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The position of relative clauses in German.

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by lazyboy8, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. lazyboy8 New Member

    English - UK/US
    Could somebody please tell me if there is a set rule for the position of relative clauses in German?

    Let's use this sentence as an example:

    I could have killed the woman, who spoke to me again again about the time she spent in German.

    I translated it as...

    Ich hätte die Frau, die mit mir aber und abermals über die Zeit, die sie in Deutschland verbracht hat, gesprochen hat, töten können.

    I feel like this translation does make grammatical sense, however the word order seems to make it complicated and I doubt it would be easily understood. Am I right?

    Is there a set rule for the position of relative clauses? And could someone tell me how they would translate the above sentence into German?

    Vielen Dank im Voraus!
     
  2. Gernot Back

    Gernot Back Senior Member

    Cologne, Germany
    German - Germany
    This word order is correct, but for reasons of lucidity you can also put them after the finite verbs, which in a sub-cluse usually occupy the position in its very end themselves.


    Ich hätte die Frau töten können, die mit mir aber und abermals über die Zeit gesprochen hat, die sie in Deutschland verbracht hat.


    cf.: exbraciation

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1983258
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  3. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    Rather than "aber und abermals" I would use "wieder und wieder".
    By reasons of style I would avoid duplicate "hat".

    What exactly do you mean with "Ich hätte sie töten können."?
    Does it mean you where upset? In this case I would say:

    Ich hätte die Frau töten können, als sie wieder und wieder damit anfing, über die Zeit zu sprechen, die sie in Deutschland verbracht hat.
    or
    Ich hätte die Frau töten können, die wieder und wieder damit anfing, über die Zeit zu sprechen, die sie in Deutschland verbracht hat.

    In your sentence it means you had the opportunity to kill the women identified by telling again and again about the time in Germany.

    (PS: for "ich hätte sie umbringen können" see #5))
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  4. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    Hmm, has something been lost in the translation, then? I interpret the original sentence differently:

    I could have killed the woman who spoke to me again and again about the time she spent in Germany[, just in order to shut her up]!

    (Note: I don't think there should be a comma after "woman", because I assume that the clause introduced by "who" is meant to be a restrictive one)

    The phrase "again and again" (which I assume could also be translated as "immer und immer wieder") is a signal to me that the speaker was getting on the listeners nerves, boring him/her to death. For this reason, I would understand the "I could have killed the woman" as "as far as my emotions at that moment were concerned, I could have killed the woman" rather than as "I had the chance to kill the woman". This is despite the fact that the original sentence does not contain an exclamation mark at the end, which I would normally use to make it clearer that the sentence is not meant to be interpreted literally.

    How can this idea best be translated into German? I thought that use of the Konjunktiv in such cases was OK. :confused:

    Cheers,
    Abba
     
  5. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    In German it is "Ich hätte sie umbringen können ..." in the meaning "I was really very upset".
    It is not the conjunctiv, causing the problem - but the idiom is with "umbringen" rather than "töten".

    The other meaning (opportunity to kill) is available in both versions, but you have to decide by context.

    "With "töten" it works nethertheless, if the context makes it clear.

    I am not sure if there are regions were "Ich hätte sie töten können" is preferred.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  6. Resa Reader Senior Member

    I would also prefer the verb "umbringen" to convey the meaning that this woman is getting on my nerves.
     

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