Ernst Müller, Barbara Picht, Falko Schmieder (ed./eds.)
with the collaboration of Mark Dang-Anh, Alexander Friedrich, Rüdiger Graf, and Stefan Scholl

Das 20. Jahrhundert in Grundbegriffen
Lexikon zur historischen Semantik in Deutschland
[The 20th Century in Basic Concepts. A Dictionary of Historical Semantics in Germany]

Schwabe Verlag, Basel 2024
DOI 10.31267/Grundbegriffe

The articles are continually published in open access in the Schwabe Verlag’s e-library. Following the project’s conclusion, the dictionary will be available in five printed volumes.

In terms of the history of concepts, the 20th century is yet to be surveyed. This is what the dictionary The 20th Century in Basic Concepts, a joint project lead by the ZfL in Berlin in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for the German Language (IDS) in Mannheim and the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam (ZZF), aims to accomplish. In 150 keywords, the dictionary explores 20th century historical semantics in Germany characterized by asynchronicities, accelerated attrition, conceptual innovations, and terminological revolutions. As an interdisciplinary research endeavor, the dictionary does not only record secured knowledge. Instead, it provides a significant contribution to basic research in the humanities, cultural, social, and historical sciences. It explores exchange processes between scientific, political, literary-aesthetic, and everyday language—the entire variety of the generation, circulation and changing meanings of concepts. Here, the dictionary combines hermeneutic practices with digital methods that enable us to include very large text corpora that can then be systematically analyzed for concept-historical purposes.


Published articles


Bücher im Gespräch

Episode 21: Begriffsgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts

For our podcast, Falko Schmieder talked to Georg Toepfer about the dictionary. (in German)

Media Response

08 Jul 2024
“Goethe unser Verhältnis zum Islam zu erklären, würde keine leichte Aufgabe sein”

Interview by Matthias Heine with Falko Schmieder, in: Welt (8 Jul 2024)

29 May 2024
Aufstand der Teilsysteme

Review by Thomas Thiel, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 124 (29 May 2024), N4