ProZ.com global directory of translation services
 The translation workplace
Ideas
KudoZ home » English to German » Idioms / Maxims / Sayings

seen the elephant

Login or register (free and only takes a few minutes) to participate in this question.

You will also have access to many other tools and opportunities designed for those who have language-related jobs
(or are passionate about them). Participation is free and the site has a strict confidentiality policy.
21:11 Jun 9, 2011
English to German translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Idioms / Maxims / Sayings
English term or phrase: seen the elephant
it seems to be an old american phrase
seen the elephant - meaning that one is worldly and has much life experience.
You may use it ironically : sure, he has seen the elephant
I'm looking for a appropriate german phrase.
hirokazu
Local time: 02:16


Summary of answers provided
4hat die sieben Weltmeere bereist / hat die Welt gesehen
Bettina Meissner
3hat schon viel mitgemacht/durchgemachtAndrea Ka
3 -1seine Feuertaufe hinter sich habenDERDOKTOR
Summary of reference entries provided
elephants or lions :-)
Johanna Timm, PhD
ElefantHorst Huber

Discussion entries: 7





  

Answers


8 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): -1
seine Feuertaufe hinter sich haben


Explanation:
wäre, nachdem der Ausdruck vor allem im Bereich der Soldaten (des US-Bürgerkriegs) gebräuchlich war, eine deutsche Entsprechung.

DERDOKTOR
Local time: 02:16
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  xxxHanshan: If Johanna Timm's reference information is correct, this would be a misleading phrase, as the Feuertaufe refers to the first battle one has got over/Sure, but what has it got to do with the broader experience that the elephant phrase seems to refer to?
2 hrs
  -> it IS an expression that is mostly used among soldiers. Make it better, Hanshan.
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

11 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
hat die sieben Weltmeere bereist / hat die Welt gesehen


Explanation:
mehr im Sinne von "ist schon überall gewesen", "hat schon alles erlebt", und somit einen grossen Erfahrungsschatz. Knüpft hier auch gut an die exotische Vorlage an (Elefant), passt allerdings nicht auf eine "generell weise" Person...

Bettina Meissner
Germany
Local time: 02:16
Native speaker of: German
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

16 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
hat schon viel mitgemacht/durchgemacht


Explanation:
Die beiden Vorschläge könnten - je nach Kontext - ebenfalls passen. Jemand, der viel mitgemacht hat, kennt die Welt. Wobei der Ausdruck "etwas durchmachen" negative Konnotationen hat: Jemand, der viel durchgemacht hat, hat auch viele negative Erfahrungen gesammelt.

Andrea Ka
Local time: 02:16
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman, Native in PolishPolish
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




Reference comments


20 mins peer agreement (net): +1
Reference: elephants or lions :-)

Reference information:
"I have seen the elephant" is an expression denoting world-weary experience. It is an Americanism dating to the early 19th century. The elephant is metaphorical, standing it for the exotic and strange things one sees when one has experience and has seen the world.

Many associate the phrase with the Civil War. While it was certainly in use during the war and undoubtedly crops up in letters and diaries from that period, the phrase is older. From Augustus B. Longstreet’s Georgia Scenes, in a passage written in 1835:
That’s sufficient, as Tom Haynes said when he saw the elephant.1
And there is G.W. Kendall’s Narrative of the Texan Santa Fé Expedition from 1844:
There is a cant expression, “I’ve seen the elephant” in very common use in Texas. […] The meaning of the expression I will explain. When a man is disappointed in any thing he undertakes, when he has seen enough, when he gets sick and tired of any job he may have set himself about, he has “seen the elephant.”2
This is an American version of the older British expression to see the lions. The British phrase, meaning the same thing or, in later use, meaning to see something of celebrity or note, is a reference to lions that were kept in the Tower of London and were an early tourist attraction. Those who came to London from the country were often taken to see the lions in the Tower. From Robert Greene’s 1590 Greenes Neuer Too Late:
Francesco was no other but a meere nouice, and that so newly, that to vse the olde prouerbe, he had scarce seene the Lions.3
________________________________________
1Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, Georgia Scenes (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1897), 3.
2G.W. Kendall, A Narrative of the Texan Santa Fé Expedition (London: Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper, 1847), 74-75.
3Oxford English Dictionary, lion, n., 2nd Edition, 1989, Oxford University Press, accessed 12 Jan 2009 <http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50133810>.
http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/site/comments/elephant_...

Johanna Timm, PhD
Canada
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in category: 55

Peer comments on this reference comment (and responses from the reference poster)
agree  Uta Kappler: This one is nice too: http://www.nha.org/history/hn/HNelephant.htm
11 mins
  -> Neat:-))
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

2 hrs
Reference: Elefant

Reference information:
http://www.zeno.org/Wander-1867/A/Elefant
dort nr. 21
Einigermaßen merkwürdig.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2 hrs (2011-06-09 23:42:33 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Auch nr. 27.

Horst Huber
United States
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in category: 11
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




Voters for reclassification
as
PRO / non-PRO
PRO (3): Ingo Dierkschnieder, Uta Kappler, Susanne Schiewe


Return to KudoZ list


Changes made by editors
Jun 9, 2011 - Changes made by Susanne Schiewe:
LevelNon-PRO » PRO


KudoZ™ translation help
The KudoZ network provides a framework for translators and others to assist each other with translations or explanations of terms and short phrases.



See also: