ohne deren Gesellschaft einem das Leben leer und sinnlos schien

kantarou

Member
Japanese
Hello,
please someone help me,

When I was reading Michael Ende's "Die unendliche Geschichte",
I've met some questionable sentences from beginning part.
I put on them here.

------
Wer niemals offen oder im Geheimen bitterliche Tränen vergossen hat, weil eine wunderbare Geschichte zu Ende ging und man Abschied nehmen musste von den Gestalten, mit denen man gemeinsam so viele Abenteuer erlebt hatte, die man liebte und bewunderte, um die man gebangt und für die man gehofft hatte und ohne deren Gesellschaft einem das Leben leer und sinnlos schien –
Wer nichts von alledem aus eigener Erfahrung kennt, nun, der wird wahrscheinlich nicht begreifen können, was Bastian jetzt tat.
------

Here,I do not understand what 'einem' is usesed for.
What is it ? Is it gramatically correct?

I referred to Wiktionary and found there are three cases 'einem' used.

1.Numeral
einem
dative masculine/neuter singular of ein
2.Article
einem
dative masculine/neuter singular of ein: a, an
3.Pronoun
einem
strong dative masculine/neuter singular of einer

I guessed in here 3.Pronoun is probably correct.
Then it means 'to someone',but who is 'someone' ?

Anyhow it looks odd to me.
Would someone give me simple example sentence for me ?
 
  • manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    I guessed in here 3.Pronoun is probably correct.
    Then it means 'to someone',but who is 'someone' ?

    Anyhow it looks odd to me.
    Would someone give me simple example sentence for me ?
    Yes, you're right. It's a pronoun (in dative case). And no, there's nothing odd about it in German.
    Which someone? The same someone that you addressed in "Would someone give me simple example sentence", ie. anyone.

    Wenn es einem schlecht geht, dann sollte man zum Arzt gehen.
    If one feels sick, then one should go to see a doctor.

    ... ohne deren Gesellschaft einem das Leben leer und sinnlos schien.
    ...without whose company one's life appeared empty and senseless.
     

    kantarou

    Member
    Japanese
    Thank you,manfy

    But I ponder,is it 'must'.
    I mean, without einem it looks to me properly correct sentence.
    Is it odd to the native without it?

    ------
    Wer niemals offen oder im Geheimen bitterliche Tränen vergossen hat, weil eine wunderbare Geschichte zu Ende ging und man Abschied nehmen musste von den Gestalten, mit denen man gemeinsam so viele Abenteuer erlebt hatte, die man liebte und bewunderte, um die man gebangt und für die man gehofft hatte und ohne deren Gesellschaft das Leben leer und sinnlos schien –
    ------
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Thank you,manfy

    But I ponder,is it 'must'.
    No, it's not absolutely necessary, but it's common and idiomatic to use a reflexive pronoun with "scheinen":

    Das Leben schien leer und sinnlos.
    Das Leben schien ihm leer und sinnlos.

    The pronoun explicitly expresses who is affected by that appearance; without it you have to extract from context who really feels empty and senseless. Since Michael talks about a generalized, hypothetical somebody in that sentence it needs a general, indefinit pronoun (sort of an "impersonal pronoun"). The original sentence flows better and is clearer when the reflexive 'einem' is used.

    PS: In my example above, 'einem' would not work well:
    Das Leben schien einem leer und sinnlos.

    But that's because it's a short sentence without context, hence the reader has no clear reference and he will have a hard time rationalizing "the recipient" of the verb's action 'scheinen'.
     

    numerator

    New Member
    Hungarian, Slovak
    I wonder if this point of view might be helpful:
    I was taught that "einer, einem, einen" are used respectively as the genitive, dative and accusative cases of the indefinite pronoun "man".
    It seems, kantarou, that you were quite happy with the "man" earlier in the sentence -the one who "Abschied nehmen musste" and "Abenteuer erlebt hatte" - well then, "einem" refers to the same guy (or gal)...
     

    numerator

    New Member
    Hungarian, Slovak
    So, to expand, with "einem", the last part of the sentence means to me that life seems empty and meaningless to the same hypothetical person who was introduced earlier in the sentence and who has enjoyed the adventures in the book.
    Without "einem", it would open the possibility that life would seem empty and meaningless to someone else, perhaps to everyone in general.

