1

Is there any regional variety of German where it would be possible to use oder in the following question in this particular context? If yes, in which region would this be the case?

Anna geht mit ihrem neuen Hund spazieren und trifft ihren Bekannten Peter. Sie erwartet, dass er ihr zu ihrem neuen Hund gratulieren wird, aber er erwähnt ihn gar nicht. So ist sie sich nicht mehr sicher, ob er eigentlich realisiert hat, dass sie einen neuen Hund bekommen hat. Anna sagt:

"Ich habe einen neuen Hund, oder?"

  • What kind of intention / pronounciation comes with that question? Because I see a range from like "feeling minor and unsure" or "self-confident/ proud and somewhat snippy". more possible. – Shegit Brahm May 21 at 10:42
  • The intention here is to draw Peter's attention to the fact that Anna has a new dog and possibly get some comment on that from him. Anne is sure that she has a new dog, obviously. – user9397006 May 21 at 10:50
  • how is their relationship? As you say "she is sure to have it" I see more the snippy kind of rhetorical question here. As I personally would hint in a different manner I only try to work out the setting for someone who uses such small talk. I personally never heard it as a usual way. It is not impossible to do so, I just have no idea about any region etc pp, that's why I feel I cannot answer. – Shegit Brahm May 21 at 10:55
  • Okay, I see, thank you! No snippiness or rhetorical questioning is meant here. It should mean something like "Hey, I have a new dog. Didn't you notice it?" No sarcasm or similar intended either. – user9397006 May 21 at 11:00
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1) "Oder?" added to declarative clauses

It is relatively common in German everyday communication to add oder? to a sentence that is meant as a question in order to signalize explicitly that this is a question and that an answer is expected.

Heute ist schönes Wetter, oder?

Du hast eine neue Hose, oder?

Die Amerikaner waren auf dem Mond, oder?

Die Erde ist eine Scheibe, oder?

Der Wein ist klasse, oder?

Ich habe eine schicke Frisur, oder?

As you see, the oder is to be attached to declarative clauses (Heute ist schönes Wetter), not interrogative clauses (Ist heute schönes Wetter?).

As for regional peculiarities: it is possible that one finds this habit more common in the South of the German speaking (part of the) world. Particularly in Switzerland, it is something like a "national" quirk to add oddrr? to every second sentence, like the British would add isn't it?. This is then less meant to provoke an answer from the collocutor, rather it serves to keep him/her focussed on the communication by testing if he/she still listens and is able to react adequately if needed.

Your example with the girl and her new dog is a bit odd, but it is conceivable. She would use the oder? attachment in order to provoke her interlocutor to an explicit reaction. It sounds extremely expectant, though, even to a level of purposeful exaggeration.

Note that this is common only in oral, informal communication. You wouldn't do this in written communication, would you?

2) "Oder..." added to interrogative clauses

There is also a habit of adding "oder..." to interrogative clauses. This is done especially when the person speaking wants to be friendly, open, and non-demanding:

Haben Sie schon Erfahrung mit Computern, oder...

Sind Sie schon gegen Tetanus geimpft, oder...

If asked without the "oder...", the person asked would be forced to say bluntly "no", which could be perceived as offensive, embarrassing or inappropriate. Therefore a person asking who wants to indicate explicit friendlyness and lack of special expectations can add "oder...", thus indicating that he/she is aware that various scenarios are possible and would be seen as normal and expectable.

  • 1
    You wouldn't ..., would you? Thanks. – Frank from Frankfurt May 21 at 11:32
  • Yeah, that Swiss habit confuses me a lot. – Janka May 21 at 11:40
  • @Janka Abbr das schdöört doch niemanden, oddrr? – Christian Geiselmann May 21 at 11:44
  • Ich habe keine Zeit, odr? – Janka May 21 at 11:46
  • @Janka what would this mean exactly? Me telling the other person that I do not have time and not expecting any respond? – user9397006 May 21 at 11:51
2

I largely agree with Christian's answer (point 1) but consider it incomplete. Even though the "oder?", like the english "isn't it" does not demand for an answer, it is at least an invitation to agree (or disagree) to the statement you made.
Therefore it does not really fit to a non-disputable information like "I have a new dog". If the statement is meant to draw the attention to something the other person has not yet noticed, you would rather say something like:

Hast Du gar nicht bemerkt, dass ich einen neuen Hund habe?
(Haven't you noticed that I have a new dog?)

Du hast ja noch gar nichts zu meinem neuen Hund gesagt.
(You haven't commented on my new dog.)

Übrigens - ich habe einen neuen Hund!
(By the way - I have a new dog)

Or, if you want to put an emphasis on the fact that the other person should have noticed, you could even say with Verschwörermiene (conspiratorial face):

Soll ich Dir ein Geheimnis verraten?
(shall I tell you a secret?)
- wait for the other person to say yes or nod
Ich habe einen neuen Hund!

It is not uncommon in Germany to use this way to point out to something obvious that someone has overlooked.

  • How about reformulating it as "Ich habe einen neuen Hund, ne?" (let's say accompanied by a nod in the direction of the dog). Would that be any different than the same with "oder?" (also accompanied by a nod in the direction of the dog). – user9397006 May 23 at 9:42
  • The natural way to phrase this with "oder" would be to bring in a technically disputable fact (but one that nobody would disagree with). "Es ist schön einen neuen Hund zu haben, oder? " or "Mein neuer Hund ist sehr neugierig/schlau/verschlafen/aktiv/klein, oder?" Then on the side you mention that the dog is new. – Lichtbringer May 29 at 4:15
  • @Lichtbringer a technically disputable fact (but one that nobody would disagree with). this is an excellent description. (And welcome to German Stack Exchange, btw). – Volker Landgraf May 31 at 7:04

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