In German, sentences like these are all too common:

Noch während der EM zuletzt bekam er eine Jobgarantie. Nun muss der umstrittene Handball-Bundestrainer Christian Prokop doch gehen.

Without the 'noch' and the 'zuletzt', the passage lends itself to a natural-sounding translation:

He got a job guarantee during the European Championship. Now the controversial national handball coach Christian Prokop must go.

I am guessing 'noch' here means 'gerade' (because 'still', 'yet' etc don't make sense), but how does 'zuletzt' work here?

He only got a job guarantee in the end during the European Championship.

Which sounds very strange.

  • 2
    All too common? As a native speaker, I don't even understand what that part is supposed to mean. After reading the answers, I would say that the correct word order should be "Zuletzt noch währen der EM ..."
    – hajef
    Apr 16, 2020 at 8:51

5 Answers 5


Simply because some of the other answers either lose the style of the quote or interpret the noch and zuletzt incorrectly (in my opinion), here is my suggestion.

As recently as the last EM he was guaranteed a job. Now, however, the controversial handball coach Christian Prokop must go.

As can be seen by the translation, noch in this case refers to the continuation of a state up until a certain, past event, as in noch gestern, or letztes Jahr noch. @DavidVogt describes this well in his answer. Like discussed elsewhere, the postponed zuletzt refers to the EM, and describes it as the last, most recent EM.


My translation is:

Having received a job guarantee as late as during the last EM, ... has to leave now nevertheless.

Noch während ... is the same construct as noch gestern, which DeepL translates with only yesterday. I don't share the reservations concerning the use of still made in another comment.

Noch prepares the announcement, that situation has changed now and (according to the writer) quite fast. Noch/nun is used similarly to zwar/aber in the example above; so noch actually carries meaning here.

I don't see the benefit of zuletzt; I guess it means, that similiar assertions have been made earlier.


1. The postponed zuletzt has already been explained. German lacks an elegant way of saying recent. The alternative

die kürzlich stattgefundene EM

is a mouthful, and sticklers will claim that stattgefundene should not be used in this way. Postponed adverbs can substitute:

die WM zuletzt, kürzlich, neulich

2. In order to capture the meaning that noch introduces, one could move away from while. Let's look at another example.

Noch während er im Krankenhaus lag, machte er ihr einen Heiratsantrag.
Even before he had been released from hospital, he asked her to marry him.

While by itself would not capture the situation well. It is not about contemporaneous events in themselves, but about the violated expectation that the proposal would have to wait.

Since I am not a native speaker, I'm unsure about the more literal translation using even while.

Even while he was in hospital, he asked her to marry him.

Be that as it may, even, not still, seems to fit the meaning of noch here.

  • In your example, "as early as she was ..." would work as well (preferentially after the main clause)
    – Nico
    Apr 15, 2020 at 17:58

Noch während der EM zuletzt bekam er eine Jobgarantie. Nun muss der umstrittene Handball-Bundestrainer Christian Prokop doch gehen.

The word "zuletzt" adds context to the abbreviated word "EM" (i.e. "Europameisterschaft" in German or "European Championship" in English) by referring to it as a recent event and the word "noch" here could be translated with still, indicating that even at that recent event, he was still given a positive signal, i.e. the job guarantee.

So, a possible translation would be:

During the recent European Championship, he was still given a job guarantee. Now, however, the controversional handball coach Christian Prokop has to leave.

Or, alternatively,

During the recent European Championship, he still received a job guarantee. Now, however, the controversional handball coach Christian Prokop has to leave.

  • 2
    I do not agree with your interpretation of the "noch" here. For me (native user of German) the "noch" here is simply a reference to the recency of the events, it does no carry a negative judgement on the justifiability of the action, as "still" would do (at least in my understanding). So, perhaps, "yet" would be a better word to use here. Apr 15, 2020 at 8:20
  • @christian-geiselmann, what would be your translation of the full sentence?
    – PBH
    Apr 15, 2020 at 8:38
  • @pbh Perhaps something like "Yet during the recent European Championship he was given a job guarantee." - But keep in mind that I am not a native speaker of English, so I am not totally sure how this sentence feels like. Apr 15, 2020 at 19:00

These kinds of adverbs in German add subtle nuances -- it is particularly recent that his job was guaranteed; hence his leaving now is surprising. English does this not with words, but with intonation.

Think of a sentence like this: "Last week he was being considered for a promotion, and this week he's out the door." The surprise is not in the words or the grammar; it's in the intonation that we all know to put in when we read it -- the clue being the last week/this week contrast.

So translating these German adverbs is not a matter of finding words for them, it's a matter of recognizing the affect that they impart to a statement and reproducing that affect by English means -- by choosing a word order, a sentence structure, etc. that imposes a certain intonation.

  • Welcome to German.SE. Please hit the edit button and try to format your text for better readability, like with line breaks or other formatting. May 15, 2020 at 16:56

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