    Do native speakers have the same intuition?
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    und ohne deren Gesellschaft einem das Leben leer und sinnlos schien
    This is a reflexive construction with a general agent.

    Das Leben erscheint mir/dir/ihm/ihr/uns leer. <referring to ich, du, er, sie, wir>
    Das Leben erscheint einem leer. <referring to a similar concept as sich /man>

    Mir/dir/ihm wird kalt.
    Einem wird kalt.
     

    kantarou

    Member
    Japanese
    Thank you all,

    Kajjo said,
    This is a reflexive construction with a general agent.

    Am I right to think,
    in the next sentence

    Wer niemals offen oder im Geheimen bitterliche Tränen vergossen hat, weil eine wunderbare Geschichte zu Ende ging und man Abschied nehmen musste von den Gestalten, mit denen man gemeinsam so viele Abenteuer erlebt hatte, die man liebte und bewunderte, um die man gebangt und für die man gehofft hatte und ohne deren Gesellschaft einem das Leben leer und sinnlos schien –

    einem is equivalent to "to everyone" ?
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    um die man gebangt und für die man gehofft hatte und ohne deren Gesellschaft einem das Leben leer und sinnlos schien
    man == einem

    "Man" is a general term in German that might be felt close to "anyone/everyone" in other languages. However, "man" just implies some general statement about normal/typical/expected behaviour and does not really state something about "everyone" in the narrower sense.

    In nasser Kleidung wird einem kalt.
    Man friert in nasser Kleidung.

    Da wird einem mulmig!
    Man bekommt ein mulmiges Gefühl!
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    einem is equivalent to "to everyone" ?
    No! That's too much of all-inclusive.

    Michael Ende did specify the restricted group of hypothetical people that this einem may refer to:
    "Wer niemals [...] Tränen vergossen hat, weil..." = "Jeder, der niemals [...] Tränen vergossen hat, weil..."

    and it's one or all of these 'jedem, der' that this einem refers back to.
     

    kantarou

    Member
    Japanese
    Thank you all,

    I vaguely understood.
    I could not appreciate its deep implication.
    I decided to study harder.

    Afraided to make a thing ambiguous,I purposely ommitted previous sentence which uses 'einem' too.

    -------------
    Wer niemals heimlich beim Schein einer Taschenlampe unter der Bettdecke gelesen hat, weil Vater oder Mutter oder sonst irgendeine besorgte Person einem das Licht ausknipste mit der gut gemeinten Begründung, man müsse jetzt schlafen, da man doch morgen so früh aus den Federn sollte –
    -------------

    In this sentence,am I right to think einem is equivalant to
    "jedem,der müsse jetzt schlafen" ?
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    -------------
    Wer niemals heimlich beim Schein einer Taschenlampe unter der Bettdecke gelesen hat, weil Vater oder Mutter oder sonst irgendeine besorgte Person einem das Licht ausknipste mit der gut gemeinten Begründung, man müsse jetzt schlafen, da man doch morgen so früh aus den Federn sollte –
    -------------

    In this sentence,am I right to think einem is equivalant to
    "jedem,der müsse jetzt schlafen" ?
    Yes, sort of.
    But I see you get easily distracted by secondary information. Why don't you just focus on the first part of the subject? As you surely noticed, the sentence fragment above is only the grammatical subject of the sentence. We haven't even gotten to the verb yet, which always takes the second place in an assertion.

    I would describe it as:
    einem refers to jedem, der niemals heimlich unter der Bettdecke gelesen hat.
    Whatever follows in the 'weil'-subclause only qualifies the reason for secretly reading under the sheets. It does not substantially modify the group of all the people that fit into "jedem, der ..."

