« IndietroContinua »
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
THE success with which the present volume has met, has made a re-issue necessary much sooner than could be expected from a publication of so advanced a character. This circumstance demonstrates the critical attention which the study of German now receives in this country; for by using this and similar advanced works, people show that they are no longer satisfied with a mere smattering of the language, but are anxious to obtain a thorough knowledge of its genius, its idiomatic peculiarities, and grammatical niceties.
In the present edition I have, in accordance with a suggestion (consonant with my own conviction) made by many intelligent and experienced teachers of German, entirely recast, and increased the Notes in Part I., by giving such explanations as will enable students to concentrate their whole attention on the important topic of the Construction of Sentences. And I have, besides, very carefully revised the book throughout.
KING'S COLLEGE, London,
I have to express my sincerest thanks for permission to reprint some of the following Copyright Extracts to Lady Trevelyan, Messrs. A. and C. Black, Messrs. Blackwood and Sons, Messrs. Longman and Co., Messrs. Macmillan and Co., Mr. John Murray, and Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co.
GERMAN is a strictly grammatical language, and this circumstance forms the basis of the construction of German sentences. The grammatical inflections, which have not been lost in German as in English, claim inexorably their right, but offer at the sanie time the great advantage of effecting a distinctness which leaves room neither for a real nor for a merely grammatical ambiguity. Apart from these formal exigencies, there is the same freedom of movement in the expression of thought in German as in English-a freedom which is of incalculable advantage to prose, but still more so to poetry.
The German language possesses, besides, an adaptability which most other languages lack, and to which the fact may be attributed that German can boast as has been universally acknowledged-of unrivalled translations from foreign languages, especially from the English. The fact just pointed out may serve as an encouragement to English students of German, proving, as it does, that the difficulties of translating into German are by no means so
overwhelming as is generally asserted, more particularly by those whose knowledge of German is merely superficial. Any one who has a fair knowledge of German, and is familiar with the Grammar, will, by the help of a complete German dictionary, be able to produce such a translation as, though not elegant, would not be stamped as absurd or as 'un-German,' since the mode of expression is by no means prescribed by implacable laws. There is, it is true, a peculiarly German order of words; but this order can easily enough be learned by means of certain rules: and so can the peculiarity of the construction of German sentences in general, especially if it is constantly borne in mind that German is, as has been stated before, a strictly grammatical language, and requires all the various relations between subject, object, &c. to be pointed out with grammatical distinctness.
The following general recapitulation of some of the most important features of German Syntax will fully bear out my assertion as regards the thorough grammatical character of the German language.
I. One of the chief characteristics of German construction is that of placing the qualifying expressions and clauses before the qualified term; which mode of expression gives great vigour and compactness to the sentences. For example: Ein
auf dem Hügel stehendes Haus, a house standing on the hill.
The student of German should, however, be very cautious in forming such adjective sentences. They should never be too long, and it is far better to make use of relative clauses, than to compress a number of clauses into one protracted adjective sentence. It is in this respect, before all, that modern German prose has materially and generally improved. Good German writers make, as a rule, their sentences shorter and more concise, and it only requires a fair amount of knowledge of the German language to find them lucid and intelligible.
II. Participial Constructions, so very frequently employed in English, are in German generally turned by a different form. This important topic has been fully explained in the present volume, and one Extract (part ii. page 82, No. xxx.) has been inserted for special practice in the various rules referring to the Present (or 'Imperfect') Participle. The most important of the rules alluded to are here recapitulated.
(a) In adverbial clauses of time participial Constructions are usually changed into a regular clause with a conjunction indicating time, (as: indem, während, whilst; als, da, when; nachdem, after, etc.) and a finite verb e.g.; (while) speaking with me, he saw, etc., während (or indem) er mit mir sprach, etc. Tense
and conjunction must be employed according to the sense of the passage.
(b) The Present Participle which qualifies a preceding noun or pronoun is generally changed into a regular relative clause; that is to say, the Present Participle is changed into a finite verb and is introduced by a relative pronoun or adverb. The sense of the passage will generally show which tense is to be used. Thus we should turn retaining in Extr. 19 by which had retained,' because it refers to the past; and enabling in Extr. 21 by which enable,' because it contains the notion of the present tense.
(c) When the Present Participle expresses logical cause, it is changed into a regular sentence, and introduced by da; e.g. Not finding him at home, 1 went away, da ich ihn nicht zu Hause fand, so ging ich weg.
(d) Present Participles having the force of an adjective, are, in some cases, actually changed into attributive adjectives, (cf. p. xiv. I).
(e) Present Participles are often turned by a finite verb, and connected by and with a preceding clause. Cf. p. 28, 1. 12.
(f) A very convenient way of rendering briefly the Present Participle is the employment of adverbial expressions with which the German language