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Du hast es gefunden! Klasse! Es ist sogar besser erhalten, als erwartet!

I'm torn between two possible interpretations:

1st {not qualifying besser}: The fact that they found what they were looking for is great enough, but addtionally, it is even preseved in a better condition than anticipated.


2nd {qualifying besser}: They had expected the thing to be preserved in a rather good condition, but it turned out to be kept in an even better condition than anticipated.

If sogar does really qualify besser, I wonder if the following three all mean the same thing:

Es ist noch besser erhalten, als erwartet!

Es ist sogar besser erhalten, als erwartet!

Es ist sogar noch besser erhalten, als erwartet!

  • Note, that the first example in second section could also mean It is still better than expected, but likely to degrade due to age, wear and tear. – guidot Apr 12 '17 at 6:35
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The difference between those three sentences is a rather subtle one, and it depends a bit on context and emphasis. Let's start with the last one:

Es ist sogar noch besser erhalten als erwartet!

(By the way: No comma.) The speaker seems really excited, since he already expected it to be in good shape, but it is in an even better condition. ("OMG OMG OMG")

Es ist sogar besser erhalten als erwartet!

Close to the first one, but the speaker may be not as enthusiastic about the fact, that the thing is in better shape. ("Niiice ...")

(He might still be happy though. Or he may just be someone who doesn't show his feelings to openly.)

Es ist noch besser erhalten als erwartet!

Of the three this seems the least excited way to state this. ("Oh, look!")

But again context and emphasis can be the ultimate factors here.

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In your example, sogar precedes, and therefore modifies besser, and the meaning is your second case, better (condition) than expected (the "condition" is implied).

Noch and sogar are "amplifiers" with similar impacts, so your three last examples are similar, with different degrees of "amplification."

  • I would not read it like that. I think the 1st translation is correct with not qualifying the "besser". – M. Haverbier Apr 12 '17 at 7:26

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