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In this prayer:

Ich bin klein,
mein herz ist rein,
darf niemand hier nein,
als Jesus allein.

I was taught that the third line ("darf niemand hier nein") translates into English as "no one may enter." I translated it with Google and it came back with "No, no one here."

Is the "no one may enter" interpretation correct? If not, is there a better way to say it? Or does it depend on the context?

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Note: This is a good example why the Auslassungszeichen has its right to exist. If there were given an apostrophe it would be much more easier to understand. -> darf niemand hier 'nein – Em1 Feb 20 '12 at 9:15
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Yes, "no one may enter" is a correct interpretation.

In this context, the word "nein" does not mean "no" but is actually a shortened version of the hochdeutsch "hinein" (english: "in", "inside"). In this prayer, you can think of "darf niemand hier hinein kommen" to get the connection to the verb "to come in(side)" or "to enter".

This short version of "hinein" also exists in a similar form in swabian german: "nai", and probably in other southern german dialects.

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Just for the records: the most frequently used colloquial short version of "hinein" is "rein" (this of course would not go well with the rhyme above). – Takkat Feb 20 '12 at 7:06
Of course @Takkat is right that "rein" is used as a short version for "hinein" in everyday use, but etymologically it is a short version of "herein" and is used as colloquial short version for both words. Please note the difference between "herein" and "hinein": "herein" suggests a movement towards the speaker and "hinein" suggests a movement away from the speaker. You would say "Komm herein!" (imparative) but not "Komm hinein!" ... and "Geh hinein!" but not "Geh herein!". – hmundt Feb 20 '12 at 8:55
Surprisingly (for me), while there's just one "rein" in high german, while at least in badisch (strange, I couldn't find an English translation) and I think also in swabian, there are terms for "hinein" und "herein". "noi" and "roi" in badisch (badian?) and... well, "nai" and "rai" (I think) in Swabian. – Jürgen A. Erhard Feb 21 '12 at 18:05

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