Word of the Day – “Rücken”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time, we’ll take a look at the meaning of

Rücken

 

Now you’re all like “Rücken? This topic is  booooooooooooooooooring.” but no, it’s not . A Rücken can be very nice. There’s even an idiom for it

  • Auch ein schöner Rücken kann entzücken.
  • A beautiful rear can also endear.

So… let’s take a look at Rücken and I promise you… there’s more to this word that you think.
Most of you probably know it already – der  Rücken means the backBack is an old Germanic word for the back but for some reason it has disappeared from most Germanic languages. They all use a version of Rücken. Now, Rücken is related to ridge and the two words probably go back to the “It’s crazy how ancient it is“-Indo-European root *(s)ker which was about  bending, turning. People called a Rücken a Rücken, because it is where the body bends and because a Rücken, just like a ridge, is slightly curved  … oh and guess where curve comes from by the way. Today, this connection to the idea of bending is long forgotten though, Rücken is just a word that means the back.

  • Mein Rücken tut weh.
  • My back hurts.
  • Ich habe Rücken(probleme). (just saying “Ich hab’ Rücken” is quite a fad at the moment –  young, old… all “have back”)
  • I have back problems.

All right.
Now, both in German and in English people started using the word for their back in a more abstract, broad sense of “what’s behind us” and before long back had taken up the very general idea of  “turning around“.  Like…  to look back is quite literally to look in the direction of your back, to go back is the same idea, and from there it’s only a small step to to give back, which doesn’t have much to do with actual back anymore. This back that is used with activities is zurück , which literally means “to the back”.

  • Ich fahre morgen zurück nach Berlin.
  • I’ll go back to Berlin tomorrow.
  • Bin gleich zurück.
  • Will be back in a minute.
  • “Was kostet das?”
    “120 Euro hin und zurück.
  • “How much is that?”
    “132 Dollars roundtrip. (lit.: forth and back).”

Zurück is (of course) also used as a prefix, there are (of course) MANY verbs with it and the translation is (off horse) not always with back. But the idea is always in there somewhere and I think you can get from context.

  • Ich ruf’ dich zurück sobald ich zu Hause bin.
  • I’m gonna call you back as soon as I’m home.
  • Die Verkäufe des neuen Deos bleiben hinter den Erwartungen zurück.
  • Sales of the new deodorant fail to live up to the expectations.
    The sales […] remain/stay back behind the expectations.  (lit.)
  • Einsteigen bitte…. zurückbleiben bitte.
    (standard on train stations… by the way, here’s a little video about the guy who’s the voice in the Berlin public transportation system as well as for the over 5000 train stops all across Germany and the woman’s voice of the U-Bahn and bus, by the way. If you’re in Berlin you’ll definitely recognize them :)
  • All aboard.. please stand back.
  • Thomas ist ein zurückhaltender Mensch.
  • Thomas is a restrained/reserved/unobstrusive person. (lit.: back-holding)
  • Der Politiker tritt wegen der Carport-Affaire zurück. (lit.: steps back)
  • The politician resigns because of car port gate.

All right.
Now, there are also many many nouns and what’s interesting here is that for nouns, at least for most of them, the prefix is just rück, not zurück. Even if they’re based on a zurück-verb. Like… the noun for zurückgeben (give back)and is die Rückgabe. Or for zurückgehen (to go back, to decline/recede) it’s  der Rückgang. Or for zurückziehen it’s .. meh, I think you get the idea.
Besides these verb based nouns there are plenty others like Rückseite (flipside, back side), Rückweg (way back) or die Rücksicht. Rücksicht  literally means “the view backward” and so it is actually the exact same as respect, which combines the back-idea of “re” combined with the Latin root spec… and that root is about looking. But Rücksicht more consideration than respect. Not consideration in sense of pondering something but in sense of showing, acting out of it. Turning down the music at night on a weekday, not walking a red light when there’s children watching, bringing your dog to heel if there’s a jogger coming… all these little moments where you show respect or consideration by going out of your way a little. This is what Rücksicht is all about.  Here are some examples. And note that in German the phrasing for exercising Rücksicht is to take it…. you  “nehmen Rücksicht”

