ja (Funktionen als Modalpartikel)

sjheiss

Member
Englisch - VSA
Old moderator note removed: Several threads have been merged with this one in the meantime. The newest question is somewhere... further down ;)

I found this on a Counter Strike forum, and I'm wondering why he uses "ja" in the sentence. Is it to emphasize a word or to change the meaning of one?
Quell, 2nd line, 1st post.

I have also seen it in the song "Nanu?" from the movie "The Nightmare Before Christmas", in a line saying "ja gib es zu".
Liedtext, 9th line, 1st paragraph.
 
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  • Hutschi

    Senior Member
    "ich spiele ja sehr gerne" - "ja" = "as you know" or "I want to tell you that I usually do it, it belongs to my life, to my character".
    "ja gib es zu" is "gib es doch zu" - the meaning of "ja" is very different. It is something like "Please, I want you to admit (acknowledge ?) it."
     

    Kuestenwache

    Senior Member
    German-Germany
    basicly you're right it is used to emphasize or indicate a certain meaning the sentence wouldn't have without ja. Generally after using it a while you can find out by just looking at the context. Look at these examples:
    "Ich spiele ja ganz gerne Videospiele, aber nicht so sehr wie du"
    "I like to play video games just like the next guy, but not as much as you do"
    Means "There is no problem in sitting in front of the TV or PC a few hours but you really have a problem my friend."

    A to B:"Du hast asiatischen Essen bestellt? Ich hätt ja italiensches besser gefunden"
    "You ordered Asian food? For my concern Italian food would really have been the better choise" It carries a nouance of "But since you didn't ask me, it doesn't seem to bother you at all what I think". It depends now:
    1. If person A really hates Asian food or is allergic and B knows but forgot it is an ironic hint so that B realises the mistake
    2. If person A really hates Asian food or is allergic and B knows but ordered it anyway it is a real accusation of not thinking about A at all
    3. If person A just likes pizza better or had Asian food for lunch this is a little teasing. "Well if I have to I will eat it but just so you know you did not do me a favor and I might take that into account later today or the next time we order food."

    You see "ja" doesn't really change the meaning but it surely expands it.
     

    sjheiss

    Member
    Englisch - VSA
    basicly you're right it is used to emphasize or indicate a certain meaning the sentence wouldn't have without ja. Generally after using it a while you can find out by just looking at the context. Look at these examples:
    "Ich spiele ja ganz gerne Videospiele, aber nicht so sehr wie du"
    "I like to play video games just like the next guy, but not as much as you do"
    Means "There is no problem in sitting in front of the TV or PC a few hours but you really have a problem my friend."

    A to B:"Du hast asiatischen Essen bestellt? Ich hätt ja italiensches besser gefunden"
    "You ordered Asian food? For my concern Italian food would really have been the better choise" It carries a nouance of "But since you didn't ask me, it doesn't seem to bother you at all what I think". It depends now:
    1. If person A really hates Asian food or is allergic and B knows but forgot it is an ironic hint so that B realises the mistake
    2. If person A really hates Asian food or is allergic and B knows but ordered it anyway it is a real accusation of not thinking about A at all
    3. If person A just likes pizza better or had Asian food for lunch this is a little teasing. "Well if I have to I will eat it but just so you know you did not do me a favor and I might take that into account later today or the next time we order food."

    You see "ja" doesn't really change the meaning but it surely expands it.

    Thanks for the lengthy explanation :D
    I think I understand it now
     

    ryanZ

    New Member
    romanian
    hallo,
    Could anyone explan me what means the following phrase: Das sind ja meistens die Gleichen, nicht wahr. (copy from Deutche Wellelessons)

    I do not understand the using of Ja, could someone please explain what is ja usually used for, and provide a translation?

    Thanks,
    Ryan
     

    trance0

    Senior Member
    Slovene
    It has a somewhat similar meaning to "ja doch" or "ja freilich". This may be of help if you understand "doch" and "freilich" better than just "ja". But such words are very difficult to translate exactly, because they can have many different meanings depending on the context.

    Das sind ja meistens die Gleichen, nicht wahr? These are [of course]/[surely] mostly the same ones, aren`t they?

    Anyway, it`s quite difficult to translate such words exactly, especially if one doesn`t master both respective languages 100% and also has a very good sense of languages.
     
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    Xnyle

    New Member
    German
    Hi,

    this is ...., is'nt it?
    this is not ...., is it?
    das ist ja ...., oder nicht?
    das ist nicht ...., oder doch?

    Hope this will help you.
     

