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I've come across the verb wollen (always in the 3rd person, I think) used not as 'to want' but more like the english will. For example, Angela Merkel "will dort mit dem französischen Präsidenten Hollande und den Staatschefs aus Russland und der Ukraine zusammenkommen." I don't think the willingness of Merkel to meet them is in any way implied, so it should be translatd as that she "will meet there with the french president.." If so, in which cases more specifically are we allowed to use it like that?

6

No, it still means to want in that case. German will is a false friend, and English will just happens to be a good translation in this context.

Perhaps the confusion lies in the fact that in German future tense need not be so explicitly marked as in English, and present progressive is not a tense at all. You could alternatively translate it as Merkel plans to....

The major case where wollen takes on another meaning is in such sentences: «Sie will es nicht gesehen haben.». (Incidentally, werden is also overloaded in such cases: «Sie wird es nicht gesehen haben.» expresses probability.)

However, the future tense in Yiddish is expressed with the cognate of wollen, like in English, as you suggest, so that's strong evidence that it was similar in at least some dialects of German in the past.

  • 1
    The English "will" is not a good translation in this context. "Wollen" implies a wish or intention, better translated with "wants", or possibly "intends" or "plans" – PiedPiper Oct 9 at 8:56
  • Sure, it's not 1:1. If it occurred organically in the target language to describe this scenario - which is generally the goal of the highest quality translations - nobody would think anything of it. If you condition too much on the source text, you get "translationese". – Adam Bittlingmayer Oct 9 at 10:30
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German »sie will« is »she wants« in English. It is NOT »she will«!
English »she will« is »sie wird« in German.

correct and wrong translation:

Angela Merkel will den französischen Präsidenten Hollande treffen.

is in english:

correct: Angela Merkel wants to meet the french president Hollande.

It is not:

wrong: Angela Merkel will meet the french president Hollande.

Explanation:

Angela Merkel will den französischen Präsidenten Hollande treffen.

This means:
Angela Merkel has now the plan to meet Hollande. But maybe Hollande doesn't want to meet Merkel. So now Mrs. Merkel has the plan to meet Hollande, but it is unclear, if they really will meet. Now Merkel is willing to meet him.
The grammar tense of this sentence is: Present tense. The sentence's core is: Merkel has now the wish to meet Hollande.

Angela Merkel wird den französischen Präsidenten Hollande treffen.

This means:
It is absolutely sure that Merkel will meet Hollande in the future. Hollande knows that Merkel wants meet him, he agrees with the meeting, and now they have an appointment. It is unlikely that this meeting could be canceled, so you can take it as an fact, that Merkel will meet Hollande in the future.
The grammar tense of this sentence is: Future tense. The sentence's core is: Merkel and Hollande have an appointment in the future.

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You are probably correct in as far as the German “will” expresses here more an intention than a wish, but the English “will” would be understood as implying neither and would therefore be a bad translation. This example does however show how the English word could become an auxiliary verb.

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