die einen Hotelbetrieb stärken und besonders machen können

hlritter

Member
English - American
I had trouble with this: "Die Angestellten bringen zahlreiche Fähigkeiten mit, die einen Hotelbetrieb stärken und besonders machen können." I wasn't sure what to do with the adverb 'besonders', which seemed to be modifying 'machen'. Skills that can strengthen a hotel operation and 'especially make' or 'especially do'? I had to wonder whether a word had been left out, something like '...und besonders nett/effizient/usw. machen können'.

DeepL and Google translate this as 'Skills that can strengthen a hotel business and make it special.'

It seems that this construction is understanding an adverbial phrase – 'especially make' – as an adjectival phrase with a pronoun – 'make it special'. Does German commonly do this?

And would it be equally correct to translate the original sentence not as
'Skills that can strengthen a hotel business and make it special' but as
'Skills that strengthen a hotel business and can make it special' ?
 
  • radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    It seems that this construction is understanding an adverbial phrase – 'especially make' – as an adjectival phrase with a pronoun – 'make it special'. Does German commonly do this?

    I think you are overanalysing this. Besonders here is simply a predicative complement to the direct object of machen. Etwas besonders machen = ‘to make sth special’. Unwinding the relative construction, the basic clause is simply Fahigkeiten machen einen Hotelbetrieb besonders. ”Capabilities make a hotel-business special.” Recall that the distinction between adjectives and adverbs is weaker in German than in English.
     

    hlritter

    Member
    English - American
    I understand. Thanks to both of you. I do realize that in German, adjectives in general can be used as adverbs without change in form. But I thought that adding -s, as 'besonders', or -erweise, as 'normalerweise', made the word specifically an adverb.

    Now I've just looked up 'besonders' in my Collins dictionary app, and two of the examples it gives are "das Film war nicht besonders, the film was nothing special", and "Wie gehts dir? – nicht besonders, how are you? – not too hot" This is a construction that I don't recall ever seeing, and that has no parallel that comes to mind in English.
     
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    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    And would it be equally correct to translate the original sentence not as
    'Skills that can strengthen a hotel business and make it special' but as
    'Skills that strengthen a hotel business and can make it special' ?
    Strictly speaking, the sentence is syntactically ambiguous, but the most likely reading by far is the first one.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Strictly speaking, the sentence is syntactically ambiguous, ...
    Syntactically, yes; maybe even semantically. But the interpretation of besonders as an adverb is pragmatically blocked: Fähigkeiten do not "construct" or "constitute" (possible meanings of machen as a full verb) a Hotelbetrieb. The verb only makes sense as a copula with a predicative complement.
     
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    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I wasn’t talking about “besonders”; I was responding to @hlritter’s second question about the scope of “können.”
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I wasn’t talking about “besonders”; I was responding to @hlritter’s second question about the scope of “können.”
    I see. The interpretation

    Skills that strengthen a hotel business and can make it special
    is blocked, too. You would have to insert a new object with the second verb to indicate that those are two independent clauses. This can be a pronoun to repeat the previous object but you need a new object:
    Die Angestellten bringen zahlreiche Fähigkeiten mit, die einen Hotelbetrieb stärken und ihn besonders machen können.
    To make it absolutely clear you might repeat the subject as well:
    Die Angestellten bringen zahlreiche Fähigkeiten mit, die einen Hotelbetrieb stärken und die ihn besonders machen können.
     
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    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The question is whether it’s

    die einen Hotelbetrieb [stärken] und [besonders machen können]

    or

    die einen Hotelbetrieb [(stärken) und (besonders machen) können]

    Both of these are syntactically possible, but the first one is unlikely.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    No, it’s not.

    1. Er stärkt den Betrieb und kann ihn besonders machen.
    >>> 2. Ich weiß, dass er den Betrieb stärkt und besonders machen kann.

    2. is a perfectly well-formed sentence: “ihn” does not need to be repeated.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    No, it’s not.
    Yes it is.
    1. Er stärkt den Betrieb und kann ihn besonders machen.
    >>> 2. Ich weiß, dass er den Betrieb stärkt und besonders machen kann.

    2. is a perfectly well-formed sentence: “ihn” does not need to be repeated.
    Of course, because the sentence is unambiguous. There is nothing to block or unblock.

    I didn't say the first interpretation was not well-formed. I said it was blocked.
     
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    hlritter

    Member
    English - American
    Just as a matter of interest, the lesson (Goethe-Institut Deutsch Online Training B2) repeated the statement later in a slightly different way: "35 Menschen aus 16 Nationen arbeiten aktuell im magdas und machen zusammen mit einem Team aus Hotelexperten das Hotel zu etwas Besonderem."

    Thanks to everyone for the enlightening and stimulating discussion.
     

    hlritter

    Member
    English - American
    The interpretation ["Skills that strengthen a hotel business and can make it special"]


    is blocked, too. You would have to insert a new object with the second verb to indicate that those are two independent clauses. This can be a pronoun to repeat the previous object but you need a new object:
    Die Angestellten bringen zahlreiche Fähigkeiten mit, die einen Hotelbetrieb stärken und ihn besonders machen können.
    That is what I suspected. Thanks.
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    More than unlikely. It is blocked as explained above.

    Can you please clarify this? You say that it is explained above, but I cannot find any explanation of why one construal is blocked. All I see is a statement that it is blocked, and an explanation of how to overcome the blockage (by repeating the object using a pronoun).

    In fact, the references to blocking as a linguistic phenomenon, e.g., Wikipedia or Oxford Bibliographies I can find all refer to a morphological (or morpho-syntactic) phenomenon whereby certain surface forms cannot occur because they are ‘blocked’ by other forms. It is forms that are blocked, not interpretations.

