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Both Gesellschaft and "company" have a lot of different meanings and there is some overlap, particularly in the sense of a business enterprise. In English, "company" can also mean visitors to one's home, especially friends; see definition 5 in the Wiktionary entry. I'm thinking the best translation in this case would be Besuch, Besucher (plural) or Gäste. I can't find any meaning for Gesellschaft which matches this; there are between 6 and 8 (depending on how you count) definitions listed in DWDS. But I'm seeing Gesellschaft used as a translation in this sense as well and so I'm a bit confused. My understanding of DWDS isn't perfect so perhaps I misunderstood one of the definitions there.

For the full context, this is from Season 1, Ep. 5 of "The Good Place". Eleanor and Chidi have unwelcome visitors and are having an argument about them. From the respective subtitles:

"A marriage counselor and a human lie detector isn't my first choice for company either."

Eine Eheberaterin und ein menschlicher Lügendetektor ist auch nicht meine erste Wahl als Gesellschaft.

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    It's number 5 in DWDS. A good synonym would be "Umgang".
    – Roland
    Nov 11 '20 at 7:09
  • @Roland -- #5 is another overlap, but I'm pretty sure that corresponds to the "companionship" meaning of "company". As in "I went to the dance in the company of a young lady." You wouldn't say "I went to the dance in the visitors of a young lady." Taken out of context the line from the show is somewhat ambiguous, but they are talking about visitors so to me the most reasonable interpretation is that "company" means "visitors" here.
    – RDBury
    Nov 11 '20 at 12:14
  • Obviously I haven't seen the show. I think "visitors" is too simple here, it's about social companions, which would be "Umgang" in German.
    – Roland
    Nov 11 '20 at 13:28
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Your translation is absolutely correct and I (native speaker) would have chosen the same translation here as it fits perfectly. I'd just reorder the words a bit:

Die Gesellschaft einer Eheberaterin und eines menschlichen Lügendetektors ist auch nicht meine erste Wahl

Or if you keep your order you need to adjust the verb as there are two persons (plural):

Eine Eheberaterin und ein menschlicher Lügendetektor sind auch nicht meine erste Wahl als Gesellschaft

unless the marriage counselor IS the human lie detector, then the second article would be left out:

Eine Eheberaterin und menschlicher Lügendetektor ist auch nicht meine erste Wahl als Gesellschaft

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  • The second "a" indicates these are two persons.
    – Roland
    Nov 11 '20 at 7:57
  • yes, this was also my feeling, was just confused by the use of "isn't" in the english original.... Nov 11 '20 at 7:58
  • That's because "choice" is singular.
    – Roland
    Nov 11 '20 at 8:21
  • The use of "isn't" struck me as odd as well, but that's what she said so that's what she said. In English the subject comes first and there there are two people mentioned as the subject so to me it should be "aren't".
    – RDBury
    Nov 11 '20 at 12:21
  • Just to be clear, the translation is by Netflix, not me. I'd translate you're German into English as "The company of ... isn't my first choice either." Which makes sense in English but (to me) it has a different meaning than the original. You can experience "the company" of someone anywhere, but you can only have "company" at home.
    – RDBury
    Nov 11 '20 at 12:41
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To add to Torsten Links's good answer:

Ich bin in der Gesellschaft einer Eheberaterin und eines menschlichen Lügendetektors

just means that I'm (right now or at a specific point in time) together with these people, that they're being around me, that we're spending time together. It doesn't say anything about whether they are my guests, I'm their guest, or we're somewhere else together, and also says nothing about whether it's voluntary or not. So if the English word "company" additionally expresses that they're my guests, that part gets lost in translation when using "Gesellschaft".

That said, I agree it's fine to translate it that way, because the statement

"A marriage counselor and a human lie detector isn't my first choice for company either."

seems to be mainly about spending time with these people, not about the fact that they're guests.

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  • The people Eleanor is talking about are unwelcome guests, not companions, so if the "guest" part of the meaning get lost in translation then you've essentially lost the whole point of the line. I can see how it might be interpreted differently though, especially if taken out of context, so maybe that's how the translators were thinking about it.
    – RDBury
    Nov 11 '20 at 12:42
  • @RDBury: "In Gesellschaft von jemanden sein" does not mean being companions though, it just means being together at a certain point in time, voluntarily or unvoluntarily. I edited accordingly.
    – HalvarF
    Nov 11 '20 at 12:44

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