    (Granted, there may be specific restrictions in that subclause and yet, you should not go into the finest details when you want to summarize a sentence constituent for the purpose of expressing the core idea.)
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Wer niemals offen oder im Geheimen bitterliche Tränen vergossen hat, weil eine wunderbare Geschichte zu Ende ging und man Abschied nehmen musste von den Gestalten ... ohne deren Gesellschaft einem das Leben leer und sinnlos schien ...

    "Einem" is in congruency to "wer" .

    Wer is a pronoun her and means "jemand, der" and it stands for "ein Mensch, der".
    Jemand, der niemals offen oder im Geheimen bitterliche Tränen vergossen hat, weil eine wunderbare Geschichte zu Ende ging und man Abschied nehmen musste von den Gestalten ... ohne deren Gesellschaft ihm das Leben leer und sinnlos schien ...

    "Einem" works too, but it does not work well here. (In my feeling)

    "Einem" means "jedem, auf den es zutrifft".
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    ... ohne deren Gesellschaft ihm das Leben leer und sinnlos schien ...

    "Einem" works too, but it does not work well here. (In my feeling)
    Nope! Sorry, Hutschi, that's a misconception! With 'ihm' you may be introducing ambiguity.
    Don't forget the nested subclause structure and the "close binding rule" for pronouns and their antecedents!!

    Consider this simpilfied, slightly modified version:
    Jemand, der niemals Tränen vergossen hat, weil eine Geschichte zu Ende ging und man Abschied nehmen musste vom Protagonisten und seinen Freunden Andreju, Fuchur dem Glücksdrachen und Pjörnrachzarck dem Steinbeißer, ohne deren Gesellschaft ihm das Leben leer und sinnlos schien...

    If you use 'ihm' as above, then 'deren' will logically refer to "seinen Freunden Andreju, Fuchur dem Glücksdrachen und Pjörnrachzarck dem Steinbeißer" and 'ihm' will refer to 'dem Protagonisten'.
    If you use 'einem' instead, it can only refer back to the top level subject 'jemand'.

    -------------
    Aiiyah, Hutschi, you spoilt all the fun. Since you as a native speaker came up this erroneous idea that 'ihm' makes things better and clearer, I can't really use the tease I had planned.
    I thought of telling kantarou that The Neverending Story is a children's book and that's why it's "written in such simple and easily understandable form"... :p
    Of course, truth be told, it is a rather complex writing style and the excessively nested subclauses can also cause grownup native speakers to lose track of the grammatical structure. :rolleyes:
    But it IS a very vivid form of writing that makes kids think and dream and imagine a real fairytale world in their minds!
     
    Last edited:

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Nope! Sorry, Hutschi, that's a misconception! With 'ihm' you may be introducing ambiguity.
    I just wanted to show the meaning of "einem", so I shortened the sentence to the essential part. Of course you are right; in the original sentence I would not use it.

    The best form is the original text. All other forms I did not write as replacements but as explanations. Sorry for confusion. I thought that is clear.

    I like the original style, too.

    I often saw that it was tried to improve sentences rather than to explain them. It is also not a total synonyme I gave, but a near one.

    ---
    I understood your message that it is about style.
    My message was about base syntax and content.
    Is there anything else wrong?
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Is there anything else wrong?
    Oh yes, all sounds good. I mean, I didn't really search for mistakes. It was just that ihm/einem issue that caught my eye.

    And I'm worrying more about my own statement of 'einem' being a reflexive pronoun, which I made early on. This may be wrong.
    A true reflexive verb works in the form of
    Ich freue mich, wenn...
    Here 'mich' is clearly a reflexive pronoun because 'freuen' demands it, and 'mich' refers back to the subject 'ich'.
    But is the same true for "Es scheint mir, dass..."? I'm not sure. Maybe 'mir' is just an indirect object.

    But it feels very much like it performs a reflexive function because it refers back to the (unmentioned) speaker of the statement.
    "Es scheint mir, dass..." works the same way as "es freut mich, wenn..." and here 'mich' is still reflexive, or isn't it?
    I don't know! All the grammar terms and grammar concepts start spinning around in my head o_O
    I better call it quits for the day.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    it performs a reflexive function because it refers back to the (unmentioned) speaker of the statement.
    I think, it refers back to "wer" rather than to the speaker. That is why I wrote. But you are right with your critic.
    "Wer" is just a prototypic person. "Wer" ist characterizes by the next statements in the sentence.
    "Einem" is also prototypic.

