Word of the Day – “gar”

gar-sogar-pictureHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will take a bite of the word

gar

 

I hope it’s cooked. I mean… I don’t want to get Cinderella. Had that as a kid once. I was throwing up for days…
Awfully unfunny joke as an intro. Check.
Yeah. 2014. Getting things done.

Gar is a weird word. It means cooked. And it means at all. And it has come a long loooooooooong way … (click here for the obligatory flashback harp)
Once  upon a time, the Indo-Europeans found a root (e)r,  and it meant something like to get going, to get into motion. They planted this root and watered it daily with use so it grew into a tree, a huuuuuge tree with many leaves. To run is one of those leaves, as is to ride. And to rise.  And to raise  … oh and earnest.
A few centuries ago, there also was a Germanic word *ga-arwa (or garawēr or something similar… the sources vary) on that tree. This was a combination of a form of the original root and the prefix ge/ga which the Germanic people back then used to add to all kinds of things to imply completion. The meaning of that word was something like “done get going”… that is my very personal translation :)… and it meant something like… set, prepared. Now, in English people soon were just like “Meh… let’s just drop the ge, shall we and so geraete turned to .. ready. They did keep one word with the ge in it too… to gear (up), which clearly also has the prepared, set, ready idea in itself. Run, ride, gear, ready… they’re all one big family.
In German, they never had a problem with ge- . They loved it. And so they kept garo in the meaning of ready, prepared. But for some reason, they also kept playing around with the root and after a while they replaced the ge with their new darling prefix be-. And that’s where bereit comes from.

  • Ich bin bereit, dir zuzuhören.
  • I am ready to listen to you.

So… bereit and ready don’t only mean the same… they also are family. I was surprised when I found that out. Now, what happened to garo? Well, bereit was a huge success. Garo lost more and more ground and today, the only field in which it is still the word of choice for ready is… the kitchen. And not even the general ready as in dinner’s ready. No. It just means cooked as in the opposite of raw.

  • Das Fleisch ist gar.
  • The meat is cooked/done (ready – lit.)

There is also a verb garen, which means (gently) cooking.

  • Dampfgaren – oder: wie gare ich Gemüse möglichst schonend.
  • Steaming – or: how to cook vegetables as gently as possible.

Now, of course we don’t talk about gar because it can be used for cooking.
But on it’s walk through the centuries gar has taken on and lost  other functions too , some of which it still has today.
So… the original meaning was a general ready or prepared. That is not very far from a general  idea of completion. And, as we can see in English, that idea can be used as an intensifier

  • The glass is empty.
  • The glass is completely empty.

I mean… empty is empty and not sort of empty or almost empty. So what is completely adding if not intensity. And gar was used for exactly that.

  • Du bist gar schön.
  • You are utterly beautiful.
  • Sprich nicht gar so schnell.
  • Don’t speak all that fast.

This has come a little out of date. You can find it here and there but definitely sounds like you’re stage acting. But there is one use-case in which this gar is common… very common… incredibly hyper XXXL common.

garnicht

Let’s go right ahead and look at so…  wait, what’s that siren? Oh god, German spelling police… quick, I have to write it as two words.

  • Der Film gefällt mir gar nicht
  • I don’t like this movie at all.
  • Ich habe gar keine Lust auf Oper.
  • I have no Lust for opera at all (lit.)
  • I do not want to go to the opera at all.
  • Du weißt gar nichts, Jon Schnee.
  • You know (absolutely) nothing, Jon Snow.

That’s no joke, by the way. … they really did that. So awful.
All these versions, with nicht, nichts and kein are really really common and people use it every day. And if you want to put even more emphasis on the negative… well just extend the gar.

  • Ich habe gaaaaaaaaaaaaaah keine Zeit.
  • I have noooooo time     AT     ALL.

Now, sometimes people also use it with other words of negation…

  • Ich habe gar niemandem gesagt, was ich weiß.
  • I told absolutely no one what I know.
  • Ich habe das gar nirgends gesehen.
  • I haven’t seen that anywhere ever.

That is weird sounding to say the least though and you shouldn’t try it. It might work but it might also be just wrong. But with gar nicht, gar nichts and gar kein/e/n/m/r/s  … those always work and you should start using them. By the way… stretching out the gar is not the only way to make it even more intense… there is also the following  common idiom

  • ganz und gar

Literally, this means entirely and completely so it kind of super intensifies things. You can use that just like the regular gar and it is especially handy for those stand alone  no-s… a single gar nicht would sound a bit truncated in that case.

