Table of Contents:
The work at hand charts, in five chapters, the continuous changes of the German plural system in the 20th century. The question of the present study is whether, within the German plural system, there is a decrease or an increase in the different classes of plural forms (-e, ..-e, (e)n, -er, -0), and whether the comparison between the plural classes in that specific time period renders it possible to identify particular tendencies which show such changes in the plural system of Standard German.
The work examines not only the plural formation of native words, but also the nouns which have been borrowed from foreign languages, and for which there arise particular difficulties within the German plural system.
From the distinction between the productive and unproductive plural forms I confirm the hypothesis that the noun classes with productive plural forms receive new members and lose few old ones. On the other hand, the number of the words containing unproductive plural forms was reduced increasingly in the time period analyzed, extending from 1904 to 2000.
I could establish these changes and other results on the basis of a database compiled for this study and the corresponding survey of the literature published on this topic.