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die eigentlich befreundeten Länder

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by mattant, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. mattant Senior Member

    West Midlands, UK
    English - England
    Hallo!

    I'm half way through a translation and am struggling to translate the phrase 'die eigentlich befreundeten Länder'

    The text is about German colonialism.

    The original German sentence is:

    Auf den Karolinen hissten Matrosen 1885 die deutsche Flagge, obwohl man in Berlin von den spanischen Besitzansprüchen wusste. Der nachfolgende Streit um die Inselgruppe führte die eigentlich befreundeten Länder an den Rand eines Krieges.

    Which I have translated as:

    In 1885, sailors hoisted the German flag on the Caroline Islands, although it was common knowledge/well-known in Berlin that the Spanish had claimed ownership there. The subsequent dispute over the group of islands brought the countries, who actually had a good international relationship, on the verge of war.

    Any suggestions about this?

    Danke im Voraus!
     
  2. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    The meaning of eigentlich is often difficult to grasp. That's why some German teachers don't like it. You might consider translating eigentlich as normally, usually.or otherwise. Also, I think in diplomatic languages where shades of gray are all important, there is a significant difference between good and friendly relations. But I am not an expert in foreign policy.
     
  3. exgerman Senior Member

    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    How about in principle? Eigentlich suggests that there was basic or essential friendship, but it wasn't expressed in this situation.

    So ...countries, whose relationship in principle was one of friendship,...

    Also, brought them to the verge of war.
     
  4. HermanTheGerman Senior Member

    German
    Since "eigentlich" is a synonym for "ansonsten" in this sentence, how about " ... the otherwise friendly countries"
     
  5. mattant Senior Member

    West Midlands, UK
    English - England
    In 1885, sailors hoisted the German flag on the Caroline Islands, although it was common knowledge in Berlin that the Spanish had claimed ownership there. The subsequent dispute over the group of islands brought the otherwise friendly countries to the verge of war.

    I see why it would be 'to the verge of war', but it just doesn't sound right to my ear, does anybody agree?

    As for the original question, thanks for the help, that's very helpful!
     
  6. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
  7. mattant Senior Member

    West Midlands, UK
    English - England
    Grammatically it's correct - I think it was more a vocabulary issue, to my ear, "brought the otherwise friendly countries to the brink of war" sounds better.
     
  8. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Except that it doesn't mean the same. The two nations are not intrinsically friendly (i.e. to everybody). Only the relations between the two are friendly-
     
  9. mattant Senior Member

    West Midlands, UK
    English - England
    ".... whose relationship was otherwise one of friendship" then?
     
  10. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    "Eigentlich" includes two concepts at the same time.

    Normalerweise, aber

    It includes the contrast between normally and the exception.

    "whose relationship was otherwise one of friendship"
    Does this include both principles?

    Normalerweise sind sie freundschaftlich verbunden, aber in unserem Fall gibt es eine Ausnahme, die den bisherigen Erfahrungen widerspricht.

    "Ansonsten" is very similar, the focus of "ansonsten" is another, but the meaning is basically the same.

    "Ansonsten" shows the experiences, "eigentlich" shows that the properties are essential but have exceptions.


    See also the definition in the Duden. http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/eigentlich_tatsaechlich_echt

    I would say:
    ".... whose relationship was until now essentially one of friendship"
    But I am not sure if this is idiomatic.

    I think "In principle" is similar, but includes that there might be exceptions in a regular way.
     
  11. mattant Senior Member

    West Midlands, UK
    English - England
    I feel that is too wordy to serve as a clean translation.

    Otherwise, in my mind, denotes that other than this incident/period, their relationship has been friendly, but in this circumstance it is not, which would cover the 'Normalerweise' strand and also the contrast strand.

    However, that's just my reading of it, I may be wrong.
     
  12. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    That reflects the meaning of the German sentence well.
     
  13. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    Hi, in this case and confirming Bernd's answer your sentence seems to be the best translation.
    Best regards
    Hutschi
     

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