Danke! The translations of idioms they offer don't really help me learn if I don't know what it actually means.
I agree, DBMarkoff. Thank you for saying this, and thank you, hadasi2013, for clarifying the direct translation, so its analogy is clearer than Duo's!
yes, like "One hand washes the other" was translated as "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" what is this supposed to lead to? "I have to go scratch the laundry, see you"
Because the original German sentence doesn't contain the word "even" (= German: "sogar"), but adding it clarifies the meaning.
I interpreted it as "desperate times call for desperate measures". I feel this could also be an accurate alternative.
'desperate times calls for desperate measures' is something different, like rationalizing an unethical behavior to get one's way. whereas 'beggars can't be choosers' means when one is in need, not to be choosy about what is offered..
I'm curious about what the devil refers to in this idiom! I understand the English equivalent, but still. Curious.
From what I understand, the origins of the idiom are uncertain, but I think there is little doubt that the word "Teufel" ("devil") refers to Satan, the adversary of God. There might be a possible connection with the name "Beelzebub", which is often translated as "The Lord of the Flies" and refers to a demon/the devil in the Bible. In times of need, the devil does not eat what he normally eats (human souls?), but has to make do with flies, i.e. insignificant little insects that are moreover his own subjects. That might be an explanation, but, as I said, the origins of the idiom are apparently unknown.
Does this mean to say that the literary work "Lord of the Flies" was supposed to be some reference to Satan? In 6th or 7th grade when we read that, that didn't process at all, so I never put the pieces together until now (15 years later). You can only stretch idiomatic implications/subtleties so far before they're lost.
Yes, I believe that's how the title is generally understood. See:
I wish I could understand...
I saw an explanation that "Beelzebub" (a name for Satan¹ or a name for one of prominent fallen angels²) is often translated as "The Lord of the Flies" and the meaning of the sentence it'll be something like "in emergency (when there's no food) the devil eats flies". The meaning could be more than this. "In an emergency, the devil wouldn't eat only flies, but his fellows"¹.
Also I thought the words "Teufel Fliegen" might be "Lord of the Flies". Trying to examinate the phrase, I see that the verb is "fressen" not "essen". Maybe because the "Teufel" is not a human, and he's treated like an animal. Beelzebub is also treated like the demon of gluttony², so I just can't understand the real meaning of this phrase to German people. We can think that "when you have nothing, the devil is on you". Some people are capable doing everything.
Can you understand my thoughts? Like Dostoievsky said in Crime and Punishment "the poor can be honest, but the miserable cannot be." About this we can expand this thought to someone who's not have no money, but anyone who has a miserable soul (in a figured way. Soul can be understand like "the person's personality" or "the person's character". I'm not saying this in a religious way). Those people can do everything 'cause they're hungry (in a figured way) and they can pass through everybody. They're hungry and they can even eat (in a figured way) other people, just like the people who are corrupt do.
Another way to think about the phrase is like the example I think would fit in Duolingo's sugestion: when some guy did not study for a test and he does not know anything and he has an opportunity to look the test of his classmate who didn't study too, he might think "In der Not frisst der Teufel Fliegen". I'm wondering myself if the German people use this proverb in the same situation as the native english speaker use "Beggars can't be choosers" or "any port in a storm".
Just to say, I'm not a native english speaker, and I'm studying english yet. Because of this, might be some wrong things in this text.
PS.: I didn't find in english the link 1.
"In the hardship you gobble the devils flies"
Lol i have no idea when it comes to these idioms! Having fun though
I'm not native of English and German,so I'm curious. Why "In der Not frisst der Teufel Fliegen" can translate to "Beggars can't be choosers"?
Idioms and proverbs vary a lot from language to language; they are closely connected to a specific language and culture. For this reason, you normally don't translate them literally, but have to look for an idiom/proverb in the target language that has a similar meaning, even though the wording might be different. "Zur Not frisst der Teufel Fliegen" means that there are situations in life in which you have to accept an inferior product/food, etc., because it's better than nothing and you don't really have a choice. The English idiom "Beggars can't be choosers" has a similar meaning. Maybe you can even think of an idiom with a similar meaning in your own language.
I just write all the literal meanings of the words in the order given and hope I get lucky!
