Ellipse In German Sentences And Logical Direction In Linguistics


The study of elliptic sentences is one of the most interesting and topical issues of German grammar. The ellipse is represented by various grammatical structures, the features of which require careful study. In this article, we will consider elliptic sentences from the point of view of representatives of the logical direction in linguistics. The language of representatives of this trend is an expression of logic. Language cannot exist outside the framework of logical judgment. A sentencing scheme must be formed in the mind, and the verbal expression of this scheme in the language does not have much meaning. The consequence of such attitudes was a constant distinction between the logical and the grammatical. Any grammatical phenomena were squeezed into the form of logic. The language denied everything that did not correspond to the stamp of a logical formula. The generality of the laws of logic should determine the generality of the grammatical laws of all languages. Languages ​​differ from each other only on the sound side. Language (speech) is made up of words, like cubes. Any linguistic phenomenon reflects its logical prototype. The same linguistic facts that had no correspondences in logic (whether they were widespread in speech) were considered a perversion, an error in linguistic practice, and, as an exception, left the circle of phenomena subject to scientific study.

Keywords: Ellipse, language, logic, sentence, thinking


Adherents of the logical direction believe that language lives exclusively within the framework of a logical judgment. Here, as a basis, they take the logical thinking of a person and assign the role of external communication of internal processes to language. Adherents of the logical direction believe that thought processes can be accepted without the help of language. And the categories of grammar for them are used by themselves outwardly, a far from a complete expression of the more meaningful categories of logic. Logisticians do not attach any importance to the form of the sentence in the language. A certain scheme of the sentence and the dictionary description of this scheme in the language does not have much meaning. The result of such crimes was a constant distinction between cases and grammatical categories.

Various phenomena of grammar fit into the forms of logic. In the context of saying that the logical formula pattern does not apply. The generality of natural logic must determine the generality of the grammar of simple languages. The language of a friend's name from a friend is only by the sound side. Language (speech) consists of words, like cubes. Any linguistic phenomenon reflects its logical prototype. The same linguistic facts covered were not identified corresponding in logic (whether they are widespread in the communication) were identified from turnovers, erroneous language practice, and, as it turned out, went out of scope, covering their scientific experience.

Problem Statement

Elliptical sentences in German grammar occupy a special and rather significant place. This group of sentences is represented in the German syntax in the form of various grammatical constructions, indefinite-personal and generalized-personal with the pronoun "man", impersonal constructions, and other constructions. Their separation and study of their features are one of the urgent problems of German syntax. The basis for the definition of an elliptical sentence is, as a rule, the absence of one of the grammatical members. Nonetheless formal grammatical attributes cannot reflect the communicative and functional significance of these structures.

Research Questions

Language for the representatives of the logical direction in linguistics is an expression of logic and it does not exist outside the logical judgment Gottsched reproaches the Greeks and Romans for trying to justify the presence in the language of sentences that deviate from the scheme of logical judgment and for the fact that they, in their desire to justify, according to Gottsched, obvious mistakes came up with beautiful names for "figures" for them.

Gottsched (1752) writes:

Die lateinischen Sprachlehrer haben sich eine gute Anzahl von Kunstwörtern erdacht, womit sie gewisse Unbeständigkeitеn im Reden, oder Abweichungen gewisser Mundarten, und guter Schriftsteller zu entschuldigen gesuchet. Sie haben ihnen überhaupt die schö zum Unterschied der rednerischen nur grammatische genennet. (p. 125)

The first inventors of these grammatical figures, deifying Homer, avoided finding anything wrong in his texts: “so erdachte man sich gelehrte Namen, alle diese kleinen Fehler zubeschönigen, ja wohl gar in Tugend zu verwandeln: wie etwa die hitzigen Liebhaber auch die Mäler und Narben ihrer Schönen, sich als Schönheiten derselben vorzustellen, und einzubilden pflegen“.

A contemporary and student of Gottsched, the grammarian Eichinger already gives several remarks about the types of incomplete sentences in German. Eichinger notes: "Eilipsis, die Übergehung eines oder mehrerer Wörter, ist als eine durch alle Sprachen gehende Sache, auch bei den Teutschen sehr gewöhnlich; Man spricht ja stets: Guten Morgen IhrDiener; wo hinaus? Wohl gegeben! Herr, wie lang?"

