Position Of Commas With Relative Clause

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by aahhppll, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. aahhppll

    aahhppll Junior Member

    England
    English - England
    Guten Tag,

    In this sentence, 'Die DDR-Bürger konnten kaufen, nur schlecht hergestellte Produkte, die in der DDR oder anderen kommunistischen Ländern gemacht worden sind.'
    is the comma after kaufen (and also the position of kaufen) in the right place?

    Or should it be: 'Die DDR-Bürger konnten nur schlecht hergestellte Produkte, die in der DDR oder anderen kommunistischen Ländern gemacht worden sind, kaufen.'

    Danke Schön.
     
  2. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    The second is correct. The sentence needs a few changes, though to be idiomatic.
    Die DDR-Bürger konnten nur schlecht verarbeitete Produkte, die in der DDR oder anderen kommunistischen Ländern produziert/hergestellt worden waren, kaufen.

    This answers your immediate question; but it should be noted that using a relative clause here sounds a bit cumbersome. I would phrase it like this:
    Die DDR-Bürger konnten nur schlecht verarbeitete, in der DDR oder anderen kommunistischen Ländern hergestellte Produkte kaufen.
    (I would prefer hergestellt over produziert here because produzierte Produkte sounds a bit pleonastic.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
  3. aahhppll

    aahhppll Junior Member

    England
    English - England
    Danke sehr! :)
     
  4. Gernot Back

    Gernot Back Senior Member

    Cologne, Germany
    German - Germany
    Instead of rephrasing the relative attribute as a participial attribute, you might also exbraciate the relative clause to avoid a single comma-separated infinitive at the end of the sentence:

    Die DDR-Bürger konnten nur schlecht verarbeitete Produkte kaufen, die in der DDR oder anderen kommunistischen Ländern [produziert|hergestellt] [worden waren|wurden*].

    I think, the anteriority of the production and the posteriority of the acquisition of these goods is so self-evident that there is no real need for a sophisticated pluperfect.

    http://www.canoo.net/services/Onlin...ungsfeld/Nachfeld.html#Anchor-Nebensatz-47857
     
  5. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    "nur schlecht hergestellte Produkte," is an apposition in the original sentence. That is why it requires commas, it has to be enclosed in two commas if it is not at the end of the sentence. The relative clause is related to "Produkte" and requires a comma in this construction.

    I agree that the sentence is not idiomatic. It is a kind of colloquial language, and not uncommon. Without comma in front of "nur" it would have simply a wrong word order.
    Bernd showed one way to repair the sentence.
    Another one is to add "allerdings".

    'Die DDR-Bürger konnten kaufen, allerdings nur schlecht verarbeitete Produkte, die in der DDR oder anderen kommunistischen Ländern hergestellt worden sind.


    This sentence is a little bit different to Bernd's sentence. The focus is on "they could buy", "it was possible to buy".
    The next part specifies it.

    A question to the context: Is it your own sentence or did you find it somewhere?

    ---
    Apart from this, it is a polemic sentence, and more important, it is not true. It simplifies too much. May be this is the purpose.

    You can insert "oft" to fix it.
    'Die DDR-Bürger konnten kaufen, allerdings oft nur schlecht hergestellte Produkte, die in der DDR oder anderen kommunistischen Ländern hergestellt worden waren.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  6. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    I note that the native speakers seem to be being very careful to avoid pronouncing the original sentence as "wrong". However, as a non-native speaker, it sounds terrible to me! If sentences such as

    Die DDR-Bürger konnten kaufen, nur schlecht hergestellte Produkte ...

    are technically correct (or at least not clearly wrong), then presumably it's OK to say things like:

    Ich kann laufen, zehn Kilometer ohne Pause. ( <--- sounds wrong to me :eek:)

    Such sentences are often used in German radio and TV when foreigners are being impersonated, because the word order corresponds to the usual one found in many other West European languages (e.g., English: "I can run ten kilometers without a break").

    I think the original word order is OK for lists, though (although I would personally use a colon instead of a comma in this case). For example:

    Du musst kaufen: eine Flasche Milch, ein Brot, Küchenrolle, ...

