2

I know that "mit etwas davonkommen" is "to get away with" something in the sense of a crime, but can this be used figuratively as well? For example,

  1. Singers can "get away with" less talent today because they have computers to help them.

  2. In this industry, you can't "get away with" working less than 40 hours a week.

My attempt at a translation:

  1. Sänger können heutzutage mit weniger Talent davonkommen, weil ihnen Computer helfen.

  2. In diesem Beruf kommt man nicht mit nur 40 Arbeitstunden in der Woche davon.

5

In addition to Janka's answer, here is one more solution from everyday German communication:

Sänger können sich heute mit weniger Talent durchmogeln, weil Computer ihnen helfen.

This, again, is closer to durchkommen mit etwas (being accepted although underperforming) than davonkommmen mit etwas (not getting caught, and disappearing).

Accordingly,

Sich im Job mit weniger als 40 Stunden durchmogeln

would mean that the employee works less than 40 hours although he/she is theoretically obliged to work 40 hours.

Davonkommen does not work well in these situations because it implies that the person indeed disappears from the "crime scene". In the workplace situations, and also in the case of the singer, we see them rather continue doing what they do (with less talent or less time used on the job).

  • Thank you for the extra suggestion of durchmogeln, a very nice possibility indeed ! – Mark Jul 19 at 13:52
3

Davonkommen is indeed used a lot.

Sänger können heutzutage mit weniger Talent davonkommen, weil ihnen Computer helfen.

That's okay because davonkommen suggests a trick. Remember Milli Vanilli?

In diesem Beruf kommt man nicht mit nur 40 Arbeitstunden in der Woche davon.

It's not a trick, it's some intrinsic shortcoming of that job.

So kommst du auch in deinem Beruf mit nur 40 Arbeitstunden in der Woche davon: (Internet tabloid headline)

It's a trick again.

  • 1
    "Remember Milli Vanilli?" You made my day. LOL! – πάντα ῥεῖ Jul 16 at 20:49
  • Thanks! So, if I wanted to formulate my second sentence "without the trick", would I use durchkommen? "In diesem Beruf kommt man nicht nur mit 40 Arbeitstunden in der Woche durch."? – Mark Jul 16 at 21:36
  • 2
    You would use auskommen or durchkommen instead. – Janka Jul 16 at 21:38
  • 3
    Oder "schaffen" : In diesem Beruf schafft man es mit weniger als 40 Stunden in der Woche nicht. – Beta Jul 17 at 6:22
2

To get away with murder.

Selbst mit Mord davonkommen.

The idea here is that murder (obviously) is a serious crime. You're almost literally getting away if you're never charged. Same in English and German.

Forge the boss's signature? You won't get away with that.

Die Unterschrift vom Chef fälschen? Damit kommst du nicht durch.

The point here is that this is not "going to fly". Which in German is rendered as it "won't get through". It has a less serious connotation. Somewhat less. It's still a serious offense after all.

Take a day off without telling anyone? I can get away with that.

Einen Tag frei nehmen, ohne jemandem was zu sagen? Das kann ich mir erlauben.

This is the least serious of the offenses. Basically, not that big a deal. Here you convey the notion that you may as well take the liberty of doing that, as nobody is going to stop you.

So the best translation in a given situation is a matter of degree. The last one is often used as it works in a variety of contexts. While the suggestions in the other answers are not wrong, you may as well work "es sich erlauben können" into these sentences:

Singers can get away with less talent today because they have computers to help them.

Sänger können sich heutzutage weniger Talent erlauben, da ihnen ja Computer helfen.

And:

In this industry, you can't get away with working less than 40 hours a week.

In diesem Geschäft kann man es sich nicht erlauben, weniger als 40 Stunden die Woche zu arbeiten.

1

I don't see a word fitting to both of your example phrases:

Sänger können heute auch mit weniger Talent durchkommen...

The phrase here is mit etwas durchkommen.

In context of a crime the typical phrase is ungeschoren davonkommen (avoid getting caught).

The job example is the one, where I find it hardest to select a composite with kommen. The closest could be:

In diesem Job wirst Du Dich mit weniger als 40 Stunden pro Woche nicht halten/behaupten können.

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