22

"Ice" and "ice cream" both translate to "Eis" in German. Is the only way to differentiate between them by context?

For instance, if you want to translate the sentences

"Does this store sell ice?"

and

"Does this store sell ice cream?"

would the resulting German translations turn out totally the same and indistinguishable from one another?

I'm curious about both ways, when writing German, how to make the meaning clear, and when reading German, how to distinguish between the possible cases.

  • 3
    According to the Duden, ‚Eiscreme‘ exists. In some contexts, you might also use ‚Speiseeis‘; see: duden.de/rechtschreibung/Speiseeis – MarkOxford Nov 18 '17 at 13:49
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    What sort of ice other than ice cream could you think of buying in a store that might sell ice cream? – sgf Nov 18 '17 at 16:45
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    Ice cubes. They are sold near the cashier in summer. – Janka Nov 18 '17 at 17:05
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    Products marked 'Eiskrem' or 'Eiscreme' must have a certain share of fat. A generic term would be 'Speiseeis' - this includes fruit ice which is not creamy. – Vive la déraison Nov 19 '17 at 7:56
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    @TimSeguine: I'm not convinced that term is commonly known. I'd have no idea what you mean; my first guess would be a large mixed assortment of ice cream (meant for handing out to guests at a party, similarly to e.g. the Celebrations chocolate boxes). It's possible assistants at gas stations would know the term, though. – O. R. Mapper Nov 20 '17 at 8:08

12 Answers 12

24

Die normale Form, von ice cream zu sprechen, ist in der Tat einfach nur Eis. Es gibt kein Problem damit, weil Situationen, in denen man die beiden Dinge verwechseln könnte, fast gar nicht existieren.

Eis (gefrorenes Wasser) ist praktisch kein Handelsgut, oder sagen wir präziser: war es seit der Verbreitung des elektrischen Kühlschranks nicht mehr und ist es erst jetzt wieder geworden mit dem Aufkommen der (ich vermute: aus den USA eingewanderten) Sitte, Wassereis in kleinen Stücken abgepackt im Supermarkt anzubieten. (Wozu auch immer... gegen Kopfweh vielleicht?) So etwas gab es vor ein paar Jahren einfach nicht. Wer Eiswürfel wollte, hat sie sich im Gefrierfach selbst gemacht. Aber offenbar besteht ja nun doch ein Markt dafür.

Kurz also: Die Unterscheidung von Eis und Eis war in den vergangenen 50 Jahren alltagspraktisch irrelevant. Das könnte sich nun ändern. Wo Ambiguität droht, greift man zu erläuternden Zusätzen:

Kunde: Haben Sie Eis?

Verkäufer: Meinen Sie Speiseeis oder Eiswürfel? Speiseeis wär' da drüben, Eiswürfel sind hier in der Truhe.

Oder der moderne Konsument (einer aus der Generation Eiswürfel) fragt gleich:

Wo haben Sie denn Eiswürfel?

Ansonsten sind Zweifelsfälle selten. Wenn ein Kind kräht:

Ich will ein Eis!

dann ist es kaum eine Frage, was für ein Eis es meint. Wenn der Kellner auf die Frage "Was empfehlen Sie zum Nachtisch?" sagt

Ich empfehle unser Eis.

dann ist es auch klar. Wenn der Barkeeper fragt:

Wollen Sie den Whiskey mit Eis?

dann denkt sicher niemand an Vanille-Eis.

