I am reading a book in German and have come across an expression that I can't understand (to be honest I have trouble understanding the entire sentence). The book is called "Das also ist mein Leben" and the expression goes like this:

Es ging offenbar darum, wie er mit fünfzehn mal vor dem Klassenfiesling eingeknickt war oder so was.

My guess is that the sentence is about a boy forced to kneel down 15 times in front of a bully. But then again why would we use 'mit' instead of leaving it out?

  • 5
    'vor jemandem Einknicken' is 'to give in to somebody' – TaW Sep 24 at 18:08
up vote 26 down vote accepted

In diesem Fall ist es nicht 15 mal, sondern die Altersangabe mit 15.

Die folgende Formulierung macht es vielleicht klarer:

Es ging offenbar darum, wie er mit fünfzehn einmal vor dem Klassenfiesling eingeknickt war oder so was.


English: ... once at age of 15 ...

  • 3
    Noch deutlicher: "... mit fünfzehn Jahren einmal vor dem ..." – user unknown Sep 25 at 3:18

Es ging offenbar darum, wie er mit fünfzehn mal vor dem Klassenfiesling eingeknickt war oder so was.

Apparently, it was about him backing off from the class bully at age fifteen once or something like that.

The verb einknicken does not literally mean to bow, but metaphorically. The whole idea of this sentence is the narrator thinks that situation was unimportant, but the person he talks about has a completely different opinion. That's why we have mal and oder so was in here.

  • mal is a short form of einmal here. At least in Austria, it refers to no certain time and has nothing to do with once or twice... – rexkogitans Sep 25 at 15:07

Or, much more pragmatic:

The point apparently / obviously was that at age 15, he had (once) caved in to the creep of his class, or something like that.

Cheers!

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