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War ich das etwa?

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by maicart, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. maicart

    maicart Senior Member

    Castellón, Spain
    Spanish, Spain
    Hello,

    In the TV show "Family Matters" (Alle unter einem Dach), Steve Urkel often said "Did I do that?"

    I thought it would be "Habe ich das gemacht / getan?" in German and was surprised to see it was translated as "War ich das etwa?"

    I'm trying to figure out what that means, but can't understand it. Does "etwa" have a special meaning in this sentence?

    Thanks.
     
  2. perpend

    perpend Senior Member

    American English
    As a non-native speaker, I understand it as defintion 3. in WR:
    3. (vielleicht) by any chance, possibly;
    http://www.wordreference.com/deen/etwa

    When you say "Did I do that? in English, there's an element of "by any chance" sort of implied.

    "Did I do that (by any chance)?"
    "Did I (possibly) do that?"

    In German, I think both would work:
    War ich das (etwa)?
    War ich das (vielleicht)?
     
  3. maicart

    maicart Senior Member

    Castellón, Spain
    Spanish, Spain
    Thanks, I understand now. From what you mention, in German they turn "Did I do" into "Was it me" (War ich). So what Urkel says in German is:

    "Was it me by any chance?" (the one who did that) or "Was it possibly me?" (the one who did that)

    What I still don't get is why they add "das".
     
  4. manfy Senior Member

    Singapore
    German - Austria
    perpend is right! In this case 'etwa' has the meaning of 'vielleicht'.
    'etwa' is one of many flavoring particles in German that can change the meaning, or at least the undertone, of the whole sentence.

    Wiki knows this about it.
    It's a bit of an advanced topic for a non-native speaker, so don't get frustrated by the many different meanings these filler words can have within different context. It will take time to get used to them.
     
  5. perpend

    perpend Senior Member

    American English
    The "das" is the "it" in "Was it me?"

    I hope that makes sense.

    Or, you can consider "das" the "that" in "Did I do that?

    In German, they added an extra word, sort of, by including "etwa", to make it sound more idiomatic.
     

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