mal

  • Acrolect

    Senior Member
    German, Austria
    And once again I don't know (it/this).

    mal is short for einmal, so mal wieder is wieder einmal.

    In this co-text, it underlines the speaker's frustration of her ignorance.
     

    dattse

    Banned
    English - USA
    "Hast du mal den Umzug am Nationalfeiertag in Beijing gesehen?"

    What is the function of "mal"? Why can't I just say "Hast du den Umzug am Nationalfeiertag in Beijing gesehen?"
     

    Kurtchen

    Senior Member
    German - Norddeutschland
    "Hast du mal den Umzug am Nationalfeiertag in Beijing gesehen?"

    What is the function of "mal"? Why can't I just say "Hast du den Umzug am Nationalfeiertag in Beijing gesehen?"
    "have you ever..." vs. "did you...", ie different tenses :)
     

    dattse

    Banned
    English - USA
    Oh, I see! Thank you! :)
    I guess you have to use "mal" when asking someone if he or she has seen a certain movie, been to a certain country, read a certain book, etc.

    Bist du mal in der Türkei gewesen?
    Hast du mal Star Wars gesehen?
    Hast du mal Harry Potter gelesen?

    However, I do remember a native speaker of German (who was of Turkish ancestry) asking someone else, "Sind Sie schon mal in der Türkei gewesen?"

    Do you have any idea why he added "schon"? I think "Sind Sie mal in der Türkei gewesen?" would have been just as good and a lot more natural and idiomatic.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Hi, just a question to mal vs. einmal: In my mind they are only partly exchangeable.



    1. Ich weiß das mal wieder nicht.:tick:
    2. Ich weiß das einmal wieder nicht. (not idiomatic, at least to me it sounds strange, its this really idiomatic?
    3. Ich weiß das wieder mal nicht.:tick:
    4. Ich weiß das wieder einmal nicht.:tick:


    ...

    Bist du mal in der Türkei gewesen?
    ...

    However, I do remember a native speaker of German (who was of Turkish ancestry) asking someone else, "Sind Sie schon mal in der Türkei gewesen?"

    Do you have any idea why he added "schon"? I think "Sind Sie mal in der Türkei gewesen?" would have been just as good and a lot more natural and idiomatic.
    "Schon" is a flavoring particle. Such particles are very common.
    Usually the are omitted in formal style.

    To me the sentence with "schon mal" sounds fine. In "normal" and colloquial style they are used often.

    "Sind Sie mal in der Türkei gewesen?" is just a question whether you were already there.
    "Sind Sie schon mal in der Türkei gewesen?" adds a more friendly tone. It is either a real or a rhetorical question expressing curiosity.

    Often such particles are complicate to translate and will be omitted or replaced.

    I try to replace it in the last example:
    "Sind Sie mal in der Türkei gewesen?" - Have you once been in Turkey?
    "Sind Sie schon in der Türkei gewesen?" - Have you already been in Turkey?
    "Sind Sie schon mal in der Türkei gewesen?" - Have you already been there in Turkey? (I replaced the particle by another one to give an impression of style change. I do not know a good real translation. Is it possible to say: Have you once already been in Turkey?
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Italian
    "Schon" is a flavoring particle
    In the sentence ''Sind Sie schon mal in der Türkei gewesen?'' I would rather regard 'mal' as the flavouring particle (but I of course do not possess the same Sprachgefühl as natives have..).

    There is also the adverbial particle je(mals): ''Sind Sie je in der Türkei gewesen?'' (is there a real difference with respect to ''Sind Sie mal in der Türkei gewesen?'')?. I'm not sure.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    There is only a difference in degree. "Je" means "At any time" - while "schon" means "already".

    "Schon" and "je" can be combined with "mal":

    Sind Sie schon mal in der Türkei gewesen? (Many write it wrong as "schonmal".)
    Sind sie jemals in der Türkei gewesen? (je+mal -> jemals, with an adaption of the form)

    Which one is the flavoring particle is fuzzy, indeed. They amplify each other.
    ---
    "Schon", "je" and "mal" have different meanings as single words. But in the phrase "Sind Sie schon/je/mal in der Türkei gewesen", they mean basically the same.
    They emphasize each other.

    The difference to "Sind Sie in der Türkei gewesen?" is that they ask whether you was already there at least for one time.
     
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