Kein Wunder

Kittybub

Senior Member
English - Scotland
Hallo an alle,

The context is a photographer talking about light :

Licht beschäftigt mich seit vielen Jahren. Kein Wunder, denn für einen Fotograf ist Licht vor allem ein Medium.

I'm wondering about the translation of Kein Wunder, denn instead of the more usual Kein Wunder, daß...

My attempt :

I have been thinking about light for many years. Little/small wonder, since light, for a photographer, is primarily a medium.

I'm hesitating between little wonder and small wonder. I'd rather not use a word like unsurprisingly, because it's not very magical :)

Vielen Dank im Voraus :thumbsup:
 
  • manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    "Kein Wunder" is an interjection based on the preceding statement and not the succeeding clause.
    I'd just say: No wonder, considering (that) ...
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    I think that in German ''kein Wunder'' is an elliptic phrase for Das ist kein Wunder (when followed by denn) - similar to English as suggested in #3.
    If followed by dass, the ellipsis can be explained as Es ist kein Wunder (,dass..) = it's no wonder (that..). In this case, the phrase refers to the subsequent clause.
    Both expressions are common in German, and the choice depends on the context.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Both expressions are common in German, and the choice depends on the context.
    :thumbsup: Yes! I'd say it depends on the flow of thoughts that the text conveys.
    If you'd start a chapter or a new paragraph with "Kein Wunder, dass ...", it would sound odd because there's no preceding thought that 'kein Wunder' can attach itself to. So the writer would be inclined to start "Es ist kein Wunder, dass..."
    But in the middle of flowing text there may be a very clear idea in the reader's mind and if you then start with "Es ist kein Wunder...", 'es' may disrupt that thought process. In that case the elliptical "Kein Wunder" may be a better choice. It's up to the writer.

    By the way, Kittybub, I trust that you do realize that "it's a small wonder, since..." and "(It's) No wonder, since..." express the exact opposite.
    Considering this and your OP question, I think you may be misinterpreting "...ist Licht vor allem ein Medium."
    Medium is used in a positive sense, something like a Darstellungsmittel, a main ingredient in photography, which can change the appearance and the emotions the resulting image creates.
    Is that magical enough? ;)
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Kein Wunder, dass ... - das beschreibt das Ergebnis, das aus den Voraussetzungen ganz natürlich (kein Wunder) folgt.
    Kein Wunder, denn ... - das beschreibt den Grund bzw. die Voraussetzungen dafür, dass es kein Wunder ist.

    Little/small miracle/wonder - Das kann eine korrekte Übersetzung sein, wenn es in Englisch idiomatisch ist. In Deutsch gibt es auch "Kaum ein Wunder".
    Allerdings erscheint es mir unklar: Wenn es bedeutet: "Ein kleines Wunder" - dann ist es falsch. Wobei allerdings "ein kleines Wunder" eigentlich ein richtiges, ein großes Wunder ist. Auf jeden Fall ist "ein kleines Wunder" eine Überraschung und unerwartet.

    "Kein Wunder" bedeutet, dass das Resultat keinerlei Überraschung ist.

    ---
    If you'd start a chapter or a new paragraph with "Kein Wunder, dass ...", it would sound odd because there's no preceding thought that 'kein Wunder' can attach itself to.
    Es könnte als rhetorisches Mittel eingesetzt werden, um Aufmerksamkeit zu erzielen. Es beginnt mit einer offenen Valenz.
    Ansonsten stimme ich zu. Eher seltsam.
     

    Schlabberlatz

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    By the way, Kittybub, I trust that you do realize that "it's a small wonder, since..." and "(It's) No wonder, since..." express the exact opposite.
    Considering this and your OP question, I think you may be misinterpreting "...ist Licht vor allem ein Medium."
    Nobody mentioned "It's a small wonder". Is that expression even idiomatic in English?

    "small wonder" = "no wonder":
    Alternative forms
    little wonder, no wonder
    […]
    Noun
    small wonder (uncountable)
    (idiomatic) An event or fact whose cause or rationale is not difficult to discern; an unsurprising occurrence.
    small wonder - Wiktionary

    Little/small wonder, since
    :tick:
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    So there is a difference between German and English here:

    kein Wunder= little wonder/no wonder
    ein kleines Wunder=ein Wunder=ein großes Wunder (approximately) =a big wonder (?)

