a term that is relatively unique to the German language

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by linguaphile92, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. linguaphile92 Member

    I am writing an essay. I want to write '"Vergangenheitsbewältigung" is a term that is relatively unique to the German language'.

    Could anyone give a suggestion as to what would be the best way to express 'sth. is unique to sth.' in German?

    So far I only have 'nur betrifft' but that isn't exactly what I want to say. I need to use the word 'relativ'.

    Something else I have come up with: 'Vergangenheitsbewältigung ist ein Begriff, der eine relative Besonderheit der deutschen Sprache ist'

    Would greatly appreciate any suggestions.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
  2. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    Vergangenheitsbewältigung ist ein Begriff, der fast nur die deutsche Sprache betrifft.
    Vergangenheitsbewältigung ist ein Begriff, der eine ziemliche Eigenheit der deutschen Sprache ist.
    Vergangenheitsbewältigung ist ein relativ einzigartiger Begriff der deutschen Sprache.

    The words in bold resemble "unique". Those in italics "relatively".
  3. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Can you give more context?
    Do you mean unique in a linguistic or in a political sense ore something else?
    The sentence itself is strange.
    "Begriff" and "Wort" are different concepts in linguistics, but seldom in coll. language.

    If you mean "Begriff" as "Wort" - I do not understand the question.
    If you mean it as concept, it is related to politic or culture and should be invariant when you transfer it to another language.
    How I understand Frank's different translations
    "Vergangenheitsbewältigung ist ein Begriff, der fast nur die deutsche Sprache betrifft." - In this case it says that it is concerning almost only the German language - not another language - and almost nothing outside language.

    "Vergangenheitsbewältigung ist ein Begriff, der eine ziemliche Eigenheit der deutschen Sprache ist." It is something special in German.
    "Vergangenheitsbewältigung ist ein relativ einzigartiger Begriff der deutschen Sprache." there is (almost) no other concept in the German language with the same meaning.
  4. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    I think the OP means that German is virtually the only language which can succinctly label this concept using a single word, and that in nearly all other languages you have to describe it instead, using several words, here perhaps "the ability to come to terms with the past".

    "Begriff" can mean both "term" and "concept", though, or perhaps "Ausdruck" is better, if you want to reserve "Begriff" for the abstract concept. Ich weiss nicht mehr, was Goethe meinte, wo bei Faust steht: "denn eben wo Begriffe fehlen, da stellt ein Wort zur rechten Zeit sich ein".

    "Vergangenheitsbewältigung ist ein Begriff, den man eigentlich nur in der deutschen Sprache mit einem einzigen Wort ausdrücken kann." Or something like that.
    "Vergangenheitsbewältigung ist ein Begriff, den es eigentlich nur im Deutschen gibt." seems better, you could then continue to clarify: "In fast allen anderen Sprachen muss man ihn auf mehr oder weniger komplizierte Weise umschreiben."
  5. oberhaenslir Banned

    German, Switzerland
    'Vergangenheitsbewältigung' ist ein

    " (…) sozialwissenschaftlicher Begriff, der nach neuerem Verständnis die wiederholte Auseinandersetzung mit belastender, in Gegenwart und Zukunft eines Staates hinein wirkender Vergangenheit impliziert. (…) Der Begriff wurde im Nachkriegsdeutschland von H. Heimpel geprägt und durch den damaligen Bundespräsidenten T. Heuss in der deutschen Öffentlichkeit verbreitet. Die in den nachfolgenden Jahrzehnten teils kontrovers geführten Diskussionen über Sinn und Inhalte einer deutschen Vergangenheitsbewältigung konzentrierten sich zeitweise darauf, die Aufarbeitung der Geschichte von Tätern und Mitläufern abzuschließen. Die Weiterentwicklung des Begriffs in seiner heutigen Bedeutung geht u.a. auf Definitionen von T. W. Adorno und K. Jaspers zurück."


  6. Resa Reader

    Resa Reader Senior Member

    I think this is exactly what the OP wanted to express.

    I like both versions. (Your German is perfect.)
  7. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Something can be unique, but it cannot be “relatively” unique. Es kann einzigartig sein, kann aber nicht “relativ“ einzigartig sein. Unique means there is only one.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
  8. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    "Eigenartig" does not mean unique, it means strange. I think you meant to say "einzigartig".
    While I understand that you want to say that uniqueness has no gradations, that nothing can be "more unique than" something else, that does not imply that something cannot be "relatively unique". It can, if "relatively" is used in the sense of "almost", though "unique" is then being abused to mean something like "rare". Something truly unique is so rare that there exists only one instance of it. Something relatively unique is so rare that there exist only a few instances.

    That said, "relatively unique to" seems here to be used as indicating "relatively peculiar to".

    Same Problem in German, I think. "Relativ einzigartig" does sound eigenartig, and it would perhaps be better to say "fast einzigartig".
  9. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Yes, I meant "einzigartig", as in post no. 2.
  10. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Depending on style there is also "ziemlich einzigartig" - this is more colloquial.

    Concerning "Relativ einzigartig" - fro a point of view of pure two-level logic this is wrong.

    But there are different kinds of "einzigartig".
    1. it is in a class of things with unique properties.
    2. It is nearly unique in a strict sense but not unique in a strict sense.
    There may be even more.
  11. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    “Einzigartig” is literally “one of a kind”. I do not think any speaker of English would say “relatively one of a kind”. Relative to what? “Unique” is the same word as Latin/German “unicum/Unikum”. I do not think any German speaker would say “ein relatives Unikum”. If you are not sure whether something is really unique you can of course always say “probably unique” or the like.
  12. linguaphile92 Member

    Thank you everyone for your inputs. All extremely helpful and greatly appreciated.

    Thank you Edinburgher, this is exactly what I was trying to express. Thank you Resa Reader for your confirmation.

    Thanks also to oberhaenslir for this definition and source.

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