    Sidjanga

    Senior Member
    German;southern tendencies
    Hi ryanz, and welcome to the forum! :)

    Especially in this case (Das sind ja meistens die gleichen) ja means basically that the person who says the sentence has the impression (and expresses this through "ja") that what he/she says is actually quite obvious and hardly needs to be mentioned at all (although they do it all the same).

    Through the search function (Search this Forum, in the top right corner as well as at the bottom of each forum's main page), I found this similar thread about this use of "ja".
     
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    Daffodil100

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Peter: Ich esse Reis und Fisch.

    Mary: Isst du nicht gern Fleisch?

    Peter: Doch. Sieh mal, was gibt's dort? Dort sind ja viele Menschen.
    This is from my German textbook. What does ja mean here? Thanks.
     

    nurdug51

    Senior Member
    Germany,German
    It's just colloquial German. You do not have to translate it. It implies surprise.

    They have just seen that there are many people there and are astonished.

    But as I said, you could leave out the word 'ja'.

    You wouldn't read it in a book, you'd only hear it in a conversation.
     

    Daffodil100

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It's just colloquial German. You do not have to translate it. It implies surprise.

    They have just seen that there are many people there and are astonished.

    But as I said, you could leave out the word 'ja'.

    You wouldn't read it in a book, you'd only hear it in a conversation.

    Thank you for your help.
     

    studentfrench

    Senior Member
    English
    Hi, I'm trying to translate:

    Schliesslich,dachten sie, war ja der Buchdrucker im Staedtchen geblieben.

    I'm confused about the 'ja' bit, but I've put

    After all, they thought, the typographer had of course stayed in the small town.

    Is there a better way of writing this?

    Thanks
    Moderator note: merged; please use search function before posting :)
     
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    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    I'd simply omit it. It's kind of doubling "schließlich" - each of the two words would do the job on its own, as well. I guess it has been included for the sheer sake of rhythm, not meaning - I, too, feel a need to insert one syllable if trying to form the sentence with "schließlich" alone (Schließlich, dachten sie, war auch der Buchdrucker...). But the meaning of both "schließlich" and "ja" is perfectly conveyed by "after all".
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I see it differently. Without the "ja" there would be something missing. The natural position for "schließlich" in the sense of "after all" is after "war" (for simplicity I omit "dachte sie"):
    Der Buchdrucker war schließlich im Städtchen geblieben.
    If you move "schließlich" to the beginning it gets the meaning of "finally", "at the end":
    Schließlich war der Buchdrucker im Städtchen geblieben.
    The "ja" at the original position of "schließlich" is necessary to maintain the meaning of "after all":
    Schließlich war der Buchdrucker ja im Städtchen geblieben.
     

    Derselbe

    Senior Member
    Deutsch, German, ドイツ語
    As far as I know, this usage of ja is usually referred to as Abtönungspartikel[{f} not Modalpartikel.
    What causes the confusion for English natives is the fact that, while you do have modal particles in English as well, there is nothing compareable to Abtönungspartikeln. Nevertheless I dissent from some of my native fellows who have written that ja was superfluous in those sentences. Abtönungspartikeln are an essential part of the German language and you should definitely have at least passive knowlegde of them. They are used to express certain emotions, expectations, anger, appreciation etc.

    To me this is one of the most interesting and wonderful parts of the German language. Just let me give you example to clarify what I mean:

    I once had a classmate whose mother was Bitish. He grew up in Germany but during the first 5 years of his life he was only speaking English. He could understand German but he would always answer in English. At the time I meet him (some teen years later) his German was just as good as any other native. Just by talking to him you couldn't tell that he was half a Brit. But to me there was something missing all the time. His German was somehow abrupt and heavy. (I don't really know how to explain this - not even in German) One day I noticed that he barely used Abtönungspartikeln and I think that was the reason why I felt uncomfortable. German is a quite cold and strict language if you omit those particles.
    I think they are really important and necessary for social interaction in Germany.
    But they are definitely something translators despair of. I don't think after all is accurate here, by the way.
     
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    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    There is another such particle with a long "a" in "ja" and stress on "ja!": It amplifies "nicht" and adds a threat (Drohung).

    "Mach das ja nicht!" is approximately "Wage es nicht, das zu machen!"

    "Don't you dare!"

    Compare: with a short vowel and unstressed:
    "Franz macht das ja nicht!" it has the meaning as described in the other parts: "Der macht das einfach nicht." (He simply does not make it.)
     
