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Erstens kam es anders und zweitens als wir dachten

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by jsleeve, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. jsleeve Junior Member

    Italian
    Hello,

    could anyone help me find a similar saying in English to this German expression: Erstens kam es anders und zweitens als wir dachten?

    It should mean that unfortunately something came out differently from the way it had been thought originally, and ironically this different (unexpected) result came before the original thought.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    Hi,
    I know it in present form:
    Erstens kommt es anders und zweitens als man glaubt.

    There is a very similar in Wilhelm Busch "Plisch und Plum":
    "Aber hier, wie überhaupt,
    Kommt es anders, als man glaubt." http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/4189/3
    The English translation of the Busch version is
    "But, as often happens, here too
    Things don't go as they appear to. "

    http://www.gutenberg.ca/ebooks/busc...-00-h-dir/buschwbrooks-plishandplum-00-h.html

    In your context it were

    "As it often happens, things didn't go as they appear to."

    Unfortunately I do not know an idiom.
    Wait for a native English speaker.
     
  3. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    I can't think of an exact idiom equivalent in English. The closest thing I can come to is, "Things aren't always as they appear/seem." But that does not quite say the same thing. It is just not always so easy to say equivalent things in German to English and vice versa.

    It's like explaining deja vu, or schadenfreude to someone in English. :) You can describe it, but it does not do it the same justice that its native tongue does. :)

    Perhaps there is an equivalent, but I cannot think of one. :)
     
  4. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    I found
    https://www.google.de/search?q=thin...&rls=org.mozilla:de:official&client=firefox-a

    This gives the two part structure.
    I think it comes near
    Hi, jsleeve, could you give a little bit more context?
    What is the purpose? Do you need a poetic translation?
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  5. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
  6. jsleeve Junior Member

    Italian
    Thanks for all these suggestions and yes, it is difficult to find an equivalent...@Hutschi: The context is a Wenders'interview where he talks about a film that came out differently from what he had originally thought so basically something occured differently even before it was thought....what do you think? Does The English have anything similar, like a colourful saying? Thanks!
     
  7. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  8. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    PS:
    http://www.english-for-students.com/Idioms-T.html
    It is very colorful, if it works.
    It was the way the cookies crumbled.

    ---
    http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/That's+the+way+the+mop+flops
    That's the way the ball bounces. and That's the way the cookie crumbles.; That's the way the mop flops.



    ---


    New proposal, more dadaistic:

    Firstly it turned different and secondly than thoughts.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  9. candel Senior Member

    english Irish.
    Hutschi is right..."that is the way the cookie crumbles" indicates a lack of predictability...people often use it almost to express a fatalistic attitude...
    A man dies penniless under a bridge unknowing he had inherited a fortune....that is the way the cookie crumbles...in my experience it is used more often in this sort of unfortunate, less happy type of scenario..but it can be used to describe a slice of fortune too...

    The cookie can crumble any way, decided by entropy...just like how the wind blows...
     
  10. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    I don't understand the underlined bits above. :confused:

    I've always assumed the statement

    Erstens kam es anders und zweitens als wir dachten

    to simply be a humorous shortcut way of saying

    Erstens kam es anders und zweitens [kam es anders] als wir dachten.

    Maybe I've misunderstood something, but I don't think the "als" has a temporal function here. Or is there another reason for you thinking that the result comes before the thinking?

    Cheers
    Abba
     
  11. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    "als" is not used in a temporal way.

    It is indeed Erstens kam es anders und zweitens [kam es anders] als wir dachten.
    one of the comic effects of it is that the parts are used in an unusual and irregular way. It is a kind of zeugma.

    The structure is similar to "Firstly it turned different and secondly than thoughts." Does this work in English?


    The meaning is that things happen in another way than we thought and that the outcome is not predictable.
    (In our case tranferred to past tense, so the original saying is modified.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  12. Gernot Back

    Gernot Back Senior Member

    Cologne, Germany
    German - Germany
    The saying itself imitates this characteristic: It ends in a different (nonsense) way, unecpected by the recipient.
    It is not only nonsense, but also ungrammatical to list (erstens, zweitens, drittens, etc.) a main clause (Es kommt anders) on the same level together with a subordinate clause (..., als man denkt).

