a perfect, unflawed square

L'aura che tu respiri

Senior Member
English - USA
I'm not sure which of these two words to use in this context:

An architect once said to me, “The most difficult commission to fulfill is when the plot of land is a perfect, unflawed square.”

Here are two (very different) attempts:

1. Ein Architekt sagte mir einmal: „Der Auftrag ist am schwierigsten, wenn das Stück Land ein perfektes, vollkommenes Viereck ist.“

2. Ein Architekt sagte mir einmal: „Der schwierigste Teil des Berufs ist, ein perfektes Quadrat zu konstruieren.”

My understanding is that Quadrat is square in the sense of a square mile or km or the square of 2 = 4. Viereck is a 4-sided figure, as Dreieck is a triangle
 
  • Robocop

    Senior Member
    (Swiss) German
    - (Allgemeines) Viereck = Vieleck mir vier Ecken und beliebigen Seitenlängen und Innenwinkeln
    - Rechteck = Viereck mit paarweise gleichen Seiten und rechten Winkeln
    - Quadrat = Viereck mit vier gleichen Seiten und rechten Winkeln
     

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    Viereck = any 4 sided figure (e.g. a trapezoid) -> you can calculate the surface area and state in square miles or kilometers.

    Isn´t there any difference in English between "Quadrat" and "Viereck" in geometry? What about "quadrat(e)" (This suggests the dictionary :D )
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Each Quadrat is also a Rechteck. Each Rechteck is also a Viereck.

    Quadrat = square
    Rechteck = rectangle
    Viereck or Tetragon = quadrangle, quadrilateral or tetragon
     
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    Interesting view, and I can tell you that the architect is absolutely right! I'm currently studying architecture and it is in fact one of the most difficult things to do. It's like sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper and you just have no idea what to do :D

    By the way: The second attempt is definitely wrong. An architect should be able to design a square ^^
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    As far as I understand it a square can mean "Quadrat" but also "Viereck". (My dictionary gives both "Quadrat" and "Viereck" as definition. Is this correct?

    This depends on context.

    In German "Quadrat" and "Viereck" have different definitions.

    In Euclidean geometry it is a Quadrat - according to the Wikipedia.
     
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    Sowka

    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Hallo :)

    Not in the strict mathematical sense: Square at Mathworld; it's always the German "Quadrat".

    The German "Quadrat" and "Viereck" don't have different definitions, the definition of "Quadrat" is just narrower because it's a special type of "Viereck".

    G'night now ;)
     
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    L'aura che tu respiri

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    My original question remains: to translate An architect once said to me, “The most difficult commission to fulfill is when the plot of land is a perfect, unflawed square.” Which is better, Quadrat or Viereck?
     

    ABBA Stanza

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Which is better, Quadrat or Viereck?
    I think it has to be "Quadrat". Although some people may interpret the description "perfektes, vollkommenes Viereck" to mean a square, most probably wouldn't. Of course, to say that a square is "perfect" and "unflawed" is somewhat tautological (if a square wasn't perfect, it wouldn't be a square!). Clearly, the architect was trying to distinguish an absolutely perfect square from other plots of land that are near enough to be described as "square", without actually being so.

    My translation attempt would be similar to your first sentence:

    Ein Architekt sagte mir einmal: "Der am schwierigsten zu erfüllende Auftrag ist der, wo das Grundstück ein perfektes, vollkommenes Quadrat ist."

    Note that I've replaced "Stück Land" with "Grundstück", which is the more idiomatic translation here.

    Hope that helps, and that we're finally getting closer to understanding your original question!

    Cheers,
    Abba
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    My original question remains: to translate An architect once said to me, “The most difficult commission to fulfill is when the plot of land is a perfect, unflawed square.” Which is better, Quadrat or Viereck?
    Ah, sorry. I thought this were clear by now. As Abba wrote, "Quadrat" of course. A "Viereck" can have any odd shape as long as it has exactly four corners and straight lines as boundaries. You surely wouldn't call a "Viereck" perfect.

    But as Tüdelü wrote, sentence 2. wouldn't be right because "ein Quadrat konstruieren" means to draw a square [with straightedge and compass only].

    Sentence 1. is fine, but replace "Viereck" by "Quadrat".
     
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    Robocop

    Senior Member
    (Swiss) German
    My original question remains: to translate An architect once said to me, “The most difficult commission to fulfill is when the plot of land is a perfect, unflawed square.” Which is better, Quadrat or Viereck?
    I suggest:
    Ein Architekturauftrag ist dann am schwierigsten zu erfüllen, wenn das Grundstück einen vollkommen quadratischen Grundriss aufweist.

    As a layman to architecture, I assume that the difficulty of the architect's task lies in the conception (creation) of a building project that harmonizes well with the symmetry of a square plot.
     

    L'aura che tu respiri

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    As a layman to architecture, I assume that the difficulty of the architect's task lies in the conception (creation) of a building project that harmonizes well with the symmetry of a square plot.
    Actually, that is not the meaning at all! The meaning is: the difficulty of the architect's task lies in the conception (creation) of a building project when the plot of land is perfect and unblemished. It's when there are conditions, limitations, defects, that the architect's creativity kicks in.
     

