Diritto all’oblio


If something is forgotten, it is generally unpleasant, even embarrassing at times. On the other hand, forgetting is also a protective mechanism, something good diritto all oblio gdpr. Psychologists can explain exactly why. But we turn to the linguistic dimension of “forget”.

Accusative or genitive?

The verb “to forget” in its conjugated forms is most commonly associated with an accusative object. Banal but equally familiar example: “I forgot my keys.” Or: “We must never forget Aunt Gerda’s birthday.” This transitive usage, as it says in the grammars, is relatively young.

Until the 18th century, the “objects of forgetting” were in the genitive. This usage lasted for a long time, especially in literature. For example, in a text by the Swabian poet Ludwig Uhland from 1812, the phrase: “Now, poor heart, forget the torment.”

Brief etymology

The main meaning of “forget” in today’s parlance is “lost from memory”. But you can also say “forget” means “no longer think about something.” In this context, it is worth taking a brief look at the history, the linguistic root of our keyword.

“Forget” comes from the Germanic “get”. This “get” had the meaning of “reach”, “grasp”, “seize” in both literal and figurative use. This original meaning is reversed by the prefix “ver-“. This is probably how “ver-get” in Middle High German “Vergezzen” came about, which eventually became our present-day “forgotten”. Strictly speaking, “forgetting” means “not reaching”, “not grasping”, “not grasping”. Or, and this is crucial, “losing one’s possessions.”

Whoever forgets does not have to be forgetful

That all sounds very theoretical. Only: “I’ve completely forgotten about him over the years” means that I’ve lost my memory, my mental possession. And one more thing: when comparing the sentences “I didn’t think of it” and “I forgot” – both are equivalent – it can be shown that the prefix “veer-” works as a negation. Just as in stray, lose, disfigure, and so on diritto all oblio.

But back to the keyword. “Forgetting” also means “not feeling something anymore”. “All tiredness was forgotten when we finally got to our friends.” Or: “He seemed to have forgotten that she had ridiculed him in front of everyone just a few minutes ago.” In these examples, “forget” has nothing to do with what we call “forgetfulness”.

From short and long term memory

Not necessarily, but mainly with age, the memory performance of the brain, especially that of the short-term memory, decreases. However, the constant search for car and apartment keys and glasses is also a frequent indication of acute forgetfulness among younger people: they have forgotten where they put these everyday utensils.

“I can’t remember where…” means: “I always forget where…” And that means: I am forgetful and maybe I’m becoming more and more forgetful. Curiously, long-term memory seems to have a more reliable store. Incisive experiences, but also tiny things are remembered for decades, so don’t forget them.

Not to forget: a small blue flower

The phrase “I will never forget that for him/her” expresses on the one hand that something was of such great importance that it is not forgotten. On the other hand, this “something” can have been positive or negative. In the first case, not forgetting would be a form of gratitude, in the second a grudge, anything but a good reminder of the remembered person. The well-meaning request: “Forget it” or: “Forget it” doesn’t help either. We have said that up until the 18th century and beyond, the objects of forgetting were in the genitive. At the end of this keyword there should be a small blue flower, which means cos’è diritto oblio .