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Posted by TheFallen on May 29, 2003

In Reply to: Teufel Hunden posted by ESC on May 28, 2003

: : Teufel Hunden (devil dogs)- a name give the United States Marines by the German opposition in WWII. I hope I am not overstepping the bounds of this forum but I figured if anyone could answer this then you guys could.

: : The word Hunden does not exist in the German language as far as I can tell. Hund- equates to dog in English and hunde- dogs. I cannot however find anything about Hunden except for German websites which use the word hunden that I cannot (correctly used from a previous discussion) read however, obviously have something to do with dogs.

: : Does the word Hunden exist and is it proper, misspelled, slang or what?

: I think there are people who speak German (or know someone who does) among us. I was just interested to learn the origin of "devil dogs." I was researching "devil docs" and learned it was related to the Marines "nickname" but nowhere could I find out why the Marines were called DDs.

German is a very rule-bound language. The original poster is absolutely right - the German for "the dog" is "der Hund" (it's a masculine noun) and its plural is "die Hunde". So, given that German is also a language very fond of making new nouns by combining old ones together, the German for "devil dogs" would be "Teufelhunde" (all one word).

However, one of the many rules in German is that a plural noun in the dative adds an "n" at the end if it doesn't already have one. So the word "Hunden" could legitimately exist in a German sentence if it was preceded by a preposition that governed the dative case - please don't ask me to list them all, because for starters there's some that can gover both accusative and dative, dependant upon shades of meaning.

Anyway, I imagine that if the original story's true, the German called the Marines "Teufelhunde" WITHOUT the n, but that when this news filtered back to the US, the n got added in error, under the mistaken apprehension that the plural of "Hund", like the plural of so many nouns in German *is* actually formed by adding an -en suffix.