
  • On the history of the corner song in the Old German Studies by Jännicke, Steinmeyer and W., Berlin 1871.
  • Source studies on Goethe's Götz. Berlin 1874.
  • The reorganization of the Electoral College by Otto IV and Innocent III. Berlin 1873.
  • Life and Poetry of Walther von der Vogelweide. Bonn 1882.
  • Contributions to the history of the older German literature. Bonn 1885–1888.
  • Dialect and written language . Knowledge Supplements to the Zfvgl.Spr. 4.27.
  • German grammar for lower and middle schools, 1887.
  • German grammar. Gothic, Old, Middle and New High German. 3 volumes in 4 books. Vol. 1 ( first section ): Phonology. Vol. 2: Word formation. Vol. 3 / I: Flexion. Verb. Vol. 3 / II: Flexion. Nouns and pronouns. Strasbourg ( Verlag Karl J. Trübner ) 1897–1906.

Web links

Wikisource: Wilhelm Wilmanns  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. Kocks 2010: 16
  4. PDF at www.duden.de ( Memento from February 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Kocks 2010: 22
  6. ^ Munske 2005: 140
  7. ^ Scanned version from the holdings of the University of California
  8. http://www.wilmanns.de/genealogie/wil3.html
  9. Direct lineage from Peter Gustav Wilmanns ( Memento from December 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive )