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In Russian, if one says

Не прошло и года!
(literally Not even a year has gone by!)

it can, depending on the context, be meant and understood with irony.

E.g. one expected a certain event to happen within a few weeks. Instead, it took a few months. Once the event has finally taken place, one could say ‘Не прошло и года!’ So while literally, the statement is true, it is meant to emphasize that it should have happened way earlier.

I just asked a native English speaker, whether one can use the English ‘Not even a year has gone by!’ in the same way. Surprisingly to me, she said no.

Can one use the German ‘Nicht mal ein Jahr ist vergangen!’ in this way?

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    Nur die Kommentarregeln zwingen mich mehr zu antworten als "Ja." – user unknown Mar 18 '17 at 11:17
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    This sort of sarcasm is totally used in English all the time. – wogsland Mar 19 '17 at 21:33
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I personally wouldn’t say so, because in written language hardly anybody would understand the irony.

I’m not sure if there is a phrase expressing this in written language. But if you indeed speak of spoken language, at least in Austria people would get the irony if you choose the right tone to express it. And even if so I would rather use:

Es hat ja nicht einmal ein Jahr gedauert!

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  • Laut Frage ergibt sich die Ironie aus dem Kontext. Im Deutschen ist es ebenso. – user unknown Mar 19 '17 at 11:20
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In general, yes, that phrase can be used ironically in the way you intended. However, I would probably phrase it just slightly differently. The closest suggestion I have is:

Und es ist noch nicht einmal ein Jahr vergangen!

Remember though, that irony is better understood in verbal communication (and best only in face-to-face verbal communication), not only due to the lack of an <irony> tag.

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  • In der Schriftsprache kann man Ironietags z.B. folgendermaßen setzen: "Ingrid sagte zwinkernd: ..." – user unknown Mar 19 '17 at 11:23
  • Das ist Romanschrift; ich habe mehr an Brief- oder Chatschrift gedacht. – Jan Mar 19 '17 at 14:18
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"Kaum wartet man ein Jahr und schon [whatever should have happened earlier]"

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It depends totally of the concrete situation what exact sentence would be most appropriate. It also depends of where you use it: in formal, written communication? In a chat with your family at breakfast?

One typical thing to say in informal contexts would be:

... und kein Jahr später...

or

... und keine zwei Stunden später...

This is meant to imitate the tone of a lengthy fairy tale, therefore the triple points (alluding to all this being a very long story).

A very popular phrase, but in a slightly different context, is:

Es kann sich nur um Stunden handeln.

("It is only a matter of hours.") This is typically used when you wait for some reaction of a computer or whatever, and for example someone is waiting for an answer from you based on that reaction of the computer, and in proper operation the reaction should come after seconds at most. But obviously it does not. Thus you say "Es kann sich nur Stunden handeln" in order to tell your interlocutor that they have to wait a couple of seconds (hopefully...) because some machine or so does not work as expected, but you are not able to accelerate the process. You say this in a mockingly reassuring tone.

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I would use a little intro:

Und stell dir vor, kein Jahr hat es gedauert!

If spoken this could be accompanied by raised eyebrows and a pointing finger.

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A literal English translation (calque) of the Russian phrase "He прошло и года" is " not less than a year".

A literal Russian translation (calque) of the English phrase "Not even a year has gone by!" is "Даже года не прошло!".

A literal Russian to German translation of the given English phrase " Not even a year has gone by! is then "Nicht einmal ein Jahr ist vergangen!. Or perhaps "...hatte vergangt!" [??]

Note that in Russian grammar multiple punctuation marks at the end of a sentence (e.g., "?!!") in written works can be used for the reader to understand that the sentence (so marked) should be interpreted as being questioning (with eyebrows raised), ironical (said with a smirk or knowing glance or look), or some other related emotion (e.g., a snort, guffaw, or something similar). As far as I know this use of punctuation marks is common in overly expressive written English, but is not normal or the usual case in either the English or the German language.

Also note that in this question there is a misunderstanding of the English expression, that is, i.e., that it concerns an event or events that should have happened earlier (in the past), whereas the statement in good English is actually targeting an event or events that properly should still be yet to happen (i.e., in the future), not yet, but relatively soon. I suspect that the Russian and the German versions are much alike in that regard.

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