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In short: What would be the idiomatic German equivalent of "no days off!" if it means "you have to work/exercise every day"? Is there anything better than "Kein Tag ohne arbeiten/lehren, usw."?

Full story: I was talking with my students about the Latin motto "Nulla dies sine linea". I explained to them the French meaning of this phrase and the discussion continued about the reason for using such a phrase. We were particularly interested in the galvanising aspect of this expression; we imagined students preparing for a competition or sportsmen training every day. Then I compared the Latin sentence to the English phrase "no days off!" and I felt my students appreciated the brevity of those three words. Then someone asked me if I knew how to translate "no days off!" in German. I asked a German colleague: she answered she didn't know an exact translation except for "Kein Tag ohne arbeiten/lehren, usw.".

Is there a German equivalent that does justice to the brevity of the English sentence?

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  • There is a verb that comes to mind, but it is specific to the Allemanic dialect (spoken in southwest Germany and Switzerland): "Schaffe". Two notes here: - In standard German, the verb schaffen translates either "to accomplish" or "to create", but in all Upper German dialects it just means "to work". - In Allemanic, the infinitive form of a verb ends with -e, not -en like in standard German, so the above is not an imperative. Unlike other regions of southern Germany, in the Allemanic parts, especially Swabia, the verb "schaffe" is often u
    – ccprog
    Jan 23 at 4:14
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    Perhaps an idiomatic saying that tries to express something similar: "Wer rastet, der rostet" (~ a rolling stone gather no moss). Or, known form an old petrol advertising: "Es gibt viel zu tun, packen wir es an" Jan 23 at 20:54

5 Answers 5

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Kein freier Tag!

The simple imperative; German is well suited as a command language ;-)
Of course it can be embellished, or in another context becomes a complaint...

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  • 4
    An imperative requires a verb, but there is none. Jan 23 at 7:47
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    @BjörnFriedrich It really depends on how you define imperative. You seem to prefer a syntactic point of view, understanding imperativ as the mood of a verb. From a pragmatical point of view, Kein freier Tag! could well be called an imperative as it expresses a direction or an order. Jan 25 at 0:13
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Yes, there is "[…] a German equivalent that does justice to the brevity of the English […]" phrase:

to have no day off  ⇒  keinen Tag frei haben

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  • 1
    I'm not sure how that's meant to be an imperative. Perhaps something like: Hab keinen freien Tag.
    – RDBury
    Jan 22 at 15:54
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    @RDBury, yes, the imperative forms of haben are habe (du), habt (ihr), and haben (Sie). Jan 22 at 21:39
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    @RDBury "No time off!" also has no imperative verb form. "Keinen Tag frei!" is a similar exclamation.
    – lucidbrot
    Jan 24 at 15:15
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My suggestion is

Keine Auszeit.

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  • Best translation of the ones offered here, imho. Jan 25 at 0:10
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The German Bauhaus movement artist Paul Klee used the translation of the Latin original you mention as his maxim: "Kein Tag ohne Linie". But also, I think "kein Tag frei" is sufficiently idiomatic — there is a rap song with this title and its use communicates a similar ethos of constant effort without rest. Certainly not my sort of music, but nevertheless a functional example of the phrase in use.

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I suggest "pausenlos" or "ohne Unterbrechung".

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  • Finde ich unpassend; das würde bedeuten, 24h / Tag zu arbeiten oder trainieren.
    – Robert
    Feb 17 at 17:20
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    @Robert Was bedeutet dann der Satz "Für jeden vierten jungen Beschäftigten ist es normal, pausenlos zu arbeiten"? Vgl. haufe.de/arbeitsschutz/gesundheit-umwelt/…
    – Paul Frost
    Feb 22 at 12:36
  • @PaulFrost Das bedeutet, dass jemand völlig übertreibt und ich die Aussage extrem unglaubwürdig finde. Wahrscheinlich machen die Leute auch keine Klo- oder Kippenpausen. Ich würde ja sagen, sie schlafen unter ihrem Schreibtisch, aber das wäre ja auch eine Unterbrechung, kann also auch nicht sein.
    – Robert
    Feb 22 at 15:22

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