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Wessen und Wem gehört  
von Deutsch-lover (UN), 2011-07-08, 21:22  like dislike  Spam?  
Hallo leute,,,

Which expression is used the most in German:

1- Wessen Mantel ist das?

2- Wem gehört dieser Mantel?

and do they (the two exp.s) basically convey the same idea?

Danke im Voraus..
In my experience no. 2 is the standard phrase.  #607432
von Lllama (GB/AT), 2011-07-08, 22:23  like dislike  Spam?  
I don't think I've ever heard anyone say no.1 (but I might have read it somewhere).
Nr. 1  =  auch gebräuchlich ...... vielleicht ein  "Generationending"  ??  #607438
von sunfunlili (DE/GB), 2011-07-08, 23:38  like dislike  Spam?  
von uffie (GH/KI), 2011-07-08, 23:44  like dislike  Spam?  
I believe 1 is more formal and not used in conversation much whereas 2 is neutral
So I understand that, no.2 is used more commonly in conversation... Thanks a lot  #607443
von Deutsch-lover (UN), Last modified: 2011-07-08, 23:49  like dislike  Spam?  
von uffie (GH/KI), Last modified: 2011-07-08, 23:57  like dislike  Spam?  
you're welcome :-)

a useful classification is: formal, neutral and informal. The neutral can be used in both settings and is the most flexible solution.
thanks for explaining the "neutral", I didn't know what you've meant by it the first time...  #607450
von Deutsch-lover (UN), Last modified: 2011-07-09, 00:30  like dislike  Spam?  
Wes  #607456
von Catesse (AU), 2011-07-09, 04:40  like dislike  Spam?  
What about, in conversation, "Wes' Mantel ist das?"
(Wes' Brot ich ess, des' Lied ich sing'.)
The poor genitive case ...  #607461
von alex-k (DE), 2011-07-09, 05:09  like dislike  Spam?  
In other languages related to German, e.g. Dutch, the genitive case has pretty much vanished into thin air and substitute constructions in the dative case have taken over. Der Mantel des Mannes often becomes der Mantel von dem Mann in German also, introducing Vonitiv as case 4.5. Sunfunlili (23:38) pointed out that it may be a question to which generation the speaker belongs. My grandparents use genitive more often than me and I use it more often than the generation following mine.

Consequently, both questions are identical in meaning but you are more likely to hear the second version in spoken language. In written language, I would say 1 is the better choice. However, I think the days when the teachers would have marked 2 in your essay as an example of bad style because the genitive version is better are over.
Des Mannes  #607462
von Catesse (AU), 2011-07-09, 05:22  like dislike  Spam?  
I presume that "des Mannes Mantel" is long down the drain in ordinary writing as well as in speech?
Catesse: yes!  #607463
von alex-k (DE), 2011-07-09, 05:51  like dislike  Spam?  
It picked up a certain poetic connotation that it did not have one century ago. In spoken language it reached the sewage plant already.
It's funny...  #607469
von Deutsch-lover (UN), 2011-07-09, 09:42  like dislike  Spam?  
It's funny that we (humans) always tend to use complex structures more than the simple ones.

I've heard that's a normal linguistic phenomena.. My favorite example in German simple past

vs. perfect past ...
Wenn der Mantel mit Blut besudelt ist, würde z.B. der Kommissar eventuell scharf fragen:  #607485
anonymous, 2011-07-09, 10:44  like dislike  Spam?  95.119.231....
Wessen Mantel ist das?

In einer Alltagssituation, wenn es lediglich um das Besitzverhältnis geht, würdest du eher 2. verwenden, z.B. wenn der Mantel herrenlos herumliegt und du ihn dem Besitzer zurückgeben willst, weil er stört oder weil es kalt ist und du ein Durcheinander verhindern willst, damit am Ende keiner friert: "Wem gehört dieser Mantel?"
von wandle (GB), 2011-07-09, 12:18  like dislike  Spam?  
4; Deutsch-lover:
Reading alex-k's comments, it seems that German is moving away from the more complex to the less copmplex (from frequent to less frequent use of the genitive case) and is tending in the same direction as Dutch, where the genitive has apparently practically vanished. If we look at English (which shares some characteristics with Dutch, Flemish and Frisian) we find the genitive very much reduced compared to its German origin.
This seems to illustrate two facts about language: (a) that language structures initally develop in highly complex forms, and then become gradually simplified over time; and (b) that when a language is transplanted into new territory by migration or colonisation, the simplification process is accelerated.
Thus we find in American English, compared to British, less use of inflection and the passive voice (e.g. less use of 'whom') and a greater preference for phrasal verb constructions.
Genitives  #607533
von Catesse (AU), 2011-07-09, 13:46  like dislike  Spam?  
Agree heartily with wandle. As mountains erode into the sea, so languages degrade to the level of the least intelligent and least educated, and an influx of non-native speakers speeds up the process. English has lost its grammatical complexity because of successive layers of Celtic, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Danish, Norman-French, etc. etc to Pakistani and Urdu.
Maybe some time even Polish will get around to simplifying structures such as this:
I have a child. (Child: accusative: dziecko.)
I don't have a child. (Child: genitive: dziecka.)
I suppose there is some reason behind this, but I fail to see it.
Actually, I personally would ask "Wem ist der Mantel?"  #607543
von Baccalaureus (DE), 2011-07-09, 15:37  like dislike  Spam?  
But this is Southern German and may not serve as a good example.
von wandle (GB), Last modified: 2011-07-11, 13:01  like dislike  Spam?  
4; Catesse:
My point is not about gradual immigration we see today, but rather two factors (a) a progression from more complex to less complex, tending to happen everywhere equally, and (b) the effect of large-scale historic emigration from the mother country to another, tending to accelerate the former process.  This acceleration being due to the fact that emigrants are mainly young people, oriented to action, whereas old people, thinkers, teachers, poets and writers are more likely to stay behind.
Thus the first new generation growing up in the new land have less good teaching, and do not have that engine of good language practice provided by the speech of the old.  Grandad and grandma are not there to correct mistakes, repeat traditional sayings and give growing children the example of experienced language use.
As for German, it has preserved more of the original Indo-European grammar than English has, but comparison with Latin, Greek and Sanskrit shows that it too has declined considerably in complexity from earlier forms.  This despite being exposed less to immigration than many other countries.
Why does such reduction in complexity occur?  This can be explained by the second law of thermodynamics, which states that systems tend to move from more complex to less complex ("entropy tends to a maximum").  But the more interesting question seems to me to be, why did the more complex language structure develop in the first place? Why is it that 'primitive' peoples have more complex languages than 'civilised' ones?
Generalities and classification  #607689
von Catesse (AU), 2011-07-11, 13:18  like dislike  Spam?  
It may be that forming generalisations is a complex mental development, and that being specific is the primitive form. Some languages have different forms for "we", meaning "he and I" or "he, I and you". Some languages have a fully developed set of words "dual" number, as well as singular and plural. (Only remnants of this occut in most European languages, e.g. both, either/or, neither/nor.) Some languages do not use "left/right" for directions from given place, but use instead "north, south, east and west". It is said that Eskimos have umpteen words for different types of snow but no word for "snow" in general.
But then, was it all the fault of the Tower of Babel?
This is a deep philosophical question, not a matter of grammar.

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