  • 3
    "Original italienische Eiswürfel" aus der Gelateria? – tofro Nov 18 '17 at 18:05
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    Why do you answer in German although the OP asked in English? – Julian Heinovski Nov 18 '17 at 18:07
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    @Julian : 1) Reine Nachlässigkeit. Manchmal vergesse ich einfach, drauf zu achten, in welcher Sprache die Frage grade geschrieben war. 2) Aber es hätte auch Absicht sein können: Als Nutzer des Parallelforums für Französisch ärgere ich mich immer, wenn Fragen zur französischen Sprache auf Englisch beantwortet werden. Ich will ja Französisch lernen; da hilft mir am meisten, wenn die Antwort auch auf Französisch ist, selbst wenn die Frage englisch gestellt war. (Aber das war hier jetzt keine Absicht.) – Christian Geiselmann Nov 18 '17 at 20:14
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    Verstehe. Der Lerneffekt ist tatsächlich höher, wenn in der Fremdsprache geantwortet wird. Allerdings kann man ja nicht wissen, wie hoch das Sprachverständis des OP ist ;-) – Julian Heinovski Nov 18 '17 at 20:22
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    @ChristianGeiselmann Ich ärgere mich immer, wenn ich auf einen englischen HNQ-Link zu einer Französisch-Frage klicke und dann die Antworten kaum verstehe. :-) – Arminius Nov 18 '17 at 22:33
19

Even though there is the German word "Eiscreme" (often used as a label on ice cream packages) it is not very common to use it in conversations unless the context is ambiguous or misleading.

So, "Does this store sell ice cream?" will result in:

Verkauft dieses Geschäft Eis?

On the other hand, in Germany ice is usually qualified by additional words or more specific expressions (nowadays even using English terms). So, "Does this store sell ice?" will result in something like:

Verkauft dieses Geschäft Eiswürfel?
Verkauft dieses Geschäft Crushed Ice?

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    If frozen water ist meant, I would use "Eiswürfel". Even if these are not always cubes, everyone should know what I am looking for. – Gerhardh Nov 18 '17 at 16:33
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    Geschäfte verkaufen nichts. Händler und Verkäufer verkaufen etwas. Geschäfte sind Orte, in denen etwas verkauft wird, weil dort Händler und Verkäufer arbeiten. – Hubert Schölnast Nov 19 '17 at 9:36
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    @HubertSchölnast Zum einen hat der Fragende nach der Übersetzung von "Does this store sell ...?" gefragt. Zum anderen verkaufen Geschäfte nach deutschem Sprachgebrauch durchaus etwas - eine Suche über einen Korpus (meinetwegen auch einen Google-Books-Suche) fördern es zutage - , auch wenn ich persönlich eher die Formulierung "Haben die ...?" oder "Gibt's in dem Geschäft/Laden ...?" gewählt hätte. – Min-Soo Pipefeet Nov 19 '17 at 11:47
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    These German translations, while understandable, sound stilted to me. It seems almost as unlikely as "Verfügt dieser Betrieb über Eis, geehrter Kaufmann?". I would think it more likely to encounter a more colloquial formulation like "Kann man hier Eis kaufen?" or "Bekommt man hier Eis?". – Tim Seguine Nov 19 '17 at 14:48
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    @TimSeguine: Or the completely colloquial "(Wo) gibt's hier Eis?" – hoffmale Nov 19 '17 at 16:39
9

Is the only way to differentiate between them by context?

Here's one case where you can distinguish by grammar:

In German, you can count ice-cream [portions], but not the frozen water on lakes, roads, puddles in winter nor the ice on the back wall of your freezer:

"Ein Eis" is always ice-cream - it's the colloquial abbreviation of one portion of ice-cream.

Of course, you can also count ice cubes but the colloquial short form for "zwei Eiswürfel" would rather be "zwei Würfel" rather than "zwei Eis".

4

In most contexts in German, the "default" condition is that Eis" means "ice-cream," even though that's not the American usage. So in German, if you want to specify "ice" without the "cream," you would say "Eiswürfel" (literally crushed ice or "ice cubes"). If you wanted to specify ice cream, because of the context (e.g as raised by a commenter), an alternative is "Speiseis," literally "eating ice." The latter is not usually necessary, however.

