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How dangerous are deadly diseases?

How dangerous are deadly diseases?

What is probably phrased with a wink in this specific case raises the question of whether it is possible to intensify every adjective in German. In fact, there are a surprising number of other adjectives besides “super” where this is not the case: can one be more naked than naked, more celibate than celibate, childless than childless, or more complete than finished?

No, of course not. (Last at most after season 712 of Bauer sucht Frau).

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A word that cannot be increased, but is nevertheless very popular as a superlative, is “fatal.” “The world's deadliest disease: You will 100% die from it,” was the headline in the free newspaper Today, not exactly known for its complex linguistic code, last September. (For those interested: It's kuru – but you have to travel to Papua New Guinea to catch it.)

In the unlikely event that you have to write an essay in German soon, be careful not to write about the deadliest assassinations, the deadliest attacks, or the deadliest snake bites – your German teacher will be very upset.

Which brings us to another set of false superlatives. In Latin, “maximus” means “the greatest”, “minimus” means “the smallest”, and “optimus” means “the best”. These are adjectives that in their basic form indicate the highest degree in the German language – increasing them is strictly prohibited. Even if formulas like “optimal solution” and “minimum damage” sound good, these word combinations are not great. Not to mention the most amazing.

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Find of the Week: “Arrival of Hunters and Grasshoppers” (information board at Ottenstein Reservoir).

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We've always known: it's there, the moving lawns!

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Wolfram Kotzky He is a philologist and loves getting to the bottom of words.