What does this mean?
Can anyone tell me what "Siebzehnschlagmichtot" in the phrase below means? I can understand everything else.
"Im Deutschland um Siebzehnschlagmichtot geistern die Grimme Brüder nun durchs französisch besetzte Deutschland und verschrecken die Bauern"
i'm an english native speaker and i suppose that a close equivalent would be "i can't for the life of me rembember" ie really emphasizing that i can't remember something. from what i understand, for the specific example i've decided on "seventeen hundredsomething" to illustrate that the author does not remember the exact date.
"watchamicallit" is basically "what do you call it" so you would use it if you'd forgotten the name for something or didn't know what something is called, eg "where's the watchamicallit for the tv?" if you've had a black out and can't remember the name for the remote control :)
It means "In the year 17xx": "I know it was some year in the 18th century, but I don't remember the exact date". This is very colloquial.
i don't understand the part "schlagmichtot". i suspected it migt be a date of 17xx but this "schlagmichtot"? no idea...
If you translate it literally, it means 'beat me to death' ("I can't remember it, but if you beat me hard enough, it might come to my mind..."). It's a very colloquial idiomatic expression. Don't try to understand it literally. Its meaning is basically 'I don't remember exactly'.
As usual, I agree with wataya's explanation. :) As a non-native speaker, I'm curious how you would express that in English: "in the year seventeen hundred and something", maybe?
@Katherle: I did some research and found the expression 'watchamicallit' which some people seem to consider as a close equivalent. But as I have never heard that expression myself, I can't really tell. Perhaps some native speaker of English has an opinion on it...
Note that there's something off about the phrase "Grimme Brüder." Since this is clearly referring to the Brothers Grimm and not "Grimme", this might be a pun. In either case, if so, it should be "geistern die Grimmen Brüder" (the grim brothers haunt.)
Otherwise, it would be "Gebrüder Grimm," "Brüder Grimm" or "Grimm-Brüder".
@Wataya "watchamicallit" sounds like a close equivalent i.e. "What do you call it", though I'd be more likely to use that with names, than numbers as here e.g. "Where's the. . . um. . .watchamicallit. . . the remote". For year I'd be more likely to say "in the year 17 hundred and sommat (something)".
I have to say though, I love this phrase! Do Germans use it for anything they can't remember??
@Madchris23, it is quite idiomatic and you do hear it often. I usually avoid it though (due to its violent inclination!), and it has a certain white middle class vibe to it, if you know what I mean. That is to say, it's not very "current" or "cool" speech.
@Fleur: I found the original page on the web. No pun intended... Looks like a spelling error. I think "Grimm-Brüder" was intended. @Chris: Like Fleur, I don't like the expression very much. It is very colloquial and has a milieu touch. I'm not sure however whether 'white middle class' is an accurate description. For me it is more correlated with youngsters in internet forums. But maybe I'm wrong. I don't have any actual data.
@wataya: Es ist schwierig, da den Finger draufzulegen, aber aus irgendeinem Grund denke ich bei der Phrase immer an eine Hausfrau mittleren Alters ^^
@Fleur: Bei mir sind es eher Jugendliche, die über Computerspiele diskutieren ;-) Vermutlich gibt es unterschiedliche Soziotope, in denen diese Wendung gedeiht.
haha, I think the jist of it is that I don't really want to use this phrase, unless I want to appear like a teenager in internet forums or a white middle class man =P I'll have to come up with something else to say besides, "uuuuuuuuuuuum. . . " when I can't think of a word.
Glad to see you use "den Finder draufzulegen" as well!
@Madchris: Yes :) One useful phrase you can say if you can't think of a word is "dings" (thingy) or "dingens" (to make it more pronounced). The latter does have a waft of cuteness or even coyness to it, however, or irony.
For numbers and figures, you can, just like in English, say "irgendwas": "im Jahre siebzehnhundertirgendwas..." "in the year of seventeen hundred something..."
"Hausfrau" is a housewife, "den Finger auf etwas legen" is "to put your finger on something", "Wendung" here is a "coinage" or "turn of phrase".
I think it's awesome that you're learning German! Best of luck :)