  • Das hier ist sicher kein Japanischer Garten. Nur ein paar Blumen in der Stadt. Aber bitte nehmen Sie trotzdem Rücksicht und lassen ihren Hund NICHT auf unser Beet kacken. Danke.
  • This right here certainly isn’t a Japanese garden – just a few flowers in the city. But please show respect anyway and DON’T let your dog poop on our patch. Thank you.
  • Aus Rücksicht auf Marias Gefühle geht Thomas nicht zur Party, obwohl er Bock hat.
  • Out of consideration for Maria’s feeling Thomas is not going to the party, although he’d like to.
  • Rücksicht – besser als Vorsicht.
  • Consideration/”every day respect” – better than caution. (no idea how to translate that better)

The last example is the claim for an on-going campaign for more Rücksicht in traffic. Here’s one of their posters ... maaan, some real subtle Photoshop work right there :). They also made some videos and they are really really bad so… let’s watch one. But before we do let’s finish with rücken first.
“Wait, is there much more to say?”, you wonder?
Yes, there is. We haven’t talked about the verb rücken yet…  and it’s totally not what you think it is.

rücken – the verb

In a perfect world rücken  would mean to back. But the world is far from perfect and rücken is far from to back.  It’s even far from the concept of back. In fact, it’s not even related to the word Rücken.  It’s just spelled the same because… confusion.  The verb rücken is related to the English word  rock
This one
!
Wait, no, I mean this o...
oh, never mind. I think it’s this one….
hmmm, still not right… well, then it must be this one 
yeah this is it. The verb to rock originally meant to move gently from side to side. Like what mother with her child. But over time the verb got less and less gentle. Just like the music. Like… back in the day people were rocking (moving gently) to Mozart’s mellow melodies, some 200 years they were rocking (head banging) to Iron Maiden mauling their guitars and the phrase rocking a baby to sleep is kind of funny. But anyways… this loss of gentleness of the verb also happened in German and today, there’s a Ruck which is sudden movement, a jolt and there’s rücken which could be described as:

to mov (something) over small distances across a surface in a stop and go fashion

Man, German… don’t you think this is a little… over-specific? No? Okay… just wondering.
So, rücken is a bit like schieben but way less smooth. Think of moving your kitchen table to the side. It’s really noisy because the legs of the table kind of stutter, rock across the surface. In practice though,the verb is often used in the broader sense of to move slowly … or even just to move. And it’s used for abstract movements, too. Just keep in mind that you cannot really rücken anything that has wheels or slides well because that goes against the stuttering background of the word.
Enough theory though… examples.

  • Scooch over.
    (common way to ask someone to move to the side a little on a bench or a
    couch… for joke also often said as “Stück mal’n Rück.”, that’ll really make you sound like a native)
  • Rück mal’n Stück.
  • Ich habe den Kühlschrank zur Seite gerückt – ein Fehler.
  • I moved the fridge a bit to the side – a mistake.
  • Weihnachten rückt immer näher.
  • Christmas is inching closer and closer.
  • Nach dem überraschenden Rücktritt des Ministers beginnt im Ministerium jetzt das große Stühlerücken.
  • After the surprising resignation of the minister, the big shake-up in the departments commences.
    (Stühlerücken is a common term used in newspapers to express how everyone gets up to move to a new position)

Of course, there are also prefix versions of rücken and they’re all in some way about movement.