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    The German default is context dependent. In a grocery store it's ice cream. If I ask in the organic [chemistry] lab "Habt ihr Eis?", I'll get crushed ice. And it will also depend on nuances like: If someone tells me "Auf der Pfütze war Eis" that's ice. "In der Pfütze war Eis" => ice as well ("in" having a more "crushed" connotation than "auf). "In der Pfütze war ein Eis." => someone lost their ice cream and it fell into the puddle. – cbeleites supports Monica Nov 19 '17 at 17:34
3

Normally you say Eis to both of it. But if you are in a special situation where it is not clear because of the context (what is the case in most situations) you can distinguish it with Speiseeis or Eiswürfel. While Speiseeis is very expressive, Eiswürfel is more often also used in normal situations.

3

Does this store sell ice? ➔ Gibt es in diesem Laden Eiswürfel?

Does this store sell ice cream? ➔ Gibt es in diesem Laden Eis?

Ice that is sold in a store will most likely be ice cubes (Eiswürfel). If you wanted to ask about, for example, the ice that has formed in their freezers, indeed you would have to explain that, there is no unambiguous word for that.

  • "there is no unambiguous word for that" - well, you would indeed ask "Hat sich in Ihrer Kühltruhe Eis gebildet?" or "Ist Ihre Kühltruhe vereist?" – O. R. Mapper Nov 20 '17 at 8:12
2

In the German language, the word "Eis" is colloquially used for both "ice cream" and "frozen water". When someone uses that word, figuring out what exactly she refers to requires context. Both meanings being spelled and pronounced identically, "Eis" is a homonym[1].

If you're standing at a lake in winter, context suggests that you're referring to frozen water: "Eis wäre jetzt schön" would be understood as a wish for the lake to be frozen (roughly "it would be nice if there was ice on the lake").

If you're standing at a swimming pool in summer, context suggests you're referring to ice-cream: "Eis wäre jetzt schön" would be understood to mean "some ice-cream would be nice right now".

There are scenarios where there is no implicit context, as described in other answers. In a supermarket that sells both ice-cream and ice cubes, for example, asking "wo haben Sie Eis?" would prompt the question "which kind, cubes or ice-cream?" or, if the clerk is distracted, likely cause the obvious misunderstanding.

If context is unavailable, a more specific term than "Eis" must be used to prevent ambiguity:

  • "Ein Eis" (specifically phrased with the count) would always be understood as meaning ice-cream (if the context clearly suggested frozen water, it would be unconventional enough to cause irritation). It is very common, for example, for parents to ask their children "Wollt ihr ein Eis?" (Note that in such a context, one would still say "Ein Eis" even though all but the most pedantic parents would mean one for each, not one for all.)
  • "Eiswürfel" is commonly used to refer to frozen water, even if it's not actually cubes. The German language has no specific term for frozen water (other than cubes) that doesn't sound stilted; crushed ice, for example, is mostly sold as "crushed ice" in German supermarkets.

[1] technically, a polyseme, as explained in the same Wikipedia article

1

At least in switzerland the word Glacé is used to refer to the kind of ice that has taste and that you'd actually eat, where as Eis would only refer to regular frozen water.

As others have mentioned, it's very context dependent. Usually when you refer to eating something then it's obviously not just frozen water but ice cream. And this is pretty much the best distinction, if you can glean from the context that it's meant to refer to something edible, then it's probably ice cream and not just frozen water.

In some cases of course there's no clear way of telling without further clarification:

Hat es Eis auf der Strasse?

Could mean both of course like a truck with ice cream had an accident an now there's literally ice cream on the streets so if it's summer people will probably assume you're referring to ice cream but if it's winter, people will assume you're referring to ice (although ice on the street is also called 'Glatteis' but col. 'Eis' is very common).

Hat der Laden Eis?

As others have mentioned. Buying frozen water isn't really a thing here. Literally everybody has a refrigerator with a bulit-in freezer compartment and most have both a refrigerator AND a freezer so there's very little point in buying frozen water because you can just freeze it yourself. Thus in most cases this will refer to ice cream. If you're trying to buy actual frozen water in a supermarket people will probably laugh at you because the sheer thought of buying frozen water is just too ridiculous, much more ridiculous than buying pre-sliced bread and buying pre-sliced bread is also considered ridiculous here.

