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Tegtmeier, Sascha

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Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany | 01/08/2006

Germany's spelling reform

After eight years of intense debate Germany's new spelling reform takes force today. Since 1998, the "Council for German Spelling" has been revising the language reform it passed that year to simplify German orthography. However, the resulting rules are often difficult to understand. Sascha Tegtmeier calls the reform a "creative spelling chaos": "For years now most people have been spelling as they please. Now we can finally do it with a clear conscience. This means that only those rules the majority of the population has understood will become permanent – and that's precious little. True, we haven't quite attained the level of spelling anarchy in which Goethe and Schiller revelled. But the newly gained freedom will increase readers' tolerance levels so they are more willing to accept spelling variants they have never seen before. In this way, over the coming decades the goal of creating a more logical and simple orthography, which the spelling reform has failed to achieve, may be achieved from 'the bottom up'."

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