  • Im Schlafzimmer sind zwei getrennte Betten, die man aber problemlos zusammenrücken kann.
  • In the sleeping room there are two separate beds but you can move them together without problems, if need be.
  • Zitate werden oft eingerückt.
  • Quotes are often indented.
  • Nach heftigen Protesten ist die Regierung von ihren Plänen zu einer Smart-Phone-Steuer abgerückt.
  • After heavy protest the government has backed away from plans for a smart phone tax.
  • Katzenbaby auf Baum – Feuerwehr musste anrücken.
  • Kitten on a tree – fire fighters had to show up.
    (using “rücken” here implies mass, it’s not just one guy, it’s a whole unit)

While not super common, all these verbs are definitely in use and you’ll come across them in spoken and written German. But as long as you know that it’s about movement and not about back you’re good and you don’t really need them to express yourself. Well… except one: verrücken.

verrücken

Verrücken by itself simply means to change the location of something by rückening it. What makes this verb really REALLY useful though is it’s ge-form… verrückt. Why is it so useful? Because it’s the number one German word for crazy. This meaning is not crazy at all if you thing about it… the crazy mind has been moved, shifted a bit, away from normal,

  • Du bist verrückt.
  • You are crazy.
  • Heute in der Bahn war so eine Verrückte, die voll laut über irgendwelche Verschwörungstheorien erzählt hat.
  • Today on the train there was this lunatic/crazy person who was very loudly rambling on about conspiracy theories.
  • Thomas hat immer so verrückte Ideen.
  • Thomas always has these crazy ideas.

Now, the word crazy is used like crazy in English. Some of the expressions are the similar in German. But there are differences too. Besides real crazy-ness verrückt can express oddness or curiousness. But not extreme-ness. For crazy in sense of extreme I think krass is the better choice.

  • My back hurts like crazy.
  • Mein Rücken tut krass weh.
  • “Did you know that Maria made third place at the Iron Man last year?”
    “No. Crazy shit.”
  • “Wusstest du, dass Maria letztes Jahr beim Iron Man dritte geworden ist?”
    “Nee. Aber krass/krasse Scheiße.” (very colloquial)

Wait a second… krass, crazy... could they be related? Let me find that out for you, hold on… hey, can one of you interns look up the background on crazy and krass real quick… yeah…… yeah now. I need it now,so hurry up!…  so … uhm… it’ll take a minute till my …uhm… search engine has the results so we have some ti… oh, there’s a call, well that is just in time: Melanie fromWinooski, Vermont, welcome to the show.
“Hey Emanuel, I have a question about to back.”
Sure, go ahead.
“So .. you said that rücken does not mean to back in sense of backing someone and I was wondering how I could translate that.?”
Oh that’s a good question … I think the most generic option is unterstützen but there are other versions like hinter jemandem stehen so it depends on context, I guess. Oh and there’s one with Rücken, too….  jemandem Rückendeckung geben. This is pretty much to have one’s back.
“Ah cool, thank you so much.”

Oh you’re welcome, thanks for your call.
And by now the result of the little research are here, too. The question was whether crazy and krass are related and it turns out … drum roll…. drrrrrrrrrrrr… dishhhhhh…. they’re not! Crazy is related to a French word écraser, which is about breaking, while krass is related to grease and both words gehen zurück to Latin crassus which meant fat, solid, dense. 
And that’s it for today. This was our look at the word rücken. The noun der Rücken means the back and just like back in English rück is used in all kinds of contexts about reverse or turn around. The verb rücken, related to to rock, is about moving across a surface but in colloquial speech it’s used rather freely.
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions about Rücken, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

Oh and here’s the hilariously bad video of the Rücksicht-campain. The actors are SOOO bad that they over-pronounce everything so I think you might be able to understand a lot.

