7

How would you render an order of magnitude of a few tens in German?

I could think of:

  • zweistellig (two digits), but that could go up to 99 which is over 9 tens and doesn't really feel like a few
  • weniger als 50, but that is too fixed, maybe 60 would still count as a few tens

To add some more context: I need to advertise a latency of a few tens microseconds (should sound little).

11

A few tens = ein paar Dutzend

Literally:

Ein paar Dutzend = a few dozens

But since a dozen (12) is very close to ten (10), you can replace ten by dozen and get the same meaning.

  • 2
    Very nice answer. In a technical context like OP hinted at, using "dozen" may be inappropriate, though. – Stephie Feb 25 '17 at 18:34
3

A more formal way to express "a few tens" would be im niedrigen zweistelligen Bereich, but you'd have to use a slightly more complex phrasing than with a description based on Dutzend like in Hubert's answer. For technical texts, you'd avoid using dozen though, because units outside the SI system are frowned upon.

Example (based on your question):

Die Latenzzeit liegt im niedrigen zweistelligen [unit of measurement]Bereich.

  • Thanks. The text isn't itself technical: it is about marketing of a technical feature and needs to be short and catching. I'll have to weight your answer and Hubert's – Mario Trucco Feb 25 '17 at 23:14
  • 2
    This answer is missing the unit of measurement. It should be im niedrigen zweistelligen Mikrosekundenbereich. – Roland Illig Feb 26 '17 at 2:32
  • @RolandIllig good point. I'll edit my answer. – Stephie Feb 26 '17 at 7:10
-3

Colloquially one could say

zig

which corresponds to the ending of zwanzig, vierzig etc. The meaning is somewhat blurry unfortunately and would also cover an unspecified number in the range below 20. So a phrase like

ein paar zig

could be used in conversation to arrive in same same number range as a few tens, with the additional benefit of a very close translation.

  • 2
    If you used that in a conversation with me (native speaker), I wouldn't have a clue what you are talking about. Did you confuse it with "zig" as in "a multitude of", "many"? – Stephie Feb 25 '17 at 18:18
  • 2
    I know and use 'zig' regularly, but never as 'ein paar zig'. That sounds wrong and is redundant, since 'zig' already includes the uncertainty of 'ein paar'. – Arsak Feb 26 '17 at 8:08
  • 1
    Obviously my proposal is considered critically. Search engines find it even in books, however and Wortschatz Leipzig lists paar even as significant left co-occurrence of zig, so I will not delete this answer. – guidot Feb 26 '17 at 9:31
  • 1
    @guidot Thanks for the link. Maybe there are (regional?) differences in the usage of 'zig' I wasn't aware of. – Arsak Feb 26 '17 at 15:38
  • Ich muss sagen, nach "ein paar Dutzend" kam ich selbst auch auf "zig" und hätte es als Antwort selbst vorgeschlagen, wenn es nicht schon da stünde. "Das kostet bei Feinkost Schabe zig Mal so viel!", "Wir mussten zigfach so lange warten, bis ein Ober kam" usw. sind, wenn auch nur in direkter Rede, geläufige Formen. – user unknown Feb 26 '17 at 17:10

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