    Robocop

    Senior Member
    (Swiss) German
    Could it be that "square" has the meaning of "place" (like in Leicester square) in the topical sentence and is completely unrelated to the geometrical form named square?!

    - The most difficult commission to fulfill is when the plot of land is a perfect, unflawed square (place, piece of land).
    - Ein Architekturauftrag ist dann am schwierigsten zu erfüllen, wenn das Grundstück ein vollkommener, makelloser Platz/Ort/Standort / eine vollkommene, makellose Umgebung/Örtlichkeit / ein vollkommenes, makelloses Geviert (archaic term) / (etc.) ist.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I find it difficult to read this from the English sentence. The expression "a perfect, unflawed square" refers only to the shape of the plot, i.e meaning that its boundaries are four and only four perfectly straight lines, that all four angles are precisely 90degrees, that all four sides have exactly the same length and that the terrain is perfectly even.
     

    L'aura che tu respiri

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Yes, it refers to a square as a shape, not a square as a Platz. And certainly four 90-degree angles are implied. But indeed, it is a square plot or piece of land.

    The most difficult commission to fulfill is when the plot of land is a perfect, unflawed square (piece of land).

    Yes, exactly.

    If we are starting with, "Ein Architekt sagte mir einmal," perhaps we can say "Auftrag" instead of "Architektauftrag"?

    So, we could say:

    Ein Architekt sagte mir einmal: „Ein Auftrag ist dann am schwierigsten zu erfüllen, wenn das Grundstück
    -ein vollkommener, makelloser Platz/Ort/Standort
    -eine vollkommene, makellose Umgebung/Örtlichkeit
    -ein vollkommenes, makelloses Geviert/Quadrat/Viereck
    ist.”

    I like Quadrat better than Viereck, because Quadrat is a perfect square, while Viereck is a rectangle. But the word Geviert appeals to me! However, I don't understand if it implies (a) a Geometrical shape; (b) a piece of land; or (c) a piece of land that has four right angles? Can someone held me understand the word Geviert?
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    A "Viereck" is not even a rectangle. The only correct translation is "Quadrat".

    But trying to understand what you want to express with the sentence, "rectangle" would be better in English than "square" because I can't see how it matters to the argument whether or not the four sides are of equal length.

    The German word for rectangle is "Rechteck".
     
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    L'aura che tu respiri

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I can't see how it matters to the argument whether or not the four sides are of equal length.
    It matters only because a square plot would be "even more perfect," therefore even more difficult for the architect to design for.

    So I guess we've decided upon ... Quadrat! I was afraid to use that word because I thought maybe it meant square as is "two squared equals four."
     

    Sowka

    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Could it be that "square" has the meaning of "place" (like in Leicester square) in the topical sentence and is completely unrelated to the geometrical form named square?!
    Hello :)

    this is not very probable, in my opinion, because geometry is an architect's bread and butter.

    Other people might mix up the geometrical sense with other meanings, or use the word "square" when they mean "rectangle", but an architect wouldn't do so. Architecture is applied geometry.

    (This idea occurred to me during my lunch break. You see: I'm thinking about WRF problems on a constant basis ;))
     
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    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    An architect once said to me, “The most difficult commission to fulfill is when the plot of land is a perfect, unflawed square.”
    I think too, like Robocop, it is possible that it means either "Quadrat" or "Platz". The question is: What is meant in Enlish. "Viereck" is most propably not correct.

    What does it mean in English?

    "Wenn es ein perfektes Quadrat ist" (square in geometry) or "Wenn es ein perfekter Platz ist" (square in a landscape, area, place, site, locality.)


    To give an appropriate answer to these possibilities, more context is required.

    If is is a perfect square in the sense of German "Platz" (site, area, square,location) it is very difficult to build something new without destroying the perfectness.

    An example is the "Waldschlösschenbrücke" in Dresden. They build it on a formerly perfect locality (it has the status "Weltkulturerbe" cultural (heritage of the world)) and it will most propably loose this status next week because Dresden and Sachsen are building this bridge.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I think too, like Robocop, it is possible that it means either "Quadrat" or "Platz".
    The latter meaning has been ruled out categorically already:
    Actually, that is not the meaning at all! The meaning is: the difficulty of the architect's task lies in the conception (creation) of a building project when the plot of land is perfect and unblemished. It's when there are conditions, limitations, defects, that the architect's creativity kicks in.
     

    Robocop

    Senior Member
    (Swiss) German
    The meaning is:
    (a) the difficulty of the architect's task lies in the conception (creation) of a building project when the plot of land is perfect and unblemished.
    (b) It's when there are conditions, limitations, defects, that the architect's creativity kicks in.
    Am I the only one who finds the two sentences somehow illogical?!
    Basically, I unterstand:
    (a) Planning a building project on a perfect, unblemished piece of land is a difficult task for the architect (why is that so, by the way?).
    (b) Planning a building project on a piece of land which is neither perfect nor unblemished requires a lot of creativity on the part of the architect.
    So, we have two contrasting starting situations, which both seem to challenge the architect's skills in the same manner. I am afraid I don't understand the logic here.
     

