wenn ich gefragt werde

birder

Senior Member
In the record of a court hearing we have:

Auf weitere Frage von Rechtsanwalt X:

Wenn ich gefragt werde, mit welchen Mitarbeitern ich gesprochen habe, so kann ich das heute nicht mehr sagen.

Having a bit of a problem getting this use of the subjunctive into good English.

If I should be asked might seem OK, except that here we know that the question has actually been asked, so the "doubt" of the subjunctive seems out of place.

Thank you.
 
Last edited:
  • berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    There's no subjunctive in the German. It means If I am asked.
    If I should be asked, ... can also mean if I happen to be asked, ... without expressing doubt (compare e.g. the idiomatic expression funny you should say that after someone has said it). So, Birder is right that If I should be asked, ... is in general a good translation.
    If I should be asked might seem OK, except that here we know that the question has actually been asked, so the "doubt" of the subjunctive seems out of place.
    What about "Having been asked ...". If is not quite literal but if you are sure he has been asked and that's what he's referring to it might be the best translation.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Wenn ich gefragt werde, mit welchen Mitarbeitern ich gesprochen habe, so kann ich das heute nicht mehr sagen.
    I look at it like this (not in a court of law, though, oder doch. Smiley.): If you are asking me which of the employees/workers I spoke with, I can't recall that now.
     

    Dan2

    Senior Member
    US
    English (US)
    There may be an AE/BE usage difference at play here, but for me:
    If I should be asked, ... can also mean if I happen to be asked, :tick:
    ...
    without expressing doubt:cross:
    (compare e.g. the idiomatic expression funny you should say that after someone has said it). So, Birder is right that If I should be asked, ... is in general a good translation.
    Not for me, and I expect not for Birder either (who may have been misled by thinking "werde" has to be a subjunctive).
    As I understand the German, I would translate it as "If I am being asked..."
    Edit: I also agree with perpend's more colloquial translation and jazyk's initial reaction.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Not for me, and I expect not for Birder either
    Maybe we are talking cross purposes here. I meant "doubt" in contrast to a neutral condition (it might happen that I will be asked, it might not happen); not in contrast to a certain event.
    (who may have been misled by thinking "werde" has to be a subjunctive).
    "Should" is subjunctive. I don't think Birder was talking about "werde".
     
    Last edited:

    birder

    Senior Member
    There's no subjunctive in the German.
    I still have my first college book, Basic German by Prof. Paul H. Curts (1953) :eek:, which contains chapters entitled Primary Subjunctive and even Secondary Subjunctive! :D with the cute statement that "Whenever the primary subjunctive form is identical with the indicative, the secondary form must be used" with the illustration: Er dachte, daß sie ihn gesehen hätten. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited:

    Dan2

    Senior Member
    US
    English (US)
    There's no subjunctive in the German.
    I still have my first college book, Basic German by Prof. Paul H. Curts (1953) :eek:, which contains chapters entitled Primary Subjunctive and even Secondary Subjunctive! ...
    Note the (correctly used) "the" in jazyk's statement. He's not saying there's no subjunctive in German; he's saying there's no subjunctive in the German you quoted.
    Thanks to all for this discussion. I think I will go along with Berndf's "having been asked" as fitting the context of the already asked question.
    It does fit the context and is perfectly good English, but I think "If I'm being asked ..." is closer to the original and has no disadvantages.
     

    Robocop

    Senior Member
    (Swiss) German
    Wenn ich gefragt werde, mit welchen Mitarbeitern ich gesprochen habe, so kann ich das heute nicht mehr sagen.
    To me, this looks like "wenn Sie mich fragen/wenn man mich fragt" (if you are asking me, if I'm being asked). You sort of ask a question yourself as a prompt to introduce an aspect that you think should be considered in the discussion.
    On the other hand, if the lawyer actually asked to whom of the staff he had spoken, the part in blue would be an "empty statement" meant to buy time for the answer (instead of answering directly "ich kann das heute nicht mehr sagen").
     
    Last edited:

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    I think, the basic meaning in your case can also be:

    If I understand you correctly, you want to now to whom of the staff I have spoken, but unfortunately I forgot it and cannot tell you.

    If the question is, ...

    The original sentence is fuzzy (as you can see when you read the different interpretations), and I think too, that the beginning is rhetorical to win time.
    Can you give more context, to clarify this?
    What was the question, actually, the lawyer asked?

    Basically I agree with "having been asked ..." - but it depends on context. It can also be a correction of the question.
     
    Last edited:

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Support: If I am being asked, ...

    "Having been asked" gives me a grammatical freeze in my brain (given the rest of the statement/sentence). Smiley.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top