Our research project

Project holder

“Semantic Field Etymology in German and in European Context” has been sponsored by the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig since April 2007 and thus aligns with the series of dictionary projects, which traditionally form a special focus in regard to the academy's research activities. The implementation of the long-term project is carried out by scientific employees as well as by team members on the basis of a work contract. Under the direction of Prof. Dr. Rosemarie Lühr, the project is seated at the seminar for Indo-European studies at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

“Semantic Field Etymology in German and in European Context” is...

...the connection of etymology and the organisation of the vocabulary in accordance with semantic fields in a modular structure and in language-historical stratification. The semantic fields are structured according to nouns, the main term of part of speech. The individual words are analysed internally and externally: Based on present-day language, a semantic attribution as regards Older New High German, Early New High German, Middle High German and Old High German is implemented in connection with stylistic assessment, spatial, temporal, technical classifications and sublanguage classifications. The etymological component, on the other hand, is executed in reverse: The etymologies of the words, whether they first were recorded in Old High German or appeared later, are tracked via their oldest record in German and the individual language periods up to the present-day language. Thus, semantic change is systematically documented for the German language.

...the classification of the semantic fields into their European context .

The project records European equivalents, which document the cultural unity of Europe. Additional insights into language history and cultural history offer information concerning borrowing and cognates as regards words of European languages.

…a flexible research tool in the form of a dictionary accessible for anyone online. Our database is continually added to and updated, so that the word articles and etymologies correspond to the current state of research.

The idea behind DWEE

German is one of the quantitatively most prevalent languages of the world. So far, however, a comprehensive scientific etymological dictionary wasn‘t provided. The “German Semantic Field Etymology” aspires to close this gap. The following fundamental aspects are incorporated into this work in dialogue with modern linguistics and in contact with various other dictionary projects:

Consideration of the state of knowledge of the current Indo-European research, whereby laryngeal theory as regards hereditary words of Indo-European origin and the differing types of accents are included uniformly.
Analysis of semantic change according to the principles of modern semantic research, determination of the denomination motif and inclusion of the word- and subject matter history.
Presentation of the interculturality of the German vocabulary due to the absorption of borrowed words and Europeanisms, German loanwords in other languages and Euro-phrases.

A crucial innovation is the connection of etymology and the organisation of the vocabulary according to semantic fields in a modular structure. This is not least due to the interdisciplinarity of the project, which stands out due to the connection with the linguistic research fields in regard to the respective terminology as well as to the neighbouring disciplines of Indo-European research (such as translation science, cognitive linguistic and cultural semiotics). Last but not least, we see ourselves as an information terminal which anyone, scientist or layman, may approach with questions in reference to German etymology and semantic field research.