If the coincidence Robin Straaijer experienced last week was finding a usage guide ten years after he had been working on it, mine was to find a copy of a German usage guide, the German usage I’ve been told, just five days before I’m giving a paper on the comparative English – Dutch – German complaint traditions.
It is a Duden volume, called Richtiges und gutes Deutsch: Wörterbuch der sprachlichen Zweifelsfälle (6th ed., 2007), with over a thousand pages of German usage problems. The book illustrates one major difference between all three traditions: the existence of set of publications that together make up the “Standardwerk zur Deutsche Sprache”. The English or Dutch traditions don’t have such standard publications. I had of course seen it before, but now I actually own a copy of the book, found in a second-hand bookshop in Leiden. Second-hand bookshops are great places for finding usage guides, as I wrote several times on this blog. I found quite a few copies when we were collecting material for the HUGE database, in the UK but also in The Netherlands. Like Robin though, I wasn’t looking for any more, let alone any German ones. It’s great to have it all the same.