Ich sehe fern

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by dihydrogen monoxide, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. dihydrogen monoxide Senior Member

    Slovene, Serbo-Croat
    This question concerns the German word for TV Fernsehen. What puzzles me about this word is this.
    When you want to say I watch TV in German you say Ich sehe fern. Now here is the puzzle.
    Ich sehe fern=I watch TV (literally: I see far)
    Ich sehe Fernsehen=I watch TV as a machine (literally: I watch TV). Why can't Germans say Ich sehe Fernsehen when they want to say they watch TV?
    Why is it like that in German and how would you say I see far in German?
  2. Kuestenwache Senior Member

    It's not like that:
    There is no expression "Ich sehe Fernsehen". It has to be "Ich sehe einen Fernseher" - "I see a TV" or "Ich betrachte einen Fernseher" - "Ich watch a TV". "Das Fernsehen" describes the TV networks. "Das öffentlich-rechtliche Fernsehen" for example means all public access broadcasts on TV.
    The reason we say "ich sehe fern" not "ich sehe Fernsehen" is that instead of the English verb "to watch" the German verb "fernsehen" describes the action of watching TV. If you decline "fernsehen" you will find:
    Ich sehe fern
    du siehst fern
    er/sie/es sieht fern...
    So it's not litterally "to see far" but really "to watch TV".
    We don't say "Fernsehen sehen" because repetition of words is a faux pas of style in the German language, that should be avoided if possible. However using words like "gucken, schauen" you can circumvent this problem and "Fernsehen gucken", "Fernsehen schauen" can be used interchangeable with "fernsehen". Hope this will answer your question.
  3. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

  4. dihydrogen monoxide Senior Member

    Slovene, Serbo-Croat
    Thanks for clarifying my error. I mean literally for fernsehen fern (far) +sehen (to see), isn't Fernsehen a calque from television, am I right?
    But what you've explained so far is satisfactory for me.
  5. Juuuergen

    Juuuergen Senior Member

    Michigan, United States
    American English
    This is true of colloquial German, but a more strict German teacher will tell you that Fernsehen schauen and gucken are repetitive too. As such, if your purposes are scholarly or professional, use the verb fernsehen by itself.
  6. weinstein Member

    German - Switzerland
    You'd say "ich sehe weit".
  7. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    Alternatively, one could say "ich sehe/schaue/... in die Ferne", which can apply to both space and time (i.e., distance and distant future).

    True. But interestingly, we don't often use the verb "fernsehen" here in Hessen. In everyday speech, we mostly use the colloquial separable verb "fernseh|gucken" instead (where the "g" is pronounced like a soft "k"). For example:

    ich guck(e) fernseh
    du guckst fernseh
    ich will fernseh gucken

    I would be interested to know whether this applies to other regions, too.

  8. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    I think, this is only common with context.

    "Heute kann ich aber weit sehen!"
    "Gestern war Nebel, aber heute kann man weit sehen."
  9. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Yes it does - only that in Austria another version is used:

    ich tu fernsehen

    This is paraphrasing with the verb "tun", quite common but considered bad style - so this is colloquial, German teachers most likely will not tolerate this for stylistic reasons.
  10. 628071 New Member

    German (Southern)
    And how do you say "ich werde morgen fernsehen" or "ich will fernsehen"?
    "Ich werde morgen fernsehn tun" and "ich will fernsehn tun"? ;)
  11. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    In dialect ("translated" into standard language forms) always:
    - morgen tu ich fernsehen
    - ich will fernsehen (no need for "tun" here)
    - morgen will ich fernsehen
    - ich möcht fernsehen (optative meaning)
    - morgen möcht ich fernsehen (optative)

    This is of course not standard language. :)
  12. Kuestenwache Senior Member

    And in Germany using "tun + infinitve" to replace the declined verb is really terrible style.
  13. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Yes I know, as stated by me above already (twice), and certainly one shouldn't use this in standard language.

    It is colloquial style, as well as the one mentioned by Abba, "fernseh gucken" - as also mentioned by Abba above. :)
  14. dihydrogen monoxide Senior Member

    Slovene, Serbo-Croat
    So the teenagers would be the most likely to use that style?
  15. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I cannot tell for Germany.

    In Austria to use "tun" is very common throughout the whole population in dialect and colloquial speech, which is also true for "ich tu fernsehen". It is certainly not a feature restricted to teenagers.

    But note that in Austria there are also other - very much colloquial - versions of expressing this, like:
    - ich tu fernseh schaun ("I do watch television" - this is not a joke, it is true)
    - ich schau fern (I have heard this on occasion in Vienna, I am not sure how widespread this is) etc.

    The only one which is not very frequent at all in spoken language is the standard language version (also, in theory, standard language in Austria), that is "ich sehe fern": this is not Austrian colloquial speech. :) (Well, I have heard it occasionally in Vienna, but never elsewhere.)
  16. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    In Sachsen würde man dann ungefähr sagen: Ich du (=tue) fernseh'n gugg'n.

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