It also speaks of other types of elliptical revolutions; for example, when words denoting time, place, reason, and conditions are omitted. He even describes the most favorable conditions for dropping words in a sentence. Verbs can also be omitted: sollen, müssen; words: recht, wohl, ist's, if the infinitive is heavily stressed, for example, Was? Ich? Auf den Trojanischen Feldern sterben? Ei, Eine wichtige Sache, so schlecht besorgen?

Elliptical sentences also include those where unions are not called, such as "wenn", "so", "daß", and other unions. The sentence "Wärest du hier gewesen, mein Bruder wäre nicht gestorben." is considered one of the types of elliptical sentences, because there is no correlation with "so", which Eichinger also refers to conjunctions.

What is new in Eichinger's remarks on incomplete sentences is an attempt to bring Sanctius's theoretical positions, presented by him as general linguistic, with the specific material of the German language, in recognizing the wide prevalence and stability of incomplete constructions. Eichinger gave a large number of examples from lively colloquial speech. However, Eichinger does not explain the reasons for the incompleteness of these constructions. Its justification is limited to pointing out the habit of using "man spricht ja stets". Eichinger describes, although rather primitively, those cases in which words are most often omitted, giving the most favorable conditions for the omission of words in a sentence but does not explain them. In the general understanding of the incompleteness of the proposal, Eichinger is a follower of Sanctius.

In Adelung's grammar, we do not find special statements about elliptic constructions. However, his thoughts about the sentence, the subject, and the predicate were reflected in the interpretation of the incompleteness of the sentence by his followers.

According to Adelung, any sentence is internally tripartite. Nonetheless verbally it can be represented as tripartite (Das Haus ist groß) or two-part (Der Apfel reifet) but this two-part sentence internally (implicite) contains the same three members (Der Apfel ist / wird reif). An extensive study in the field of judgment and proposal from the standpoint of formal logic was carried out by G. Herman. One of the results of this research was the creation of a general theory of the ellipse.

Relying on Adelung's data, Hermann finally substantiated the tripartiteness (Dreizahl) of the proposal. He analyzes three types of sentences: Das Haus ist groß. Der Tisch Steht. Es regnet. Only the first corresponds to the judgment both in content and in structure. This is the main type of offer. Hermann rejects as inferior, and therefore beyond the scope of scientific grammar sentence: Der Tisch steht, is subsumed under the type of the first and contains the thought "der Tisch ist stehend" while the sentence "Es regnet", like all other types of sentences.

Considering the sentence as a reflection / Abbild / judgment, Herman sees in any sentence a subject, a predicate, a bundle. Absent, and thereby creating an elliptical construction, can only be a link or other verbs that act as a link. The subject can be absent only when it is represented in the very nature of the verb (impersonal). However, a part of the subject may be missing in the presence of a definition relating to it. The predicate cannot be absent at all. Thus, we see that, in contrast to Sanctius, Gottsched, Eichinger, Hermann quite severely limits the area of elliptical constructions. He denies behind prepositions, articles, conjunctions the ability to create an incomplete sentence. Herman resolutely refused to acknowledge the omission of unimportant words. This is his undoubted merit. It requires strictly limiting the ellipsis from other structures (figures).

Considering the sentence as an expression of a logical proposition, he tries to find a consistent verbal expression for each of the elements of the proposition. He adapts the presence of sentences with a verbal predicate to his theory of the sentence. Herman's analysis of linguistic material is reduced to fitting sentences to the desired form; therefore, his analysis is speculative, and the theory of the sentence is schematic; it excludes utterance types that cannot be adapted from grammar, and in this way, Herman impoverishes his study.