Vocab:

der Rücken – the back
der Rückenwind – the tail wind
zurück – back (as a direction)
zurückbleiben – remain behind, also “stay back” on a train platform
geistig zurückgeblieben – mentally retarded

zurückkommen – to come back, to return
zurückgehen – to go back, also to recede, to decline
zurückgeben – give back, to return
zurückhalten – hold back (careful there, not the same idea as Rückhalt)
sich zurückziehen – to retreat, to seclude oneself, to go to the back room to ponder
die Zurückhaltung – the restraint (as a behavior)
der Rückhalt – the support
der Rücktritt – the resignation (stepping down from a position)
die Rücksicht – the regard, respect (implies that you act on it)
der Rückblick – the look back, the retrospective
der Rückgang – the decline
der Rückruf – the call back
die Rückrufaktion – the call back (for car parts with a production fault)
die Rückendeckung – the backing
der Rückspiegel – the rear view mirror
das Rückgrat – the spine
rückständig – backward, underdevelopped
rückwärts – backward (as a direction)

rücken -move (small distance, stuttering fashion)
“Rück mal’n Stück” – “Scooch over/Move over a little so I can sit there, too”
vorrücken – move forward (often for armies)
abrücken – move away from (also for armies)
anrücken – colloquial term for “to show up in force”
einrücken – to indent, also: to invade (for armies)

zusammenrücken – move together, also used for getting closer as a group
verrückt – crazy
krass – extreme-crazy’
Das macht mich wahnsinnig – That is driving me crazy.

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Uiy
Uiy
24 days ago

Yiiiyu

demoneyes136
demoneyes136
6 years ago

If you don’t already have it in one of your False Friends sections, you really should add “Rücksicht” as to the English eye that just screams “Hindsight”. Which of course it isn’t, “Hindsight” being (a quick lookup suggests) either “Nachsicht” or “Rückschau”. Fascinating, and useful to know!

demoneyes136
demoneyes136
6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I must confess I can’t (as a native English speaker) think of any “lenience” context to “hindsight”. Hindsight is simply the opposite of Foresight. Foresight is the ability to consider what will happen in the future; hindsight is considering something that happened in the past (and taking the advantages that that brings in terms of understanding). It has a definite feeling in English of “wisdom you only have after the event”, though this can be either wisdom someone could not reasonably have had – “yes, but how much of that is hindsight?” – or wisdom that they really should – “in hindsight, the third slice of cake may have been a mistake”… :-)

Ah dictionaries! dict.cc doesn’t give “Rückblick” for “hindsight”, nor “hindsight” as one of the meanings of “Rückblick” (review, retrospect) but it *does* then have “im Rückblick” for “in hindsight” or “in retrospect”. I think it may be closer in sense to “Review” than “Hindsight” though? Review also means looking back but without that sense of only-after-the-event-wisdom that Hindsight has.

I also see “aus der Distanz betrachtet” – viewed from a distance? – for “with the benefit of hindsight” which is a fair enough idiom and perhaps captures some of the sense of the English word.

It also gives both “Rückschau” and “Nachsicht” as translations for “hindsight”. (I also see (lurking in contextual notes) “Sicht im Nachhinein” for yet another variant!) But it does also have “Nachsicht” as lenience so I’m wondering if Nachsicht is busy changing its meaning? Google Translate on the other hand doesn’t list “Hindsight” anywhere for “Nachsicht” – indulgence, leniency, forbearance, patience, tolerance, clemency. Though how this comes from adding “Nach” to “Sicht” is a separate curiosity!

Danke!

demoneyes136
demoneyes136
6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Danke nochmals. One thing I love about looking at another language is how it makes you reexamine your own in a new light, in this case thinking about the differences between “review”, “retrospect” and “hindsight”. “Hindsight” is made up of rear+sight, looking back, whilst “retrospect” is, now I think about it, exactly the same – “retro” as in retro-rocket (something that pushes you backwards to slow you down) or retro-fashion (clothes that echo fashions of the past) plus -spect as in aspect or spectacle or spectrum. Whereas with “Review”, whilst it does necessitate looking back into the past, the emphasis is more on looking at something *again* – literally re-viewing. Three words, all about looking back/again at something but not meaning quite the same thing. But trying to pin down the difference, ah, therein lies the fun.

