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Old 08.09.2011, 11:47
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Muss Nicht

After all these years, and despite knowing full well what it means, I still get caught out by "...muss nicht..."*.

Was on the phone to Telmed and was told I "muss nicht" call them. Took a few seconds for it to dawn on me that I was't being told off.

Anyone else still fall for that (or anything else) on a regular basis?


*"muss nicht" means "don't have to", not "must not". It's common to hear German speakers say "You don't must do something".
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Old 08.09.2011, 12:15
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Re: Muss Nicht

My wife keeps telling me to "shut the f*** up" all the time, and it baffles me to no end.
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Old 08.09.2011, 12:24
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Re: Muss Nicht

I still hate hearing "Finger weg", it's always a bad way to end a date....
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Old 08.09.2011, 12:28
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Re: Muss Nicht

Fingerbobs. Is it making a comeback to TV?
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Old 08.09.2011, 12:41
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Re: Muss Nicht

Hearing that I can take the ''Xtrafahrt'' bus to ''Bad Egg'' still makes me laugh...
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Old 08.09.2011, 12:48
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Re: Muss Nicht

1) I still am very wary of Trennbarresverbs (verbs with prefixes that can change entirely the meaning of the verb and which sometimes move to the end of the sentence).

Ich bringe dich ... um!

I bring you (somewhere), but with the 'um' it means I'll kill you. (verb: umbringen)

2) Have to make an effort to say Schwiegermutter (mother-in-law) instead of Schwierigmutter (schwierig means difficult) no matter how apt it might be for some.
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Old 08.09.2011, 13:33
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Re: Muss Nicht

When living in Sweden, I often felt a bit sorry for the girls who had to live in "Slutgatan" whenever I crossed it.

Slut- end (or a variation of it) gatan -street

As well as the question "Vill du fika med mig?" - "Do you like to have a coffee with me?", let me frequently blush in the first months in Sweden. Sounds too much like.... "You like to f***?" Well, those who understand german will know..
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Old 08.09.2011, 14:12
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Re: Muss Nicht

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As well as the question "Vill du fika med mig?" - "Do you like to have a coffee with me?", let me frequently blush in the first months in Sweden. Sounds too much like.... "You like to f***?" Well, those who understand german will know..
Ditt ställe eller mitt?
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Old 08.09.2011, 14:15
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Re: Muss Nicht

Jag förstår inte ....


( hate it if I have to google the å)

Last edited by Jordan Baker; 08.09.2011 at 14:27.
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Old 08.09.2011, 14:36
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Re: Muss Nicht

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After all these years, and despite knowing full well what it means, I still get caught out by "...muss nicht..."*.

Was on the phone to Telmed and was told I "muss nicht" call them. Took a few seconds for it to dawn on me that I was't being told off.

Anyone else still fall for that (or anything else) on a regular basis?


*"muss nicht" means "don't have to", not "must not". It's common to hear German speakers say "You don't must do something".
Yeah, I used to trip up on the negations of modal verbs too (Can, Could, May, Might, Must, Ought to, Shall, Should, Will, Would etc) and had to backtrack on the verbs themselves so the nicht-ed form still made sense.

IIRC, a significant number of them with "nicht" changed meaning subtlely but significantly from the English equivalent verb with "not"

So, as you described, I had to relearn muss as "have to", and unlearn the "must" bit and work backwards from the others too - hammers home the subtlety/ambiguity of saying things like "Fred says he may not join us tonight." (Is Fred unsure whether he'll make it, or has Mrs Fred put her foot down?)


Still trip myself up from time to time tho', but I can't grumble, sorry, I mayn't grumble, sorry, I shouldn't gru... oh, never mind!
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Old 08.09.2011, 14:42
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Re: Muss Nicht

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After all these years, and despite knowing full well what it means, I still get caught out by "...muss nicht..."*.

Was on the phone to Telmed and was told I "muss nicht" call them. Took a few seconds for it to dawn on me that I was't being told off.

Anyone else still fall for that (or anything else) on a regular basis?


*"muss nicht" means "don't have to", not "must not". It's common to hear German speakers say "You don't must do something".
Me too. The one you have to watch out for is "durfen nicht" - which means you mustn't.

Zer vil be conseqvences!
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Old 08.09.2011, 14:48
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Re: Muss Nicht

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Ditt ställe eller mitt?
Jag förstår inte ....

Förlåta honom, var så god - hans svävare är full av ålar.
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Old 08.09.2011, 14:56
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I still hate hearing "Finger weg", it's always a bad way to end a date....
Which finger do you mean? The one without a nail....?
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Old 08.09.2011, 17:47
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Re: Muss Nicht

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Ditt ställe eller mitt?
Jag förstår inte ....
Förlåta honom, var så god - hans svävare är full av ålar.


It's all Greek to me.
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Old 08.09.2011, 17:51
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Re: Muss Nicht

its like they are speaking in another language xD
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Old 12.09.2011, 15:04
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Re: Muss Nicht

You offer to top up a swiss person's wine glass and they reply 'danke ich muss noch fahren' which of course actually means 'no' but still somehow sounds like an affirmative answer (occasionally also followed by physically covering the glass with their hand just in case you didn't get the message).
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Old 12.09.2011, 17:29
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Re: Muss Nicht

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You offer to top up a swiss person's wine glass and they reply 'danke ich muss noch fahren' which of course actually means 'no' but still somehow sounds like an affirmative answer (occasionally also followed by physically covering the glass with their hand just in case you didn't get the message).

Yes! I've definitely had this situation happen to me, and I've been told that when refusing something, Swiss people always start with the ''Danke'' followed by the ''Nein'' as opposed to the backwards ''No, thank you'' in English. I don't know if the always part is true, but I've definitely gotten some absolutely shocked and dirty looks at stores when saying ''Nein, danke'', as if I had been very impolite.
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Old 12.09.2011, 18:37
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Re: Muss Nicht

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Yes! I've definitely had this situation happen to me, and I've been told that when refusing something, Swiss people always start with the ''Danke'' followed by the ''Nein'' as opposed to the backwards ''No, thank you'' in English. I don't know if the always part is true, but I've definitely gotten some absolutely shocked and dirty looks at stores when saying ''Nein, danke'', as if I had been very impolite.
I'd say "Nein, danke" is more frequent than "Danke, nein," but the important thing in both cases is the "no." However, when there is no "no," as in the case of "Danke, ich muss noch fahren," things can get confusing for those who are not familiar with such peculiarities.

It's not a Swiss or German problem, though. Such misleading situations can happen in just about any language. During my first months in Greece, I had to learn all sorts of such subtleties. Like, when you say, "Den katalaveno," ("I don't understand"), that means you don't understand the language, but when you say, "Den katalava" ("I have not understood" -- yes, sounds silly, but there is no really equivalent translation for the Greek aoristos), it means, "Pardon me?" I learned that during my first hour in Greece.

On our little island, when the proprietor of one of those picturesque taverns on the waterfront asks me, "Do you want to have a beer?", that means he is treating me to it. If I tried to pay afterwards, I'd badly offend him. If, on the other hand, he asks, "What do you want to drink?", he's expecting a normal order.
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