    If you say "einem" you must be convinced that it is prototypic for many persons including yourself. In this sense it is partly reflexive, indeed.

    This "einem" is very emotional, so it fits well to the story.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    “einer” for the genitive? Surely not!
    :thumbsup: Only as an article we'd have einer (Frau)/eines (Mannes) in genitive.
    I think we don't use genitive for such "impersonal pronouns". The only version that comes to mind is "jemandes", but it would be used differently.
     

    numerator

    New Member
    Hungarian, Slovak
    “einer” for the genitive? Surely not!
    Good catch, elroy! I don't know what I was thinking :eek: No genitive. Let me try again:

    "einem" and "einen" are used respectively as the dative and accusative cases of "man".
    So "einem" refers back to the hypothetical avid book-reader introduced earlier in the sentence.

    "Es scheint mir, dass..." works the same way as "es freut mich, wenn..." and here 'mich' is still reflexive, or isn't it?
    Neither of these is reflexive in my book, and neither is "einem". A reflexive would come out as "sich" in third person, and these don't.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    "einem" and "einen" are used respectively as the dative and accusative cases of "man".
    ...AND people in general!

    cf. Es freut einen, wenn man das hört.

    This applies to men and women equally. When I as a native speaker read/hear a sentence like this I don't get even the slightest feeling that it refers to men only.
    If you like you can think of it as:
    Der Mensch -> ein Mensch (nom) / einen Mensch (acc) -> einen (as pronoun representing the noun Mensch)
     
    Nope! Sorry, Hutschi, that's a misconception! With 'ihm' you may be introducing ambiguity.
    Don't forget the nested subclause structure and the "close binding rule" for pronouns and their antecedents!!

    Consider this simpilfied, slightly modified version:
    Jemand, der niemals Tränen vergossen hat, weil eine Geschichte zu Ende ging und man Abschied nehmen musste vom Protagonisten und seinen Freunden Andreju, Fuchur dem Glücksdrachen und Pjörnrachzarck dem Steinbeißer, ohne deren Gesellschaft ihm das Leben leer und sinnlos schien...

    If you use 'ihm' as above, then 'deren' will logically refer to "seinen Freunden Andreju, Fuchur dem Glücksdrachen und Pjörnrachzarck dem Steinbeißer" and 'ihm' will refer to 'dem Protagonisten'.
    If you use 'einem' instead, it can only refer back to the top level subject 'jemand'.

    -------------
    Aiiyah, Hutschi, you spoilt all the fun. Since you as a native speaker came up with this erroneous idea that 'ihm' makes things better and clearer, I can't really use the tease I had planned.
    I thought of telling kantarou that The Neverending Story is a children's book and that's why it's "written in such simple and easily understandable form"... :p
    Of course, truth be told, it is a rather complex writing style and the excessively nested subclauses can also cause grownup native speakers to lose track of the grammatical structure. :rolleyes:
    But it IS a very vivid form of writing that makes kids think and dream and imagine a real fairytale world in their minds!
    I was wondering if you could possibly explain to all the concept of the ”close binding rule"? Is it anything in Chomsky's "GB ( = Governance and Binding) Theory"? Or is it supposed to be a different, common-knowledge thing for everyone here to be well-aware of?
     

    JClaudeK

    Senior Member
    Français France, Deutsch (SW-Dtl.)
    "einem" and "einen" are used respectively as the dative and accusative cases of "man".
    :thumbsup:
    Siehe:

    Die Deklination von man

    Das Indefinitpronomen man kommt nur im Nominativ vor. Im Akkusativ und Dativ wird statt man einen bzw. einem benützt. Einen Genitiv gibt es gar nicht.