    Cheers
    Abba
     
  7. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    You are right, the first sentence isn't unidiomatic, it is simply ungrammatical. Full stop. There are some veeeeeeeery esoteric circumstances where this word order is nevertheless used. Here is an example:
    Die DDR-Bürger konnten kaufen:


    • [*=1]nur schlecht verarbeitete Produkte, die in der DDR oder anderen kommunistischen Ländern hergestellt worden waren,
      [*=1]gegen Devisen auch West-Produkte in Intershops
    But these conditions are so strange, I find it more confusing than helpful discussing them further in this thread.

     
  8. aahhppll

    aahhppll Junior Member

    England
    English - England
    Sorry, probably should have mentioned that to begin with. But yes it is my own sentence, hence my indecision as to which one to use. :)

    Danke schön! :)
     
  9. ablativ Senior Member

    German(y)
    Das ist ein Satz, der wohl (in seiner Struktur) täglich von jedem Muttersprachler so gesagt wird.

    Beispiel:

    A: Du bist ja so dick, du kannst wahrscheinlich gar nicht mehr laufen.
    B: Ich kann laufen, zehn Kilometer ohne Pause.

    Ich kann kochen, sehr gut sogar. - Ich hab Hunger, ganz großen. - Ich muss mein Auto reparieren lassen, so schnell wie möglich . - Ich muss noch zwei Briefe schreiben, an meine Eltern und an meine Geschwister.

    Gedanklich kann man nach dem Komma "und zwar" ergänzen, dann sind solche Sätze auch grammatisch fehlerlos (und ohne 'und zwar' sind sie auch nicht falsch).
     
  10. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    In this case I would use Bernd's sentence (or Gernot's sentence with "kaufen" in front of the relative clause) with an addition of "oft":
    Die DDR-Bürger konnten oft nur schlecht verarbeitete Produkte, die in der DDR oder anderen kommunistischen Ländern produziert/hergestellt worden waren, kaufen.

    I think this is what you mean.


    If you omit "oft" it becomes very polemic.


    PS: If the text is for silent reading I'd (personally) prefer Bernd's form, if it is to read aloud for others, I'd prefer Gernot's form.

     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2013
  11. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    Thanks ablativ :),

    After doing more research on this, it appears that you are right. According to Duden, a comma can even be used in German in order to combine two main clauses. I didn't realize this and it's also unintuitive for English speakers, because we normally use a period (full stop) in such cases:

    A: "Can you run at all?"
    B: "I sure can! Ten kilometers without a break!"

    "I'm hungry. Very hungry."

    ... and so on.

    By the way, is it possible to use a period in German, too? For example, can one write

    "Ich habe Hunger. Sehr großen sogar."

    instead of

    "Ich habe Hunger, sehr großen sogar."?

    Cheers
    Abba
     
  12. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    We discussed such a form not long ago. Unfortunately I did not find the thread.
    It is possible.
    In my mind the usage of "Ich habe Hunger. Sehr großen sogar." emphasizes the feeling to be hungry even more then just using a comma.
    In my own mind it is like:
    "Ich habe Hunger, und nicht nur Hunger, sondern sehr großen Hunger" in a shorter form. But there is also an opinion from other foreros that the difference is very small.

    The form itself is used often as rhetorical figure by journalists.

    Hutschi
     
  13. ablativ Senior Member

    German(y)
    When I went to school (centuries ago), we were taught that the construct after a full stop should be a complete sentence. "Sehr großen sogar" is not compete at all (no subject / no verb). Nowadays constructions like these are often used in the field of journalism (as Hutschi correctly pointed out) and also by advertising agencies. It allows fast reading with no major effort by the target audience. I personally still doubt if this is good style or grammatically correct.

    Two main clauses that are textually too close for a full stop can be separated by a semicolon. A semicolon is stronger than a comma but less forceful than a period.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  14. ablativ Senior Member

    German(y)
    "can even be used ...", that sounds as if you are surprised.

