The German grammarian Christian Gueintz

 Updated: 02/17/2010


General perception

Despite of his importance within the "Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft", the most famous German language society, today Christian Gueintz is a nearly forgotten grammarian. [3]

So Christian Gueintz's merits in German language were given less appreciation in the general compendiums of German language history. [2]

Adolf Bach (1979) indicates his both works, "Deutsche Sprachlehre (Entwurf)" and "Deutsche Rechtschreibung" besides of the scriptures of Luther and the "Reichstagsabschiede" as decisive for the German language, whereas in this single reference to him pointed out more the merits of Luther than those of Gueintz. At Heinz Eggers (1969) is mentioned that Gueintz wrote the "Deutsche Sprachlehre" only as a member of the "Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft" und continued: "The various more or less successful attempts in the following time we can pass here inclusive the insufficient 'Sprachlehre' of the above mentioned Christian Gueintz ... ". For him was the first German grammarian Justus Georg Schottel. [2]

John Watermann (1991) looks on it a little bit more differentiating and judge Gueintz's work "Die Deutsche Sprachlehre" as a high remarkably work. It is affected by a pedantic and the reader bothering attempt to put the parts of a language in a logical classification. It leads to an unpredictable but indirect significant step: it leads to the well know grammar of 17th century of Justus Georg Schottel who tries to compensate, which was weak in the work of Gueintz. [2]

On this page:

General perception

Background of missing Acceptance

His both grammatical works

Deutsche Sprachlehre (Entwurf) 1641

Deutsche Rechtschreibung 1645




Background of missing acceptance

Within the Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft bounced at that time in the linguistically question of orientation in cases of doubt two direction against each other: the anormalists and the analogists. The conservative anormalists allow the accepted use of language a normative impact. "In doubt write as you speak." Princely Ludwig of Anhalt-Koethen the head of the Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft and Christian Gueintz, who Ludwig knew from the reforms of Ratke in Koethen, took this position. [3]

Meanwhile the younger analogists advanced the view that the language has to follow the mandatory ideal rules for the grammar. To this direction belong Georg Philipp Harsdroeffer and Justus Georg Schottelius. [3]
The difference becomes clear at the example of the masculine plural: While Schottelius demanded as plural from "Moerder" "Moerdere" from the system obliged analogy, insists Gueintz on "Moerder" from his anormalists point of view. [3]

For Markus Hund (2000) is the important point in the fact that the analogists belong to the younger generation and therefore their viewpoint survived. But even Schottelius has to accept also sociolinguistic points besides the pure analogy as standard giving fact. [3]

Within the numerous treatises there are direct comparisons between the works of Gueintz and Schottelius seldom, and unfortunately there is still no monograph written about Gueintz. [3]



His both grammatical works


Deutsche Sprachlehre (Entwurf) 1641


The "Sprachlehre" consists of different introduction pages and dedications to Princely of Braunschweig and Luneburg and Princely Ludwig of Anhalt, Lord of Askanien, Lord of Bremburg and Zerbst; a statement on the value of German language, as well as seven pages to the reader with the reason why there is a need of grammar. [2]

The main section is split. The first book contains 21 chapters: grammar, spelling, pronunciation, the differences and the word analysis - the etymology. The other book contains 16 chapters: the joining of words, differentiation, which means punctuation, as well as syntax. At the end are following several pages of Latin made-up words with its German equivalents. [2]

A manuscript of this work published in1641 in Koethen for the first time circulates since November 1638 for reason of revision among the members of the "Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft", amongst others No. 2 (Ludwig Princely of Anhalt-Koethen), No. 31 (Diederich von dem Werder), Nr. 200 (Martin Opitz), Nr. 227 (August the younger Duke of Braunschweig and Luneburg-Wolfenbuttel) and other scholars, as Buchner and Schottelius, who later become affiliated to the "Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft" under No. 362 and No. 397, as well as among the old collaborators at the reforms of Ratke in Koethen, as Balthasar Walter and Martini. Therefore one can say that this grammar is the first attempt to develop grammatical rules terminological on base of Ratke. [1]

Already one century later Reichards (1747) judges, that the attempt to align German language is not well done. [5]

Jelinek (1913) lists several deficiencies in the "Sprachlehre". For example the permanent mistake, to define tenses, different tenses for the same thoughts, same tenses for different thoughts, the lack of illustrating examples and the irritating layout of presentation, the until distraction driven dichotomies (bifurcation, furcation). [2]

For Takada (1981) the "Deutsche Sprachlehre" was designed as school grammar because of its compactness. It follows extensively the "Allgemeinen Sprachlehre" and the "Allunterweisung" of Ratke. The shortness of presentation, the lack of any justifications and examples avoids easy traceability for the reader. For Hundt (2000) lead two essential criteria to the incomprehensibleness of the work: the text is too less explicit (too less detailed presented) and the lack of any explanation. [3]

