I read in my grammar text the following example sentence:
Wir kränkelten; krank aber durften wir nicht heißen.
I have difficulty with the second clause, especially with this phrase krank heißen. Could any one help interpret the meaning of the second clause?


The first sentence translates roughly to: "We were in frail health"

The second sentence translates roughly to: "We were not allowed to be called sick"

This is a old style of expression from the german language, which is not used in today's speech. In this case this means that a group of people was in frail health but one was not allowed to call them sick. The circumstances why they were not allowed to be called sick should be explained further in the text.

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    Yes, for some reason, I had to think of camp victims, who were in terrible health, but couldn't confess to it, as it would or could mean a death sentence. – user21173 May 18 '16 at 6:36
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    I disagree with the claim that this construction is not contemporary German. – Carsten S May 18 '16 at 19:38
  • I agree to disagree. – tofro May 19 '16 at 18:46

I would like to see the whole context, as it sounds a bit strange. As it stands it'd be something along:

We were sickly, however sick we weren't allowed to be called.

Using the same slightly awkward syntax in English.

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