03.10.2022

Spiegel and springer proclaim the counter-reformation of orthography

Since its reform in 1998, spelling reform has guaranteed headlines in the summer slump. That would be richly uninteresting, was not now a completely new alliance of the preservationists the topic to heat up. Because in addition to the old ones, new conservatives are now coming out: spiegel verlag and axel springer verlag go hand in hand and banish the spelling reform from their pages in a coup d’etat.

"We support very urgently necessary and meaningful reforms in our society." whoever speaks like this could be a politician. But in this case it is stefan aust, editor-in-chief of spiegel, and mathias dopfner, chairman of the board of axel springer verlag. Long gone are the days when der spiegel was seen as the good guy and axel springer as the personified bad guy. Now the people of hamburg are fighting together for what is supposed to be a good cause: the end of the spelling reform.

"Parents use a different orthography than their children", mock dopfner and aust unisono. Hardly surprising, since apart from schoolchildren, the writing guild and civil servants hardly anyone is obliged to use the new spelling. Ministers of finance and parents will be furious if the state ministers of education are now impressed by the hamburg connection. A new changeover would cost the klett publishing house alone about 80 million euros.

Online and in the print media the old spelling according to the rules of 1901 is reintroduced. Immediately in hamburg one howls again like a schlobhund and the seelefanten only with two "e" written. Surprisingly important, one might think. In 2000, der spiegel still sharply rebuked the faz for sticking to the old rules. And at bild, they didn’t seem to miss it very much either, which is only rarely necessary "b". It did not fit stylistically anyway to the giant letters of the opinion leaders.

It is not only the connection between the two publishing houses that seems a bit stale. On the one hand, both regularly complain about the slowed-down will to reform in politics. They complain loudly about every reform error. On the other hand, they also seem to share the basic attitude of those willing to reform: reforms yes, but please not in our country. But perhaps this specter will disappear again from where it came: in the depths of the summer hole at elbe and alster.

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