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auf Verweigerung machen

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by gramster, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. gramster Junior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    English - USA
    In the story Spaghetti für zwei by Federica de Cesco the main character is a pimply-faced 14-year-old boy who sees himself as being very cool and who dreams of having a motorcycle so he can impress girls. Also, as the narrator describes, "Im Unterricht machte er gerne auf Verweigerung. Die Lehrer sollten bloß nicht auf den Gedanken kommen, dass er sich anstrengte."

    I realize that "Im Unterricht machte er gerne auf Verweigerung" probably means something along the lines of "In class he liked to be defiant", but I'm wondering if there is some more colloquial understanding of this. The predicate "gerne auf Verweigerung machen" just has the look of an idiom.
     
  2. Robocop Senior Member

    Central Switzerland
    (Swiss) German
    auf Verweigerung machen (coll.) = to refuse participation / show lack of interest demonstratively
    "Im Unterricht machte er gerne auf Verweigerung" = In class, he would show lack of interest [habit].
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  3. Demiurg

    Demiurg Senior Member

    Germany
    German
    In general "(einen) auf X machen" is colloquial for "to play X" / "to pretend to be X".

    Er macht einen auf Gangster.
    Er macht einen auf dumm.
    Er macht auf cool.
     
  4. gramster Junior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    English - USA
    I get the impression that "er machte gerne auf Verweigerung" is a kind of elliptical shorthand for something longer, where the "something longer" doesn't need to be said because it's clear from the context.

    I suppose in English I would flesh out the ellipsis along the lines of "In class he made a show of refusing to participate." That would get us close to "machen" and "Verweigerung".

    Is there some similar way to flesh out the original in German? I'm hoping we can keep machen and Verweigerung.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  5. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Deutschland (Hamburg)
    German/Germany
    @gramster: No, it does not mean "He was defiant." (rebellious, obstreperous) but "He did not participate." (did not contribute, did not follow).
    Please note that "einen auf X machen" (Demigurg explained this well) is colloquial and in this case a cool or jokingly way of putting it.

    Er verweigerte den Unterricht. In class he denied participation.

    Volle Zustimmung.

    Ja, das passt auch.
     
  6. exgerman Senior Member

    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    You could even say that he liked to play the conscientious objector in the classroom.
     
  7. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Deutschland (Hamburg)
    German/Germany
    Though I agree that Verweigerer leads to the connotation Kriegdienstverweigerer (conscientious objector), I don't think that the English equivalent works here, since "conscientious" does not fit at all.

    No, auf Verweigerer machen works well without the Kriegdienst-association. It is just a sloppy, cool way of putting that the denied participation and contribution. He did just not follow the class.
     
  8. gramster Junior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    English - USA
    What about "In class he made a show of refusing to participate."

    Is that close enough?
     
  9. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Deutschland (Hamburg)
    German/Germany
    Yes, that fits well.
     

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