6

In conversation, you can say, for instance:

Elle était du genre à se jeter sur les horoscopes. Mais de là à se faire refaire les lignes de la main...

  • "She was always one to blindly believe in astrology, but to go through a surgery to have her palm lines changed..."

"Mais de là à + inf." is a very French expression that doesn't translate easily into other languages. It has the literal meaning of "But from there to (doing something much more extreme)", denoting the drastic shift from A to B, and is used to emphasise that someone has apparently done something extremely surprising/appalling/etc, even by his/her standards. When this expression is used, the clause tends to end with an ellipsis, making a dangling sentence.

How is this idea commonly/idiomatically expressed in German?

  • Thanks for the nice Frence expression! Je veux expresser ma gratitude, mais de là à envoyer d'argent... – Christian Geiselmann May 27 at 15:21
  • @ChristianGeiselmann Oui, exactement. "Mais de là à t'envoyer de l'argent, c'est un peu exagéré !" -- a complete-sentence version without an ellipsis. Incidentally, when the shift from A to B doesn't seem so far-fetched/extreme, on the other hand; when there's only a fine line (to be crossed) between the two, you'll say: "De là à dire/penser que ..., il n’y a qu’un pas {Just a step away from saying that ...}". This phrasing doesn't logically start with the contrasting "Mais/Aber ...". Any idea on how to express this in German? E.g.: "De l'amour à la haine, il n'y a qu'un pas" – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens May 27 at 16:04
  • 1
    Zwischen Liebe und Hass ist oft nur ein feiner Grat (or ein feiner Unterschied) sounds good. Also: Von Liebe zu Hass ist nur ein kurzer Weg / kleiner Schritt. But expressions may vary considerably depending on context. Can you give more examples in French? – Christian Geiselmann May 27 at 16:57
  • 1
    @ChristianGeiselmann You can say, for instance: "It has turned out that our Facebook passwords are not nearly as encrypted and invisible as they are made out to be. De là à dire/penser qu'ils ont aussi pour habitude de lire nos textos privés dans notre dos, il n'y a qu'un pas (à franchir)." This expression is used when you think that what would normally seem like a far-fetched idea might not be that unlikely (that is, being just a step away from being true), given the current circumstances. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens May 27 at 22:40
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To express this kind of exaggeration the Germans use

Aber sich jetzt auch noch die Handlinien umoperieren zu lassen ...

or

Aber sich deswegen gleich die Handlinien umoperieren zu lassen ...

The first one is a little rougher and therefore more popular with malicious tongues (bei Lästerern beliebter).

  • Hi. How is the meaning of "gleich" interpreted here? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens May 25 at 20:54
  • gleich means immediately, here; It's used idiomatically, meaning ca. without second thought, without pre-mediation, thus imediately, in an instance, at the same time. Drawing from your gloss "from there [...]", I should note "so gleich", although it sounds archaic; compare sofort, so dann, so gar which all fit in place of so gleich, more or less; so also isused as intensifier (e.g. so sehr) and thus isn't needed in sofort etc., as now, gleich etc have no Steigerung (increment?); But so can also mean like that, like so and more. Otherwise gleich means same. – vectory May 25 at 22:20
  • I would like to upvote the second solution (with gleich). That's in my ears the best solution in good idiomatic everyday German. – Christian Geiselmann May 27 at 15:23
4

The typical phrase to emphasize on extremes is:

Ich habe ja schon mal eine Stunde auf den Zug gewartet, aber dass der sich so verspätet …

If the subject in main and dependent clause is identical, you can use an infinitive clause instead of the object clause:

Sie war ja schon immer 'ne Esospinnerin, aber dass sie sich die Handlinien chirurgisch ändern lässt …

Sie war ja schon immer 'ne Esospinnerin, aber sich die Handlinien chirurgisch ändern zu lassen …

So, it boils down to aber+infinitive clause. A variant uses doch instead of aber and means just the same.

1

In a discussion that developed in the comments area (which I am now moving here) I asked for more use-cases of the French expression, and Con-gras-tue-les-chiens provided the following:

"De l'amour à la haine, il n'y a qu'un pas.

This can be rendered in German as:

Zwischen Liebe und Hass ist oft nur ein feiner Grat.

Zwischen Liebe und Hass ist oft nur ein feiner Unterschied.

Von Liebe zu Hass ist nur ein kurzer Weg.

Von Liebe zu Hass ist nur ein kleiner Schritt.

Another French example was:

"It has turned out that our Facebook passwords are not nearly as encrypted and invisible as they are made out to be. De là à dire/penser qu'ils ont aussi pour habitude de lire nos textos privés dans notre dos, il n'y a qu'un pas (à franchir)."

Con-gras-tue-les-chiens added: "This expression is used when you think that what would normally seem like a far-fetched idea might not be that unlikely (that is, being just a step away from being true), given the current circumstances."

To express this in German, there are many ways, as every register of speech has its own.

Here is one in semi-casual written communication:

Es scheint, unsere Facebook-Passwörter sind bei weitem nicht so gut verschlüsselt und uneinsehbar wie man uns weisgemacht hat. Angesichts dessen fällt es nicht schwer, zu glauben, dass heimlich auch unsere privaten Texte [Sachen] gelesen werden.

Here is one in casual (even a bit sloppy) oral communication:

Sieht so aus, dass unsere Facebook-Passwörter lang nicht so gut verschlüsselt sind, wie die immer behaupten. Da kannst du praktisch drauf wetten, dass sie auch unsere privaten Postings lesen.

Here is one in formal language (as for example in a press communmiqué or an official report):

Es gibt Anzeichen, dass Passwörter bei Facebook weniger gut verschlüsselt und unzugänglich sind als bisher angenommen wurde. Dies legt den Verdacht nahe, dass auch Texte, die in sogenannten privaten Bereichen bei Facebook publiziert werden, von unauthorisierten Dritten eingesehen werden können.

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