    This reminds me of another phrase, which has become established in German, although it is clearly ungrammatical:
    ein sogenannter oder auch (add a masculine noun here)
    eine sogenannte oder auch (add a feminine noun here)
    ein sogenanntes oder auch (add a neuter noun here)​

    Both, the adjective sogenannt and a combination of the conjunction oder and the adverb auch are methods in German to indicate critical distance to an expression which is not necessarily the one you would choose. It is ungrammatical, though, to coordinate two different parts of speech (here: an adjective and a noun) with the conjunction oder.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  13. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    Indeed it is ungrammatical (similar to the rhetorical figure Zeugma), and I wanted to imitate this by "Firstly it turned different and secondly than thoughts."
    Does this work?
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  14. Suilan

    Suilan Senior Member

    Down South (BW)
    Germany (NRW)
    I always thought the irony in that statement (which I know as: "Erstens kommt es anders, zweitens als man denkt.") is that the speaker pretends to have two points to make when really he makes just the one. And I would use it in situations where I don't really have any point to make or opinion or just don't care to attempt to predict the future when someone asks me to ("Do you think this will work?" ... "Do you think they'll get married, now that the baby's here?"... "Do you think he'll have to step down now?") or when someone asks me "why did this happen?" when no one can know the answer.
     
  15. candel Senior Member

    english Irish.
    I must admit I don't get the joke or the humour...(scratches head)...even after note 14...the phrase mentioned by Hutschi is not in my view humorous..."that is the way the cookie crumbles"...it could be funny if the context to which it applies were humorous...but it need not be so.
     
  16. Suilan

    Suilan Senior Member

    Down South (BW)
    Germany (NRW)
    Humor and irony are not the same thing. I wouldn't call this sentence humorous. It can be used to deflect questions you don't feel like answering but you don't want to be too mean about it -- such as snap at a person: "How the hell should I know?"
     
  17. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    Yes, it's not so much "humorous" as it is an ironic statement that, in itself, says what it means as well. :) It's more "oddly" clever than funny.

    Indeed, it is zeugma, Hutschi; I think you are correct there. Unfortunately, "Firstly it turned different and secondly than thoughts" would not carry well with native English speakers. I dare say none would know what it means and deem it awkward (not in the way it is supposed to).

    It might make more sense to natives as, "Firstly, it will be different and secondly as you think." Though, most still will not understand the irony and (sensically, non-sensical) point it makes. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  18. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    Thank you very much. So in English it seems that the crumbling cookie comes nearest. It replaces the Zeugma by a colorful picture and is a real idiom, like the German one, with approximately the same meaning.
    More literal translations seem not to be working.

    I think that the translation in the Busch poem works in content, but the rhyme is not well formed in stand alone form.

    "But, as often happens, here too
    Things don't go as they appear to. "

    Especially it does not have the Zeugma structure.

    So after all negotiations (in the sense of Umberto Eco's book about translation - "Quasi dasselbe mit anderen Worten") I would use the cookie idiom knowing that it is different.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  19. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    Yes, I think that "that's how the cookie crumbles" comes closest of all (native English) things said. However, it just still doesn't give that ironic word play that is so clever in German. Sadly, I don't think its equal can exist as cleverly in English. :(
     
  20. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    France
    Français
    Hallo.
    Was denkt ihr von einem „Anti-Zeugma” :
    „It turned out that there was a whole difference between what we had expected.” (Ende des Satzes).
     
  21. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    I would say it is close. I would make a few adjustments so that it would say:
    "It turned out that things were much different than what we had expected."

    Unfortunately, it still "loses" that irony that the native German words provide.
     
  22. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    France
    Français
    I do not get it any more...
    Your sentence is logically correct, isn't it ?

    I said : "...difference between what we had expected. -period-", because you would have expected "between what we had expected AND SOMETHING ELSE", but that something else never came.
    Usually, this sort of absurd sentence make us French laugh. (Except that is quite a well known joke, now...)
     

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