Tag Archives: übertragener Bedeutung

Wenn Lesen glatt läuft

Dank dem Empfehlungsregal der Bücherhalle Barmbek, lese ich jetzt ein tolles Buch von Petra Hartlieb: »Meine wundervolle Buchhandlung«. Da drinnen begegnete ich dem Wort „umschiffen“ im übertragenen Sinne — „Wir umschiffen das Thema gekonnt“ — We skillfully avoid the topic.  Man kann auch Felsen oder ein Kap umschiffen, anders ausgedruckt umfährt man sie. Ich finde das Wort großartig, weil es ein schönes Bild vor meinem geistigen Auge malt. Das Thema sieht wie einen Eisberg aus, und die Familie lotst sich selbst darum herum.

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Tied by their sounds

I’m not sure how often I notice words that have similar sounds but quite different meanings in English, but this frequently is a source of amusement (and challenge) in German. Today’s example:

die Krawatte – “the tie” (as in “piece of clothing worn around the neck” –think “cravat,” die Krawattenschal, which a combination of die Krawatte and der Schal, “the scarf”)
die Krawalle – “rioting”

I now have an interesting picture in my head of tie-wearing rioters. Hopefully no tie wearers (or perhaps rioters?!) find themselves “miffed” by this image or sich auf den Schlips getreten fühlen (literally something like “to feel [as though] one’s tie has been tread upon”) and now want to put me in “a headlock” (a second meaning for die Krawatte)!

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Full up

»Sara hat mir erzählt, dass sie das Gezeter ihrer Mutter leid ist…« – “Sara told me that she is tired of her mother’s nagging.” This sentence comes from the children’s book Das Cafe-geheimnis (it was originally written in Swedish and stars Lasse and Maja) and introduced me to both the word das Gezeter, which will be treated in a subsequent post, and the verb-adjective combination leid sein.

On Duden I found this entry for leid sein. It offers the definition “someone is/has grown tired of something” – » jemandes, einer Sache überdrüssig sein« – and this sample sentence »ich bin sein dummes Gequatsche leid.« – “I’m sick of your blathering.”  Clearly this is an important concept as there are a fair few synonyms given in this entry, and they range from the colloquial to the idiomatic to the rather formal:

genug haben –” to have enough”
müde sein
– “to be tired (of)”
satthaben – “”to have had a bellyful”
satt sein; (gehoben)  – “to be fed up” (satt sein is used to mean that you have had enough to eat)
überdrüssig sein; (umgangssprachlich)
– “to be tired of/weary of”
bis obenhin haben
– “to have had it up to here”
dick haben/kriegen 
– “to be fed up” (literally something like “to have or get [it] thickly)
die Nase voll haben
– “to be sick of something” (literally “to have a nose full”)
langen – “to be enough” (it can also mean “to reach” and in its transitive form “to pass, to hand”) 
reichen – “to be sufficient” (like langen, it can also mean “to reach” and “to hand”)
überhaben; (salopp) –”to be fed up with something” ( literally “to over-have”)
stinken  Mir stinkt es! – “to be fed up” (it can also mean “to stink”)
den Kanal/die Schnauze voll haben – “to have had enough” (literally “to have a canal or snout full “), with Kanal, it can also mean “to be sloshed” something that happens when one has “had enough” to drink and puts one in mind of the literal meaning of a canal overrunning its banks.

Many of these can be made even stronger by adding gründlich – “thoroughly” – as in etwas gründlich satthaben – “to be sick to death of something or someone” or “to be fed up to to the back teeth with something .” (One can also add the word die Faxen – “nonsense” or “shenanigans” – as in Ich habe die Faxen satt.) I don’t think I’d ever given much thought to the expression “to be fed up” before. On seeing the various translations, though, I was startled to see how many of them are related to the consumption of food: “a bellyful,” ” to be fed [up],” “back teeth” and even “to be sick of,” as something one is “sick of” can be something that one doesn’t want to eat again. Perhaps that might be that one is “fed up” with something then that thing is what one can no longer “stomach?!”

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Ready, fire, aim

At today’s Barmbek Dialog in Deutsch I was introduced to the idiom Schieß los! Dict.cc offers “Get cracking,” “Fire away” (a bit more literal even as it is still being used metaphorically), “Go for it,” and “Hit me.” Pons gives the phrase Na, schieß schon/mal los! with the translations “Come on, out with it!” and “Come on tell me/us!” as well as natürlich, schieß los! – “of course, go ahead!” Duden gives three meanings for the full verb losschießen:

  1. to open fire/to start shooting
  2. to set something in motion quickly or suddenly; to pounce on someone or something
  3. to begin to speak; to feel the urge or compulsion or need – aus einem innereren Bedürfnis heraus – to say something

Canoo.net offer mitteilen – “to inform” or “to let somebody know something” – as the hypernym for the meaning concerned with speaking. I hope you didn’t find this post missed the target, as it sometimes happens when one is trying to speak up in German!

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Of Owls and Spoons

Last week we were discussing Redewendungen – “idiomatic expressions” – and the phrase die Suppe auslöffeln was one that I had previously heard. Literally it means “to eat up all of the soup” but the figurative meaning can be translated as “to face the music” or “to face the consequences” – die Konsequenzen/Folgen tragen. This led me to other phrases including the verb tragen, some of which feel quite natural in English, others less so. Prior to learning the idiom die Suppe auslöffeln, I’d used this verb mainly in the sense of “wearing” something as in “to wear a coat” – einen Mantel tragen. Here are some expressions and saying that extended the meaning of tragen for me:

“to carry a trunk” – einen Koffer tragen
“to bear a name” – einen Namen tragen
“to pay for itself” – sich selbst tragen

“to grin and bear it” – es mit Fassung tragen (“to bear something with composure”)
“to bring coals to Newcastle” – Eulen nach Athen tragen (“to take owls to Athens” – the owl is the symbol of Athena and appeared on Athenian coins)
“to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve” – das Herz auf der Zunge tragen (“to wear your heart on your tongue”)

In addition, there is a related word, übertragen, that is part of the expression for the figurative meaning of a word – die übertragener Bedeutung – which perhaps could be translated as the meaning “carried above” the actual words?!

Hope I haven’t “worn you out” with all of these (which I might have done if I had covered all of the possible translations dict.cc gives for “worn out,” abgetragen among them)

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