The most prominent representative of the so-called logical direction in foreign linguistics, who left noticeable traces in the modern grammar of the German language, F. Becker proceeded in the interpretation of the incompleteness of a sentence from the definition of a sentence as "expression of thought in words". "Unter dem Gedanken in der engeren Bedeutung des Wortes verstehen wir immer ein Urteil" (Becker, 1841, p. 84). Every sentence must consist of a subject and a predicate. The main thing in the sentence is the predicate. The predicate is always expressed by a certain word as a concept (Begriffswort). The subject, expressing the most general, well-known, can also be denoted by the "formal" word / Formwort /, for example: "Er", "Sie", "Ich", "Es".

According to Becker, the concept of an ellipse would be more accurately defined if linguists based it on one of the main factors in the structure of a sentence, i.e., on the expression of the main concept of the sentence and the omission (Auslassung) of non-main, subordinate concepts. He supports his idea with examples: "Um Vergebung", "Cute Nacht", "Willkommen!". Here, according to Becker, logically subordinate concepts are omitted and only the main ones are presented. The same is true in construction with an omitted verb in the presence of an adverb or preposition related to it. The main thing here is the representation expressed by the adverb or preposition. For example, Ich muß fort. Die Sache ist aus.etc. The same is true when the linking verb is omitted: Der Vater in Berlin; Die Waren aus England; Der Fisch im Wasser.

On the principle of omission of secondary words-concepts, all sorts of imperative sentences are based: Komm! Voran! Zuruck! The use of participles or infinitives in an imperative sense: Aufgestanden; Ausgetrunken; Nicht lange gefeiert; Aufstehen; fort. Loss of the sacrament in the presence of a prefix: Den Hut ab; Steine herbei; Das Fensterzu; Die Hand aufs Herz.

Becker's new, most valuable thought is the understanding of the essence of elliptical revolutions as an expression of the main concept, the center of gravity of the entire message, and the omission of a secondary, complementary one. Becker takes a more differentiated approach to the expression of subject and predicate. Related to this is the distinction between "Begriffswörter", i.e., concept words and "Formwörter", i.e., "formal" words. We can consider the fact that Becker refers to the most heterogeneous structures as elliptical phrases only as a tribute to the formal-logical principle in the approach to the sentence. The examples are the following: Komm! Zuruck! Die Sache ist aus. Um Vergebung. Den Hut ab. Der Vater in Berlin.

Academician Vinogradov characterizes the state of grammatical science in the West in the 18–19 centuries as follows. and the role of Becker in developing the problem of the sentence:

The logical trend in the West”, based on the idealistic philosophy of Kant and Hegel and especially closely associated with the name of Bakker. F. Bakker came to the complete identification of grammatical and logical categories. F. Becker developed an ahistorical and cosmopolitan doctrine of a single for all languages, the path of ideal development of the sentence structure, replacing the internal laws of language development with the laws and forms of logic (Kulaeva, 2019, p. 109).

According to Becker, in language logical forms are merged with grammatical ones. Becker identified syntactic relations within a sentence with the logical concepts of subject, predicate, attribute, and object. In this regard, he considered syntactic relations within a sentence as metaphysical "all-time" categories and forms of thinking.

Following Becker, in the works of many German grammarians there are arguments about the incompleteness of the sentence, because of the omission of secondary words-concepts. Thus Kühner gives his understanding of the elliptical turnover: "Ellipse wird die Weglassung eines logisch untergeordneten und daher minder notwendigen, grammatisch aber d.h. Ausdruck eines Begriffs oder Gedankens notwendig zuergänzen den Satzteiles oder Satzesgenannt" (Kühner, 1963, p. 45).

Noreen was one of the later representatives of traditional logicism, who stubbornly defended the positions of formal logic in the field of language. Noreen argues for the presence of an ellipse in such a sentence as: Ich esse, arbeite und schlafe gut. Here three independent proposals are presented. Moreover, the subject of the first complete sentence is again reproduced in thought with each of the subsequent predicates. Noreen here again seeks to recreate the scheme of the "ideal" proposal. Paying tribute to his distant predecessors, Noreen recognizes the presence of an ellipse in his example: "Von Abraham, Isak und Jakob stammen alle Juden ab".

The absence of the preposition "von" before each of the repeating homogeneous members is perceived by him as a violation of the logic of constructing a sentence. And although Noreen himself is aware that the repetition of prepositions in similar phrases is almost never used in live speech, he still sees here the "liberty" of the language. The non-use of prepositions, in this case, is declared an ellipse, and the sentence is elliptical.

