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Nein & kein - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle

Dec. 22nd, 2008

02:10 am - Nein & kein

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Oh man, so many English-speaking people don't realize that in German, there are *two* words for "no". There's the one everybody knows, "nein", which is simply the opposite of "yes", as in:

Hast du dein Lieblingskrokodil Günter gefüttert, bevor du ausging, um deine Freunde beim Klub zu treffen?
Nein.


But then there's another word: KEIN. "Kein" means "no" when used before a noun, in the sense of "not a" or "not any". Examples:

"kein Wasser" = "no water"
"Er ist kein Doktor." = "He is not a doctor."
"keine Ahnung!" = "no idea!"
"Es gibt keine Kartoffeln." = "There are no potatoes."

(Grammar note: "kein" is used before masculine and neuter nouns, and "keine" is used before feminine and plural nouns. And that's just in the nominative case!)

Comments:

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From:doco
Date:December 22nd, 2008 11:08 am (UTC)
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How amusing that you failed at the declension of "Freunde" in a post about grammar, of all things. :>
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:December 22nd, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC)
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Whoops! Thanks for the friendly reminder.

Edited at 2008-12-22 11:14 pm (UTC)
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From:yakko
Date:December 22nd, 2008 12:49 pm (UTC)
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I got familiar with this thanks to Telekom: "kein anschluß unter dieser nummer."
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From:nefaria
Date:December 22nd, 2008 01:05 pm (UTC)
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So if you wanted to say "Yes, we have no bananas", you couldn't use the opposite of yes for no? Wow.
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From:ringbark
Date:December 22nd, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
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Ja, wir haben keine Bananen.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:December 23rd, 2008 08:23 am (UTC)
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I'll see your crossword icon and raise you a Scrabble icon.
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From:deckardcanine
Date:December 22nd, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
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I happened to know this already, and my most intensive study of German was www.kevinundkell.de.

The fact that we use "no" as a synonym for "zero" sometimes reinforces my belief that a lot of what we call negatives are actually neutrals. "He is not a doctor" does not mean "He is the polar opposite of a doctor," and "There are no potatoes" does not mean "There is a negative number of potatoes." (You probably know about BOOLEAN values already.)
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:December 22nd, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
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Did you know that the person behind the kevinundkell.de translations also makes his own online webcomic, http://www.thisisme-comic.com/ ? (It's in English, although there's the odd hint that he's German, the most blatant one in a recent strip).

My favourite strip that no one else knows about.
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From:deckardcanine
Date:December 22nd, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I did find out about that, thanks.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:December 22nd, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC)
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Y'know, that's a good point. If we called them neutrals instead of negatives, I wonder if that would make it easier to teach people not to use false dichotomies.
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From:penh
Date:December 22nd, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
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Forget the grammar, I wanna hear more about Günter the crocodile!
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:December 22nd, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
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Well, because Maximilian forgot to feed Günter in time, he ate the landlord. It was kind of sad, but since the landlord had been threatening to raise the rent, at least Maximilian's family didn't have to worry about that anymore. In fact, Günter decided to invoke the ancient laws of succession, and took his rightful place as the new landlord. Then he set the rent at a pound of fish per day, which was actually a bit cheaper than what the tenants had previously been paying. Günter was hailed as a hero, and Maximilian even invited him to the club to meet his friends!

Sometimes things really do work out for the best.
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:December 22nd, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
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Wenn ist das Nunstruck git und Slotermeyer?

Nein!

(Wait, that's not the joke ... )
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From:michaelmink
Date:December 22nd, 2008 11:51 pm (UTC)
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JA! Wir haben keine bananen!

(Grammar no doubt off.)
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:December 23rd, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
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Eigentlich nein! Deine Grammatik ist richtig.
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