  • “Stör ich?”
    “Nein, ganz und gar nicht.”
  • “Am I disturbing you?”
    “Oh no,not at all.”

So, intensifying a negative is one of the things the complete-idea of gar has brought us, but it is not the only one. There is another super common word. Sogar.

Sogar – and the many things it doesn’t mean

Back a few centuries  ago… the words gar is still in common use as  completely. Two princesses sit around swooning over Sir Loras, that cool knight they have heard so much about….

  • “Er ist so stark und schön”
    “Ja… und so gar klug”
  • “He is so strong and pretty”
    “Yes, and so utterly smart.”

People used that way of intensifying a lot and so it fused and became one word – sogar. And then the original meaning changes, from so completely  to even. So from today’s point of view the princess said the following.

  • He is strong and pretty and even smart.

I don’t really know why there was this change. Maybe people got so used to their dramatic sogar that someone one day said

  • Auf dem Fest gab es Pfeffer aus Indien, Wein aus Italien und sogar Kartoffeln aus Amerika.

And the people around him were like… “What?! Pepper from India, wine from Italy and so utterly potatoes? That don’t make no sense.”. But it sounded cool and so they kept using this to underline how special something is. I mean… so utterly smart and even smart... the both do have the idea of special in them. But anyway… the original meaning was soon forgotten and today sogar means even… 

  • Mein Boss hat mir sogar was zum Geburtstag geschenkt.
  • My boss even gave me a birthday present.
  • Die Waschmaschine verbraucht nur 5 Liter Wasser und im Wassersparmodus sogar nur 3.
  • The washing machine uses only 5 liters of water and in water efficiency mode JUST (even as little as)  3.
  • Wenn Maria Milch trinkt, und sogar, wenn sie nur daran denkt, wird ihr schlecht.
  • When Maria drinks milk, and even when she only thinks about it, she gets nauseous.

Now, the word even is used for many different things and has many different translations. Sogar only works for the even that is reaching for extremes so to speak. Like… you can reach the apples on that branch but if you really really stretch out your arm you can even reach the bigger ones on that branch further up. You reach far out to include extremes for extremes with sogar. And that’s all it does. It is not like even that means all kinds of things.
In fact, let’s look at one example where sogar doesn’t work… or at least not without changing the meaning of the sentence.

  • Have you even read the book?

This can mean two things. One: you doubt that the other person has actually read it… and two: you think that reading the book is an extreme thing to do and the normal activity would be “put on shelf” or “look at the pictures”. The first one makes much more sense in this context and most people would understand it that way but the other one is possible too, at least in theory. And now guess what this sentence means.

  • Hast du das Buch sogar gelesen?

Exactly, number two. It sounds genuinely impressed at how extreme and out there reading a book is. And that’s all sogar does – reaching for extremes. Okay… is it really all it does? Like.. really? Only that? The answer is … No. It doesn’t even do that properly :). It only works in positive sentences. As soon as you introduce a nicht sogar is going to leave . those two… they’re really awkward about each other. I don’t really know what happened, but not even is not sogar nicht it is nicht mal.

  • Meine Katze passt sogar in diese Box.
  • My cat even fits into this box…. (sooo little)

     

  • Meine Katze passt nicht mal in diese Box.
  • My cat doesn’t even fit into this box… (soooo fat)

Ugh… German. Can’t you ever just use one word? Like.. what the translation is for something ALWAYS depends. Why must it always depend? Someone should tell the translations to grow up. On second thought though at least the stuff with sogar only working in the positive makes sense… we’ve said that sogar reaches for extremes, be they positive or negative. Add a not and  there is no more reaching… there is just missing something, if that makes sen.. meh whatever… let’s just say not even is nicht mal.

All right… so much  important uses of gar – gar nicht and sogar. Those are the ones you really need and those are the ones you’ll see every day.
There is one more usage that we could mention. It is a bit out of date but it is still around in books so you might come across it… it is gar that expresses surprise.

  • Hast du das Buch gar gelesen?