“Review” is the outlier here. It does only mean “look at again”. That may be to try to learn lessons; it may be that mistakes are spotted and wisdom is gained – “following review, we have decided your performance score should have been Good” – but the emphasis is on the looking-again part.

“Retrospect” the emphasis is on looking back from a distance, and it’s *sometimes* interchangeable with “hindsight”. You could just as easily say “in retrospect, the second helping of dessert was a mistake” as you could “with hindsight…”. (It has perhaps a slightly more formal/sophisticated feel, but can easily be used in a jokey mock-serious sense because of that.) But you would *not* say of somebody’s opinion “Yes, but how much of that is retrospect?” Retrospect is the act of looking back; hindsight is the only knowing after the event. They overlap but the emphasis is subtly different.

So how do those map to “im Rückblick” ( “rückblickend”), “Rückschau”, “im Nachhinein” … and possibly also [Ich sehe jetzt in späte Einsicht!] “späte Einsicht” (literally “late understanding/realisation” which does sounds very hindsight-ish as an idea). Linguee shows it *sometimes* translating as “hindsight”, though also often just a sense of either “being slow to realise” or just of “further examination”.

http://www.linguee.de/deutsch-englisch/uebersetzung/sp%C3%A4te+Einsicht.html

I’m perhaps getting the impression that “Rückblick”and “Rückschau” are somewhere between “review” and “retrospect” with the emphasis on the looking again/looking back part – the former possibly being closer to “review” – so like “retrospect” they do overlap a little with “hindsight”), whereas “im Nachhinein” and sometimes “späte Einsicht” are closer to “hindsight” (but therefore also overlapping with “retrospect”!)? And as usual I feel for dictionary compilers! *grin*

– Phil

dieg7s
7 years ago

Small note: What about “Rücktritt”? I guess it’s also related with Rücken and you even used it in one example… but it’s neither marked nor listed with the vocab. Just in case you wanna add it there!

Anon
Anon
7 years ago

Weihnachten rückt immer näher.

Could be

Christmas is inching ever closer.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago

One important – IMHO – expression is missing, rückgängig machen.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Es kann schwierig sein, aber mal versuchen.

– Verdammt, ich hab zufällig den ganzen Text gelöscht!!!
– Na, drück mal einfach auf den Undo-Pfeil, das macht alles rückgängig.

Simon
Simon
7 years ago

Hi. I am the one who mentioned about translating this contents into korean lately. I have done half of the prefix ‘be’. And here is the link http://blog.naver.com/blackcowboys/220386380099 . But I already have tried Google translation…and it make no sense …..
If you really want to know what I post on that, I could translate into English for you. Anyway thank you again for making this awesome contents:)

Ruth
Ruth
7 years ago

On the court-sy courtesy thing – does Höflichkeit have the same vibe of formality? Since Hof = court I have long supposed so.
Rücksicht is exactly what I’d like large people to have/take before putting themselves where they block a smaller one’s view! There doesn’t seem to be any English word that conveys it so well. …. Hindsight is something completely different.
Did the Rücksicht campaign make any noticeable difference? I was fortunate enough to have a few days in Berlin last year. It seemed that the vast majority using roads and footpaths were admirably aware and considerate of others. Strikingly so.
Rucksack is indeed used in English. I learned it with the “ruck” pronounced like “rook”, but find that many who use it pronounce the first syllable to rhyme with “luck”, which sounds very clunky to my ears. Using “backpack” avoids disagreements.

Ruth
Ruth
7 years ago
Reply to  Ruth

Addendum.
Should use phonetic symbols. There are so many variations in vowel pronunciation in English that examples from other words only work for folk who pronounce them as the example-giver does. “ʊ – lax high back rounded vowel” is what I use in “rucksack”, not “ʌ – mid central unrounded vowel”.

alexviajero
alexviajero
7 years ago
Reply to  Ruth

Hahaha. Well, if it is any consolation, I’m 6’2″ (189 cm), and I do feel bad for whomever has to sit behind me in a cinema. This is because occasionally (not very often), someone with a bigger head sits in front of me, and so I know how annoying that is. But would you have us poor, blameless, tall souls sit in the very back row at every event? :-)

Ruth
Ruth
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

At least the bikers in Münster have bells and use them!

