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In English we talk about "making faces," "making funny faces," etc. Is this expressed the same way in German? E.g.:

Das Baby macht lustige Gesichter, wenn es ein großes Geschäft in die Windel macht.

Is that right?

2 Answers 2

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Gesicht

Very much the same than in English the German translation "Gesicht" for face does not only mean the frontal body part between neck and hair but also the expression we make with it. Again, "machen" is the most commonly used word for to make in German too. Therefore we can say:

Das Baby macht ein lustiges Gesicht...

Note the different to the English counterpart. We use "das Gesicht" in singular if only one person is involved. But if there are more than one we can of course also say:

Es gab lange Gesichter, als bekannt wurde, dass die Karten schon alle ausverkauft sind.

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    Plural is possible, though, as with Grimassen, if it is a sequence of face expressions by one person.
    – chirlu
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 20:49
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    @chirlu: it is both, possible, and unusual ;)
    – Takkat
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 20:51
  • I do agree. :-)
    – chirlu
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 20:54
  • I think the first sentence might sound a bit unusual as the noun "Gesicht" and "machen" are normally used together as follows: with no adjective; adjectives like 'lang' or phrases such as 'wie drei Tage Regenwetter: "Mach doch nicht so ein Gesicht.", "Er machte ein langes Gesicht." "Er machte ein Gesicht wie drei Tage Regenwetter." (one can tell by the look on your face that you are feeling cross; disappointed; grumpy)...
    – rena
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 11:43
  • It may be regional, but we do use "Gesicht machen" with all kinds of expressions here: "trauriges Gesicht machen", "enttäuschtes Gesicht...", "wütendes..." etc. I am not saying that this is good style however ;)
    – Takkat
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 11:48
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Generally, I would translate "making faces" with "Grimassen schneiden" oder "Fratzen schneiden." However, both of my suggestions imply making a funny and hideous face intentionally.

Concerning your sentence I am not quite convinced that my suggestions would work in that particular context...You would rather find them in a sentence like: Sie schaute in die Kamera und schnitt eine Grimasse.

I think generally your sentence sounds okay, you could also say : Das Baby verzog das Gesicht in lustigster Weise, als ich die Windeln wechselte. (das Gesicht verziehen is a synonym to my suggestions above, however, I can't explain exactly why it works, in contrast to the other two. But I thought I will mention it anyway.)

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  • Perhaps hat einen lustigen Gesichtsausdruck would work here.
    – chirlu
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 19:38
  • So Takkat says that the expression "Gesicht machen" works just fine. Does that sound strange to you? Just wondering why one speaker wouldn't mention it and offer 3-4 other possibilities when someone else says the expressions are the same in both languages. Or maybe I just don't really understand the import of your statement that my original sentence "sounds generally okay."
    – kokirii
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 1:35
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    As you said yourself: Grimassen schneiden/ziehen and Fratzen schneiden/ziehen imply intention. das Gesicht verziehen doesn't and is therefore probably the better translation for this context.
    – Toscho
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 8:28
  • @ kokirii When translating foreign texts into one's mother tongue, one oftentimes tends to translate literally (including me). At the moment of translating one is very, very convinced that you can use certain phrases in your mother tongue... but when looking at your translated text a few days later you will sometimes notice that certain phrases sound a bit odd or funny... and I still think your sentence sounds a bit odd.;) I mean, it's grammatically correct and everyone would know what you mean; it's just not a phrase that is so commonly used.(That's what I meant with 'sounds generally okay')
    – rena
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 11:58
  • That's interesting. I just want to make sure I make the best choice here for the correct answer soas to benefit the community. Honestly, Takkat's answer is what I was "hoping" for! :) But if "Gesicht machen" isn't common or specific enough, these other options are definitely helpful.
    – kokirii
    Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 3:40

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