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I was reading a sentence about Germany Euro 1996 and the following comment appeared:

Das waren noch Zeiten

and I wanted to break this sentence down.

I first broke it down into simple parts:

Das waren Zeiten

which I think means:

Those were the times

and tried to understand the function of noch by deduction.

Noch I know can have some implication of yet, still and an additional thing but I struggled to work out how noch can be used in the past in this instance.

I know that

Ich war noch ein Kind

can be used to describe

I was still a child

but how does noch function here with Zeiten?

  • Often used in terms of generation conflict whereas the elder generation says that everything has been so much better before than it is now. Kind of an explanation for the memes #okboomer nowadays. – Matthias Nov 24 '19 at 18:35
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The translation of "noch" as "still" more or less works in the original example, too.

Those were still times.

Obviously we also have times now, so there is something missing in the sentence, but that is also true for the German sentence. So there must be something different between the times that the sentence refers to and the current times.

Usually the implication is "those were still good times", for whatever aspect makes them better than the current time, because people are not fond of recalling bad memories.

The word "noch" (still) implies that whatever aspect is implied was true before that time, was still true at the time mentioned, but is now no longer true.

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Das "noch" drückt aus, dass die Zeiten vorbei sind. Oft wird es wehmütig verwendet:

Das waren noch Zeiten, als die Kugel Eis 10 Pfennig gekostet hat! (5 Eurocents)

Es kann aber auch mit Grusel geäußert werden:

Das waren noch Zeiten, als man beim morgendlichen Klingeln befürchten musste, die Gestapo steht vor der Tür!

Oft taucht es als Entgegnung auf, wenn der Gesprächspartner auf Merkmale der Zeiten verweist:

"Früher hatten wir nur 16 MB RAM!"

"Das waren noch Zeiten!"

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