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This is another Yiddish-motivated question. I wonder if "träumen" was ever used in a reflexive construction, as in "es hat sich mir geträumt...". This is how the Yiddish phrase is constructed, except that we use the Semitic "khoylem" instead of the German "traum" for the verb.

Does our construction comes from an old German? Was "träumen" ever used as a reflexive verb?

P.S: We also have "es hat sich mir gedacht..." for "it seems to me...". I'm not sure if that flies in German too, does it?

EDIT: In response to the comment by Jan, we would have for the subjunctive case:

"Es wollt sich mir dos keinmol nischt ge*khoylem*t."

EDIT II: I finally got some feedback from some very knowledgeable Yiddishists, and they seem to find that our reflexive case is a back-formation from Polish. Specifically, for the case in hand, we have the Polish " snilo mi sie (przysnilo mi sie)" which becomes in Yiddish "es hot sich mir gekholemt".

Indeed, we are also allowed to say "ich hob gekholemt", but as my friend Lee Goldberg points out, there is a different nuance. The reflexive version is more passive, as in "a dream occured to me". Lee observes that Jacob's brothers might not have been so resentful if he had told them "es hot sich mir gekholemt" rather than "I had a dream...". Of course, Jacob did not have that option available to him as he spoke Hebrew rather than Yiddish.

(As an aside, I was previously using an incorrect vowel: there happen to be two vowels that sound the same in Hebrew, but one goes to "oy" in Yiddish and the other one doesn't. I've used the correct vowel in my last edit.)

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I've never heard "es hat sich mir gedacht". –  fzwo Dec 2 '11 at 9:56
2  
+1 interesting question - cf. "Das hätte ich mir nie träumen lassen." –  Jan Dec 2 '11 at 12:34
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

At this time of the year an old Christmas carol from 1480 comes to my mind where "träumen" was used reflexive (i.e. "unecht reflexiv" or rather reciprocal):

Und unsrer lieben Frauen
der traumete ein Traum:
als unter ihrem Herzen
gewachsen ward ein Baum.

In modern German it is only rarely used reflexive, here are a few examples:

  • Mir träumte wieder der alte Traum:
    Es war eine Nacht im Maie,
    Wir saßen unter dem Lindenbaum,
    Und schwuren uns ewige Treue.

    Heinrich Heine

  • Mir träumte meine Mutter wieder: Autorinnen und Autoren über ihre Mütter
    Renee Rauchalles, Konkursbuch 2011

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What cool references you have found. This is an excellent answer as usual, Takkat; and since it answers my question, I really ought to check it off as "answer accepted". I hesitate to do so only because I'm hoping someone else might still answer the unasked question: where did Yiddish come up with those constructions if not from Old German? –  Marty Green Dec 2 '11 at 11:59
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Heinrich Heine träumte es von einem Königskind:

Mir träumte von einem Königskind

    Mir träumte von einem Königskind,
    Mit nassen, blassen Wangen;
    Wir saßen unter der grünen Lind',
    Und hielten uns liebumfangen.         

    "Ich will nicht Deines Vaters Thron,
    Und nicht sein Zepter von Golde,
    Ich will nicht seine demantene Kron',
    Ich will Dich selber, Du Holde."

    "Das kann nicht sein", sprach sie zu mir,
    "Ich liege ja im Grabe,
    Und nur des Nachts komm ich zu Dir,
    Weil ich so lieb Dich habe." 

Oder ein von J. Brahms vertontes Lied:

Georg Friedrich Daumer:

Es träumte mir, ich sei Dir theuer,
doch zu erwachen 
bedurft ich kaum;
denn schon im Traume bereits
empfand ich,
es sei ein Traum, 
es sei ein Traum.

Und hier ist ein Blogtext der argumentiert, man habe in früheren Zeiten die eigenen Träume (und Gedanken) mehr als etwas fremdes erlebt und gedeutet - mir deucht, mich dünkt, der Autor könne recht haben.

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