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They both mean "many," right? But are they used in different contexts or ways?

The question arises from my German translation of the following song.

http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/tommy_edwards/its_all_in_the_game.html

I came up with:

Es gibt die Träne soviel, Aber daß ist das Spiel. Alle in dem wunderbaren Liebespiel.

for

"Many a tear has to fall, But it's in the game. All in the wonderful game that we know as love.

Another version begins:

Manche Traene fallen mußen... and it doesn't go as smoothly.

What are the pros and cons of using "viel" and "manch" in this context (and others)?

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By the way, Liebesspiel is quite specific for physical love, and I'm not quite sure this is what the game we know as love is supposed to express here... (or is it really?) –  Matthias Meid Nov 1 '12 at 9:23
1  
Sure, you can translate many with viel but the collocated many a is often manch eine(r). Manch and viel are quite different and so is many and many a as well. My suggestion (without knowing the song and what is is about) : Manch eine Träne musste fließen, aber das gehört zum Spiel. Alles zu dem wundervollen Spiel, das wir als Liebe bezeichnen. –  Em1 Nov 1 '12 at 20:01
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Manche

The usual translations for "manche" would be "some".

Though old-fashioned it may also be used with the meaning of "many", or "many a", especially in a poetical context. To better reflect this we may use it in conjunction with "so":

So manche Träne musste fließen [...]

Note that it is better to use the singular for tears when using "manche".

Sidenote: Tears "fließen" rather than "fallen".

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Viel can mean different things, like much, a lot, etc.

Much ado about nothing
Viel Lärm um nichts

Manch is more like some:

Some have tried
Mancher hat es schon probiert

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It is safe to translate it by "some", instead of "many". It's meaning is mostly equivalent to "einige", followed by a plural, but there the word might be used both with a singular or a plural noun for stylistic reasons.

  • Einige Tränen müssen fließen
  • Manche Tränen müssen fließen
  • Manche Träne muss fließen
  • Manch eine Träne muss fließen
  • So einige Tränen müssen fließen
  • So manche Tränen müssen fließen
  • So manche Träne muss fließen
  • So manch eine Träne muss fließen

These all mean the same, but while the first one is very plain, the last one can be regarded as poetic. I believe that it might make sense to regard 'manch', 'manch eine' (followed by a singular) and the versions with preceeding 'so' as distinct families of article words.

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