Top 50 Ahnenforschung









As reprint: Georg Olms Verlag, Documenta Linguistica, Hildesheim, New York (1978)


Deutsche Rechtschreibung 1645

The "Deutsche Rechtschreibung is a typical example of the work within the "Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft". Gueintz has finished the manuscript in1643. Two years the work circulates among the members of the "Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft", it was cross-read, there were opinions furnished and single points discussed in written form, before it could get printed. Therefore the "Deutsche Rechtschreibung" can be considered as a collective product of the members of the "Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft". [3]

Herein the orientation to the etymology (origin) of the word, its pronunciation and the practice is specified. However, unclear remains, when which principle should be valid. Gueintz was geared in individual cases to Luther's bible translation: "Schwer mit dem langem e einsylbig/ das grosse last hat. Psal. 32/ 4. Den deine hand war tag und nach schwer auf mir." [3]

The "Deutsche Rechtschreibung" consists predominantly of a table of words. Opposite of the "Deutschen Sprachlehre" was the "Deutsche Rechtschreibung" published four times, which indicates a higher acceptance. Obviously were the lists of words quiet implementable for looking-up words. Harsdoerffer remarks that the "Deutsche Rechtschreibung" was used in the diplomatic negotiations in the ambit of the Peace of Westphalia. [3]

Reichards (1747) described 100 years after the appearance of the first edition: "The rules and annotations or trade as the author specifies, are mostly established and even today still valid." [5]











As reprint: Georg Olms Verlag, Documenta Linguistica, Hildesheim, New York (2008)








Besides this, mostly from the point of knowledge today, thus from the retrospective deduced judgment, the contemporary reference must not disregarded. After one and a half century oppression of science by the Christian church humanity was about rediscovering the findings of the antiquity in the renaissance and humanism. Thereby one have had difficulties to emancipate oneself from the primacy of theology and to detach oneself from the bondage of the text of the bible. Thus it is explicable that Gueintz come from the point that the German language raises out the Babylonian language confusion (Deutsche Sprachlehre, page 2).

As well the scholasticism was not resolved totally, in which it was usual to ask an authority in cases of doubt. And this authority was for him and lots of others of his time Martin Luther. Surely also because Luther was an ecclesiastical authority too. Hence the sufficient evidence for verification was produced after the rules of that time. So it becomes clear, which scope of knowledge has been worked-out, in order to achieve something, which appears us today as self-evident. This does not concern only the grammar but also all attainments and conceivability, which are essential to interfere knowledge successfully. There has not been something similar before, which could give orientation. Perhaps a wordbook as reference book, derived from Luther's bible translation, might have been the right. But the claim was higher and higher than the capability to implement it successfully.

So was it for example obviously still not common, to furnish books with a directory. Gueintz's manuscripts of the booth works "Die Deutsche Sprachlehre" and "Die Deutsche Rechtschreibung" have had such a directory [3], which was omitted at the print. Even in the dissertation of his grandson from 1692 is no directory. Today unimaginably.

Therefore it has needed surely all protagonists to generate the knowledge step by step to prepare it and to present it. Without the experiences of Gueintz Schottelius's work would have looked different. Gueintz has overtaken lots from Ratke, who has seen the way to a uniform German language, but could not take it on his own. And the way, which the German language has to take to a general, uniform, clear defined language of the German speaking, was still long.
Within this chain Gueintz was an important link. Many of his proposals have been maintained until today. For instance assigned e.g. Kluge (1975) the grammatical terms "Einzahl", "Doppelpunkt", "Geschlechtswort", "Selbstlaute", and "Zeitwort" the co-implementation of Gueintz. [4]


About scholastism an humanism







Conermann, Klaus (Edit.): Der Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft Vorhaben, Namen, Gemaelde und Woerter, Faksimile des ersten Bandes des im Historischen Museum Koethen aufbewahrten Gesellschaftbuches Fuerst Ludwig I. von Anhalt-Koethen, Leipzig (1985).


Kyes, Robert L.: Grammar and grammars in seventeenth-century Germany: The case of Christian Gueintz, in Rauch, Irmengard (Hrsg.); Carr, Gerald F. (Hrsg.): Insights in Germanic Linguistics I, Methodology in Transition, Berlin, New York (1995)


Hundt, Markus: "Spracharbeit" im 17. Jahrhundert, Berlin, New York (2000).


Kluge, Friedrich: Etymologisches Woerterbuch der deutschen Sprache, 21. Auflage, Berlin, New York (1975).


Reichards, Elias Caspar: Versuch einer Historie der deutschen Sprachkunst, Hamburg (1747)








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