Before the opportunity is gone – does anyone else out there think that some (especially American) usage of “fu..ed” could be a corruption of “verrückt”?

Peter
Peter
7 years ago
Reply to  Ruth

For me (American learning German), I’ve always thought of them as cognates (whether or not they are) to remember the meaning of verrueckt.

Ruth
Ruth
7 years ago
Reply to  Peter

Thank you for that. In British and Australian usage I don’t think you could go any further than to say that there’s some overlap. I’ve heard it in American films and thought that it sounded as though “verrückt” was pretty much exactly what was meant. Given the similarity in sound and the extent of immigration of German speakers to the US …. Possible?

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  Peter

. I’m not seeing it. I think maybe in the past tense, “that’s F***d up,” we use it sort of like, “verrueckt,” but that is still a stretch for me. And I come from a part of the US where German had a big influence (Wisconsin). For example, people often use “by” instead of “at” in everyday English the way German’s would use “bei.” You’ll hear, “we have roast beef dinners by our house on Sundays”… This would sound completely normal to someone from Milwaukee (very German) but it always sounded strange to my ears (I’m from closer to Minneapolis)… So, I don’t think there is a connection. Just my 2 cents.

Ruth
Ruth
7 years ago
Reply to  Peter

Thanks for your 2c worth, too, Anonymous. I do mean only past tense, but no prepositions. With “up”, the crazy meaning is within the familiar range. It might help to know where I’d heard it – things my children have watched and the swearing has got my attention, but not much else.
Will now listen out for the sort of “by” usage you describe.

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Maybe part of the issue is that there is actually a difference between “courtesy” (non-count) and “a courtesy.” I think the former is much closer to “Rücksicht” (certainly closer to “Höflichkeit”), while the latter is more like “ein Gefallen.” (Actually, “consideration” is like that too, with a sharper difference in meaning – “a consideration” is the thing you need to take into account/think about.)

“Courtesy” (the “stuff”) feels more to me like a personality trait: you can have, show, or exercise it, and to me, none of those are really that different from “Rücksicht nehmen” – they’re just the basic expectation for civilized human behavior. But “do someone a courtesy” is definitely different from that – it’s going beyond your obligations in order to be nice.

alexviajero
alexviajero
7 years ago

Probably the closest cognate I can think of is “Rucksack.” In the military, we never said “backpack” but only “rucksack” and I think more people use backpack and rucksack as interchangeable in everyday English now.

alexviajero
alexviajero
7 years ago

Thanks for posting that Youtube clip of the announcer who does the voice-over for Berlin’s U-Bahn system. I rode the U-Bahn to and from (back and forth to :)) work during the 18 months I lived in Nürnberg, and I clearly remember that guy’s baritone voice to this day. (Maybe that guy had a Bavarian accent, because “nächste” in the video you linked to sounds different, more like “nieschte” to my ears, which is maybe more of a Berlin accent?) Back then (early ’80s) there was only one U-Bahn line in Nürnberg, and I had all the stops memorized in order. “Die nächste Haltestelle ….. Hauptbahnhof.” “Die nächste Haltestelle,,,,, Weißer Turm.” “Die nächste Haltestelle ….. Maximilianstrasse.” Good memories.

