Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages in the world. Best of all, it's 100% free!

https://www.duolingo.com/arnoldvl

Long German Sentences

In some of the translations you encounter very long sentences. I call them "spaghetti sentences." The goal of the German writer sometimes seems to be to pack as much information as they can into a single sentence, using participial adjectives before nouns and subordinate clauses. I sometimes find the sentence to be so long, that I forget what it's about before I reach the end.

I don't know why this is considered good style, but probably the English translation should NOT be a single sentence. English readers aren't equipped to deal with that kind of writing. So IMO when encountering such a German spaghetti sentence, the way to translate it is to convert the sentence into two or more English sentences that preserve the sense of the original as much as possible.

English readers do not expect to encounter spaghetti sentences and are not equipped to deal with them. So the translator should break them up, at least in my individual and humble opinion.

6 years ago

3 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/William_Avery
William_Avery
  • 25
  • 19
  • 18
  • 16
  • 15
  • 11
  • 4
  • 35

Thank you for that. I'm clearly not the only one to get the feeling at times that I'm trying to untie a particularly intractable knot.

6 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/herrdoktor

thank you both ... I've always thought that long sentences were an Italian habit, but clearly I am wrong :-)

6 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Roxane
Roxane
  • 10
  • 9
  • 2

I think this is one of the most difficult thing in German. Sometimes in those long sentences, the subject is no longer at the beginning of the sentence making it important to take a look at the grammar and the cases (if it is nominative or not).

6 years ago