Particle 3

Erneuung

{Chapter 3}

This is one of those footnotes that takes days (if not weeks) to figure out and then gets cut because it is rather superfluous to the whole. It concerns the romantic use of the term “Erneuung” instead of “Erneuerung” to refer to editorial modernizations of old German texts. It is a supreme example of how much meaning is contained in simple shifts of language and how much conjecture goes into figuring out those possible meanings.
The significance of the use of Erneuung versus Erneuerung is somewhat complicated and is not addressed by Krohn. According to the linguist Wolfgang Fleischer, the presence or absence of “er” in German verb formation (Erneuung v. ErneuERung) almost never signifies a semantic difference. Wolfgang Fleischer, Wortbildung der deutschen Gegenwartssprache (Leipzig: Bibliographisches Institut, 1969). There is not, in other words, necessarily an inherent difference of meaning between these two words. At the same time, according to the Grimms’ dictionary, both terms were used in the early nineteenth century, which suggests that the distinction between the two uses may simply have been arbitrary, and it was only in the twentieth century when Erneuerung became the standard. It is important to note, however, that according to Grimms, while there are numerous uses of “Erneuerung” in the early modern period (Luther et al.), there are no early modern uses of “Erneuung” although there are old and middle high German forerunners for both words. This suggests that the use of Erneuung might have been important because it sounded anachronistic: it was novel because it was in fact old. In other words, the choice of this word corresponded with precisely the goal of modernization that the word was supposed to convey. A final point would be that by dropping the “er,” Erneuung also placed more emphasis on “neu” (versus “neuer”), conveying an emphasis on novelty rather than a mere comparative updating.