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What does "schon einmal" mean in this sentence?

In ihren Artikeln, die eine ganz eigene, persönliche Note tragen, spricht sie auch schon einmal aus, wenn ihr etwas in der Blogger-Szene nicht passt.

I only managed to find translations such as "ever", "meanwhile", and I don't think any of them fit here.

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  • 4
    An English idiom that seems to fit is "she has been known to speak up when something in the blogging scene goes against her liking". Oct 8, 2023 at 19:38

4 Answers 4

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That's a tricky one, and there is to my knowledge no direct and as concise translation into English as the German words convey.

In this particular context it can be translated to something like

once in a while
occasionally (and readily)
at times
has been known to

It is meant to express the fact that the statement may be somewhat surprising or to assertain the statement, and that it happens occasionally, but not constantly.

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  • already does not seem to fit here.
    – RHa
    Oct 8, 2023 at 8:25
  • @RHa yes-ish... that's why it's a tricky one :) 'already' is more implied than the actual meaning. However I edited it out and replaced it by a possibly better fit. Oct 8, 2023 at 8:29
  • 3
    *...she has been known to..." as proposed by @leftaroundabout in a comment is a perfect translation.
    – tofro
    Oct 9, 2023 at 8:52
  • good one, I will add that @tofro Oct 9, 2023 at 12:50
  • @RHa It is not meant here, but "schon einmal" can also mean "already", as in "Ich geh schon [ein]mal rein"
    – Bergi
    Oct 10, 2023 at 14:13
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In this case schon einmal refers to the frequency of her actions. While not obvious from a direct translation, it denotes a rather infrequent action, similar to gelegentlich, manchmal, or ab und zu, so something that is done once in a while, but certainly more than once and also not regularly.

Contrary to gelegentlich, manchmal and ab und zu, schon einmal holds another meaning in that it describes an action that is rather unusual, something that is not expected. In your sentence it therefore indicates that the blogger sometimes does something others don't, differentiating her from others.

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This use of "schon einmal" is not a temporal adverbial, but a modal particle, or rather, two of them, because they can be rearranged. I would slightly prefer the order "sie spricht schon auch (einmal) aus...". Both "schon" and "einmal" could be omitted without changing the message very much. The third particle in the sentence is "auch", so they all should be considered in combination.

The use of "schon" here could be described as concessive, I think. The basic (temporal) meaning of "schon" is: in a development, this is the first time which has a new property. In this sense, the modal particle can be understood as: this is bordering to something different, though not an outright contradiction. I would explain the meaning as: although she is a blogger (and you might expect she wouldn't say anything bad about blogging), she also does take the liberty, occasionally, to speak out against... (Here I tried to render "einmal" as "occasionally" and "schon" as "does take the liberty" -- even if this is not idiomatic for your ear, you'll probably see what's intended.) The "auch" likewise reflects that other ways of behaving or other expectations are around in the context, i.e. "in addition to what she otherwise does or is expected to do".

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I think most answers take the words to literal (native speaker here):

the meaning pretty fuzzy and depends on the context, but it is mostly used as an emphasis, maybe best translated with does (she does speak up).

It's a colloquial expression more at home in spoken language, where intonation can guide the context more easily.

You would also add the "auch" to the expression and it is that way I hear it most often and use it myself: "auch schon einmal" or "auch schon mal".

Without it, the meaning of the sentence would be fairly the same: she speaks out. But by adding it, depending on context it adds either:

  1. emphasis for appreciation, approval or admiration with a subtext of she is not a push over ( it's hard for me to find the right word here, but I hope I get across what I mean)
  2. emphasis before refuting, like "Sie spricht sich auch schon einmal aus, aber ..." (she does speak up, but ...)
  3. non-emphasis: she speaks up from time to time, but not always.

From experience I would say no. 3 is the rarest case, for that you would rather say "Sie spricht sich manchmal/gelegentlich/hin und wieder gegen (...) aus". One scenario I can think of where you would use it with this meaning would be e.g. a conversation:

A: "Sie spricht sich ja nie gegen die Szene aus.", (she never speaks up against the scene")

B: "Doch, vielleicht nicht immer, aber sie spricht auch schon einmal aus, wenn ihr was nicht passt" (Maybe not always, but from time to time she does speak up when something is rubbing her the wrong way.)

In your case above there is not much context to see, but I would say it is meant in the sense of no. 1, appreciative or approving emphasis, since the first part of the sentence is also speaking (kind of) favorably towards her: she does speak up against the blogging scene if something rubs her the wrong way.

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