Selbst ist der Mensch

English translation: do it yourself

13:54 Jun 15, 2019
German to English translations [PRO]
Bus/Financial - Idioms / Maxims / Sayings / Business negotiations
German term or phrase: Selbst ist der Mensch
Hi,
Hoping someone can help with this one. I don't have a lot of context for the term itself - it's a motto certain people live their lives by. It goes on to say these are people who are tough negotiators. Winning is the most important thing to them. I found something in French that suggests it means something along the lines of "I can do this better than anyone". Or is it maybe "Each man for himself"? of "I come first"? I'd be grateful if anyone is familiar with this phrase.
Kathy Freeman
Local time: 18:49
English translation:do it yourself
Explanation:
According to these forum comments, it's a politically correct version of selbst ist der Mann.
Es geht darum, dass man etwas selbst erledigen muss, wenn einem keiner hilft.
Selbst ist der Mann (, wenn er kann)! ;)
Das ist übrigens auch die traditionelle Übersetzung von Do it yourself.

Nur als Ergänzung: "Selbst ist der Mann" ist eine feste Redewendung. "Selbst ist der Mensch" scheint eine "politisch korrekte" Variante zu sein. Ich habe sie noch nicht gehört.
https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/selbst-ist-der-mensc...
Selected response from:

Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 12:49
Grading comment
Thanks Kim. All great suggestions but I am giving Kim the points for a speedy clarification and great research. Thanks everyone.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +5do it yourself
Kim Metzger
4 +1(BrE) There's no harm being full of yourself (and blowing your own trumpet)
Adrian MM.
3 +2Rely on yourself
Bernhard Sulzer
4Scratch your own itch
Lirka
4Forge your own path
Michael Martin, MA
3have both feet firmly on the ground
Ramey Rieger
3Learn from others but only rely on yourself
franglish


Discussion entries: 12





  

Answers


23 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
do it yourself


Explanation:
According to these forum comments, it's a politically correct version of selbst ist der Mann.
Es geht darum, dass man etwas selbst erledigen muss, wenn einem keiner hilft.
Selbst ist der Mann (, wenn er kann)! ;)
Das ist übrigens auch die traditionelle Übersetzung von Do it yourself.

Nur als Ergänzung: "Selbst ist der Mann" ist eine feste Redewendung. "Selbst ist der Mensch" scheint eine "politisch korrekte" Variante zu sein. Ich habe sie noch nicht gehört.
https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/selbst-ist-der-mensc...


Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 12:49
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 144
Grading comment
Thanks Kim. All great suggestions but I am giving Kim the points for a speedy clarification and great research. Thanks everyone.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  writeaway: nice research Kim
18 mins

neutral  philgoddard: I agree about your research, but I'm not sure your suggested translation works.
33 mins

agree  Björn Vrooman: I think this could work in Kathy's context. I should add, I guess, that in addition to your Selbst ist der Mann, Selbst ist die Frau has been around for a long time. So maybe this isn't really PC, but simply shorter than saying Mann/Frau =)
1 hr

agree  Adrian MM.: Langenscheidt: 'there's nothing like doing things by yourself'.
4 hrs

agree  Eleanore Strauss: concise and spot-on transcreation
11 hrs

agree  José Patrício: to do it yourself - https://www.phrasen.com/uebersetze,to-do-it-yourself,68078,e...
2 days 6 hrs
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
Learn from others but only rely on yourself


Explanation:
Supposing the person is intelligent...
Do it yourself sounds to me like a hands-on thing, like fixing the leaking faucet etc.

franglish
Switzerland
Local time: 19:49
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in category: 12
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Forge your own path


Explanation:
If the source text had said "Selbst ist der Mann", this would have conjured up images of men with great DIY home repair skills.

But what we have here is "Selbst ist der Mensch" which, as a motto, I would typically associate with "Selbstbestimmung."

Michael Martin, MA
United States
Local time: 13:49
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 55
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Scratch your own itch


Explanation:
...may work.

The Italian version is the best, though: "Chi fa da se, fa per tre."

Lirka
Local time: 19:49
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Stuart and Aida Nelson: I also like 'scratch your own itch' but I am not sure if it fits the context here and the Italian sounds very nice, Cheers, Aida :)
4 hrs
  -> Thanks, Aida!
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5 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
(BrE) There's no harm being full of yourself (and blowing your own trumpet)


Explanation:
A somewaht paradoxical turn of phrase to use on this website.

My own experience of tough (leasing agreement etc.) negotiators would rather suggest: 'try pretending to be a human being'.

Example sentence(s):
  • If you say to someone 'you're full of yourself', you disapprove of them because they appear very pleased with themselves, thinking that they are very clever.

    Reference: http://www.dict.cc/?s=Selbst+ist+der+Mann
Adrian MM.
United Kingdom
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Stuart and Aida Nelson: I like it, Being Full of Yourself! The meaning here is to be tough.
3 hrs
  -> Thanks and gracias! The meaning of self still needs to be reflected,

neutral  Michael Martin, MA: Is that what it means in the UK? Here, this just means you have a big head/Being full of yourself often implies that rather than being a tough negotiator that person may be too stupid to notice he's been outsmarted by his counterpart.
1 day 15 hrs
  -> It does in the UK, too. 'Tough negotiators', as colo(u)red by my own subjective experience and City of London anecdotes - alluded to - of (rude) lawyers/ attorneys (re-) negotiating leases etc, strike me as code or euphemistic for a big-shot label.
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15 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
Rely on yourself


Explanation:
or:

trust yourself
rely on yourself

see: https://medium.com/darius-foroux/self-reliance-is-the-secret...


This might be more than a variation of the "Selbst ist der Mann," judging from asker's comments. Goes more in the direction of rely on yourself, no one else ....

...I trust in myself first (before I trust in anyone else)
Trust in yourself only
(I/you) don't need anybody else
Trust no one (but yourself)

Nobody tells me how to live my life -
I'm my own man/woman/person

see:
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/be-yo...

would go with these if it is a motto for living one's life.

Bernhard Sulzer
United States
Local time: 13:49
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in category: 36

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Wendy Streitparth: 'Be your own person' sounds good to me
1 hr
  -> Thank you Wendy!

agree  Anne Schulz
2 hrs
  -> Thank you Anne!
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1 day 16 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
have both feet firmly on the ground


Explanation:
For what it's worth. That's I get for going off for the weekend.

Ramey Rieger
Germany
Local time: 19:49
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 70
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