German Advent Calendar 4 – Getting even

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Getting even

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Hello everyone,

day four of our Advent Calendar, and today it’s time for one of our traditions in the Advent Calendar – a word that starts with qu.
Yeah, it’s… it’s like the third year in a row, so this is a tradition now :).
German actually has quite a few nice words with qu, and today, we’ll take a look at

quitt

Looks a lot like quiet, and even more like quite. And even more more like to quit.
And indeed they are all related. But none of them quite fit quitt.

The origin of the family is the obscurely ancient Indo-European root *kweie- which was about resting, being quiet.
In the Slavic languages, it became кои (koj) and in the Germanic branch, it became the origin of die Weile (while), which originally meant a period of rest.
That’s kind of nice.  Like…

“When will you be done with the assignment?”
“That’s gonna take a period of rest and repose, boss. So you better not disturb me.”

Anyway, what matters for us is the Latin branch. Specifically, the word quietus. Because besides the original sense of rest and repose, this was also used in a sense of “free of burden“.  Which makes a lot of sense. If we don’t have a burden or obligation, we’re usually much more relaxed and peaceful.

And that’s how we got the words we have today. Quiet is more about the original sense of calm, while to quit evolved from the idea of “getting away from a burden“.  And quite originally meant something like clear, free and then toward clearly, without a doubt and eventually it became the intensifier it is today.

And what about quitt?

Well, the German quitt focused on free of burden in the sense of having settled a score, and so it is essentially a translation for even. Yes, another one.

  • “Du hast mein Bier getrunken?!”
    “Ja, du hast meinen Jogurt gegessen. Jetzt sind wir quitt.”
  • “You drank my beer?!”
    “Yes, you ate my yogurt. Now we’re even.”
  • “Ich schulde dir noch 10 Euro.”
    “Ach Quatsch, lad mich auf ein Bier ein, und wir sind quitt.”
  • “I still owe you 10 Euro.”
    “Ah, nonsense. Just pay me a beer and we’re even.”

“Wir sind quitt.” – it actually works pretty well to think of that as “We’re quiet/at peace.“, if you need another mental connection.
Now, we should note that the way we used it in the examples is pretty much the ONLY way to use quitt… “Wir sind quitt”. So you do NOT say “I am quitt”, and you also don’t say stuff like “I want to be quitt” or “I want to make us quitt.” or whatever.
Only, wir sind quitt.
This phrase is fairly common in daily life though and it’s a nice addition to your vocabulary.

And what you’ll also see sooner or later is the noun die Quittung, which translate to the receipt.
It is basically a paper that verifies that you paid for something you received. Which is NOT the same as a Rechnung (bill). A Rechnung is a paper that tells you how much you owe, a Quittung is a paper that certifies that you paid what you owed… a paper that acquits you.

In daily life, the Rechnung is often also treated like the Quittung, but in the world of accounting there’s definitely a difference.

Anyway, that’s it for today.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions or if you’ve seen quitt in daily life.
Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.

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Sally
Sally
8 months ago

Is this like the English expression where you more or less repay a debt of some kind: ‘OK we’re quits now’.

Jake
Jake
8 months ago

Does this work?

Ich habs ihm heimgezahlt, jetzt sind wir quitt. I paid him back, now we’re even.

Jake
Jake
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yes, exactly, that’s what I meant. Thanks.

coleussanctus
coleussanctus
8 months ago

I’ve come across “quitt werden” a few times in the context of getting even.

Es geht nich darum, mit ihm quitt zu werden.

But also as a synonym for “loswerden”, maybe. Like here:

Oder Fiat hat jetzt zu viele [Sensoren] und muss die quitt werden.

Was liegt dir auf der Zunge oder möchtest du gerne quitt werden?

I guess maybe the common denominator is the idea of bringing something into the right balance.

coleussanctus
coleussanctus
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ok, those parts of my mental database have been adjusted. Sometimes I can tell what’s “take it with a grain of salt” when I read it online, but not always.

Bron
Bron
8 months ago

So in English (or here in Australia at least), we say “Let’s call it quits,” to settle a difference. That seems to be from the same origins.

Agreschke
Agreschke
8 months ago

I agree with Colin. In Australia it is common to say “now we’re quits”, or “let’s call it quits” to mean “we’re even now”. It could mean after a verbal exchange or paying a debt. On another note Emanuel, I don’t get the role of “auf” in “lad Mich auf ein Bier ein”.

Jayne D Kulikauskas
Jayne D Kulikauskas
8 months ago

I’ve seen people mentioning “call it quits” There seems to be two meanings for this, as in this entry:

call it quits 1 agree or acknowledge that terms are now equal, especially on the settlement of a debt. 2 decide to abandon an activity or venture, especially so as to cut your losses.
The origin of the -s in quits is uncertain: the word may be an abbreviation of the medieval Latin quittus , meaning ‘discharged’, which was used on receipts to indicate that something had been paid for. The phrase is recorded from the late 19th century, but an earlier form, cry quits , dates back to the mid 17th century.
See also: call, quits ( https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/call+it+quits)

One of appears close to the German.

The English word acquittal is also related:
“Middle English (originally in the sense ‘pay a debt, discharge a liability’): from Old French acquiter, from medieval Latin acquitare ‘pay a debt’, from ad- ‘to’ + quitare ‘set free’.”
https://www.google.com/search?q=acquittal+etymology&oq=acquittal+etymology&aqs=chrome..69i57j0i22i30l2.12145j1j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

michele
michele
8 months ago

This is totally unrelated to the article, but sense I know you are currently reading these comments, I’ll ask now. Is there a way to know if you or someone else have responded to a question we asked possibly even on an old article? It might be too difficult to do? When I ask a question in Duolingo, I get an email that lets me know it was responded to. Personally, I think you are amazing for answering all the comments that you do.

