die ja als ... gelten

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by kynnjo, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. kynnjo Senior Member

    USA Spanish and English
    Moderator note: This thread is about the translation of the words "die ja als ... gelten" only. The problem of parsing the entire German sentence is dealt with in a separate thread.

    When I come across passages like this one I despair of ever being able to parse German fluently:
    Die Übernahme der chinesischen Schrift ins autochthon schriftlose Japan, die, wenn wir sie mit den ersten Einwanderern vom asiatischen Kontinent und besonders den vielzitierten Gestalten des Achiki und des Wani, die ja als Stammväter der fubito, der Schriftgelehrten Altjapans, gelten, verbinden, in die letzten Dekaden des 4. Jahrhunderts fällt, hatte, wie man weiß, weitreichende Folgen: Das chinesische Element prägte die japanische Sprache, die geschriebene and die gesprochene, entscheidend.

    My best translation:
    < ... >the much-cited figures of the Achiki and the Wani, indeed regarded as forerunners of the fubito, the scribes of ancient Japan, < ... >.

    Please let me know if I got this right.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2013
  2. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    A most valiant effort.

    < ... >

    Achiki and Wani appear to be specific persons, not tribes, so in English "the" should be omitted. I would translate "die ja als _ gelten" as "who are regarded as _", not as "indeed regarded as _".
    < ... >

    Still, the parsing seems to have worked well.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2013
  3. kynnjo Senior Member

    USA Spanish and English
    Thanks, I struggled with that one. I'm thrown off by the articles preceding Achiki and Wani. I would have expected that, if they had been names of specific individuals, the original sentence would have read "den vielzitierten Gestalten Achikis und Wanis"...
  4. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    "Ja" means "bekanntlich" (as it is well-known/as we certainly agree) in this context.
    It is a kind of flavouring particle.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  5. kynnjo Senior Member

    USA Spanish and English
    @Hutschi, thanks; "ja" is one of those German particles that always gives me trouble (not least because it sounds exactly like the Spanish "ya", which can also be used as a particle, with a somewhat different meaning).
  6. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    This kind of "ja" is spoken unstressed and short in this context.
    It does not really change the content but is part of the communication.

    Here are some cases:

    Das ist ja gar nicht schwer.
    Das ist ja schon lange bekannt.
    Das hat ja niemand gewusst.
    Du kannst das ja machen, aber dann musst du die Konsequenzen tragen.

    In all of these cases it is not related to "ja"="yes".
    The meaning/connotation varies between "as you (certainly) know" and "try it, but I am in doubt it is correct".

    Edinburgh's "who are regarded as _" is correct but removes the communication act particle as I want to call it.

    The "ja" implies that it is not only regarded as ... but that it is obvious - that you think that there is an agreement between you and the other about this fact.
  7. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    My oversight, sorry. So that's where "indeed" came from. So kynnjo dropped the "regarded", and I dropped the "indeed". :(
    I'd like to suggest "who are of course regarded as".
  8. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    I reckon the reason for the articles in German is simply to mark the genitive: "die Gestalten des" -> "the figures of". While I take your point that it would have been possible to use the alternative "-s" genitive, I think the author may have had some reason not to. One possible such reason might be that the appended "s" does not unambiguously identify a genitive, it could be read as a nominative, giving the impression that their actual names were Achikis and Wanis (compare "die Gestalt Brahms" - is Brahms nominative or is it the genitive of Brahm? Someone who's never heard of Brahms would not know). That's admittedly not a very strong reason if their names have already been mentioned previously a few times. Another reason might be that the "des" version carries a greater level of prosaic gravitas.

    If the names are mentioned in the nominative elsewhere in the text, and appear as "der Achiki", similar to "der Dalai Lama", then the articles should obviously remain in the English version, but I suggest otherwise not.

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