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  5. "An eye for an eye!"

"An eye for an eye!"

Translation:Auge um Auge!

July 16, 2017



Can someone explain how "um" works in this phrase? Is it the contraction of "un dem"?


"um" in this sense is normally used for showing repeated actions. "Schlag um Schlag" (hit), "Fall um Fall" (case). And is translated as "for". But it is not a modern way of using "um". So it only really works in idiomatic contexts. Like here: "Auge um Auge." It means literally that after (hurting) one eye another one follows and so on. It refers to the escalation of conflicts if nobody backs down.

I hope I could be of help.


I don't think that the original Latin phrase (oculum pro oculo) was supposed to mean this. It means that to a person that has done something to another person, there has to be done the same (if you hurt an eye, your eye gonna be hurt too).

But maybe the German translation means exactly what you described.


The German translation means: if you take my eye, I take yours... so if you hurt me with something I hurt you back with the same thing.


I think you will find that the original is Hebrew. If is from the old testament and predates Latin by quite a bit.


It is older even than that. It comes from ancient Mesopotamia and is represented in the Code of Hamurabi.



I looked these up so I could grasp what you meant. "Schlag um Schlag" means something like "blow after blow" (so I see what you mean by repeated actions). "Fall um Fall" has a little different sense of repetition, "case by case." Helpful - thanks.


So it can't work as meeting someone eye to eye?


So it can't work as meeting someone eye to eye?

That's right.

If it's just two people meeting each other with nobody else, you can say unter vier Augen treffen (meet someone under four eyes).

For talking about speaking face to face, I can think of von Angesicht zu Angesicht, using a slightly dated/poetic word for "face".

I can't think of a "normal" version off the top of my head.


There's also the word Augenhöhe, which I believe does work for the context of meeting sb. eye to eye, or treating/viewing them as an equal


I don't think Augenhöhe works in the context of meeting. In the supermarket, the A-brand items are at Augenhöhe (eye level), so they are the first to attract your attention.


Actually an eye for an eye means that the punishment should be the same as the original crime. If an eye was lost only an eye can be taken as punishment.


Yes, exactly right. In Hammurabi's time, this was widely regarded as remarkably "liberal" - it put a limit on the revenge that could be taken, where before there had been none.


Um shows some kind of replacement.

And um is just um, it's not a contraction, preposition un doesn't exist in German


Is this an idiomatic phrase? Why would "Eine Auge für eine Auge" not be literally adequate here?


Yes, it's an idiomatic phrase, a fixed expression.

Also, Auge is neuter: das Auge, ein Auge.


Natürlich kenne ich den Spruch, aber zwei Mädchen haben Puppen aus dem vorigen Jahrhundert, wo es noch Ersatzaugen für die Porzellan-Puppen gab. Sie könnten gesagt haben: Ein Auge für ein Auge. OK ich lag falsch. My mistake!


Is the article-full version un-idiomatic?
"Ein Auge um einem Auge" is not accepted.
Btw, did Luther object to the use of articles? (With Russian being my mother tongue, I naturally sympathise, but it's surprising nonetheless.)


Is the article-full version un-idiomatic?


"Ein Auge um einem Auge" is not accepted.

And that would be an incorrect expansion anyway; um requires the accusative case, so it would have to be ein Auge um ein Auge.

did Luether object to the use of articles?

I've never heard of that.


I've never heard of that.

So why didn't he use them in this sentence? Eyes are countable so some article is clearly called for, no?


I can't explain it.

But there are other similar expressions such as Schritt für Schritt (step by step) which also don't use articles (even the English "step by step" doesn't use an article before the countable noun "step").


Excuse my ignorance, is the "Luether" referenced here the person we know as Martin Luther? If not, who/what is it? And how did he get into this discussion? Just curious.


I believe he was the one who translated the Bible to German.
(I did misspell his name, there is no umlaut - correcting it.)


@zirkul - Ah, thanks.


You are correct. Martin Luther did translate the Bible from Latin into German


This was a babylon rule "an eye for an eye , a tooth for a tooth."


That phrase comes from ancient Mesopotamia; it's mentioned in Hammurabi's Code.


Stein um Stein works as a reminder :)


Stein um Stein mauer ich dich ein

Stein um Stein

Ich werde immer bei dir sein


Ah, I see you're man of culture as well. :)


I don't believe I've learned "um" yet...


Does ein Auge für ein Aüge convey the same meaning? (I am assuming that the intended meaning is the biblical one mentioned above and not "eye after eye" as in a repeated action.)


I know the whole phrase:

"Auge um Auge, Zahn um Zahn." (Zahn=tooth)

Another idiom with similar context:

"Wie du mir, so ich dir." (Tit for tat)


why can't we use "für"?


Diskutiert nicht so lange: Es ist eine feste Redensart >Auge um Auge! Über "you are welcome" in Deutsch "Bitte" wird doch auch nicht so viel geredet!!


Sounds like an idiom to me. When did we learn it?


Just now.


From the comments I understand 'um' meant to 'for' in this context. However why the article 'an' is discarded? Wouldn't it be as "Ein auge um ein auge"?


From the comments I understand 'um' meant to 'for' in this context. However why the article 'an' is discarded?

It's probably best to translate this expression as a whole -- the ways this is phrased in the two languages' traditional Bible translations are not equivalent grammatically.

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