Forum Rocket German German Grammar So, why the extra words that don't seem to translate?

So, why the extra words that don't seem to translate?

DeanC7

DeanC7

Lesson 11.1 starts out with the sentence: “This Hey, du siehst ja nicht gerade sehr fröhlich aus!”  which is translated: Hey, you are not looking very happy!   There are two words, ja and gerade, which don't seem to be translated so I'm curious as to why they are necessary.  What do these words add to the sentence that would otherwise be lost were they not included?

I run across this (seemingly superfluous words)  frequently in Rocket German and sometimes it is explained and others it is not.  This is one of those instances when it isn't and it leaves me wondering.  Can anyone shed some light on the inclusion of these two words?

sfpugh

sfpugh

Ah, you have discovered modal particles! They are little words that don't seem to belong in a sentence and the meaning doesn't change if you leave them out.

They are used to express the speaker's attitude to what is being said and don't have an equivalent in English.

 

Think of “ja” here as emphasis.

You can find several videos about modal particles on YouTube.

I understand that Rocket German intends to add something on them in the course as they appear a lot in the course.

DeanC7

DeanC7

Thanks for the explanation.  The “ja” part actually makes sense (sort of), but the “gerade” still has me befuddled.  Is it too a “modal particle”? 

sfpugh

sfpugh

I don't think gerade is a modal particle, one on the many meanings it can have according to the Leo dictionary is currently.

I suppose you could translate the sentence as something like “You don't look very happy at the moment”.

 

Julia-Rocket-German-Tutor

Julia-Rocket-German-Tutor

Hallo DeanC7 und sfpugh, 

 

Yes, we have modal particles here! These are used to add emphasis or intensify what is being said but also express extra emotion or attitude of the speaker just as sfpugh has said. 

 

Ja in this sentence, is being used to intensify the word nicht. You could think of it as “really not”

Gerade is also a modal particle in this case. It is being used for special emphasis - you could translate “nicht gerade” as “not exactly”.

 

Modal particles are often not translated because it wouldn't sound very natural in English. 

You have probably already come across lesson 6.2 ‘Meeting the Family’ and 7.3 ‘On the Mountain’, but in case you haven't, these two include some explanations of modal particles. 

 

Tschüss!

 

Julia

sfpugh

sfpugh

It's funny, it never occurred to me to question gerade in this phrase before, thanks Julia or explaining it.

“Not exactly” could work here. You could translate the sentence as “Hey ,you don't exactly look very happy” although it doesn't quite sound complete to me, maybe you would expect “…too happy about something…”

DeanC7

DeanC7

Thanks guys.  The deeper I get into the German lessons, the more I realize that knowing the vocabulary is not the same as knowing the language.  These explanations really help make sense of the language as it is correctly spoken.  It really makes me respect the work of translators!

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