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I came across this sentence on twitter:

Man weiß halt gefühlt nichts.

I can't quite work out the meaning implied here, is it: One feels like he knows nothing, or One knows he feels nothing??

And I don't actually understand the structure of the sentence to begin with, like how does a past participle "gefühlt" come after "wissen"? And is "nichts" an accusative object to "wissen" or to "fühlen"?

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  • 2
    "It feels like we know nothing." Dec 11, 2021 at 9:04

3 Answers 3

15

I'm just a native speaker, I'll try:

The former. Although I would translate it to "It's like one knows nothing". For the sake of simplicity, we can ignore "halt" (simply).

"Gefühlt" as a verb means "to feel / felt", but is (recently) used as a form of adjective in slang/shortcut, meaning "it feels as if" ("es fühlt sich so an, als ..." Funny enough, here "fühlt .. an" is a verb again).

It isn't really used as a past participle, in this case it's not even a verb. You could compare it to: "One knows basically nothing".

The sentence could also look like: "Gefühlt weiß man halt nichts", meaning the exact same Therefore, "nichts" is accusative object to "wissen".

More commonly used and easier examples could be:

  • "Es ist gefühlt heißer als 20°C"
  • "Gefühlt ist er größer als 1,70m"

"One knows he feels nothing" would translate to "Man weiß, dass man nichts fühlt", of course here "fühlt" is actually a verb.

14

Maybe you've heard about the gefühlte Temperatur, or in English the apparent temperature: The temperature that humans perceive can be different from the temperature objectively measured by a thermometer, depending on factors like wind speed or humidity.

Some years ago, that "gefühlte Temperatur" started to appear in weather reports. The report could for example say, "die Temperaturen morgen werden um 0° Celsius liegen, gefühlt um -2° Celsius". This means something along the lines of "tomorrow temperatures will be around 0° Celsius, which will feel like temperatures around -2° C".

From there, the phrase "gefühlt etwas" has been extended to other topics where the perceiption differs from reality. This is often quite tongue-in-cheeck, but may not be in other cases, especially when people give their perceiption more credit than reality. For example

Sie hing gefühlte zwei Stunden in der Telefon-Warteschleife fest.
She was stuck on hold for what felt like two hours.

Gefühlt an jeder Ecke macht doch jetzt ein Handy-Laden oder ein Nagelstudio auf.
It looks to me like every other newly opening store is either a cell phone store or a nail salon.

or, as a much less harmless example

Gefühlt kommen Millionen Asylanten ins Land, und wir Steuerzahler dürfen das finanzieren!
It looks to me like millions of asylum seekers stream into the country, and we tax-payers are the ones to pay for all of that!

You can probably see how this can get easily very dangerous.

In your example sentence

Man weiß halt gefühlt nichts.

this "gefühlt" gets applied to "nichts". So you don't know nothing, but what you know feels like nothing to you, or is perceived as nothing.

4

The basic sentence is "man weiß nichts". This shows that "nichts" is an accusative object to the verb "wissen". The word "gefühlt" is a buzzword which became popular in the last few years. It wants to express your personal perception of a situation or a fact, frequently in an exaggerated form. Your sentence does not mean that the person does not know anything, but wants to say that the person knows very little. One could translate "gefühlt" by

  • es kommt mir/jemandem so vor, als ob

  • es scheint so, als ob

  • das Gefühl haben

Also für den fraglichen Satz:

  • Man hat das Gefühl, nichts zu wissen.
  • Es kommt einem so vor, als wüsste man nichts.
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  • Interesting issue: by inserting gefühlt, the whole clause transforms into a subclause when considering the meaning.
    – guidot
    Dec 13, 2021 at 8:28

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