even though they may have been running on time

jolie43

New Member
English
I have this sentence to translate:

My only worry was that although the trains may well have been running on time he would still manage to miss them all.


And so far have got:


Meine einzige Sorge war, dass er schaffen würde, alle Züge zu verpassen, obwohl sie...


I'm not sure if the beginning is correct, but I'm really stuck on the 'running on time' bit - what tense is used for this in German? Any help would be much appreciated!
 
  • sneeka2

    Senior Member
    German
    The "may well have been" is quite problematic to translate appropriately without making it sound like the trains are usually running late. I think this attempt is about right, but "führen" is a rather seldom used tense and seems unnatural:

    Er würde es schaffen, alle Züge zu verpassen, auch wenn diese pünktlich führen.
     

    sneeka2

    Senior Member
    German
    Better use "fuhren" instead of "gefahren sind":

    "Er hätte es geschafft alle Züge zu verpassen, obwohl diese pünktlich fuhren."

    Now you're not really capturing the "may well have been" though, because you're stating they in fact did run on time. It changes the feeling and to a certain extend the meaning, it depends on the context whether this is acceptable or not.
     

    Cpt.Eureka

    Senior Member
    German
    Vorschlag:
    "Ich habe mir nur Sorgen gemacht, dass er es irgendwie schafft, alle Züge zu verpassen, selbst wenn diese pünktlich gewesen wären."
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    A problem is that the original sentence uses a lot of flavoring words. So depending on the purpose a translation without them may be ok or not.
    My proposal:

    "Meine einzige Sorge war, dass er es irgendwie schaffen würde, alle Züge, selbst wenn sie pünktlich führen/wären, trotzdem zu verpassen."
    or
    "Meine einzige Sorge war, dass er es irgendwie schaffen würde, alle Züge, selbst wenn sie pünktlich fahren sollten, trotzdem zu verpassen."

    The German Konjunktiv is essential (führen, not fuhren).

    A difficulty is that the time is in the past, but in the future of the past. That is why "fuhren" and "gefahren wären" is not possible.

    Or do I misunderstand the English text?

    My only worry was that ... he would still manage to miss them all.

    Is "miss" before or after "My worry is"? I think it is after.
     
    Last edited:

    jolie43

    New Member
    English
    Thanks again for all your help. I think fuehren is a better option than fahren sollten. In fact the first one seems excellent to me!

    It was the fact that it was in a sort of future past tense that I had trouble translating it. Well that together with all the 'flavouring words' such as may well etc. Thanks again!
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    My suggestion:

    Meine einzige Sorge war, dass er es irgendwie schaffen würde, alle Züge zu verpassen, auch wenn es gut möglich war, dass sie pünktlich fuhren.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    My suggestion:

    Meine einzige Sorge war, dass er es irgendwie schaffen würde, alle Züge zu verpassen, auch wenn es gut möglich war, dass sie pünktlich fuhren.
    In this sentence I would replace "auch" with "selbst".

    Meine einzige Sorge war, dass er es irgendwie schaffen würde, alle Züge zu verpassen, selbst wenn es gut möglich war, dass sie pünktlich fuhren.

    "Auch" indicates an addition, "selbst" a contradiction.

    When using
    "... wenn es gut möglich war" the Konjunktiv is replaced correctly by the Indikativ, it contains the option itself.
     

    dec-sev

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The "may well have been" is quite problematic to translate appropriately without making it sound like the trains are usually running late.
    It was the purpose, as far as I understand it. I mean to give an idea that the trains are usually late. And Elroy transmitted the idea:

    ...alle Züge zu verpassen, auch wenn es gut möglich war, dass sie pünktlich fuhren.
    Meine Frage ist warum present perfect continious (have been running) überhaupt zu verwenden? Kann man nicht einfach sagen "might run on time"?
     

    Sidjanga

    Senior Member
    German;southern tendencies
    My only worry was that although the trains may well have been running on time he would still manage to miss them all.
    Meine einzige Sorge war, dass er es irgendwie schaffen würde, alle Züge zu verpassen, auch wenn es gut möglich war, dass sie pünktlich fuhren.
    Good translation.
    In particular, I think that gut möglich is definitely the best way (here) to get the idea of "may well.." across.

    I would include a trotzdem though, because at least to me, irgendwie doesn't really express the same as still.
    Also, I would probably choose obwohl for although.
    (but I've just noticed that we're actually dealing with two different subordinate clauses - one in the title, and one in the text of the first post :))

    So I think the most direct equivalent - which also preserves the chain of thoughts of the original sentence - would be this:

    Meine einzige Sorge war, dass - obwohl es gut möglich war, dass die Züge pünktlich fuhren - er es trotzdem (irgendwie) schaffen würde, sie alle zu verpassen.

    And although trotzdem doesn't seem to make just as much sense here as it does in the sentence above, somewhat less entangled and closer to Elroy's suggestion:

    Meine einzige Sorge war, dass er es trotzdem (irgendwie) schaffen würde, alle Züge zu verpassen, obwohl es gut möglich war, dass sie pünktlich fuhren.

    irgendwie fits in very well here and also makes the sentence flow better. So I would probably keep it, even though I don't understand the English original to express this particular aspect.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    "Irgendwie" (here: in some strange way) stresses the aspect that it is almost impossible to miss all trains, but he can miss them. It is included already in "schaffen würde" in this context, but indeed makes the sentence flow better.
     

    Savra

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    "Auch" indicates an addition, "selbst" a contradiction.
    Als Partikel (ohne Adverb) kann auch fünf verschiedene Bedeutungen haben, und selbst oder sogar ist eine davon. Hier ist also alles in bester Ordnung; natürlich ist es das auch, wenn man selbst bevorzugt, weil man das schöner findet.

    Daß etwas hinzukommt oder zusätzlich eintritt, gehört hingegen als Bedeutung nicht dazu! Die Bedeutung kann auch nur als Adverb haben.
     

    sneeka2

    Senior Member
    German
    sneeka2 said:
    The "may well have been" is quite problematic to translate appropriately without making it sound like the trains are usually running late.
    It was the purpose, as far as I understand it. I mean to give an idea that the trains are usually late.
    Is it? I understand it as "the trains may or may not have been on time, it doesn't matter, because he would've missed them anyway", with no judgement as to whether the trains are usually late or not.

    If the author would have wanted to work some criticism of the train system into the sentence, I think he'd have written it like this:

    "My only worry was that although the trains may well have been running on time for once he would still manage to miss them all."
     
    Last edited:

    dec-sev

    Senior Member
    Russian
    "My only worry was that although the trains may well have been running on time for once he would still manage to miss them all."
    Well, I'm not sure. I hope Elroy or an English native will explain in to us, or to me :) what the need to use "may have been running on time" was. If I were not worried about the trains but only about the man himself I wouldn't mention them at all or say "even though the trains ran on time, I was still worried that he would manage to miss them all".
     

    jolie43

    New Member
    English
    As to the earlier questions, when I read the sentence I thought it meant that it the boy/man was the one who was stupid enough to miss all the trains, rather than a criticism of the punctuality of the trains.

    As you can tell I'm not a grammar expert but I would say that if you said 'even though the trains ran on time' then that's a certainty whereas 'may well have been running' is a way of getting across the uncertainty of their timekeeping.
     
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