Your link gives (amongst other phrasea)
'was soll das für einen Zweck haben?'- is this the expression you mean?
In English, 'What's the point of that?''- means - what purpose does that serve? How does that help?
However, 'What's the point?' can often mean - I give up, there is no point in trying. [More colloquially: #@$! this for a game of soldiers.]
So the two are rather different. :)
Alas, dear Christian, your link now yields only "Not Found."
If you're still following this discussion, could you give us an example or two of the expressions "Was soll das?" is a short version for?
Addendum: The link goo.gl/GQbg2m suggested by Laruthell leads to "Was soll das?" on pons. Vielen Dank!
Yeah, it seems the default/official translation is a poor one, if you're right.
I would still really like to see this phrase written out completely and explained, because right now it's clipped to the point of being enigmatic in terms of how it derives its supposed meaning.
The jump from "what shall that?" to "what are you doing?"/"what does that mean?"/"what is all that about?" is a rather big one indeed.
To this bilingual Englishman living in Dortmund / NRW, "Was soll das?" is so highly idiomatic that it's difficult to express in English even though I "know" exactly what it means.
I'm most familiar with it as an expression of extreme annoyance in reaction to an apparently arbitrary action which causes the speaker unnecessary inconvenience.
Vorgesetzter: "Die neue Geschäftsleitung ersetzt die bisherige gleitende Arbeitszeit durch drei Schichten. Ab Montag haben Sie die Wahl zwischen Früh-, Spät- und Nachtschicht; Sie beginnen und enden jede Schicht gleichzeitig mit dem restlichen Personal."
Angestellte: "Was SOLL das? Wer bringt nun meinen Sohn in den Kindergarten und holt ihn wieder ab?"
[Eine unbekannte Frau im Restaurant schüttet einem Mann ein Glas Rotwein ins Gesicht]
Er: "Was SOLL das?"
Example 1 (English):
Supervisor: "The new management is switching from flexitime to three shifts. From Monday you have the choice of early, late or night shift, and you start and end each shift at the same time as the other staff."
Employee: "But WHY? Who'll take my son to kindergarten and pick him up later?"
Example 2 (English):
[In a restaurant, an unknown woman throws a glassful of red wine into a man's face]
Man: "WTF? Why did you do that?"
Some good Was soll das? translations have been proposed by other Duo users elsewhere on this page:
- What's that about? – ArtBurnap
- What's all this about? – Aynmon
- What the hell? – savage516054
- What are you doing – FreekVerkerk
- What the hell are you doing? – Krizzards
[12 Mar 2019 14:08 UTC]
which is not exactly the same... "was soll das?" is more in the sense of "what is going on?" in a general sense whereas "what should that be" is object-specific e.g. a child paints something and the parents cannot recognize what it is supposed to be, so they ask "what should that be?" (German: was soll das sein?)
I answered, "What is that about?" but was marked wrong with the suggestion of, "What is that ALL about?" Sorry, I don't see a significant difference. And this is an idiom anyway. Come on DL... I don't think the suggested translation is particularly accurate--it's not what I would think of when I hear this.
No, "So what?" would rather be "Na und?" or "Und jetzt?" (literally translated to "and now?").
Some think "What's the point of that?" would be a good translation but "Was soll das?" (as in with no other word complementing it) is used in a rather indignant manner, so it's maybe even more of a "What the ❤❤❤❤?" to some degree, "What's your problem?", "What's that about?", "What/why are you (even) doing it?".
There really is no perfect translation for this phrase.
That's not really a good translation. "Was soll das" has the specific meaning of asking for the meaning or point of something, but "What the hell" is really just a generic multipurpose expression of confusion or annoyance. There's certainly some overlap in usage, but just "What the hell" doesn't really capture the meaning of "Was soll das."
My German mother in law often says "was soll denn das?" when she is angry. Closest thing I can think of in English is when someone does something that upsets you and you say "What the hell!?" She's never given an exact translation for me but I've never once heard her say it in a context where "what's the point" made any sense at all.