    For my part, I cannot see why, if » Die Angestellten bringen eine Fähigkeit mit, die einen Hotelbetrieb stärkt und besonders machen kann. » is well-formed and meaningful, the OP’s original example cannot be similarly construed. It is blocked because there is another more-likely construal, and, given that you seem to speak of blocking as an all-or-nothing phenomenon, how much more likely does one construal have to be before the other is blocked?
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    If speakers regularly and consistently employ a certain work around to disambiguate a particular ambiguous construction to clarify that one of the possible interpretations was meant and not the other then absence of this work around implicitly blocks that interpretation.
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    Hmm... I am not sure that your explanation fits the definitions of blocking that I can find. (See my post #15.) Could you provide a reference for this?
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I find blocking of an interpretation a natural extension of blocking of a form. If you don't like the term then use another. I think my explanation was sufficiently clear to explain the situation. I don’t mind how you call it.
     

    JClaudeK

    Senior Member
    Français France, Deutsch (SW-Dtl.)
    the lesson (Goethe-Institut Deutsch Online Training B2) repeated the statement later in a slightly different way "35 Menschen aus 16 Nationen arbeiten aktuell im magdas und machen zusammen mit einem Team aus Hotelexperten das Hotel zu etwas Besonderem."
    Genau so hätte ich das ausgedrückt:
    "das Hotel zu etwas Besonderem machen" :thumbsup:

    "einen Hotelbetrieb / ein Hotel besonders machen" ist für mich eine (schlechte!) 1:1 Übersetzung aus dem Englischen (make it special).
     

    hlritter

    Member
    English - American
    "einen Hotelbetrieb / ein Hotel besonders machen" ist für mich eine (schlechte!) 1:1 Übersetzung aus dem Englischen (make it special).
    Ich habe dasselbe gedacht - vielleicht nicht 'schlecht', aber zu meinem Ohr klingt der Ausdruck ungewöhnlich, sogar fragwürdich (selbstverständlich!). Es ist interessant, die Vielfalt der Meinungen oben. Es gefällt mir, die Unterschiede zwischen EN und D zu sehen.
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    I find blocking of an interpretation a natural extension of blocking of a form. If you don't like the term then use another. I think my explanation was sufficiently clear to explain the situation. I don’t mind how you call it.
    I suppose my question wasn't so much about the word itself, but rather, I was wondering whether it was a recognised linguistic phenomenon or your own personal theory. Perhaps there is a standard term for it in German? As I have begun to discover, there are some German grammatical terms that don't exist in English.
     

    hlritter

    Member
    English - American
    OMG! 'fragwürdich' war nur ein Tippfehler! Wirklich!

    Hmmm...wirklich, nicht 'wirklig'. Vielleicht nicht ein Tippfehler...

    Vielleicht ist der Unterschied so: 'fragwürdig' = 'question-worthy', 'having the quality of being worth a question', aber 'wirklich' = 'factually' = 'factual-like = 'in a factual manner' = adverb.

    Aha! -ig oder -y= Adjektiv, -lich oder -ly = Adverb. Klar.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I suppose my question wasn't so much about the word itself, but rather, I was wondering whether it was a recognised linguistic phenomenon or your own personal theory. Perhaps there is a standard term for it in German? As I have begun to discover, there are some German grammatical terms that don't exist in English.
    I guess you won't find such things in grammar books. In English you would probably find then in style guides. The thing is that because of the relatively free word order of German and its passion for long and complex phrases, clauses and sentences, there is an increased potential for ambiguities. And therefore these kinds of "soft rules" are often as important and as binding as proper grammar rules but they are much less formalized. It is more like common intuition.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Aha! -ig oder -y= Adjektiv, -lich oder -ly = Adverb. Klar.
    Not quite. There is also -lich/-ly as an adjective forming suffix, e.g., as in freundlich=friendly and those correspond, both etymologically and functionally.

    The English adverb forming suffix -ly is something else and there is no proper equivalent in German. This suffix is derived from the adverbial form (-lice) of the adjective suffix (-lic) and with the decay of the adverbial -e suffix in Middle English the two suffixes became indistinguishable.

    'factually' = 'factual-like = 'in a factual manner' = adverb
    More precisely: In a factual-like manner. The Old English suffix -lic is related to the word like and the -e in -lice formed the adverb (in a ... manner) out of the adjective. When appended to an adjective, the suffix has no separate meaning any more but only serves as a proxy for the lost adverbial suffix -e. That is why the adjective forming and the adverb forming suffixes -ly are now separate things although they share a common root.
     
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    hlritter

    Member
    English - American
    Speaking of the 'looseness' of German adjectives/adverbs, I ran across another striking (to me as an English-speaker) example:

    Denn nun sollten möglichst viele Menschen davon erfahren.

    In the full context, a meaningful translation of this would be "Because now the most (i.e., 'many-est') people possible should find out about it." But the literal translation would be "Because now should the 'possiblest'-many people..."

    The superlative in English is the adjective describing the number of people, the most, not the adjective 'possible'. If the latter were the case, the sentence would be describing the most-possible people, in the sense of the most probable number of people likely to find out, not the greatest number who could possibly find out, which is the meaning of the original.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Möglichst is a special case. It is a lexicalised adverb.

    There is a productive but not completely grammaticalised way to derive adverbs from superlatives of adjectives by adding an adverbial -s to the predicative form of the superlative, i.e. by adding -ens to the stem form of the superlative, like in Das Auto hat nur noch für höchstens 100km Benzin oder Er ist für die Aufgabe bestens vorbereitet.

    Möglichst is a shortening of möglichstens.
     
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