Ihre Arbeitskleidung ... durften als unschicklich gelten

Abstreet

Member
French - France
I recently came across the following sentence : "Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, durften zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gelten."
I was wondering what is the meaning of the verb "dürfen" here in the preterit tense, since I don't recognize the traditional meaning that it has, that is "to have the right to do something", or "to be allowed to do sth."
Because it would mean that the woman's clothes had the right to be perceived as inappropriate by some woman, which doesn't seem right to me.
Could someone help me clarify what dürfen means in this sentence.

Thanks in advance for your answers !
 
  • Demiurg

    Senior Member
    German
    See canoo.net:
    When dürfen is in the subjunctive II, it can also express 'supposition' or 'assumption': ...
    I found the same sentence with 'mochten' here:
    Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, mochten zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gelten und doch vermittelten sie so genau das Bild, das sich die Menge von einer "Luftschifferin" machte.
     

    Abstreet

    Member
    French - France
    Oh ok thanks, it would make more sens this way.
    So "Ihre Arbeitskleidung [...] mochten zwar bein einer Frau als unschicklich gelten" would mean in English "Her work outfit.. could even be perceived as inappropriate by a woman."
    The meaning of mögen here implies that it is possible, it may have created that type of reaction, is that correct ?
     

    JClaudeK

    Senior Member
    Français France, Deutsch (SW-Dtl.)
    En français, mochten zwar donnerait quelque chose comme:
    Certes, il se peut que sa tenue de travail etc. .... passaient pour peu convenables ....
     
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    Gernot Back

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    @Demiurg But the original is durften, not dürften.
    That's probably because the whole story is told in the preterite and at least in this passage from the protagonist's point of view.

    You can't use Konjunktiv 2 der Vergangenheit or the modal auxiliary in combination with a perfect infinitive here, because that would either exclude the protagonist's point of view or it could not be interpereted in an epistemic way, which is both not intended by the author.

    Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, dürften zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gegolten haben.

    (not from the protagonist's but from the author's point of view)

    Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, hätten zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gelten dürfen.

    (only deontic interpretation of the modal auxiliary)
    So instead, we simply use the preterite indicative of the modal auxiliary to express the potentialis mood in the protagonist's epistemic point of view:

    Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, durften/mochten zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gelten.
     

    Ptolemy2.18

    Senior Member
    German - (West)Germany
    I'm with Gernot Back on this one. Durften sounds perfectly idiomatic to me and it bears an important information.
    Keep in mind that without the addition "Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen" you would have to use durfte.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    I'm with Gernot Back on this one. Durften sounds perfectly idiomatic to me and it bears an important information.
    Keep in mind that without the addition "Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen" you would have to use durfte.
    :tick::thumbsup: -- I agree.

    You're right. I read "dürften". :oops:

    "durften" doesn't make sense here. I guess Abstreet used the wrong word in the gap test (23). ;)
    "Durften" is seldom now in such context. In old books it was not so seldom.

    Er durfte sich das ansehen.
    This often means er konnte sich das ansehen in the sense er hat sich das angesehen.

    "Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, durften zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gelten."="Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, konnten zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gelten."="Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, galten zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich." ("="
    means here almost equal, except connotations.)



    The forms with "durften" and "konnten" are a kind of polite euphemisms.
    It is a strong difference to the subjunctive/Konjunktiv.

    In "Zeugnissprache" (certificate language) in the east (GDR) often such forms were used.
    Er konnte an einem Lehrgang teilnehmen.=Er hat an dem Lehrgang teilgenommen.

    Today such language is almost obsolete. The language is more direct. Indirect language (er durfte, er konnte, etc in the sense "er hat" is almost not existent anymore. My wife used "Wir durften uns das ansehen" in the sense "wir haben uns das angesehen" in a photo book as picture description.

    "Mochten" is in the same range, but in the given context it is more clear.
    "Mochten" and "durften" have a special connotation: "Einräumung" (grant). Ich räume ein, dass es so war. I grant it was so.
    This is supported by "zwar".

    Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, mochten/durften zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gelten und doch vermittelten sie so genau das Bild, das sich die Menge von einer "Luftschifferin" machte.=Auch wenn ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, bei einer Frau im Allgemeinen als unschicklich galten, so vermittelten sie genau das Bild, das sich die Menge von einer "Luftschifferin" machte.


    You can't use Konjunktiv 2 der Vergangenheit or the modal auxiliary in combination with a perfect infinitive here, because that would either exclude the protagonist's point of view or it could not be interpereted in an epistemic way, which is both not intended by the author.

    Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, dürften zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gegolten haben.

    (not from the protagonist's but from the author's point of view)

    Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, hätten zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gelten dürfen.

    (only deontic interpretation of the modal auxiliary)
    So instead, we simply use the preterite indicative of the modal auxiliary to express the potentialis mood in the protagonist's epistemic point of view:

    Ihre Arbeitskleidung, Matrosenanzug und Pumphosen, durften/mochten zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gelten.

    :tick::thumbsup:
     
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    Abstreet

    Member
    French - France
    Thanks for your answers !
    I must admit that I find that pretty complicated.
    I looked dürfen une mögen in a grammar handbook, and it seems that in the sentence, "mochten" cas be used to say that it may have seemed inappropriate to a woman at the time.
    However, dürfen is only mentioned with it traditional meaning of "have the right to" which does not fit here.
    So do both "durften" and "mochten" have the same meaning of "may" or "might have" ? Or is "mögen" commonly used with this meaning, and "dürfen" (as meaning may or might to express possibility) just an old-fashioned meaning ?

    I'm taking an exam soon, so I'd like to have clear ideas on this matter.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    I would say meaning 1.3
    3. (können) mit gutem Grund:
    wenn man es so nennen darf if one can call it that; (ebenda, 1.3)

    durften zwar bei einer Frau als unschicklich gelten.
    one could call it indecorous (with good reason) ...

    I think, this meaning is indeed old fashioned.
     
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