alexviajero
alexviajero
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I’m sorry, this is so off topic. The Metro in Washington, DC, has “safety doors” which means that even if someone’s coat is touching the doors to the trains, they cannot close. (Maybe you use them in Europe too, now, but I remember once in Munich, the subway doors closed with a buddy of mine trapped briefly when the doors closed in tightly on his shoulders and caught him for a few seconds.) There is the recorded voice (which you can hear in the link below) that says, “Step back, doors closing.” Well, tourists often don’t catch on, so sometimes, this announcement gets repeated 3 or 4 times before the doors actually can close. Someone had the bright idea about 10 years ago to make the voice “more rude and urgent sounding” so that people would pay attention. So, for about 3-4 months, they had a new recording, where the announcer practically yelled, “MOVE AWAY FROM THE DOORS!!” The locals here were actually offended, so Metro went back to the original recording, a woman’s voice everyone recognizes. Anyway, in addition to that recording that announces stations and doors opening/closing, the local conductors can also use the public announcement system. And people who ride the trains every day start to recognize the individual conductors (some of them are quite chatty and have humorous personalities). So, on this link, someone has posted a clip, where you hear the recorded voice (female) but also, the voice of his favorite local conductor, who is clearly having some fun, and sounds like he’s auditioning to be a radio DJ or something. It’s pretty funny. (One line that is a little hard to understand is when he says, “Orange line train to Vienna.”)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZ7U4IwmHfQ

Again, sorry for the rant, but the clip you posted above from Freiburg reminded me of this, and it is pretty funny.

jonhurleydesign
7 years ago

I was wondering about the English “to ruck” as in to make creases or crinkles on a smooth surface and how when you rub your hand along your spine it feels all bumpy like its been rucked up. (depending on how skinny you are of course). any connection do you think?

alexviajero
alexviajero
7 years ago

I have never heard of the verb “to ruck.” I don’t think it is used in American English much (if at all); at least I’m not at all familiar with it.

Jon
7 years ago
Reply to  alexviajero

Yes in British English we say to ruck up which means to crumple up also in rugby there is a ruck or scrum.

MegaMu
MegaMu
7 years ago

I wouldn’t use back and forth in that context at all. I would say it’s €120 there and back. Back and forth is when something goes one way then another way and then back the first way etc, repetitively. Like to and fro. But not like a train ticket. Normally.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

I’m a little confused on “krass”, though. In English we have “crass” – and both Pons and Oxford list krass and crass as synonyms (however neither list krass as crazy). Whenever I’ve seen “krass” in a sentence I’ve always used the English interpretation – but I’d never use crass in any of the circumstances that you listed above*. If I were to tell someone that their idea was crass I’d probably be indicating that their idea was tasteless, low-class, or inappropriate for the circumstance. I’d use similar adjectives to describe a crass person. I’d also say that if you were describing someone as crass you would be feeling some kind of second-hand embarrassment; their lack of awareness/foresight/care for social mores is almost painful. I think crassness also has something to do with circumstance too, however. For example, to gossip with my mother about a family member in the privacy of my home might only be a little crass, to do the same at a function hosted by the family member in question would be VERY crass. Crass as a more abstract adjective can also indicate something is blatant – but again, for me it’s very negative – I’d say it indicates a lack of awareness,foresight, and class, in addition to being obvious.

I find it interesting in your second(?) example:
“Did you know that Maria made third place at the Iron Man last year?”
“No. Crazy shit.”
Krass seems more like “Wow, way cool, go her!”
Where as to me that exchange sounds more like:
“Did you know that Maria made third place at the “Iron Man” (read: fun run aimed at school aged kids) last year?”
“What, Maria? The 25 year old cross-fitting, protein-shake-smashing, gym fiend is bragging about coming third in a fun run? Ugh, how crass.”

What my very long winded question comes down to is:
Does krass carry any of those connotations? It feels strange that dictionaries are listing krass = crass, when you’re usage doesn’t feel like it reflects the English idea of crass at all. Or is it a young/colloquial thing/recent usage that has removed negative stigma? Or is my interpretation of crass perhaps regional?

Thanks again for all the work on the blog, it’s been incredibly interesting and very helpful.

