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Google translate says that it means "5 teenagers in exit", which makes no sense. What does "5 Jugendliche im Ausgang" really mean?

Context: It's the title of a Swiss-German documentary video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLs0s85xvIA

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    More context would be helpful; with this snippet it is hard to contradict even machine translation.
    – guidot
    Apr 23, 2022 at 21:13

3 Answers 3

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The expression «5 Jugendliche im Ausgang» means ‘5 youth going out socially’.

The expression «in den Ausgang gehen» is Swiss Standard German for ‘going out socially’. It is a clear helvetism, which means that outside of Switzerland, many people will not understand it readily.

The expression clearly is standard German, not Swiss German dialect (a Swiss German dialect equivalent could be «i Usgang gah»). It is not a colloquialism or jargon, but regular standard German, as can be shown by its use in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, one of the moste prestigious German-language newspapers of record:

The expression might originate from the military, where «Ausgang» means the leave to go out in the evening.

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    One could mention the meaning of "ausgehen" and that "Ausgang" is a nominalisation. I know, it should be obvious, but it may help some.
    – Carsten S
    Apr 24, 2022 at 8:46
  • @CarstenS: The expression is only used with the noun, not with the verb.
    – mach
    Apr 24, 2022 at 11:10
  • I am not sure what you mean. I just wanted to say that it is not surprising that "Ausgang" can have meanings beside "exit" because it is derived from "ausgehen" and hence can theoretically have at least as many meanings as the verb. Which of those are actually used in different parts of the German speaking world is another issue.
    – Carsten S
    Apr 24, 2022 at 11:25
  • In support of what @CarstenS wrote: in order to characterise the meaning of Ausgang, DWDS refers back to one meaning of ausgehen, which includes "zum Vergnügen, zum Tanz gehen".
    – David Vogt
    Apr 24, 2022 at 11:30
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    Fair enough. First of all it is of course your answer. Also, if Ausgang was derived directly from ausgehen then "in den Ausgang gehen" would be doppelt gemoppelt ;) (I would not completely rule that out, but I don't know, of course.)
    – Carsten S
    Apr 24, 2022 at 17:27
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"5 Jugendliche im Ausgang" sounds strange on the first view to me as a German listener from the Northern part.

However, there does exist the totally normal expression "Ausgang haben" (see the first definition here on dwds) which means to have permission to (temporarily) leave and / or go out. In standard German this is usually used e.g. for soldiers who have in the weekend permission to leave barracks or similar situations.

It is sometimes used in a context like "Heute Abend habe ich Ausgang" when you somewhat jokingly want to express that you got permission from your siginificant other to go out and meet with your mates. In my northern German I'd hardly ever use the noun but use the verb "ausgehen" to phrase the same: "5 Jugendliche gehen aus" or "Heute Abend gehen wir aus".

Taking this meaning of "Ausgang" the original expression (and as proven by the many examples from the NZZ by mach in their answer) will translate to something like "5 youths going out (socializing)" or similar.

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  • It may be helpful to note that this use of "Ausgang" is derived from situations where somebody needed an actual permission to leave, for example as a soldier or as a prisoner. If you have such a formal permission, you "hast Ausgang". From there, it was (tongue in cheek) transferred to situations where a person was "allowed" to go out socially - maybe because a minor got their parents approval, because an employee got the day off or something like that. Apr 24, 2022 at 9:09
  • Thought "raus" (go out) is all that was needed. Casually informal compared to "ausgang" (exit)?
    – user610620
    Apr 24, 2022 at 11:46
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    @user610620 There is a rather big difference between 'ausgehen' and 'rausgehen': 'ausgehen' = go out (to dine / to party /...). 'rausgehen' = to go out of the room / to go into the open / to leave or to exit (the building). There are different meanings of ausgehen beside this. Apr 24, 2022 at 12:34
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I assume you are referring to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLs0s85xvIA or https://www.srf.ch/play/tv/archivperlen/video/jugendliche-im-ausgang-1994?urn=urn:srf:video:9218b98d-7cfd-42d6-a1c6-6c725b369896. According to the context, it could be translated with "Five teenagers show us how they go out" (in the evening, after school, etc.). But it is as difficult to understand it in German (as a native speaker) as it is in English.

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  • What is in English?
    – Carsten S
    Apr 23, 2022 at 23:05
  • So the German word for exit also means "to go out socially"?
    – user610620
    Apr 24, 2022 at 1:32
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    Short anser: No. Long answer: It's local swiss dialect in the best case, or probably just author's creativity, or might be wrong in the worst case. I just tried to help the OP, but would have also been lost without the context explanation found on srf.ch. Literally nobody will understand what you are trying to say when you put it that way. Except for the question, absolutelty nothing to learn or to take from here.
    – BogisW
    Apr 24, 2022 at 5:15
  • PS: As for the downvote: Downvoting is here to improve the quality of answers. But I cannot improve the quality without knowing why it was downvoted. So I kindly ask to either remove the downvote, or to add an explaining comment, why it was downvoted and, thus, how I could improve. Otherwise I will remove my answer, being sorry for the OP if there are no better answers. I take any critic and possibility to improve, but downvoting without explanation is neither cool nor useful.
    – BogisW
    Apr 24, 2022 at 5:21
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    No, the video is not in English, but in Swiss German.
    – mach
    Apr 24, 2022 at 8:09

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