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 inflection of determiners, adjectives, numerals and preposition-determiner contractions (e.g., von + dem = vom). German nouns have four cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, and dative. The adjectives are extremely regular and exceptions should be covered in the lexicon.

Grammatical NameValuesExamples
gendermasculineder neue Hafen
(the new port)
femininedie neue Tasche
(the new bag)
neuterdas neue Haus
(the new house)
------
numbersingularein rotes Haus
(a red house)
pluralzwei große Häfen
(two big harbors)
------
cases (noun)nominativeDer Hund
(the dog)
accusativeIch sehe den Hund.
(I see the dog.)
genitiveDas Spielzeug des Hundes
(The dog’s toy)
dativeIch gebe dem Hund seinen Ball.
(I give the ball to the dog.)
------
adjectivespre-noungroß (big)
------
verb tensespresenter/sie/es geht
paster/sie/es ging
past participleer/sie/es ist gegangen

The standard order of a noun phrase in German is the following: preposition + determiner + numeral + adjective + noun.

See for example:

über   diese  drei   beliebten  Bücher
about  these  three  popular    books[pl]
PREP   DET    NUM    ADJ        NOUN
"about these three popular books"

Lexicon

Nouns

For German nouns in LEXICON, gender is required and the inflection table needs to encode the case and number. The preposition switch and determiner switch are also available.

WARNING

If the lexicon entry is missing, a warning will show up on the platform, because the container cannot render the noun phrase without a gender.

Examples

A basic lexicon entry for Haus (house) contains

  • gender: neuter
  • inflection table for case and number:
SingularPlural
NominativeHausHäuser
GenitiveHausesHäuser
DativeHausHäusern
AccusativeHausHäuser

The lexicon entry for Australien (Australia) contains:

  • gender, case, and number (like above inflection table)
  • remove all definite determiners

And the lexicon entry for Malta (Malta) contains:

  • gender, case, and number (like above inflection table)
  • remove all definite determiners
  • replace preposition in with auf in dative

And the lexicon entry for Seychellen (Seychelles) contains:

  • gender, case, and number (like above inflection table)
  • always set a definite determiner
  • replace preposition in with auf in dative
  • replace preposition nach with auf in accusative

note

If you need lexicon entries for countries, write to the support about that and you will get them for German with automatic handling of determiners.

Adjectives

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

Verbs

Our software covers the most common verbs. However, you should add the verb to the lexicon if you find a verb inflect inaccurately.

Container settings

Numerals

The noun will automatically agree with the numeral number when you use a numeral variable. There is no need to add additional branches for numeral. Four types of numerals are possible on the AX NLG platform: cardinal, cardinal as digit, ordinal, and ordinal as digit.

cardinalordinal
textNeun Mäuse in meinem Zimmer.
(Nine mice in my room.)
Der neunte Tag in der Schule.
(The ninth day at school.)
digit9 Mäuse in meinem Zimmer.
(9 mice in my room.)
Der 9. Tag in der Schule.
(The 9th day at school.)

For German, both cardinal and ordinal numerals are written out until 100, otherwise (above 100) the output is in digit form. Take cardinal numerals for example,

einhundert Autos
(one hundred cars)
101 Autos
(101 cars)

Prepositions and determiners: contractions

If users configure prepositions and determiners in the container, prepositions are automatically joined with determiners for the following prepositions: an, bei, in, von and zu. For example, the preposition bei and the article dem (singular dative masculine) are contracted to beim, but bei and der (singular dative feminine) stay separate as bei der.

Examples

Determiner switch

In the sentence, no article is added to Australia and the preposition stay the same.

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

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

For the same sentence but with a different country (i.e. Seychelles), the platform settings are the same as above (preposition="nach" and case="accusative"), but the lexical information changes the result:

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

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

Preposition switch

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

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

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

But for "Malta" with the same platform settings the sentence would be:

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

Preposition switch happens for " the Seychellen":

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

In the above sentence, 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, they don't necessarily have to be activated for the container, but are added via the lexicon, where appropriate, instead. This assumes "without definite article" is the default.
  • The default for the preposition switch is the "non-island" preposition (nach (accusative) and in (dative)).

Language Variants

The AX NLG platform offers 4 variants of the German language:

  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Luxembourg
  • Switzerland

They only differ slightly in lexicon and phonology. For example Tram (tram) is feminine in Germany (die Tram) but neutral in Switzerland (das Tram), which makes it necessary to have different lexicon entries in the two language variants.