    "ein kleines (little) Wunder" and "a little wonder" are false friends.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    In #8 I proposed "miracle".
    So I rewrite it:
    • kein Wunder= little miracle/no miracle
    • ein kleines Wunder=ein Wunder=ein großes Wunder (approximately) =a big miracle(?)
      I asked (indirectly) whether it is idiomatic in English, but it isn't. Is it?
    Is "a little miracle"="no miracle"?
    PS: Does it fit to "Kein Wunder, denn für einen Fotograf ist Licht vor allem ein Medium."?
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    Yes, there is a certain overlap (Wunder/wonder) which requires quite a lot of care when translating.

    "It's no suprise that..." is sometimes an easier solution than to juggle with "wonder". At least for me.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    But “it’s no wonder” is perfectly idiomatic in this meaning. I agree that “Wunder” and “wonder” are often false friends, but that’s not the case here.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    With the noun:

    Jesus performed miracles, not wonders.
    the miracle (not wonder) of childbirth
    But:
    the seven wonders (not miracles) of the ancient world

    I believe these are all “Wunder” in German?

    “wonder” can also be uncountable in English, as in:

    I’m filled with wonder.

    I don’t think “Wunder” is used this way, is it? I might say “Ehrfurcht.”
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    So maybe something like "I'm perplexed"?
    Yes, sometimes. I believe there are several options depending on context and situation.

    Ich wundere mich, dass er noch nicht da ist. <it's strange he's not yet here>
    Manchmal wundere ich mich, dass Hutschi mir zustimmt. <sometime I am perplexed...>
    Mich wundert hier gar nichts mehr. <nothing surprises me anymore>
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Before reading your post, I would have translated it as Ich bin voller Verwunderung.
    Das verwundert mich nicht! ;) Without context you can't tell whether the speaker is trying to express Verwunderung or Bewunderung.
    Wonder is usually a mix of feelings - a cup of awe, 1-2 tablespoons of surprise or astonishment, add a pinch of admiration, mix well and there you go: homemade fresh wonder.
    It's a state of mind, a feeling, and different people experience sensations differently. So, how could anyone provide a definitive definition of what wonder is and what it is not?

    As to the phrase "I'm filled with wonder": Without any context, my first thought was Bewunderung. But once I see the extended context, I might feel that a completely different word is needed to bring the feeling across more accurately or more vividly.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I thought "Bewundering" was "admiration," not "wonder."

    "wonder" in this context is synonymous with "awe."
    Wonder is usually a mix of feelings - a cup of awe, 1-2 tablespoons of surprise or astonishment, add a pinch of admiration, mix well and there you go: homemade fresh wonder.
    :thumbsup: :D
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    This is not about a miracle at all.
    I disagree. There is no problem understanding kein Wunder meaning as no miracle.

    Wunder <> wonder is the core of this false friend!
    I disagree here, too. The verbs wundern and to to wonder are false friends (given the fact that the meaning to wonder=feeling surprise or admiration has somewhat fallen out of use in non-literary language); the nouns Wunder and wonder aren't. German lacks a nuance because it has only one word, Wunder, where English has two, miracle and wonder. But this don't make Wunder and wonder false friends.

    = Das verwundert nicht, denn...
    That is a pragmatically equivalent transcription of the interjection using the verb instead of the noun but the literal meaning is clearly it no wonder or miracle.
     
    Last edited:

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I would say that “wonder” and “Wunder” are definitely partial false friends synchronically.
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    Maybe you could write down a few very idiomatic sentences in English with the noun "wonder" and we try to discuss them with regards to "das Wunder/die Überraschung/die Verwunderung" in German?
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I would say that “wonder” and “Wunder” are definitely partial false friends synchronically.
    I can imagine that you perceive it differently then @Kajjo and I. German does not conceptually distinguish between wonder and miracle. It is quite predictable that English speakers would understand Wunder and wonder as very different while Germans perceive instisting on the difference as nitpicking.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    What I mean is that “Wunder” doesn’t always mean “wonder” and “wonder” doesn’t always mean “Wunder.” That makes them partial false friends.

    I’m not saying “wonder” and “Wunder” are “very different,” and the connection between “wonder” and “miracle” is very clear to me. I’m also aware that most likely the only reason English even has two words is that, as in many other cases (like “liberty” and “freedom”), English has a Germanic word and a Latinate one, and while they may have originally been perfect synonyms, their meanings have diverged to a certain extent over the years. (That said, Arabic does have a distinct word for “miracle” — معجزة — although عجيبة can be used for either “miracle” or “wonder.”)

    None of this to me means that “Wunder” and “wonder” aren’t partial false friends.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    None of this to me means that “Wunder” and “wonder” aren’t partial false friends.
    If you explain how you use the word then it is fine. I would use the term false friend only if the meanings have diverged to Such an extend that the is no or very little semantic overlay and not if only one use has been split off.
     
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