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|German to English translations [Non-PRO]|
|German term or phrase: basteln|
|how is 'basteln' used as intVerb?|
a sentence given:
Sie basteln oft an der eigenen Karriere.
'baseln an etwas' is a phrase and means what?
|working on - promoting - pushing, etc.|
"Tinker" has acquired a rather strange connotation. The term is often used to mean the making of thousands of little adjustments that do not really lead to a performance improvement. In this sense, the term "tinkerer" is used for car buffs ("Schrauber") who are always working on their cars. This meaning is confirmed by NODE – The New Oxford Dictionary of English. For this reason, I would not use the term to translate "basteln" in your text. Your people are engaging in activities that might very well make a big improvement in the progress of their careers.
I also do not think we would say they were "building" their careers. For "basteln", we often say "work on". John is working on his car AGAIN!
Part of the difference is the difference between the German "Karriere" and the English "career(s)".
If you would like to stay as close as possible to the German, you could write:
"They are often (only/just) working on their own careers."
which does not sound very natural to me though. Translations that are more idiomatic might be something like:
"They are often (only/just) promoting themselves."
"They are often (only/just) trying to further their own careers."
"They are often (only/just) trying to make themselves look good."
"They are often (only/just) trying to put themselves in a good light."
"They are often (only/just) promoting their own careers."
"They are often (only/just) trying to get ahead themselves."
"They are often (only/just) pushing themselves up the ladder."
etc, etc, etc.
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5 mins confidence: peer agreement (net): +4
make, build yourself
The verb 'basteln' means to make or build as a hobby or as a do-it-yourself project, construct with your own hands (model airplanes, shelving, ...)
Own knowledge (made airplanes...) + Collins German dictionary