How do Germans decide the article of a new word?

Last night I was reading on my kindle and thought what would be article of the word kindle and how was that even decided. So I went to my computer and started typing: der kindle (no results), das kindle (that’s the one). For some reason it didn’t look like “die” to me… so how do German decide which article a new word gets.

(originally asked by JEAP, thank you)

2 comments on “How do Germans decide the article of a new word?

  1. the Gender of new words is an interesting question. As for Kindle… that one is especially interesting as this doesn’t even mean anything, that could be translated. I would have said “der” … I am sure that I have heard “der” and it makes sense because it is also der Laptop. Furthermore a Kindle is a E-Book reader. Reader is “der Leser” in German. However if someone would say das Kindle I wouldn’t even realize…. the article isn’t fixed yet in the common mind and maybe won’t ever be… take for instance Ketchup… der and das are both ok. Anyway, in situations like this people will assign an article, that can be somehow justified. So in case of Kindle it won’t be die as there is no connection to be drawn with a feminine word in German.
    It is surprising to hear that your search yielded “das Kindle”… … this is the German Wikipedia, and they call it “der”
    This is the product description of Amazon:

    (no link here anymore because Amazon makes it look like a giant advertisement)

    Also “der” (here clearyl based on E-reader) … so I would say “der” is going to prevail

    Thank you Google for this personified, locationized search nonsense :)… same results for everyone please!

    I forgot.. here is another link to a discussion about Gender of new words… if you know German, this might be interesting:

  2. Another interesting word to watch in that regard is blog. It used to be das Blog 4 or 5 years ago.
    And that makes a lot of sense because Logbuch, Tagebuch und Journal are all “das”. However, today about 70% of Germans call it “der Blog”. And the only reason for it is that it sounds a lot like “Block” which is “block” or “note pad” and it is “der”.
    So… the people who knew about blogs in the beginning knew what it is and chose and article accordingly (das). As blogs became more widespread people knew the word blog but not everyone knew that it stands for “web-log”. They just took it as a whole new word and picked “der” as an article just because there is a similar sounding word in German that has to do with writing. The “das”-supporters are still trying but I think “der” will prevail… I like der much better for blog I have to say :)

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