    Sowka

    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Hello Robocop :)

    I think that the perfect, impeccable plot of land might "intimidate" the architect: Anything less than perfect would destroy the perfectness of the site, alas. An unsolvable problem, frightening..

    The second one is easier to handle: You have an imperfect site to build on, but it might even be improved by your building. Moreover, when you encounter actual, technical problems that you feel you can cope with (unlike the intimidation in the first case), your creativity is needed, your mind will find the appropriate ideas and celebrate accordingly ;).

    That's how I feel about that..
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    (a) Planning a building project on a perfect, unblemished piece of land is a difficult task for the architect (why is that so, by the way?).
    Because there is no obstacle to fight. Everything is possible and the architect drowns in the sea of possibilities. That's what I understand.

    But why then "square"? That is my problem. Most plots are rectangles and for the argument it makes no difference. Why than reduce the argument to the rare case of the plot being a square?
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Hi L'aura che tu respieri,

    can you, please tell us what is the square in English?

    This could solve our problems translating it.

    ---

    Quadrat, Viereck or Platz
    The latter meaning has been ruled out categorically already:
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by L'aura che tu respiri
    Actually, that is not the meaning at all! The meaning is: the difficulty of the architect's task lies in the conception (creation) of a building project when the plot of land is perfect and unblemished. It's when there are conditions, limitations, defects, that the architect's creativity kicks in.
    After reading all again, I agree it is ruled out but because of L'aura gave as possible translations "Quadrat" or "Viereck".

    "when the plot of land is perfect and unblemished. " This does not mean "Quadrat" from my point of view.

    But when asked for "Viereck" or "Quadrat" I would say "Quadrat".
     
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    L'aura che tu respiri

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Because there is no obstacle to fight. Everything is possible and the architect drowns in the sea of possibilities. That's what I understand.
    That is exactly correct. It is a MORE difficult commission for the architect if the plot of land does NOT have any blemish or imperfection.

    However, we have gotten considerably off-topic!
     

    Robocop

    Senior Member
    (Swiss) German
    However, we have gotten considerably off-topic!
    Not quite. We have just been struggling to understand the meaning (message) of your sentence (which is essential for being able to give a proper explanation). And unfortunately, the second sentence you gave us, made it even more difficult for me ... (only Sowka's explanation put me on the right track).
     

    mannibreuckmann

    Senior Member
    The meaning is: the difficulty of the architect's task lies in the conception (creation) of a building project when the plot of land is perfect and unblemished.
    Wenn das die Bedeutung ist, dann würde ich das auch so oder ähnlich übersetzen und auf den Begriff "square" ganz verzichten.

    Offensichtlich hat "square" im Englischen eine weitreichende Bedeutung bis hin zu "langweilig" oder "spießig", so dass eine wörtliche Übersetzung nicht angemessen ist.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    "Geviert" is an archaic term for "Quadrat". I would NOT use it because just a few people understand it.
    I don't know where else it is used, but personally I have never heard Geviert but in typography (In Englisch, an "emm" because the letter "M" often is just as wide as it is tall. It is a space, that is just as wide as the capitals are tall.
     

    ABBA Stanza

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Wenn das die Bedeutung ist, dann würde ich das auch so oder ähnlich übersetzen und auf den Begriff "square" ganz verzichten.
    No, I'm convinced that the architect just meant "square" in the geometrical sense of the word.

    I also disagree with most of the posters on this thread, who seem to all be thinking along the lines that square plots provide countless possibilities and that irregular plots are only more interesting because of the extra challenge they provide.

    I don't know how Germans see it, but we Brits hate square plots! Think about it for a minute. Would you all like to sit in a totally square, flat garden? Isn't it more interesting to have some undulations, a hollow with a fish pond, perhaps, or maybe a secluded corner where one can enjoy an afternoon tea (or "Kaffee und Kuchen")'? Geometrical perfection may be good (on paper) for mathematicians, but the paradox is that it is invariably the imperfections that make a landscape attractive to the human eye. On the other hand, trying to turn a square plot of land into something interesting must indeed be an architect's nightmare.

    Therefore, I would still stick with saying "... perfektes, vollkommenes Quadrat".

    In my opinion, the words "perfect" and "unflawed" in the original sentence are (despite appearing at first sight to be redundant) there for ironical reasons. In other words, it's this very "perfection" that makes the plot of land so imperfect from an architectural point of view. It is also precisely this irony that makes the original sentence so clever.

    Abba
     

    L'aura che tu respiri

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    [T]rying to turn a square plot of land into something interesting must indeed be an architect's nightmare.[...] In other words, it's this very "perfection" that makes the plot of land so imperfect from an architectural point of view. It is also precisely this irony that makes the original sentence so clever.
    You are exactly right.
     
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