In Russian there is an idiom "The crawler is fish in lack of fish" - "на безрыбье и рак рыба". But to English analogue its closer "дарёному коню в зубы не смотрят" - they don't look at a given's horse teeth
Could this also be translated by the expression ' Needs must when the Devil drives?
i think it would really help if duolingo not only showed the realistic translation of what it means as well as the literal translation of the phrase, and also some other possible translations of the idiom
The literal translation would be something like "When in need (= when no other food is available), the devil eats flies." But it's an idiom and can't really be translated literally.
die Not = need, distress
fressen (er frisst) = to eat (he eats) (usually used with animals; for people the verb "essen" is used)
der Teufel = the devil
die Fliege, Pl. die Fliegen = the fly, Pl. the flies
Thank you! The noun flies, not the verb! No wonder it wouldn't work for me.
I think this one can be translated literally. We may not use the idiom in English, but people can understand it.
Bingo... this should be true for all idioms when learning them. Know what the literal translation is, and enjoy learning the meaning of them, rather than grasping at loosely equivalent ones in another language.
I got into a big argument with someone over this in the Italian language unit. It's been a while, but the sentence translates literally to "rare as white flies" in English. Duolingo was looking for "rare as hen's teeth". I, for one, an native English speaker, had never heard the expression, "rare as hen's teeth", so I was flummoxed and said the literal translations of these folk sayings / idioms should be the main translation. Someone disagreed, strongly, and stated that I'd never be able to master another language if I couldn't stuff an Italian saying into a "close-enough" English one.
Whoever disagreed is full of baloney. I lived in Argentina and learned to speak Spanish fluently. I feel there is more value in learning the actual translation and then understanding the meaning of it. Parroting a memorised idiom, backed with only a loose understanding of its approximate meaning in another language, is beyond amateur and should be shunned as a negative transfer practice. I'm disappointed duo lingo is doing that here. It's lazy.
"Not" has feminine gender, however the sentence says "der" not "die" why is that?
The preposition "in" is followed by either the dative or the accusative cases. If it refers to time ("when does something happen?"), it's followed by the dative case. That's why die Not (feminine nominative) becomes in der Not (feminine dative). The article "der" isn't only used for masculine nominative, but also for some cases of feminine and plural nouns.
See this table:
I GOT, IN THE DISTRESS EAT THE DEVIL FLY. WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY GERMAN?!
When I came across this, I first guessed 'in your suffering you eat what the devil flies' and guessed maybe fliegen meant 'toss' or 'throw'. Obviously I have a long way to go.
When you are in distress everybody leaves , even the devel flees. I can not see ,what has beggars got to do with it....why would you say ...beggars can't be choosers. If I understand the German idiom ..in a emergency (need) feeds (Frisst) even the devil lieves you ....flies away In distress nobody helps not even the devil.. You German preaker help
"Fliegen" is capitalized in this sentence, which tells you that it's a noun. "Fliegen" (flies) are insects:
In other contexts, "fliegen" can also be used as a verb (to fly, e.g. Vögel fliegen - Birds fly). When used as a verb, however, "fliegen" is only capitalized at the beginning of a sentence, not in the middle of it. "To flee" (German: flüchten) is a different verb. "Frisst" means "eats", and is generally used instead of "isst" (eats) when talking about animals or animal-like eating habits. If you want to use the English verb "to feed" in the sense of "to eat" and with an object, you need a preposition, IMO (e.g. He feeds on flies). If you need further clarification, please read the other comments in this thread.
A similar idiom in hindi goes likes this In hard times you even make an ass ( donkey) your master. Majburi me gadhe ko bhi baap banana padta hai.
In Slovene: V sili hudič še muhe žre. Exactly the same. I wonder what is the origin, too bad Duolingo doesn't explain that.
Magyar tanulótársaimnak/ In Hungarian- similar way as in English: "Éhes ember nem válogat." (SZTAKI szótár)
Here are a few more English Idioms that also approximate the same sentiment: " Any port in a storm." "Needs must." "If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain." "A man's got to do what a man's got to do." https://books.google.com/books?id=fgaUQc8NbTYC&pg=PA479&lpg=PA479&dq=%22any+port+in+a+storm%22+%22needs+must%22+%22beggars+can%27t+be+choosers%22&source=bl&ots=eVy09jqwM5&sig=4y7vgSk3N3sPv3en-0bLXunS-1U&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiVh-qxn4fYAhWtQd8KHQMkDAEQ6AEIKzAB#v=onepage&q=%22any%20port%20in%20a%20storm%22%20%22needs%20must%22%20%22beggars%20can't%20be%20choosers%22&f=false