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Reading Kafka’s Der Prozeß recently, I came across an interesting construction that I hadn’t seen before.

Trotzdem K. gerade jetzt nicht daran gedacht hatte, sagte er sofort: “Gewiss, ich muss fortgehn. Ich bin Prokurist einer Bank, man wartet auf mich, ich bin nur hergekommen, um einem ausländischen Geschäftsfreund den Dom zu zeigen.”
Franz Kafka, Der Prozeß

I’d only ever heard trotzdem used in a main sentence, and never before to form a verb-shunting Nebensatz. I figured at first this might be a mistake on the part of the publishers – my copy was of rather low-budget quality – and that the word obwohl had been intended, but the form repeated itself a number of times throughout the book.

A quick bit of Google research later revealed that this form is perfectly common in the Randregionen of the German language, particularly in Bohemia and in Alpine areas, and used as a matter of course by authors such as Kafka, Stifter and Dürrenmatt. This older thread on wer-weiss-was.de has a great explanation, explaining that the form arose as a contraction of the now old-fashioned trotz dem, dass, and further points out that the form is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable.

Duden’s entry on the matter.



obwohl, obgleich


er kam, trotzdem (standardsprachlich: obwohl) er krank war


entstanden aus: trotz dem, dass …

Now to find out why the version of the text published here replaces these forms of trotzdem with the word obwohl. And why in my copy Kafka never capitalised the word gewiss even at the start of sentences.