I read a post (in another forum) that said this today:

Das Land der Ahnungslosen

Obviously indicating that individuals from a certain (unspecified) country were "clueless".

Someone responded with:

Der Ahnungslose scheinst Du zu sein.

Indicating of course that the original poster was the "clueless" one. However, I ran it through Google Translate, and it suggests "unsuspecting".

dict.leo.org lists several translations for "ahnungslos": clueless, unsuspecting, innocent, naive and unknowingly.

My question is (when translating) how do you know which one to use? Is there something indicated by the sentence structure? Or is it more about context, or is it just more colloquial or regional?

  • 3
    Google translate still has a very long way to go... I would never refer to it for anything.
    – Emanuel
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 23:09

2 Answers 2


The word "ahnungslos" has a different possible meanings:

clueless, naive: This is the use you saw in the forum you read. To call someone clueless or naive can obviously be hurtful and an insult. Also: "keine Ahnung haben" would be more common than "ahnungslos sein", but basically mean the same thing. "Ich habe keine Ahnung (was ich heute anziehen soll)" is a very common translation for "i have no idea (what to wear)".

unsuspecting: You can tell this from the context:

Ich betrat ahnungslos das Zimmer, als mir der Eimer mit kaltem Wasser auf den Kopf fiel.

Sidenote: oddly enough the noun "Ahnung" has a variety of translations which relate to intuition rather than knowledge but still will say "someone knows what he talks about" if used like this:

Marina hat von Katzen wirklich Ahnung. Marina really knows a lot about cats.


"Land der Ahnungslosen" alludes to the so-called "Tal der Ahnungslosen" (Wikipedia offers "valley of the clueless" as translation): a "satirical designation" for some regions in former East Germany where receiving television stations from West Germany wasn't possible. I think "clueless" is a good match, but there seems almost no difference to "unsuspecting". IMHO both are acceptable translations.

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