Unit 9: Passive Voice

4. Compound Nouns with Shared Parts

You will sometimes encounter a peculiar efficiency when a German sentence contains two or more compound nouns which share a word part. The clue to watch for is a hanging hyphen at the beginning or end of a word. Examples:

Dabei werden Ursachen von Kinderarmut in Ost- und Westdeutschland verglichen.
In the process, causes of child poverty in East and West Germany are compared.

The above example saves the writer or speaker from the tedious phrase Ostdeutschland und Westdeutschland.

Vorgang zum Richten insbesondere der Bandanfänge und -enden von gewalzten Metallbändern.
Procedure for straightening especially the ribbon beginnings and ends of rolled metal ribbons.

This example uses a shorter way of writing Bandanfänge und Bandenden. (You were introduced to this practice previously in Unit 3, section 4.) Just make sure your English translation clearly communicates the intended compound meaning, given that English lacks the clarity of that hyphen. You may need to write out each compound in English.


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