A twinkle in your father's eye

wheatley000

New Member
English
How would you say: "he was still a twinkle in his father's eye" in German? Do they have this idiom?

Thanks,
 
  • sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I at least do not know of an idiomatic expression in German which would fit the English one. There are though possibilities to explain the same; however those are not fixed idioms but made up on the spot (well, not quite made up on the spot, but not really idioms), like:

    - Da war er noch gar nicht auf der Welt. - Then he wasn't even in this world. (Not figurative, simply stating the literal meaning of the English idiom.)
    - Da war er noch so klein! - Then he was so small! (With strong emphasis on "so" and a gesture added: showing between thumb and index finger a small gap of a couple of millimeters which indicates how little he still was = almost non-existant.)
    - Da war er noch im Bauch der Mama. - Then he still was in the womb of his mother. (This would be used if explaining to a child - do not use this when communicating with adults, or if then only in an ironic way!)

    And so on.


    By the way, a Google search:
    he was still a twinkle in his father's eye site:de
    does not turn up any useful German idiom (not on the first page of the search: there are over 800 hits; if you limit it to the exact phrase then there are no hits with site:de).
     
    Last edited:

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    - Da war er noch so klein! - Then he was so small! (With strong emphasis on "so" and a gesture added: showing between thumb and index finger a small gap of a couple of millimeters which indicates how little he still was = almost non-existant.)
    - Da war er noch im Bauch der Mama. - Then he still was in the womb of his mother. (This would be used if explaining to a child - do not use this when communicating with adults, or if then only in an ironic way!)
    I think the English idiom means that he has not yet been conceived while these two German expressions refer to a conceived but yet unborn child.

    "Seine Eltern haben [damals] noch nicht einmal an ihn gedacht." comes to my mind. But I wouldn't contend that it be a well-known idiom.
     
    Last edited:

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    "Käse im Schaufenster" usually means "not even conceived yet".
    What is the context of "twinkle ..."?


    The only problem is that idioms have the tendency to vanish now ...

    I think that this is the most similar idiom I know in German.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Das habe ich verstanden. Ich habe es aber heute zum ersten Mal gelesen, deshalb die Nachfrage. ...

    Wiie siehst Du es mit dem Käse? Ist es eine entsprechende Redewendung?

    Oder sollte man die direkte Übersetzung nehmen? Sie klingt poetich und wird verstanden ...
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I think the English idiom means that he has not yet been conceived while these two German expressions refer to a conceived but yet unborn child.
    I have no idea at all, to be honest [and couldn't find confirmation in my dictionaries], but I'll trust your feeling anyway. :)
    (Probably Wheatly can confirm?!)
    In that case it is getting to be even more difficult. (And of course my suggestions then aren't good; only the first one still would work but then wouldn't be a good idiom anyway.)
    "Seine Eltern haben [damals] noch nicht einmal an ihn gedacht." comes to my mind. But I wouldn't contend that it be a well-known idiom.
    I don't think either that this is a fixed and well-known idiom; but it will of course be understood if used.

    And Hutschi's "Käse im Schaufenster" I do not know at all; probably this is specific for Germany only (or parts of Germany).
     
    Last edited:

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    And Hutschi's "Käse im Schaufenster" I do not know at all; probably this is specific for Germany only (or parts of Germany).
    This is possible, and so I searched in the Internet to make sure it was not only at one place.

    Usually such pictures disappear.


    "Seine Eltern haben [damals] noch nicht einmal an ihn gedacht."
    I know this expression, but the connotation is negative - at least in my mind - while "twinkle ..." is positive or at least it sounds positive for me.
     
    Last edited:

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    "Noch nicht mal an etwas denken" means either you ignore the possibility or there is no reason to think about it. This is negative (not in moral sense.)
    "A twinkle in your thathers eye" - something exists yet. - this is a positive result.

    In the first sentence you express it negative (there is nothing) and in the second you express it positive (there is something).

    I suppose I did not write exactly enough what I meant.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    I just spoke with a native English speaker.

    "A twinkle in your father's eye" means positve:

    1. There existed already something (the twinkle).
    2. At least the father thought about it already. (It was not out of mind.) - This was new to me - but I could have expected it.

    So the negative form "da war noch nicht mal dran zu denken" does not match.
    And "Käse im Schaufenster" lacks not only the poesy, but the second point.

    So the best translation so far seems to be:

    "Er war erst ein Funkeln im Auge seines Vaters". (from berndf).

    But this is no German idiom.

    May be there is something like: "Es gab ihn nur in Gedanken." - But this lacks the poesy.
     
    Last edited:

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    So the negative form "da war noch nicht mal dran zu denken" does not match.
    This is not the phrase I know which is "Seine Eltern haben [damals] noch nicht einmal an ihn gedacht". This has a slightly different tilt that the one you quoted. But I agree, it doesn't fit 100%. Though it is the closed I could think of which is at least a bit idiomatic.
     
    Last edited:

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    This is not the phrase I know which is "Seine Eltern haben [damals] noch nicht einmal an ihn gedacht". To me, this is not at all negative.
    The context is (after discussion with my English colleague):

    "Seine Eltern könnten es bereits gefühlt haben, denn im Auge des Vaters war ein Funkeln."

    "Noch nicht einmal daran gedacht" - das sagt nichts über das Funkeln.

    negative:
    Would it be more clear to write: "negated form"?
     

    tomratliff

    New Member
    English - American
    Have any of you heard the (potentially German) idiom -- translated into English -- "pushing clouds"?

    My wife, who is German, used that idiom once and explained it to mean something equivalent to "a twinkle in your father's eye". The imagery is very nice, and it also explains the movement of clouds!

    For what its worth, my wife was born and raised near Heilbronn. Perhaps it is an idiom local to the region (southern Germany)?
     

    tomratliff

    New Member
    English - American
    However, searching the internet, I don't see it either! My wife and her sister are both familiar with it -- so that's two Germans. Perhaps they made it up themselves -- idioms have to originate somewhere ;)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top