Deutsch Lektionen


"And" & "Or" in a Single Word 

One of my favorite German words took me a long time to learn to pronounce and even longer to properly understand. The word beziehungsweise not only has a fairly complex meaning, but it is also so long that in most cases people abbreviate the written form as bzw


Often beziehungsweise is translated simply as "or": 


Einen Wohnwagen beziehungsweise eine Hütte bekommt man ab fünfundfünfzig Euro.  
You get a trailer or a hut from fifty-five euros.
Caption 33, Berlin: Indoor-Camping im „Hüttenpalast“


So why not simply say oder ("or") instead of the longer beziehungsweise? One reason is that the latter often goes more in-depth than just saying "or."  You may want to rent either a trailer or a hut, or perhaps both a trailer and hut. Beziehungsweise is thus often translated as "respectively" too:


Sobald beziehungsweise erst wenn der Antrag gemäß Artikel fünfzig der EU-Verträge vorliegt.
As soon as, or respectively, only when the motion in accordance with Article Fifty of the EU Treaties is submitted.
Captions 17-18, Brexit-Votum: Merkel warnt vor Spaltung Europas


Sometimes beziehungsweise is used to narrow down a meaning and in this case is translated as "more specifically": 


Damit man dieses Geld auch bekommt, benötigt man ein Bankkonto beziehungsweise ein Girokonto.
In order to receive this money, you need a bank account, more specifically a checking account.
Captions 7-8, Eva erklärt: Bankkonten


Further Learning
So whether you are learning German for fun or (beziehungsweise) for business — perhaps both, right? — this is a good word to have in your active vocabulary. Although it is not usually translated as such, for me it helped to think of the word as the "and/or" that you sometimes see in English. Take a look at examples  of beziehungsweise in context on Yabla German.

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