    Especially when the second main clause is initiated(?) by "und" - this can almost be considered a rule rather than an exception. (Two main clauses combined by "und" have to be separated by putting a comma - unless they are related to each other.) See correction post # 17 and also this link of akademie.de.

    Meine Mutter ist in die Stadt zum Einkaufen gefahren (,) und ich werde mich gleich dort mit ihr treffen.

    Besides "und", the combination of two main clauses (seperated by a comma) is very comon in many other situations:

    Maria kochte die Vorsuppe, Rudolf schält Kartoffel, Ulrike brät den Fisch. (Quelle: hier)

    Edit (in repsonse to Gernot's post # 15): (... very common in many other situations) such as two main clauses with "denn" in between (separated by a comma)
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  15. Gernot Back

    Gernot Back Senior Member

    Cologne, Germany
    German - Germany
    Quite the opposite, if I read this right:
    http://www.canoo.net/services/GermanSpelling/Amtlich/Interpunktion/pgf71-79.html#pgf72
    (Highlighting of kein added by me)


    I wonder why your source doesn't also list the regular and much more frequent comma before denn, between two main clauses, which we have discussed just recently.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  16. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    This was one of the 1996 changes. I also remember the rule "durch 'und' verbundene Hauptsätze werden durch Komma getrennt" from my school days.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  17. ablativ Senior Member

    German(y)
    "(Two main clauses combined by "und" have to be separated by putting a comma - unless they are related to each other.)" = my statement in post 14

    I stand corrected. Instead of "have to be" - I should have written (due to the 1996 changes):

    Two main clauses combined by "und" can be separated by putting a comma - unless they are related to each other.

    Anyway - it is not wrong to put a comma in the above mentioned sentences, it is just optional which was not the case before 1996.

    Aus "korrekturen.de" (Portal für Rechtschreibung):

    "Es ist jetzt bald 17 Uhr, und deswegen bestehe ich darauf, meinen Fünfuhrtee zu mir zu nehmen."

    " (...)
    Weil jedoch das, was nach dem und folgt, deutlich länger und komplexer ist als das, was davorsteht, sagt das Regelwerk, sollte man das Komma doch lieber setzen. Das Kriterium dafür ist die Frage: Sollte (oder möchte) ich den Satz durch das Komma deutlicher gliedern? Wenn ja, dann setze ich es lieber."

     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  18. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    Strangely enough, I have no problem with such sentences. For example, if someone asks me "Magst du Kaffee?", then I consider it OK to just sa "Ja", even though there's no verb or subject, because the answer is not strictly-speaking a standalone sentence, but only makes sense in conjunction with the question to which it belongs. Likewise, if someone is driving a car, and one of the passengers cries out "Nicht so schnell!", then it's perfectly clear from the action being performed what is meant. Similarly, if one writes "Ich habe Hunger. Sehr großen.", then, although it is true that "Sehr großen" is not a properly-formed sentence, it can nevertheless be perfectly understood in the context of the sentence it follows. The fact that it would not make sense as a standalone sentence (which it isn't anyway) has no practical value for me. Of course, this is just my subjective opinion, and your mileage may vary, as they say. :)

    Well, sort of (<-- also not a properly-formed sentence :) ). I was just surprised because in examples like

    "Ich habe Hunger, sehr großen." and
    "Ich kann kochen, sehr gut sogar.",

    there needs to be a significant pause at the position of the comma, and (with English being my mother tongue) I'm used to a comma being used for a short pause and a period (full stop) for a longer one, with the latter being more appropriate here in my opinion. However, in German, I obviously still need to break away from this line of thinking, and although it's true that there *is* a pause at the position of the comma here in spoken German, this is obviously just coincidental, and not governed by the use of the comma in any way.

    I was actually talking about the use of a comma for the separation of two main clauses in the general case (i.e., without any conjunction and not in the special case of lists). But it's irrelevant now anyway, since I've discovered (thanks, among other things, to your post :thumbsup: ) that the comma in German is more versatile than I had previously thought it was.

    Best regards,
    Abba
     

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