Derico
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A Little Help With A German Idiom

Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:14 am

Tag zusammen,

I need an explanation for the following saying or idiomatic expression. I heard it the other day and I haven't been able to google a coherent explanation, in fact I saw there were variations to the one I had read which makes it slightly more confusing:

Was schert es die Eiche, wenn sich eine (Wild)sau an ihr schubbert?
Was schert es die Eiche, wenn sich die (Wild)sau an ihr kratzt?
Was schert es die deutsche Eiche, wenn sich die (Wild)sau dran reibt?
Was kümmert es die stolze Eiche, wenn sich die Wildsau an ihr wetzt?
Was kümmert es die Eiche, wenn sich ein....

I can only deduce based on the actual words, that it has something to do with situations in which a stuck-up or haughty person feels disturbed or annoyed by what he/she considers lesser or not worthy of their time thing, person, or idea. But that's it... and not even sure if that is correct (I'm just guessing based on the context that I heard it). How or when is this used, and what does it mean more clearly?

Thank you for elucidating!
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aloges
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RE: A Little Help With A German Idiom

Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:50 am

A literal translation may not be the best option, but that's always the case with idioms. So here goes:

"What does the oak tree care if a (wild) boar scratches itself on it?"

The variations you found give the oak tree an attribute and/or use synonyms for "scratching".

I can't say I've heard that one before and I advise strongly against its use. The meaning is, of course, "you may try, but you will never get to me", but whoever uses this kind little proverb calls the addressee a pig... and in a highly arrogant way, too.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
Derico
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RE: A Little Help With A German Idiom

Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:31 pm

Yup, I've never heard it before, and I never ask here for such advice here, but the person saying it seemed very serious so I it seemed important that he express himself in that way.

"you may try, but you will never get to me"

I've never heard of this expression in English either! So, again, I have an idea based on the words and the context what it means (I knew it had something to do with being haughty and looking down on others), but thought there was more to it, since there usually is.

The man that said it was in his 50s, so I'm guessing the expression is a generation or two removed and thus dated.
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flyingturtle
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RE: A Little Help With A German Idiom

Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:51 pm

I've heard it as "I could not care less about what you're doing.", but also in a positive way - why not be a strong, tough oak tree that doesn't need to lash out at the poor and dumb pigs down there?  


David
Keeping calm is terrorism against those who want to live in fear.
 
pelican
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RE: A Little Help With A German Idiom

Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:45 pm

I hear it quite a lot. Its use shouldn't be a problem. Its neither meant offensive nor arrogant (of course it all depends on the context). I think David got the meaning quite good.

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 3):
I've heard it as "I could not care less about what you're doing.", but also in a positive way - why not be a strong, tough oak tree that doesn't need to lash out at the poor and dumb pigs down there?

With other words "man steht über den Dingen, wie eine Eiche über den Wildschweinen" you stand above something like an oak tree above boars. Whatever 'something' is, it's nothing more than a minor annoyance.

pelican
 
aloges
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RE: A Little Help With A German Idiom

Sat Sep 01, 2012 9:36 pm

I see what you mean. If you use it in a general context, i.e. not addressing anyone, it should certainly be OK. But if you refer directly to someone when you're saying it, that person or his friends ought not to be in the same room.

I suppose it's usually used without reference to any given person, which makes it uncontroversial.
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pelican
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RE: A Little Help With A German Idiom

Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:33 pm

Quoting aloges (Reply 5):

I suppose it's usually used without reference to any given person, which makes it uncontroversial.

Indeed, that how to use the phrase  

pelican

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