# Characteristics of the German language in AX Semantics

# fundamentals

German has three genders for nouns: masculine, feminine and neuter. And there are two numbers: singular and plural. Gender and number influence the used determiner and the possibility for preposition and determiner contraction. German has four cases for nouns: nominative, accusative, genitive and dative. The adjectives are extremely regular and the exceptions should be covered.

grammatical name values examples
gender masculine der große Hafen (the big harbor)
feminine die blühende Wiese (the blooming meadow)
neuter das rote Haus (the red house)
-- -- --
number singular ein rotes Haus (a red house)
plural zwei größe Häfen (two big harbors)
-- -- --
cases (noun) nominative Der Hund (the dog)
accusative Ich sehe den Hund. (I see the dog.)
genitive Das Spielzeug des Hundes (The dog’s toy)
dative Ich gebe dem Hund seinen Ball.
(I give the ball to the dog.)
-- -- --
adjectives pre-noun groß (big)
-- -- --
verb tenses present
past
past participle

# lexicon

# nouns

For German nouns the lexicon need to encode gender, number, preposition changes and if a determiner is present.

WARNING

If the lexicon entry is missing we give a warning and cannot render the noun phrase without a gender.

# examples

The lexicon entry for Haus (house) contains

  • gender: neuter
  • plural nominative: Häuser

The lexicon entry for Australien (Australia) contains

  • gender: neuter
  • remove all definite determiners

And the lexicon entry for Malta (Malta) contains

  • gender: neuter
  • remove all definite determiners
  • replace preposition in with auf in dative

And the lexicon entry for Seychellen (Seychelles) contains

  • gender: female
  • always set a definite determiner
  • replace preposition in with auf in dative
  • replace preposition nach with auf in accusative

note

All lexicon entries for countries are already in the platform for German - so all examples below work by using the global lexicon.

# adjectives

The adjectives in German are very regular. There should be no need to add a new adjective.

# verbs

The most common verbs are encoded in our software. If a verb inflects the wrong way, you should add it to the lexicon.

# container settings

# examples

# example 1

In the sentence

Sie reisten von Paris nach Australien.
(They were traveling from Paris to Australia.)

no article is added to Australia and the preposition isn't changed.

On our platform the settings for the container Australien are: preposition="nach" and case="accusative".

For the same sentence but with another country (i.e. Seychelles) the platform settings are the same, but the lexical information are changing the results:

Sie reisten von Paris auf die Seychellen.
(They were traveling from Paris to the seychelles.)

Here the definite article (female and plural) is added to Seychellen and the preposition is automatically changed from nach to auf.

# example 2

A similar switch is happening for the preposition in in the dative case, i.e.

Sie leben in Australien.
(They live in Australia.)

On our platform the settings for the noun container are now: preposition="in" and case=dative.

But for Malta with the same platform settings:

Sie leben auf Malta.
(They live in Malta.)

And for the Seychellen:

Sie leben auf den Seychellen.
(They live in the Seychelles.)

The article den is the definite article for plural and dative.

# Defaults: Some best practices for German nouns with switches

  • If there are definite determiners (i.e. for country names) possible for a noun phrase we don't activate them for the container and add the determiner via the lexicon. This assumes "without definite article" is the default.
  • The default for the preposition switch is the non-island preposition (nach (accusative) and in (dative)).