schließlich (text from 1989)

sedmont

Senior Member
English -- USA
I am not sure which of my two translations (if either) is correct. Thank you for any assistance.
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In diesem Sinne hat er schließlich das Scheitern der Kampagne darauf zurückgeführt, die Bewegung habe es nicht verstanden, sich auf geistigen Boden zu stellen.
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A) In this sense he ultimately traced the failure of the campaign back to the fact that the movement has not understood that it should place itself on a spiritual basis.
(here schließlich seems to refer to the ultimate cause of the failure)

B) In this sense he eventually traced the failure of the campaign back to the fact that the movement has not understood that it should place itself on a spiritual basis.
(here schließlich seems to refer to when he traced the cause of the failure)
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The content of the sentence makes me think A is correct. But the position of schließlich in the sentence makes me suspect B is correct. Which is correct? Or is the sentence ambiguous?
 
  • sedmont

    Senior Member
    English -- USA
    Kajjo and bearded, thank you.

    Do you come to your conclusion because "schließlich" immediately follows "er"? Thus we must assume it refers to him rather than to the ultimate cause of the failure?
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Yes, I came to that conclusion because of the word order - and also because 'schließlich' is not so often used in the meaning of 'ultimately'. With this meaning, I would rather expect letztendlich/letzten Endes or similar. I'd like to know whether Kajjo had the same motivation..
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    Thus we must assume it refers to him rather than to the ultimate cause of the failure?
    I am afraid I don't really understand this reasoning. (A) and (B) both correctly use an adverb, which refers to the verb. I just commented on the typical meaning and translation of "schließlich" (eventually). The alternatives ultimately/finally are not totally wrong, but in my opinion too strong to be an adequate translation here.

    However, the schließlich clearly does not refer to the cause. Then it would need to be an adjective, wouldn't it? Both in English and German?

    In diesem Sinne hat er das endgültige Scheitern der Kampagne darauf zurückgeführt, ...
    He traced the final/ultimate failure to...
     
    Last edited:

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    "Schließlich" indicates that he reasoned for some or for a long time and at the end of reasoning he concluded that the failure of the campaign etc.
    So I agree to Kajjo that both translations are possible and I would use eventually too if no overall context requires the stronger ultimately. Finally works, too.
     

    sedmont

    Senior Member
    English -- USA
    Hutschi, thank you for the explanatory comment, it's helpful.

    Kajjo,
    thank you for your helpful comments as well. I don't blame you for not understanding the reasoning. It was not so much about reasoning as it was about a guess necessary because of my partial blindness to German. When I saw that schließlich could mean "ultimate" -- that idea seemed naturally to want to refer to the idea of "cause." The interpretation didn't seem to fit well grammatically, but then I don't yet trust my grasp of German grammar, and in addition to my blindspots, I thought perhaps the author of the sentence could have mistakenly placed schließlich so that it modified the verb, when he meant to modify the cause. So I'm at a stage of my learning where I still need to check some pretty basic things.
     
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