    Nominativ: man
    Akkusativ: einen
    Dativ: einem
    Genitiv: (–)
    Dativ
    : Wenn man kein Deutsch versteht, kann einem das viele Probleme machen.
    Akkusativ: Wenn die Deutschen einen nicht kennen, sind sie oft distanziert.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    I was wondering if you could possibly explain to all the concept of the ”close binding rule"? Is it anything in Chomsky's "GB ( = Governance and Binding) Theory"? Or is it supposed to be a different, common-knowledge thing for everyone here to be well-aware of?
    Close binding is a kind of heuristic principle.

    It means that something usually is related to something which is placed not far away but near its place.
    Things may be excluded by syntax rules, by semantics or be symmetry (beauty).

    Katrin und Anton sind Freunde. Ihre Mutter kam zu Besuch. Sie klingelte an der Tür.
    "Ihre" might refer to Anton. But this is excluded by gender. So it refers to Karin.

    Katrin und Anton sind Freunde. Ihre Mutter kam zu Besuch. Sie klingelte an der Tür.

    "Sie" could refer to any woman in the text. But the principle of near binding shows that it is connected to "Ihre Mutter" rather than to Katrin.

    The binding can go even to an earlier part, if there is nothing to connect to in the sentence. But if it is too complicate, it is blocked.

    Katrin und Anton sind Freunde. Ihr Vater kam zu Besuch. Sie klingelte an der Tür.

    This sounds wrong by semantic reason. Usually the binding of "sie" is to "Katrin". But it is not plausible that Katrin rang the bell. So here is no real binding. ( Ihr Vater kam zu Besuch. blocks it). No other woman is here, so an error correction program tries to make sense of it.

    Katrin und Anton sind Freunde. Ihr Vater kam zu Besuch. Sie öffneten.
    ---

    "Sie"=they. The nearest is "Katrin und Anton". It is semantically plausible, so it is considered this way.


    Wenn man kein Deutsch versteht, kann einem das viele Probleme machen.

    The nearest partner (and the only one) of "einem" is "man". So "einem" refers to "man".

    If the binding way is very long, it is hard to understand. You should better repeat the full word than.

    ---

    The good thing: It sounds complicate but you do not really have to learn it explicitely. Your language centre does this do for you by analogy.

    You can also call it Ockhams Razor or Kiss principle: Keep it simple and easy.
     
    Last edited:

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Correction:
    GB Theory = Government-Binding Theory.
    I only heard of it; because it must be another addition to the later Chomsky-ian ravings.
    I don't know all the finer details of Chomsky's theories but I found his "discovery" that 'colourless green ideas sleep furiously' quite convincing. ;)
    And yes, his GB Theory does deal with that concept, but I would guess that his theory is based on English and may not be fully applicable to other languages. In this Wiki article I found an interesting statement (highlighting by me):
    Many theories of syntax now have a subtheory that addresses binding phenomena. These phenomena exist in all languages, although the behavior of binding can vary in interesting and nuanced ways across languages, even across languages that are closely related.
    Hutschi has given you a good summary / introduction on binding in German in post #24.
     

    Schlabberlatz

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    Wer niemals offen oder im Geheimen bitterliche Tränen vergossen hat, weil eine wunderbare Geschichte zu Ende ging und man Abschied nehmen musste von den Gestalten, mit denen man gemeinsam so viele Abenteuer erlebt hatte, die man liebte und bewunderte, um die man gebangt und für die man gehofft hatte und ohne deren Gesellschaft einem das Leben leer und sinnlos schien –
    Wer nichts von alledem aus eigener Erfahrung kennt, nun, der wird wahrscheinlich nicht begreifen können, was Bastian jetzt tat.
    It seems, kantarou, that you were quite happy with the "man" earlier in the sentence -the one who "Abschied nehmen musste" and "Abenteuer erlebt hatte" - well then, "einem" refers to the same guy (or gal)...
    :thumbsup:

    I don’t know if @kantarou needs a translation, but maybe it could be helpful?
    Those who have not wept … … will not be able to understand …
    The others, the avid readers, had to take leave of characters in books, fictitious people with whom they had gone through lots of adventures … and without whom they [or: one] felt [no negation] that life was void and meaningless –
     
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