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I am translating a text about somebody who did "solitary and theoretical work". I assume "solitary" is here used as opposite to "in a team", so "einsam" or "alleine" would not do. How would you translate this?

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I would either say eigenständige Arbeit or Soloprojekt, if it's a project.

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I'd propose "als Einzelner", assuming this is about a scientist or mathematician doing serious research.

"allein" is also almost neutral and could be used.

"einsam" could be appropriate if his ideas were opposed by the community.

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Einsam would do it, or selbständig.

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"Ich arbeite einsam", that's not very common. – feeela Oct 21 '11 at 9:33
"in einsamer Heimarbeit entstand ...", oder "im einsamen Elfenbeinturm". Leistungen sind mitunter "einsame Klasse". – user unknown Oct 21 '11 at 12:57
up vote 0 down vote accepted

In the end I used 'einzelgängerische Arbeit'. It seemed to be the best fit for me.

Thank you all for your input!!!

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Einzelgängerisch does have a pretty strong connotation though, typically negative. I would understand it as someone who actively avoids teamwork and defends his/her area of responsibility. – Hackworth Oct 25 '11 at 7:37

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