I don't mind

Auflauf

Member
Welsh - Wales, English - UK
Hallo Leute,

Ich möchte wissen, ob 'es ist mir egal' höflich oder unhöflich ist... Kann man damit der englische Ausdruck 'I don't mind' (z.B. -Do you want to go to the cinema or to the theatre tonight? - I don't mind, you can decide) übersetzen, oder wirkt es mehr wie 'I don't care'? Wieso sagt man 'I don't mind' oder ähnliches auf Deutsch? Ich möchte nicht unhöflich sein...

Danke schön!
 
  • Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I had a similar experience with the Icelandic version mér er sama, because it covers "I don't mind" and "I don't care", in a weirdly confusing way to someone who is not used to the nuances. I think it's a common Germanic way to express the same idea (i.e. German it's equal to me) so I can't tell you if there is a nuanced difference in German, just that other related languages also share this similar method of expression, and it really does cover both, unless you start tinkering with it and putting in things that lead to more of a ruder interpretation.
     

    Gernot Back

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    (i.e. German it's equal to me) so I can't tell you if there is a nuanced difference in German, just that other related languages also share this similar method of expression, and it really does cover both, unless you start tinkering with it and putting in things that lead to more of a ruder interpretation.
    The idea behind "das ist mir gleich" is "Gleichgültigkeit" ("indifference"), which is kind of a neutral expression.
    A drastic and rude way of expressing the same idea would be:


    Das geht mir am Arsch vorbei. :warning:
    (I don't give a damn shit.)
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Es ist mir egal is definitely closer to I don't care than to I don't mind. But then, Germans express themselves in much blunter language than Brits (as you live in Germany you surely have recognized that); hence, you normally wouldn't offend people. If you want to be on the safe side, say Das macht mir nichts.
     

    Auflauf

    Member
    Welsh - Wales, English - UK
    Thanks for the replies! Es ist mir egal is what I always find myself saying, so good to know I probably haven't been insulting anyone.

    berndf, I've definitely noticed that! I'm still adjusting to it a little bit, and trying not to go over the top with the automatic British politeness!
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings

    Es ist mir egal is definitely closer to I don't care than to I don't mind
    With all respect to berndf, who in these fora appears to know everything (no irony): "I don't care" in English always sounds a little casual and even occasionally insulting. "I don't mind" is on the other hand temperamentally neutral in flavour, and that is how (without the interpretative benefit of a tone of voice) I would always understand, or use, "Es ist mir egal".
     

    ablativ

    Senior Member
    German(y)
    ... I would always understand, or use, "Es ist mir egal".
    Adding the little filling word "eigentlich" would make the whole expression sound a lot more friendly. Besides, a "danke", if it fits the context, wouldn't do any harm either:

    ​Danke, es/das ist mir eigentlich egal.
     

    Sowka

    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Hello :)

    Adding the little filling word "eigentlich" would make the whole expression sound a lot more friendly. Besides, a "danke", if it fits the context, wouldn't do any harm either:

    ​Danke, es/das ist mir eigentlich egal.
    I agree. "Es/das ist mir egal" alone would indeed sound harsh to me, and "eigentlich" softens the expression.

    A: Wollen wir ins Kino gehen oder ins Theater?
    B: Das ist mir eigentlich egal. Entscheide du -- mir wäre beides recht.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    A: Wollen wir ins Kino gehen oder ins Theater?
    B: Wie du möchtest. Es ist mit egal.

    This does not sound harsh, but does not fit the expectations for the answer - I do not think it is appropriate. Here "eigentlich" does not help.
    So it depends on context.
    I would prefer:
    A: Wollen wir ins Kino gehen oder ins Theater?
    B: Wie du möchtest. Mir gefällt beides. Was denkst du?

    The problem in such cases is that you give the decision back to the other.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    "I don't care" in English always sounds a little casual...
    This is true for Es ist mir egal in German too. In very formal context I would hesitate to use this sentence.
    ... and even occasionally insulting.
    Since Es ist mir egal implies disinterest (Gleichgültigkeit) as Gernot pointed out, the sentence has the potential to insult, too. In every day speech, Germans are a bit less careful to avoid potentially insulting formulations than Britains. I can imagine that this might give you the impression Es ist mir egal should be a neutral expression.
    "I don't mind" is on the other hand temperamentally neutral in flavour, and that is how (without the interpretative benefit of a tone of voice) I would always understand, or use, "Es ist mir egal".
    The Semantic and stylistic equivalent of I don't mind is Es/Das macht mir nichts aus.
     
    Last edited:

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    But in my opinion, "das macht mir nichts aus" would not fit in the situation described in the OP:
    True, I was thinking for context like "Do you mind if I smoke?" "No, I don't mind". For I don't mind; you can decide I would suggest the translation Mir ist es recht; Du kannst entscheiden.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    ...
    Since Es ist mir egal implies disinterest (Gleichgültigkeit) as Gernot pointed out, the sentence has the potential to insult, too. ...
    Basically I agree. Only if someone says it in an emphasized way, it does not really show disinterest. It can also show that he or she does not care about the results of not considering it - or even wants the result.

    A: Die Waldschlösschenbrücke zerstört das Weltkulturerbe.
    B: Das ist mir egal.

    In this case it is an insult, but shows that B has other priorities. It does not show disinterest - as far as I see.
    B should use other arguments to convince A.
     
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