Pia
Pia
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

The current function is good for you, but for us, sometimes we don’t respond to something because we have either forgotten that we asked it or given up waiting for a response. Consequently, there is my excuse for not responding to my comments. Anyway, I love how you take time to interact with us

michele
michele
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

The teaching profession has never been a big money maker (in the US) but worthwhile for me for 40 yrs. I hope you can make a fine living and continue this for a long time. Learners love good teachers. Thanks

Starbuck
Starbuck
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I have been able to subscribe to getting email notifications, but it would be better if:

1. It happened automatically after you make a comment. There’s been times when I forgot to subscribe so effectively I’ll never see the answer to whatever question I asked.

2. You didn’t have to confirm by clicking the email link each time. Its hard to subscribe by mistake. I don’t personally think the confirmation email is necessary.

michele
michele
7 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Sorry for the delay. I am not sure if you are referring to my previous Duolingo statement/request written above. Yes. I get an email notice for any comment on a sentence I previously asked a question. The person could be responding to another question asked by someone else, but if it is to the same sentence discussion, I get the notice. Did I answer your question?

Yuuu
Yuuu
8 months ago

I am fascinated by the etymological connections between different languages~

kofa
kofa
8 months ago

I really enjoy these articles, tracing down the etymology of words. While Hungarian is not related to German, we use many words and extpressions that have German roots. ‘Wir sind quitt’ exists in Hungarian also: “Kvittek vagyunk” (treating ‘kvitt’ as if it were a noun, and transforming it into a plural of sorts).

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago

I feel like even the English meaning of the word “quit” has changed over my lifetime. As a child growing up in the 70s and 80s in the UK, I’m pretty sure it was only ever used as an intransitive verb meaning to leave a job. And perhaps also in the phrase “calling it quits” (which I think is related to the german meaning). The use as a transtitive verb meaning to “stop doing something” feels very american to me, though I’m sure is now common in the UK.

Lawrence
Lawrence
8 months ago

How is it pronounced? I am beginner and need help.

syperk
syperk
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I guess he means “quitt”, which is pronounced “kvitt”, as you can confirm by clicking on the pronunciation button where the word is introduced above! :)

Michael
Michael
8 months ago

Emanuel, could you please explain why einladen is conjugated as lad ein? I understand the separable prefix. Why doesn’t lad have any ending?

Michael
Michael
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks.

Elsa
Elsa
8 months ago

Hello,
Later today because I have German class every Saturday morning.

focused free of burden in the sense (focused on free of burden in the sense)
pretty much ONLY way (pretty much the ONLY way)

I’d never come across the word “quitt”, thanks for the nice addition to my vocab :)
Bis morgen!

Mateusz
Mateusz
8 months ago

In Polish, the same as Ukrainian above – we use the word “kwita” for the same thing as quitt. Now I know the origin.

Amerikanskan
Amerikanskan
8 months ago
Reply to  Mateusz

Yeah, and ”квітка» or “квіта» is “flower” in Ukrainian. Perhaps a Quittung of the joy of nature? Haha!

Kinda like astrology – one can see links where one “wants” to see links.

Michael
Michael
8 months ago

A minor error a Quittung is a paper that certifies that you payed what you owed… payed should be paid

Michael
Michael
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

It is payed if you are using it in a nautical sense, where the y refers to, say, yacht. If the context is fInancIal, then then the i must go in the verb to match the I in the associated word. Perhaps that might fix it in your mind.

Bron
Bron
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

You could link it with Say and said. Pay and paid. Although pronunciation is different for some strange unknown reason.

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
8 months ago

Es gibt auch im Fransosiche, diese Redewendung ” quitt zu sein ” . Man sagt solche Redemittel in heutigem Sprache um ein Ausgleich, eine Balance oder eine Revanche zu erledigen . On est quitte maintenant !
Das kommt aus Latein Quietus her ! wie du hast schon gesagt .
Noch gibt es das Verb Quitter mit zwei bedeutung: eine Schuld bezahlen oder jemanden oder etwas oder einen Vertrag los werden .

haton
haton
8 months ago
Reply to  Ahmad Mazaheri

Ja, auf französisch sagen wir “nous sommes quitte”

haton
haton
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Actually you are right, it is an adjective and bears the -s. (But this is the kind of mistake very few people will detect).

Maryam Karimi
Maryam Karimi
8 months ago

Can I date you Emanuel?!

Starbuck
Starbuck
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Monogamy is for *quitt*ers ;)

Maryam Karimi
Maryam Karimi
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Aww lucky girl, lemme know if you got single again!

Pia
Pia
8 months ago

Die Quittung is more logical than the English word receipt. I do not know which language receipt comes from but learning to spell and pronounce receipt is rather stupid, I must say. haha

Pia
Pia
8 months ago

Let’s call it quits can also mean asking the other person to end an activity. Say a card or board game that is going on and on and for whatever reason, don’t want to continue. It has nothing to do with being even. Is that the same in German?

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Actually I think that the phrase “let’s call it quits” in this context has a fairly close connection to the german meaning. In reference to a game it can be understood as “let’s call this a draw”, i.e. “let’s declare this game even”, which then implies that the players will stop playing.

Pia
Pia
8 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I reflected on that too, however, I respectfully disagree because both parties can declare a winner. But it is a who cares win, not a hard fought win.

Ruslana
Ruslana
8 months ago

In Ukrainian we are saying: ми квити (my kvyty) that means: we are equal now, so quitt is used like a noun for saying: I paid you with the same coin or something like that