akustisch verstehen

James Bates

Banned
Urdu
I just came across the following:

Ich habe Sie akustisch nicht verstanden.

Could somebody tell me what "akustisch" means? My dictionary says it means "acoustically", but that doesn't make much sense here.
 
  • Charsaddawi

    Banned
    Pashto - Pakistan
    "Ich habe Sie akustisch nicht verstanden." does seem like proper German. I mean I don't think it's something a German would actually say. Sounds more like a literal translation from some foreign language into German.
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    Yes, akustisch ('acoustically') is added to stress the fact that it is not a lack of logical understanding.

    Ich habe Sie nicht gehört is also possible but in general only used if you don't hear anything at all.
    I mean I don't think it's something a German would actually say.
    Even though it sounds unnecessarily complicated, we often say it.
     
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    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    Ich habe Sie akustisch nicht verstanden.
    I mean I don't think it's something a German would actually say.
    Doch! Dieser Satz ist absolut idiomatisch und sogar recht gebräuchlich.

    Das deutsche Wort "verstehen" kann sowohl inhaltlich-semantisch-logisch interpretiert werden als auch akustisch, auf das Gehör bezogen. Wenn man deutlich machen will, dass man nicht am Inhalt zweifelt, sondern wirklich Schwierigkeiten hatte, zu hören, was der andere gesagt hat, dann setzt man "akustisch" gerne hinzu.

    Tut mir leid, ich verstehe das einfach nicht! <I don't get it. I cannot logically accept it.>
    Entschuldigung, ich habe Sie akustisch nicht verstanden! <Sorry, I didn't hear you well.>
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Ich habe Sie akustisch nicht verstanden.
    Doch! Dieser Satz ist absolut idiomatisch und sogar recht gebräuchlich.:thumbsup:
    ...
    Indeed this is the case. It may be caused by additional sounds or by a bad telephone connection or if the other one speaks too weakly.
    It is never offending. And it is symmetrically usable.
    Contrary
    Tut mir leid, ich verstehe das einfach nicht!
    might be understood offending even if it is meant otherwise.
    It has the connotation: Speak logically in a clear way!
    Including "akustisch" asks implicitly to repeat the same words or add more redundancy.
    Not including it makes the sentence fuzzy - or refers to logic, depending on content.

    There is a difference if a professor says this to a student or a student says this to a professor. (Source:
    http://www.bgu-geoservice.de/Dokumente/Vortragsbesuch.pdf (Skeptizistische Methode)
    ,,Von den Ausführungen des Redners habe ich nicht das Geringste verstanden“! Diese Worte aus dem Munde eines Mannes von Rang und Namen bedeuten den geistigen Exitus des Vortragenden; denn sie wollen keinesfalls als Eingeständnis altersbedingter Schwerhörigkeit aufgefasst werden, sondern in euphemistischer Umschreibung zum Ausdruck bringen, dass der Vortrag eine seltene Akkumulation von Unsinn war."
    (This explains it in a satirical manner, so you can see the difference immediately.)

    Adding "akustisch" means that either the amplifier was defect or the speech was not loud enough or there was too much noise.
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Can the meaning of Ich habe Sie akustisch nicht verstanden not be expressed in simpler, purely Germanic words, like ''ich hab Sie nur undeutlich gehört'' or similar? It seems a bit strange to me (as a non-native) that you should make use of a scientific/technical term of Greek origin (akustisch) in order to express such a simple concept...
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    Can the meaning of Ich habe Sie akustisch nicht verstanden not be expressed in simpler, purely Germanic words
    Well, yes and no. The reasons might be unclear, mumbled speaking (which could be offending to mention it directly) or surrounding noise, to quiet speaking or whatever. With akustisch you leave that open and this is usually more appropriate.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    "Ich habe Sie nur undeutlich gehört" can be the same, but it can also mean: "Ich habe Sie nur undeutlich gehört, aber trotzdem alles verstanden."
    It does not include that you did not understand explicitly but only by context.

    By the way, the original sentence only includes German words. "Akustisch" was imported long ago -- it does not sound like a foreign word anymore but is fully integrated into German.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Can the meaning of Ich habe Sie akustisch nicht verstanden not be expressed in simpler, purely Germanic words, like ''ich hab Sie nur undeutlich gehört'' or similar?
    I can't follow you. Why would that be simpler? Akustisch is a normal German word and there is nothing complicated or stilted about it.
     

