English translation: to demand/request something of someone
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German to English translations [PRO] Art/Literary - General / Conversation / Greetings / Letters
German term or phrase:Ich stelle nicht von mir aus das Ansinnen
This is from a letter written by a Jewish refugee in an internship camp in the UK in 1941. The meaning is broadly clear, I am interested in the function of 'von mir aus' and how best to render this in conjunction with the noun+verb construction into English.
"Der Juengere war mit in Onchan Camp. Ich stelle nicht von mir aus das Ansinner an Sie mit Fischbein zu sprechen, falls Sie das nicht wollem, auch moechte ich nicht, dass diese geistig armseligen Menschen allzuhart angefasst werden..."
Thanks for all your work. I agree that the verb 'insist/demand/request' is of importance here. The author is 72, from a well-to-do German Jewish family, somehow managed to reach England through government connections and is using his waning influence and funds to try and help. His relationship with Brigitte is key, she is probably in her 30's, also a refugee but who poses no apparent threat to the UK authorities so has not been interned (unlike the author). He address her as 'Liebe Bri, liebe treue Seele'...he probably contributed significantly to her escape, at least financially. Reading into the text, the relationship feels very warm and the author asks Bri to do a lot of work on his behalf. This is perhaps a little too much info but I thought you might find it interesting, the text is over 6000 words and is a fascinating piece of personal history.
My fault, the sentence before is a bit of a red-herring am afraid, he was the younger of two young sons from another Jewish family scattered over the globe and he is informing Brigitte of his last known whereabouts so she can let other family members know. The author had found out the day before writing that his wife had been 'deported' from Berlin so he is in a very disturbed state of mind, clear in that his ideas flit around. Looks like I was infected by this too.
'morally wretched people' amongst whom we can presume Fischbein is numbered. The start of the sentence gives the impression that one member of that group has been in the camp with the writer, which may be the reason he doesn't want too much pressure put on him.
does not mean 'superior'. This person may have been a friend or a member of the Resistance. And the point is that the writer says he is NOT going to 'demand' or, as franglish correctly has it, 'insist' on her speaking to Fischbein. Clearly the writer would like this to happen, but does not want to put pressure on Brigitte if she doesn't want to do it, and anyway, the writer does not want undue "force" to be brought to bear on Fischbein, this "morally wretched person".
Thanks to all for your help. Some more info: The author is writing to his 'person on the outside' [Brigitte] who is transacting his business, mainly trying to rescue relatives from Nazi Europe, by using his contacts and funds. Fischbein took over his property after his internment and is supposed to be generating funds for his vain attempts to rescue his wife and relatives (it is 1941 and speaks of deportations but their fate is not know though suspected by him) by pawning the author's possessions. His relationship with Brigitte is warm but naturally he is disappointed with Fischbein.
One could almost interpret that he/she was prompted by others to suggest he spoke with Fishbein...demand is a very strong word, can somebody in an internship camp demand something from his/her superior?? The meaning of "Ansinnen" has much of the English "suggestion"....
The more I read this, the more it confuses me. I just want to clarify one thing: "von mir aus" in this case doesn't mean " for all I care" or "do what you want - I don't mind either way" etc.
In my opinion it means something like "the idea to talk to Fischbein isn't mine".
Yes, it is a little tricky. It is in fact the poor author who needs the recipient of the letter to speak to Fischbein on his behalf. I wonder if 'von mir aus' is a way of the author saying "I'm not insisting that you speak with Fischbein' [who has swindled the author out of lots of money], but this is perhaps a little far-fetched.
Automatic update in 00:
13 mins confidence: peer agreement (net): +5
das Ansinnen stellen
to demand something of someone
Explanation: As far as I am concerned, I am not going to demand that you speak to Fischbein, if you don't want to...
This is approximately how I would translate it - as a first stab
-------------------------------------------------- Note added at 20 mins (2009-02-01 13:24:47 GMT) --------------------------------------------------
I think 'von mir aus' is one of those slightly unnecessary phrases said for emphasis in speech - or as here - in a letter.
Helen Shiner United Kingdom Local time: 23:44 Native speaker of: English PRO pts in category: 36