Have some fucking principle.

22caps

Senior Member
English - US
I'm wondering about a few things when trying to translate this phrase "Have some fucking principle."

My main question is around the translation of "some" in this context. Here, "principle" is in the singular. But most translations for "some" in German seem like they need to be used with a plural so it doesn't seem like ein paar, einige, or manche would work.

There is also the ability to use "ein" for emphasis, but I wouldn't want "Hab(e) ein verdammte Prinzip." to be translated as "Have *a* fucking principle" as if it were referring to some specific principle, when the word "some" also implies a generalness in English.

The "some" in this sentence seems to be used mostly for emphasis. Is there another option I'm not thinking of?

Thanks!
 
  • djweaverbeaver

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English Atlanta, GA USA
    Hi,

    I could be wrong, but I think that more than the issue of "some" is that, to my knowledge at least, German would use a plural while it is possible to use a singular in English here, "principle" here meaning morally correct behavior or integrity.

    Handle/Handeln Sie nach Prinzipien, verdammt! (I think nach einem Prinzip handeln is slightly different)
    Habe/Haben Sie einige verdammte Grundsätze!

    German speakers, could you confirm (or not) that you wouldn't use the singular of either Prinzip or Grundsatz here? Other (better) translation are, of course, welcome.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Yes, I agree. I'd be inclined to use plural. Not sure why, but I guess in life you normally develop a set of principles that you go by in the end.

    Off the top of my head, I might say:
    grob und persönlich: Leg dir doch mal ein paar scheiß Prinzipien zu und handle danach!
    formal, freundlich, mit ermahnendem Unterton: Legen Sie sich doch endlich mal ein paar Prinzipien zu und handeln Sie (auch) danach!
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Yes, and there is yet another problem: There is no imperative form of "haben" in German. Manfy's "Legen Sie sich ... zu" is a fine way of putting it.
    Interesting! That's true.
    There's one form where 'haben' works as imperative: Hab keine Angst! (Don't be afraid!)
    But that's rare and limited to a only a few phrases, I guess.

    "Sich Prinzipien zulegen" is a reasonably common idea in German and the meaning and feeling matches the idea of "have some principle". Another form is "vorgegebenen Prinzipien folgen", but that's semantically different from the OP phrase.
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    "Hab/Habe!" sind doch geläufige Imperativformen.

    Hab dich nicht so!
    Hab keine Angst!
    Hab Mut/Hoffnung/Zuversicht!


    Es ist wohl eher so, dass der Imperativ nicht immer wirklich Sinn ergibt oder idiomatisch!

    Nun hab doch mal Prinzipien!

    Das könnte ich mir durchaus vorstellen, wenn der Kontext klar wäre.
     

    Frieder

    Senior Member
    Ich meinte eher schiefgegangene Übersetzungen wie "hab eine gute Zeit".

    Nun hab doch mal Prinzipien!
    ... kann ich mir auch nicht recht vorstellen.

    Manche Imperative aus dem Amerikanischen/Englischen kann man einfach nicht wörtlich übersetzen. "Buy 2 get 1 free" ≠ "Kaufe 2 erhalte 1 gratis" (obwohl mir ähnliches schon untergekommen ist). Man kann im Deutschen niemandem befehlen, etwas zu haben oder zu bekommen.

    "Angst, Mut, Zuversicht und Hoffnung haben" und "sich nicht so haben" sind stehende Redewendungen, die meiner Meinung nach hiermit nichts zu tun haben.
     

    Jagorr

    Senior Member
    Russian, Belarusian
    "Buy 2 get 1 free" ≠ "Kaufe 2 erhalte 1 gratis"
    Vermutet ihr, warum es nach einer nicht-deutschen Konstrution klingt? Mein Sprachgefühl reicht hier nicht aus...
    Und wie könnte eine entsprechende Phrase auf Deutsch aussehen?
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Wie wäre es mit

    Hast du denn keine verdammten Prinzipien oder was?

    Irgendwelche verdammten Prinzipien muss man doch auch haben, oder?


    Mit passendem Tonfall.

    Ich habe versucht, das "haben" aufrechterhalten aber den Imperativ zu umgehen.
     
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    διαφορετικός

    Senior Member
    Swiss German - Switzerland
    Vermutet ihr, warum es nach einer nicht-deutschen Konstrution klingt?
    "Erhalten" ist keine Tätigkeit, d.h. man kann diesen Vorgang nicht selbständig erledigen, sondern man benötigt dafür (in der Regel ausschliesslich) die Aktivität einer äusseren Instanz. Deshalb wundere ich mich auch, dass es in anderen Sprachen sinnvoll sein soll, "erhalten" in Befehlsform zu äussern.
     

    Lhost Vokus

    Senior Member
    German
    Is there another option I'm not thinking of?

    It has already been described here, that it does not go well with "haben" in the command form in German.

    Translated more freely, "Rückgrat zeigen" seems fitting to me:

    Zeig gefälligst Rückgrat!
    Zeig gefälligst Rückgrat, verdammt nochmal!
    Zeig verdammt nochmal Rückgrat!
     

    djweaverbeaver

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English Atlanta, GA USA
    It has already been described here, that it does not go well with "haben" in the command form in German.

    Translated more freely, "Rückgrat zeigen" seems fitting to me:

    Zeig gefälligst Rückgrat!
    Zeig gefälligst Rückgrat, verdammt nochmal!
    Zeig verdammt nochmal Rückgrat!

    Hmm...having backbone (ie. courage) isn't the same thing as having principle (ie. integrity). One does not necessitate the other, and vice versa.
     

    διαφορετικός

    Senior Member
    Swiss German - Switzerland
    In “Buy one get one free,” “get” is only grammatically an imperative. The true meaning is “Buy one and you will get one free.”
    Yes, actually even I understand it. I suppose that this construction originally was not used in German, but today we have got a little used to it by the influence of the English language.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    On dating sites/apps people will often write things like “Be above 30.” Obviously people can’t choose to be above or below a certain age! :D This shows that the imperative has some non-literal uses that are not literally commands/requests.

    Out of curiosity, would “Sei über 30” make sense on a dating site/app?
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Hab dich nicht so!
    Also, ne! Das müssen wir abziehen. Das ist doch eindeutig kein possessives haben.
    Ich denke das ist eher die umgangssprachliche Form von 'gehaben', also halten, verhalten, benehmen.

    Zugegeben, das Wort wird zwar immer seltener aber in wohlerzogenen Kreisen sagt man doch immer noch "Gehabe Dich wohl!" zum Abschied, oder nicht? ;)
    In Österreich hört man übrigens immer noch oft: "Ge-hab di ned so!"
    ...obwohl, das wird wohl meist im Sinne von "Ah geh, hab dich nicht so" gesagt... :p
    Hast du denn keine verdammten Prinzipien oder was?
    Das gefällt mir recht gut und ich kann mir vorstellen, das bei einer entsprechenden Situation zu sagen.
     

    Frieder

    Senior Member
    Out of curiosity, would “Sei über 30” make sense on a dating site/app?
    ... das klingt eher nach einer bangen Bitte, oder einem Stoßgebet "bitte mach, dass sie über 30 ist". :D

    Ich habe schon Formulierungen gelesen wie:

    - Du bist über 30, sportlich und ...
    - Du solltest nicht jünger als 30 sein, sportlich und ...
    - Wenn Du über 30, sportlich und ... bist, ...

    "Sei über 30" war nicht dabei.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    @djweaverbeaver, I beg to differ. A person who has principle has principles, by definition. And when we say "a person has principles," without any qualifiers, this can only refer to morality/ethics/conduct, etc. We're obviously not talking about scientific principles or basket-weaving principles.

    The German word "Prinzipien" can also apply to other types of principles, but again, without qualifiers, it refers to morality/ethics/conduct, etc.
     

    marquess

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    I'm wondering about a few things when trying to translate this phrase "Have some fucking principle."

    My main question is around the translation of "some" in this context. Here, "principle" is in the singular. But most translations for "some" in German seem like they need to be used with a plural so it doesn't seem like ein paar, einige, or manche would work.

    There is also the ability to use "ein" for emphasis, but I wouldn't want "Hab(e) ein verdammte Prinzip." to be translated as "Have *a* fucking principle" as if it were referring to some specific principle, when the word "some" also implies a generalness in English.

    The "some" in this sentence seems to be used mostly for emphasis. Is there another option I'm not thinking of?

    Thanks!
    Doesn't 'some' here mean 'at least a bit of, if not full and wholehearted' principle. Hab ein verdammtes bisschen Prinzips?
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Doesn't 'some' here mean 'at least a bit of, if not full and wholehearted' principle. Hab ein verdammtes bisschen Prinzips?
    Yes, we have the same underlying idea that is expressed with "Have some fucking principle", but you cannot translate it literally to German; the language just doesn't work that way.
    If you say "Hab ein verdammtes bisschen Prinzip" ('Prinzips' geht NICHT!), the singular 'Prinzip' takes on a meaning that's closer to "Konzept" oder "Plan" -- at least that's the feeling I get back from my subconscious language center when I hear/read it while artificially blocking out specific thoughts about grammar and semantics.
    The same is true for "Hab(e) ein verdammtes Prinzip" from post #1 -- it just doesn't "feel" the same way as "Have some fucking principle" does.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Does "ein verdammtes bisschen Prinzip" even work? To me it seems like that can only work if "Prinzip" is turned into an uncountable noun, and I don't know if that's possible. Can you say, for example, "Er handelte mit viel Prinzip"?

    With the possible exception of poetic license or literary devices, you can't say "ein verdammtes bisschen Gabel" or "ein verdammtes bisschen Kugelschreiber," can you?
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Hmm...having backbone (ie. courage) isn't the same thing as having principle (ie. integrity). One does not necessitate the other, and vice versa.
    Note that it is a German idiom.
    Rückrat haben
    Redensarten-index.de/mobil/#suchbegriff=~~Rueckgrat+haben+/+zeigen&sp0=rart_ou
    charakterfest S / prinzipientreu / willensstark S / unbeugsam sein S ; nicht bereit sein, gegen seine Überzeugungen zu handeln
    See also alemanita #17.
    If I understand it right, it fits pragmatically good to #1.
    In German, Prinzipien haben, includes to follow them. (see also manfy, #3)
    This is the connection to Rückrat haben.
     
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    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Does "ein verdammtes bisschen Prinzip" even work?
    The structure in itself is alright...somehow...

    I could imagine to hear myself say "Hast du eigentlich das kleinste bisschen Plan wovon wir hier reden?" (im Sinne von "Hast du eigendlich irgendeinen Plan wovon wir hier reden?") if one person in the meeting seems to have no clue and he keeps talking about "apples" even though everybody else is talking about "oranges" (in a figurative sense, of course).

    Aber der Satz mit Prinzip da oben...weiß nicht...passt nicht recht...!
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I could imagine to hear myself say "Hast due eigentlich das kleinste bisschen Plan wovon wir hier reden?"
    Yes, that works, because there "Plan" is basically a synonym of "Ahnung," which can be used countably this way ("Hast du eigentlich das kleinste bisschen Ahnung, wovon wir hier reden"?).

    I think this only works with a limited set of countable nouns. My question was whether "Prinzip" was one of them.

    Can you say, for example, "Er handelte mit viel Prinzip"?
    What's the answer to this question?
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I just had a thought. Would "sich holen" work at all?

    Hol' dir doch irgendwelche verdammten Prinzipen!
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    ..
    I just had a thought. Would "sich holen" work at all?

    Hol' dir doch irgendwelche verdammten Prinzipien!
    In my mind it would not work, except - maybe - in contrafactual ironical or sarcastic context.
    It is impossible in reality.
    You cannot get or buy principles.
    You cannot take them from a board or a table.
    Edit:
    PS: example: Ich hole meine Prinzipien immer bei ALDI.
     

    JClaudeK

    Senior Member
    Français France, Deutsch (SW-Dtl.)
    "Hast du eigentlich das kleinste bisschen Plan wovon wir hier reden?"
    that works, because there "Plan" is basically a synonym of "Ahnung,"
    Echt? In diesem Sinne ist mir "Plan" nicht bekannt.

    Would "sich holen" work at all?

    Hol' dir doch irgendwelche verdammten Prinzipen!
    Nein, das passt nicht (cf.: #33)
    Stattdessen könntest Du sagen:
    "Leg dir doch Prinzipien zu!" (cf. #4)


    Vorschlag:
    "Verdammt noch mal, leg dir doch ein Minimum an Prinzipien zu!"
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    PS: null Plan haben = keinen Schimmer haben
    Beide bedeuten das gleiche.
    @elroy: ich kenne "Plan" aber nur männlich. (Vergleiche #29)
    Kein Plan haben - das ist lediglich eine umgangssprachliche Verkürzung, eigentlich: kein' Plan
    Das Plan - das muss regional sein.
     

    Lhost Vokus

    Senior Member
    German
    Doesn't 'some' here mean 'at least a bit of, if not full and wholehearted' principle. Hab ein verdammtes bisschen Prinzips?
    Da komme ich doch nochmal auf meinen Rückgrat-Vorschlag zurück. "some" im Sinne von "ein bisschen" funktioniert damit sehr gut.

    z.B. "Jetzt zeig doch mal ein bisschen Rückgrat, verdammt!"
    (Mit "Jetzt" am Anfang klingt es im Deutschen sehr gut und auch sehr fordernd.)

    Das finde ich im Deutschen viel besser als ein Satz mit "Prinzip".
     

    Sowka

    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Ich finde den Vorschlag mit "Rückgrat" auch am besten. Im Englischen gibt es ja "grow a spine" -- das wäre doch bedeutungsgleich mit dem Ausdruck aus dem OP, nicht wahr? Oder wo wäre der Unterschied? 🤔
     

    διαφορετικός

    Senior Member
    Swiss German - Switzerland
    Prinzipien zu haben ist aber nicht dasselbe wie - mit Rückgrat - danach zu leben. In der Praxis meint man zwar (vermutlich) meist Letzteres, aber man sagt es offenbar nicht immer ...
     

    Sowka

    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Prinzipien zu haben ist aber nicht dasselbe wie - mit Rückgrat - danach zu leben. In der Praxis meint man zwar (vermutlich) meist Letzteres, aber man sagt es offenbar nicht immer ...
    Wenn man jemanden auffordert "have some frickin' principle!", dann meint man vermutlich eher nicht, dass er sich eine Philosophie zurechlegen soll, an die er sich praktisch nicht hält. ... ;)

    Ich denke schon, dass dieses "have" auch den Praxisteil beinhaltet.
     

    διαφορετικός

    Senior Member
    Swiss German - Switzerland
    dann meint man vermutlich eher nicht, dass er sich eine Philosophie zurechlegen soll, an die er sich praktisch nicht hält.
    Das wären auch keine Prinzipien. Aber manchmal ist man unter schwierigen Umständen nicht in der Lage, sich an seine Prinzipen zu halten. So weit ist mir der Kontext nicht bekannt, um zu wissen, ob es darum geht. Wenn ja, wäre wirklich Rückgrat gefordert. Sonst nicht unbedingt.
     

    marquess

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Da komme ich doch nochmal auf meinen Rückgrat-Vorschlag zurück. "some" im Sinne von "ein bisschen" funktioniert damit sehr gut.

    z.B. "Jetzt zeig doch mal ein bisschen Rückgrat, verdammt!"
    (Mit "Jetzt" am Anfang klingt es im Deutschen sehr gut und auch sehr fordernd.)

    Das finde ich im Deutschen viel besser als ein Satz mit "Prinzip".

    22caps original problem with translating "Have some fucking principle." seemed to be with the ‘some’, prompting my first stab with ‘bisschen’ for ‘some’, but there may also be a problem with ‘have’

    Frieder said: There is no imperative form of "haben" in German.
    Kajjo sagt: "Hab/Habe!" sind doch geläufige Imperativformen.


    it seems there is a problem with Prinzip/Prinzipien not working with the same duality as Principle/Principles in English.
    (‘when we say "a person has principles," without any qualifiers, this can only refer to morality/ethics/conduct, etc. We're obviously not talking about scientific principles’)

    Lhost Vokus suggested: ‘Rückgrat’ although
    djweaverbeaver said: Having backbone (ie. courage) isn't the same thing as having principle (ie. integrity). Alemanita said: In German it is.

    In any case there seems a problem with putting bisschen with Prinzip:

    elroy said: Does "ein verdammtes bisschen Prinzip" even work?
    Kajjo sagt: Not at all. Manfy sagt: The structure in itself is alright...somehow...
    elroy said: you can't say "ein verdammtes bisschen Gabel" or "ein verdammtes bisschen Kugelschreiber," can you? Kajjo sagt: No, you can't.
    elroy said: I think this only works with a limited set of countable nouns. My question was whether "Prinzip" was one of them.

    I was trying to think of alternative ways of saying the English and then how I would try to say those in German. Whilst I am inclined to believe ‘Rückgrat’ can idiomatically be used synonymously with ‘Prinzip’, there is quite a difference in English. However, a ‘man of Principle’ is pretty synonymous with a ‘man of Honour’, and a man who needs some modicum of principle needs to have at least a speck of honour. Could using ‘ein Fleck von Ehre’ solve the bisschen and Prinzip problems and keep the same sense?


    To add insult to injury, I also had a problem with the third of the four original words. Most here have gone with ‘verdammt’ whilst the original expletive in English is pretty much the strongest possible. ‘ein blöder Fleck’ sounds better to my ear than a ‘verdammt’ one. Would another expletive capture the English better?
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Concerning the f-word: in most cases it is translated as "Scheiß...", because Germans prefer s~t to f~k (lingustically speaking) :D.
    Yes, but it should also be noted that we are using those expressions by far not as often as many AE speakers and some BE speakers use the f-word expletive.
    Additionally you may find specific regional preferences concerning word choice.

    Yesterday at the pool I thought about "Have some fucking principle" a bit and I realized that "Have some fucking <whatever>" seems to have become a bit of a set phrase, don't you think?

    All of these and more I've heard before, be it on TV, in movies or real life:
    Have some fucking decency and ...
    Have some fucking patience and line up like everybody else.
    Have some fucking backbone and ... or more likely: show some fucking backbone and man up....
    ...want to have some fucking fun this year....

    ...and I don't think we would use the same set phrase in German for all of these.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    In the given text/context in German "verdammt" works good. Words with "ficken" are not used, and "scheiß" does not fit the context.

    It would work in:
    "Mach doch deinen verdammten Dreck alleine!"
    Mach doch deinen Scheißdreck alleine!"
    Mach doch deinen Dreck alleine!"

    But this is another text.

    Maybe
    Ein paar Scheißprinzipien würden dir gut tun.
    But this is another text.

    For me the best fit considering German culture is "verdammt"/"gefälligst" + "Rückgrat",
    example:
    Zeig gefälligst Rückgrat!
    Zeig gefälligst Rückgrat, verdammt nochmal!
    Zeig verdammt nochmal Rückgrat!
     
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    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    "Have some fucking principle."
    I was trying to think of alternative ways of saying the English
    I would be interested in these alteratives.

    Personally, I am not sure anymore what you really mean with "to have principles" in this concrete English sentence. Obviously, we guess on something along "to have backbone / to not be spineless" or about ethics and moral standards. These are two very different concepts.

    "Rückgrat haben/zeigen" is about to stand up for your decisions, intentions, wishes, to fight for what you believe to be right or what you want, not to give in easily, not to waver at the first opposition or obstacle. Yes, this can be about somehow moral standards, but the focus is about what you personally feel right.

    "Seinen Prinzipien treu bleiben" is about staying loyal to your own moral standards.

    Back to your title phrase: "Have some fucking principle!" What is it supposed to mean? Maybe simply "Nun verhalte dich mal anständig! / Nun zeig mal Anstand!"?

    third of the four original words. Most here have gone with ‘verdammt’ ... English is pretty much the strongest possible
    As was pointed out above, German tends to use fecal expletives while English uses sexual. However, English uses such expletive drastically more often than German to begin with.

    As to "in English is pretty much the strongest possible" I can only disagree: "Fucking" is the most common expletive nowadays and used for absolutely low-level things, too. It might have been strong at some point in time, but nowadays everyone uses it from loosing a chess piece to sub-optimally applying cream to a piece of cake. Honestly, "fucking" is the most common word in every conversation if you listen to Americans.

    I believe, in many cases it is best NOT to translate the word at all, because such a strong expletive doesn't fit in most German everyday sentences. We have gotten used to hearing "verdammt" in dubbed movies, because they need to fill the word, not because it really is idiomatic.
     
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    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I am not sure anymore what you really mean with "to have principles"
    your title phrase
    @marquess is not the OP; @22caps is.

    "Have some fucking principle!" What is it supposed to mean?
    It would be very helpful if @22caps explained the background/context and/or what he means, but without that information, here's how I understand the sentence:

    You are not a principled person. You have no principles that you abide by. You should have some principles/principle / you should be a principled person.
    (expressed very strongly, of course)

    As to "in English is pretty much the strongest possible" I can only disagree: "Fucking" is the most common expletive nowadays and used for absolutely low-level things, too.
    It's both! The operative word is "too." Yes, in many cases it's semantically bleached and is not very strong at all; in other cases it is a strong expletive. In this case, it's most likely the latter (but we can be more sure with more context, etc.).
     
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