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    ChowingtonPlush

    Member
    ENGLISH - AUSTRALIA
    For the help of all the people who aren't german natives (like me) I'd like to mention this:
    In statements, the modal particle ja signals that the speaker assumes that the facts of the statement are familiar or self-evident. (e.g. as you know)
    In exclamations ja heightens emotion of surprise, joy, sadness etc.
    In commands it is stressed (unusual for modal particles), shows a sense of urgency to make the command sound like a warning or a threat. (e.g. Be sure to, I warn you, don't you dare)

    This comes from an extremely helpful book that deals with nuances like this
    see: Brigitte M. Turneaure, Der treffende Ausdruck

    It's helped me heaps and on the note of modal particles it's very detailed and handy!
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    In statements, the modal particle ja signals that the speaker assumes that the facts of the statement are familiar or self-evident. (e.g. as you know)
    This is the relevant sense in:
    Schließlich war der Buchdrucker ja im Städtchen geblieben
    and allows to disambiguate the meaning of schließlich (after all rather than finally).
     

    Derselbe

    Senior Member
    Deutsch, German, ドイツ語
    For the help of all the people who aren't german natives (like me) I'd like to mention this:
    In statements, the modal particle ja signals that the speaker assumes that the facts of the statement are familiar or self-evident. (e.g. as you know)

    That's why I said after all wasn't correct. As you know is definitely closer.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Sie kennen das sicher?
    Das funktioniert und hat die gleiche Bedeutung wie "Sie kennen das ja?" (= soviel ich weiß, kennen Sie das.)

    "Sie kennen das ganz bestimmt?" / "Sie kennen das ganz sicher?"

    Das ist meiner Meinung nach zu stark, es macht mehr aus "Sie kennen das ja?"
    Je nach Betonung bedeutet es starke Zweifel an dem, was der andere sagte. in der Art: "Sind sie wirklich sicher?"

    "Ganz" stark betont drückt oft erhebliche Zweifel in solchen Fragen aus. Und zwar: "Ich zweifle stark daran, dass Sie das kennen, obwohl sie behauptet haben, das zu kennen."
    Weil das nicht klar ist - auch wegen fehlender Betonung - würde ich es schriftlich nicht verwenden.



    Pragmatisch kann man mit ungefähr gleicher Bedeutung wie "Sie kennen das ja?" sagen:

    "Sie kennen das bestimmt?" (Aber es ist zweideutig, je nach Betonung.)



    All das gilt bei normalem Kontext für "Sie kennen das ja?"
     

    Jack Manatawa

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Danke, Ich möchte nur die Tatsache unterstreichen, dass mein Beispielsatz keine Frage, sondern eine Aussage ist. Ich hoffe, das ändert an Deiner Erklärung nichts.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    In einem Aussagesatz (der mit Punkt endet, nicht mit Fragezeichen) ist es anders.

    Sie kennen das ja.
    Sie kennen das ganz sicher - Funktioniert aus semantischen Gründen nicht. Nur:
    "Wie Sie behaupten, kennen Sie das ganz sicher."
    Oder nur in sehr speziellem Kontext.

    Sie kennen das ganz sicher, denn ich habe es Ihnen gerade gesagt.

    Das gleiche gilt für "Ganz bestimmt."

    Man verwendet es sozusagen zum "Auffrischen" des Gedächtnisses.

    Die von mir für Fragen angegebenen starken Zweifel gibt es hier im Aussagesatz nicht, außer, es ist eine "versteckte" Frage oder ironisch.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Entschuldigung, meinst Du hier die Modalpartikel "ja"?
    Ich meinte hier die Umschreibung mit
    Sie kennen das ganz sicher - Funktioniert aus semantischen Gründen nicht. Nur:
    "Wie Sie behaupten, kennen Sie das ganz sicher."
    Oder nur in sehr speziellem Kontext.

    Sie kennen das ganz sicher, denn ich habe es Ihnen gerade gesagt.

    Das gleiche gilt für "Ganz bestimmt."

    Man verwendet es sozusagen zum "Auffrischen" des Gedächtnisses.

    Bei "Sie kennen das ja" geht man davon aus, dass der andere es kennt.
     

    Schlabberlatz

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    Sie kennen das ja.
    Könnte man hier "ja" mit der Bedeutung von "ganz sicher, auf jeden Fall" paraphrasieren?
    Nein, es geht darum, dass beide (Sprecher und Angesprochener) wissen, dass der Angesprochene „das“ kennt.
    the speaker assumes that the facts of the statement are familiar
    In statements, the modal particle ja signals that the speaker assumes that the facts of the statement are familiar or self-evident. (e.g. as you know)


    Schliesslich,dachten sie, war ja der Buchdrucker im Staedtchen geblieben.
    Für eine genaue Beurteilung dieses Satzes bräuchte man meiner Ansicht nach mehr Kontext.

    Hier noch ein paar Links:
    Er ist ja jugendfrei.
    Das ist ja X! vs. Das ist doch X!
     
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