  • Ich finde mit deinem letzten Absatzt liegst du ein bisschen falsch. Eiswürfel in größere Mengen zu kaufen sind keineswegs lächerlich. Wenn du eine Party schmeist zum Beispiel reicht dein gefrierfach 100 pro nicht aus. In dem fall kannst es tatsächlich in Tüten von fast jeder Tankstelle kaufen. Außerdem, du weißt sicherlich, dass Toastbrot in fast jedem laden verfügbar ist, und auch dass jede Bäckerei dein Brot in Scheiben schneiden wird, wenn du danach verlangst. – Tim Seguine Nov 19 '17 at 15:21
  • Ja. Aber nicht im Supermarkt und ja für Fondue kann man auch direkt Brotwürfel kaufen aber nicht im Supermarkt. Pumpernickel gibt's auch nur in geschnittenen Scheiben. Ich rede von klassischem Brot. – mroman Nov 20 '17 at 8:20
  • Ich finde den Unterschied immer noch unerheblich. Brot kauft man eigentlich sowieso vom Bäcker. Ich übertreibe natürlich. Aber für mich ist es so als würdest du einem Amerikaner sagen: es gibt hier kein Aspirin, weil man das nicht in der Drogerie kaufen kann, wie sie es gewohnt sind. – Tim Seguine Nov 20 '17 at 10:52
  • Nö. Erstens gehen die wenigsten zum Bäcker um Brot zu kaufen, weil es wesentlich teurer ist als in einem regulären Laden, Zweitens kaufen die meisten selbst beim Bäcker nicht geschnittenes Brot und drittens, ja, für Aspirin geht man in eine Apotheke :). – mroman Nov 20 '17 at 12:19
1

You don't say "Eiscreme" in general, even if the eaten "Eis" is meant. Technically speaking, "Eiscreme" would refer to creamy icecream only, but there's a lot "Wassereis" or "Eis am Stiel", which is not creamy at all, it's more like a sorbet... It's kind of old-fashioned to say "Eiscreme", you rarely use that word in spoken German. So just say "Eis" and it's distinguished by context.

If icecream is meant, I would ask: "Wird hier Eis verkauft?" or "Kann mann hier Eis kaufen?" or "Gibt es hier Eis?" If ice is meant, I would explain my question to make clear what kind of "Eis" I want: "Eisstücke zum Kühlen/ Eis für Drinks/ Eiswürfel/ Crushed Ice/ ..."

  • "Eiscreme" and "Eiskrem" sounds cutely old fashioned, but they would certainly be understood - though they could cause further confusion, since they tend to only refer to the literal ice cream portion, whereas "ein Eis" could be understood to mean a complete ice cream dessert with all the trappings. – rackandboneman Nov 20 '17 at 15:04
0

There is generally no need to distinguish. The other answers have already explained how do differentiate them linguistically if the need arises.

But I take from the question that what you really want is to know what to ask for to buy large quantities of ice in bags, as is commonly done from convenience stores in North America.

This product is generally available at gas stations and larger supermarkets(at least where I live), and seems to be called "Partyeis". This is definitely not a common word.

If I encountered confusion upon asking for this, I would probably explain that I mean "abgepackte Eiswürfel".

0

One way of distinguishing ice cream and ice that I have not yet seen mentioned in the other answers is that ice cream is sometimes listed with its flavour to avoid the ambiguity. This occurs especially in cases where both interpretations are possible: "Orangensaft mit Eis" could be either orange juice with ice cubes or orange juice with a scoop of ice cream inside. Therefore, the latter will rather be denoted e.g. "Orangensaft mit Vanilleis" 1. The same applies to similar (slightly rare) drinks such as "Kaffee mit Milcheis", "Kakao mit Schokoladeneis" etc.


1: Note that in Germany, "Vanille" (vanilla) is seen as a flavour in its own right. The word "Vanille" is not associated with "basic", "unmodified" in German.

-1

They are called homonyms. You have them in every language, not least in English.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV1IP4N9ajg

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