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    Can the meaning of Ich habe Sie akustisch nicht verstanden not be expressed in simpler, purely Germanic words, like ''ich hab Sie nur undeutlich gehört'' or similar? It seems a bit strange to me (as a non-native) that you should make use of a scientific/technical term of Greek origin (akustisch) in order to express such a simple concept...
    Ich habe Sie, den Schall betreffend, nicht verstanden. :D

    It's recognizable as foreign word but at the same time an everyday word. If you need glasses you go to an "Optiker", too. ;)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    This discussion is great!

    "Akustisch verstehen" is such a common German expression; I would probably classify it as "one of those things Germans always say," and it's so quintessentially German because it contains a very precise term that is not otherwise widely used in everyday speech - as far as I know - and it's being used to express such a basic, everyday, mundane thing.

    I completely understand James Bates's confusion, and bearded man's wonderment. To a German non-native speaker (well, at least to an English native speaker, and evidently to an Italian native speaker as well) the word akustisch would sound laughably technical in an everyday context. If someone said, in English, "I couldn't understand you acoustically" or really anything else with the word "acoustic" in it to express the meaning of the German sentence, the typical response would be "Huh????". In English the word "acoustic" and its derivatives are basically only ever used to refer to sound quality in a fairly technical sense. Typical examples in English would be "Let's record the song in this room because the acoustics here are better than in the other room" or "I didn't really enjoy the concert because of the bad acoustics in the concert hall." And, of course, there are acoustic guitars. The word is very closely associated with music. (Oh, there's also acoustic phonetics, which is a branch of linguistics.)

    An idiomatic way to say "ich habe Sie akustisch nicht verstanden" in American English is "I couldn't make out what you said." This expresses that I heard something, but I didn't grasp the meaning or intention.
     

    dcx97

    Banned
    Hindi - India
    Not necessarily. Many extremely common words in Hindi-Urdu are borrowings from Arabic and Persian. Of course, Hindu fanatics are trying to replace each and every single one of them with a purely Indic (i.e. Sanskritic) word, but if anything it's the resuscitated Sanskrit word that appears artificial. Thus the words for "only", "need", and "thing" are सिर्फ़, ज़रूरत, and चीज़ respectively, and all are borrowings from Arabic or Persian. It would be safe to say that in it is impossible to speak everyday, colloquial Hindi-Urdu without using many such borrowings.
     

    JClaudeK

    Senior Member
    Français France, Deutsch (SW-Dtl.)
    One would expect such a common concept to be composed of words native to the language.
    akustisch wurde vor ungefähr 300 Jahren "eingedeutscht" und gehört heute zum normalen "deutschen" Wortschatz.
    akustisch
    akustisch Adj. ‘den Schall, das Gehör betreffend, klanglich’, entlehnt (1. Hälfte 18. Jh.) aus griech. akūstikós (ἀκουστικός) ‘zum Hören, zum Gehör gehörig, hörend’, einer Ableitung von griech. akū́ein (ἀκούειν) ‘hören’, dies wahrscheinlich verwandt mit dt. ↗hören
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Do you see my point?
    Well, if you allow me, English is not German...How can you compare? And even in English - with all its ancient 'foreign' derivations - a sentence like ''acoustically I did not understand you'' wouldn't exactly be idiomatic.
    But I of course accept that 'akustisch' was eingedeutscht long ago and now sounds natural to German ears..
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    All Germanic languages have heavily borrowed from Latin and Romance languages. English has the highest percentage of Romance loans but it is by no means as unique in this respect as it is often portrayed.
    Yes, I know. What is remarkable is that the same terms from Latin (or Greek, usually through Latin) are 'incorporated' in a different way or to a diffent extent into one or another of those languages. 'Acoustic/akustisch' is clearly one of those terms (still more technical in English, already 'natural' in German).
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Yes, the import thing is that acustic/akustisch is a modern learned loan and not that it is a loan.

    But also learned or technical expressions can be adopted into colloquial language, like electric and digital. It isn't so unusual.
     
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