This question makes it sounds as if the speaker has hints that the other person read the book and the speakers finds that super surprising. The translation would be

  • Don’t tell me you’ve actually read the book. That… that would be crazy.

but not with this undertone of “don’t lie to me.” but rather in genuine surprise and disbelieve.Okay perhaps that’s a bit confusing. Let me just use an example that is more obvious.

  • Hast du gar im Lotto gewonnen?
  • You haven’t won the lottery… have you??!

There is genuine surprise and disbelieve in this. And that’s why it is mostly used in these kind of questions. And that’s also the difference to sogar, which talks about extremes but considers them realistic… and it often has a notion of on top of that.
All right. And I think that’s it for today. This was our German Word of the Day gar. It is related to ready, and it once meant ready but it got out of fashion and now it only means ready in sense of cooked. The idea of completion however, that is in the word, is part of two very important uses. Gar to intensify a negative and the word sogar, that means even in sense of reaching out for the extreme.

If you want to check how much you remember just take the little quiz we have prepared for you.
And if you have any questions or suggestion or sogar complaints, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

By the way, here’s a little riddle for you… which word can you build from the three letters of gar, that is a synonym for very?  If you get it right you have the chance to win an exclusive meet and great with Justin Bieber.

 

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cruthers
cruthers
11 months ago

Danke! “Du hast mich darum gebeten, eine 50-Pfund-Box aufzuheben, aber ich bin nicht mir sicher, ob ich [auch/sogar/mal?] eine 10-Pfund-Box aufheben könnte!” Kannst du mir dazu raten, welches Wort von diesen drei geht?

cruthers
cruthers
11 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Right, thanks, in English I would definitely use “even.” You’re really asking me to lift 50 pounds?? I’m not sure whether I could even lift 10 pounds! i.e. I’m not sure if I’m capable of even this lesser task. “To begin with” wouldn’t work (or at least would sound very unnatural). I guess I’m trying to get the same feel as “…, aber ich könnte nicht mal eine 10-Pfund-Box aufheben!” without directly using a negative phrasing. So… is überhaupt still my man?

cruthers
cruthers
11 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

If this reference is what I think it is, I might lose my mind.

schwanzschwanz
schwanzschwanz
1 year ago

I think I have also seen “selbst” to mean “even.” If this is right, what is the difference between “selbst” and “sogar”?

schwanzschwanz
schwanzschwanz
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Danke schön!

Vlad Padina
4 years ago

Oh my cat oh my cat oh my cat!
Your blog rules!

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

thanks! That helped a lot :)

Osama T
Osama T
5 years ago

First of all I wanna say thanks for all the practical explanations of seemingly confusing concepts, I found them to be extremely helpful.
There is one point I need some help with, how do you express the doubtful “even”, like in the example: “Have you even read the book?”
Thank you.

Chris
Chris
6 years ago

Hey Emmanuel kannst du mich eklären, die unterscheid zwischen ‘je’ und ‘sogar’, (und selbst) im Rahmen von ‘even’
z.B. ‘Ich hab’ mir die Badewanne geputzt, die Küche aufgeräumt, sogar/je das Abendessen vorbereitet… selbst war meine Mutter überrascht!’

Bill Kammermeier
Bill Kammermeier
6 years ago

– Mein Boss hat mir sogar was zum Geburtstag geschenkt.
– My boss even gave me a birthday present.

Why is there a “was” in this sentence? I have seen other German sentences with seemingly random “was” words tossed in. Can you explain what is happening here please?

Bill Kammermeier
Bill Kammermeier
6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thank you very much. That was driving me insane, because my mind was inserting a “what” in to the sentence. My traditional learning methods never really tell you about abbreviations like that.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

“Ich habe gar keine Kartoffeln noch” –
This is a mix between noch and gar nicht, but would the above sentence mean “I have absolutely no potatoes left.”? If not, how could I fit in the “left” bit there?

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I did have a look at noch actually, that’s where I got the noch from (somewhere you said nur…noch means only…left, but I didn’t think it would make sense to say I have only absolutely no potatoes left so I left the nur out). I will have a read through lassen 2 though, as I did skim briefly through the first entry for lassen. Thanks for the answer though, it’s these small things which make a lot of a difference :).