Thanks

*Australian English – YMMV.

alexviajero
alexviajero
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I agree, American English uses “crass” the same way you describe, and really only that way. Always negative, and never in an ironic sense to imply “that’s nuts!” BTW, speaking of the most common way to say “you’re crazy,” I remember hearing the phrase, “spinnst du?” often (though not necessarily directed at me, :))

Tyler Rutland
Tyler Rutland
7 years ago
Reply to  alexviajero

Good phrase. useful.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Sorta like toll initially meant something else…

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks for the response – that clears it up heaps (boo to the dictionaries). I’m glad this one has been explained – if someone told me soup I made was “krass lecker” I’d freak out trying to translate it. “Whats wrong with the soup? How does something taste classless? Oh god have I made a horrible faux pas? Are they vegetarians? Did I know they were vegetarians?…”.

Peter
Peter
7 years ago

I would use ‘consideration’ or ‘considerate’ for ‘Ruecksicht’.
– I don’t like my neighbor, but I play my music quietly out of consideration of his kid.

I often tell my children : “Please be considerate”. Depending on context, they know what I mean. For example, don’t be loud after your little sister is in bed, or don’t take too big a piece of cake [out of consideration for those who haven’t had any yet], or hold the door open for your grandmother. This seems consistent with the ‘Ruecksicht’ examples you gave.

berlingrabers
7 years ago

Wegen “krass”: Es gibt auch im Englischen das Wort “crass”, das so viel wie “grob” oder “anstößig” bedeutet.

“Courtesy” wäre auch eine gute Übersetzung für “Rücksicht”.

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Da würde ich wahrscheinlich wie Peter “consideration” bevorzugen, irgendwie klingt nämlich “courtesy” etwas komisch, wenn es ein kleines Kind betrifft. Aber die anderen Beispiele, die er auflistet, könnte man auch mit “courtesy” beschreiben (also “Please be courteous”). Bei Google kriegt man z.B. mit der Phrase “as a courtesy to other guests…” 11000 Treffer oder so. “Common courtesy” ist auch sehr sehr häufig. Vielleicht wird Nettigkeit doch als das absolute Basic-Ding im englischsprachigen Raum angesehen. :)

Peter
Peter
7 years ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

Thinking a little more about this, I would say that I think of ‘courtesy’ as having some business or organization involved (not just person to person). The big notable exception is the “common courtesy” phrase berlingrabers mentioned. “At least have the common courtesy to call me if you knew you were going to be late”. But most things I can think of where ‘courtesy’ is used are things like:
* courtesy desk at a store where you can get gift wrapping, lost&found, other customer service stuff.
* courtesy clerk is someone who puts your groceries in a bag.
* I think courtesy also has the implication that you are getting something for free that you would/should otherwise pay for. “This photo provided courtesy of FunFoto studios”, “The little league baseball team has new uniforms courtesy of SomeLocalBusiness”. You can get a courtesy wakeup call in a hotel.
There are a lot of service industry businesses that have ‘courtesy’ in the title… limos, hotels, valets, etc…

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Peter

Yeah, there’s definitely that hospitality aspect to it, and I think there are places where it would sound a little weird to use it interchangeably with “consideration.” I guess the reason it occurs to me as a good translation for “Rücksicht” is largely that it’s less ambiguous than “consideration” when it shows up out of context – since “consideration” can also mean “something that one thinks over/takes into account.” “Courtesy” always has something to do with how one treats other people.

As to the original concern Emanuel expressed, though, would you agree with me that showing/exercising courtesy has nothing to do with your actual feelings toward the other person involved? I’m pretty sure a lot of people at “courtesy desks” feel nothing but pure, white-hot hatred for all the people they’re there to be courteous to… :D

jag041
jag041
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Das geht doch schön! Aber man würde in diesem Fall “to” statt “for” verwenden.

jag041
jag041
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Weil du gedacht hast, dass es vielleicht unrichtig wäre, habe ich “doch” verwendet…?
Warum funktioniert das hier nicht?