Several predecessors (for example, G. German) abandoned a purely formal approach to linguistic facts and proceeded to a greater extent from the "sense of language". However, Hopeen remains faithful to the end of the centuries-old tradition.

Adherence to tradition, and denial of the originality of linguistic phenomena lead to contradictions in the Noreen system. Against his principles, he refuses to acknowledge the presence of an ellipse in the following example. In contrast to the above example "Von Abraham, Isak und Jakob Stammen alle Juden ab", which he calls elliptical. Еhe sentence "Von Adam und Eva stammen wir alle ab" is called complete. It is impossible to see two sentences here, according to Noreen. The justification is the recognition of the unity of Adam and Eve (Noreen-Pollak, 1923).

Purpose of the Study

In this article, we consider the issue of ellipses in exact sentences and describe the relationship to individual logical directions in linguistic knowledge of specific issues. We will also try to define the use of language and logic by presenting examples of different cases of the ellipse in specific sentences.

Research Methods

The main attention will be paid to the analysis of the structure, regarding the incompleteness of compliance with the conditionality of the presence of the context. We will consider the ellipse in a German sentence using the method that is feasible for us: the study of the specific features of elliptical sentences, starting from their formal grammatical insufficiency.


The representatives of the logical direction in the language construct their doctrine of an incomplete (elliptical) sentence on the subjective-idealistic existence of the essence of the language. The language for them is not acceptable, attracted to participate in the elections and their relations, only ideas about them. The objects themselves, phenomena, and the relationship between them are only insignificant in the representation of a person, and not in reality. Thought can never be completely and accurately conveyed by linguistic means. All the presented directions of realization are one idea (language) purely outwardly thoughts; thought is always more doubtful than the content of the proposition of its proponent. Thinking occurs without the intervention of language.


Thus, we have seen that for twenty centuries in the understanding of the phenomena of "omission" no exception has been made for a shift. The identification of language and thinking, grammar and logic, predicted in advance a problem to be solved in advance. A word is a sentence, a sentence is a discussion. Only rare sentences could match the judgment; it is a sentence such as "Die Erde ist rund"; "Der Tischist groß". The verbal predicate of the modern synthesis of predicate and copula. All other syntactic studies were considered as the result of omission. Even sentences with omitted functional statements were declared elliptical.

In principle, a similar understanding of the incompleteness of the sentence occurs, as we assumed, with the founder of the syntax, the Alexandrian Apollonius Diskolt, who created his syntax in the near future of our era, and F. Sanctius, who expounded his grammatical doctrine in the sixteenth episode; we also find it in Noreen, who wrote Grammar at the beginning of the 20th century.

According to the logical application, "ideal" ones were proposed by the norm of the language; in fact, it turned out that in linguistic communication these sentences were less common than sentences, and some deviations from the "ideal" were noted. Language in a wide range of phenomena, where anarchy dominates, was full of abnormalities. There were fewer correct sentences than there were, G. It is a complete shock that the old grammars, with each use of Genitiv, in the past have an ellipsis.


  • Becker, C. (1841). Organism of language. Frankfurt am Main.

  • Gottsched, J. C. (1752). Foundation of a German language art. Leipzig.

  • Kühner (1963). Deutsche Grammatik [German Grammar]. B.II, S. 1063. 2) J. Chr. A. Heyse, “Deutsche Grammatik,” Hannover u. Leipzig, 1(14), 426.

  • Kulaeva, F. A. (2019). Incomplete sentences in German syntax. Materials of the conference in the LXXVI house of the prestigious series European Works on Social and Behavioral Sciences of the Academy of the Future publishing house. (Vol. 14, pp. 107–115). DOI:

  • Noreen-Pollak (1923). Scientific consideration of language. Halle a. S.

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Kulaeva, F. A., Almurzaeva, P. K., & Ramazanova, R. T. (2022). Ellipse In German Sentences And Logical Direction In Linguistics. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization- ISCKMC 2022, vol 129. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 664-670). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2022.12.86