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Fantastic article, as usual

Cinthya
Cinthya
8 years ago

Everyone talking about their doubts or adding their knowledge into this incredible post… and I’m just here to say I’ve been an avid reader of this blog for a few months and what convinced me to subscribe was that flashback harp, which by the way, cracked me up. Nice touch!
I feel so lucky I found this site that not only is poured with wisdom and witty remarks, but also it’s made by someone who has the time and love to pass on all of his knowledge. Keep up this amazing site! :D

Lucius
Lucius
8 years ago

Hello Emmanuel, thanks very much for this post !
Is there any common conceptual thread (like ziehen is to pull with a string, a very useful concept) to the very many variants (with different prefixes) of richten. I am confused by the fact that so many of the meanings seem totally unrelated. richten judge, adjust. Hinrichten execute (OK probably a variant of to judge but why hin?) . einrichten install, set up. Unterrichten teach (with in) or inform (with über). berichten report. errichten to erect. not to mention ausrichten which has so many meanings (rectify, organize, please tell sb sth) that I find it impossible to remember.
Herzlichen Dank !! Lucius

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
8 years ago
Reply to  Lucius

Wie immer hilft uns das DWDS:

“hinrichten Vb. ‘an jmdm. das Todesurteil vollstrecken’; im Frühnhd. zunächst ‘zugrunde richten, verderben, töten’ (15. Jh.), erklärbar aus der Verbindung von hin ‘nieder, zu Boden’ (s. oben) mit richten (s. d.) in derBedeutung ‘in eine bestimmte Richtung bringen’. Unter Einfluß der Rechtssprache, die frühnhd. richten (wie schon mhd. rihten) auch im Sinne von ‘das Todesurteil vollstrecken’ kennt, zeigt hinrichten vom frühen 16. Jh. an gelegentlich ebenfalls diese spezielle Verwendungsweise, die seit dem 19. Jh. ausschließlich gilt. “

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
8 years ago
Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
8 years ago

Was fühlst du, wenn du ältere deutsche Texte liest? Z.B. die Lutherbibel. Die Wörter sehen oftmals anders aus, die Nebensatzstruktur hat sich noch nicht in die gegenwärtige Form umgewandelt… Empfindest du solche Text als irgendwie “fremd”, oder trotzdem als standarddeutsch mit mittelalterlichem Beigeschmack?

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Interessant…
Ich meine Texte wie Folgender:

“1 Vnd Darius aus Meden nam das Reich ein / da er zwey vnd sechzig jar alt war. 2 Vnd Darius sahe es fur gut an / das er vber das gantze Königreich setzte hundert vnd zwenzig Landuögte. 3 Vber diese setzet er drey Fürsten (der einer war Daniel) welchen die Landuögte solten rechnung thun / vnd der König der mühe vberhaben were.”

Ich kann das fast ohne Probleme verstehen, der Text sieht aber komisch aus. Und merke, wie die Nebensätze “gebrochen” sind. Ich wundere mich, ob du wüsstest, wann der Übergang zur heutigen Nebensatzstruktur vollzogen worden ist?

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
8 years ago

PS: “wie Folgenden”? “wie Folgendes”?

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
8 years ago

Und jetzt bin ich wirklich verwirtt :)

Früher hast du gesagt, dass diese “Verweiswörter” ohne Artikel idiomatischer aussehen und dass man damit auf der richtigen Seite wäre…

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
8 years ago

Sieht logisch aus. Ich glaube aber, ich habe auch “konkrete” Verweise ohne Artikel gesehen… Wenn ich so was wieder finde, frag ich dich nochmal :)

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
8 years ago

Also, ein Beispiel aus Wiki:

“Die Liquidität 3. Grades (L3) steht in folgender Weise im Zusammenhang mit dem Working Capital (WC):
L3 = 1 ↔ WC = 0”

Hier kann dem Verweiswort ein Nomen (Weise) zugeordnet werden, also nicht etwas ganz Abstraktes, aber trotzdem…

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Obwohl mein Deutsch nicht sehr gut ist, kann ich dir vielleicht eine Antwort geben…
Mein Lehrer hat Deutsch gelernt (obwohl er Musiklehrer ist) und er lebt oftmals in Wien. Er hat mir gesagt, dass sie in den mittelalterlichen Jahren (etwa wann Luther die Reformation begann) Deutsch zu verändern versuchten, weil sie Deutsch ähnlicher wie Lateinisch sein wollte. Darum erscheinen die Nebensätze hier ein bisschen “gebrochen”… glaube ich…
Ich bin kein Meister davon :P
Ich hoffe das hilft!

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

und weiter
Meine Schwester hat mir informiert, da sie Lateinisch in der Uni gelernt hat.
Die Verben geht nur zum Ende, nachdem Julius Caesar sich entschieden hat, dass seine Sätze die Verben immer zum Ende stellen würde.
Er wollte die Leute zum ganzen Satz zuhören, da er gedacht hatte, dass die Verben der wichtige Teil des Satzes war.
Das ist wahrscheinlich, warum ich Deutsch so interessant finde!

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

ack!
Ich sehe schon ein paar Fehler…
Ich kann mich korrigieren!
“nachdem Julius Caesar sich entschieden hatte”… hatte statt hat
“dass die Verben der wichtige Teil des Satzes wären”… wären statt war

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Okay danke
Mein Problem mit “wollen” kommt aus einem Buch über Deutsch, das ich gelesen habe. Es sagt, dass man manchmal das machen kann… Ich hatte es immer ein bisschen komisch gefunden.
Vielleicht kannst du mir erklären?
Das Buch sagt etwas so, “wir wollen die Kinder singen”
Macht das Sinn? Ich finde, es ist echt schwierig, Deutsch allein zu lernen… Deshalb komme ich immer wieder auf diesen Blog zurück!
Vielen Dank Emmanuel!
Hoffentlich kann ich eines Tages nach Berlin reisen, um dich kennenzulernen!

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Und ich werde bestimmt das meiner Schwester erzählen :D Sie studiert Politikwissenschaft und sie würde das sehr interessant finden!

Pamasich
8 years ago

Interessante Seite :D
Da sucht man auf Google nach einem Word-Problem und trifft solch eine Seite an :3
Obwohl Deutsch meine Muttersprache ist, ist der erste Drittel dieses Textes komplett neu für mich. Warum lernt man auf fremdsprachigen Seiten so viel mehr über die eigene Sprache als in der Schule oder im Alltag? D:
Wie auch immer, ich wollte nur sagen, dass ich diese Seite sehr lehrreich finde und ich werde noch den ein oder anderen Text zu früheren Wörtern des Tages durchlesen, bevor diese Seite in meiner vollgemüllten Favoritenliste untergeht :3

Frau Leonard
8 years ago

Very informative :) Glad I’m not the only one who likes etymology – I just so rarely get a chance to look at it from the German side!

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
8 years ago

Ist “nicht mal” eher umgangssprachlich oder kommt es auch in “seriöseren” Texten vor (Lehrbücher usw.)?

captious
8 years ago

Wait, you left us hanging. How do you say “Have you even read the book?”

captious
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks!

Jo
Jo
8 years ago

Thank you for another interesting and informative post!
In answer to your question in the washing machine example, I don’t think “…even only 3” works in English – I’d leave out the “even” there. I tried googling “even only”, and I did find some examples:
a. “If your Christmas card is even only half as good as this one from Lars Hinrichs, don’t bother.”
b. “Excellent property. Will be back (even only for the hotel)…”
c. “Even only if forever”
In example a, I think “If … is even (only) half as … (then) …” is an idiomatic phrase. And I think b is really “even if only”, which is also idiomatic. Example c is a song title, and it seems deliberately odd, so you have to think about it to try to figure out what it means. (Though the longer I look at it, the more it just looks like 4 words strung together…)

I’d like to be able to identify what the difference is between that and the other examples you gave, but it’s hard for me to put my finger on what it is about it.

Bram
Bram
8 years ago

Vielen, vielen herzlichen Dank! Diese Worte haben mich seit so lange verwechselt! Außer „gar nichts“, wusste ich gar nicht (haha), wie man die benutzt. Danke noch mal!

Nikolaus Wittenstein
Nikolaus Wittenstein
8 years ago

Re: “The washing machine only uses 5 liters of water and when in water efficiency mode even only 3”
I would say “The washing machine only uses 5 liters of water, and just 3 when in water-efficiency mode!”. I think “just” feels like it outclasses “only” to me. I would also easily say “just” in both places (“just 5” and “just 3”) or “only” in both places.