Kleinbürger

English translation: ordinary town and country folk

02:59 Apr 8, 2005
German to English translations [PRO]
Social Sciences - Social Science, Sociology, Ethics, etc.
German term or phrase: Kleinbürger
I'm translating a personal letter that was written almost 30 years ago by an old man. This letter has now been passed on as a legacy to his direct/indirect heirs, as it explains the family history. It is very important that I render a translation that is as literal as possible (into BrE).

The entire sentence reads "Es waren Kleinbürger und Bauern".

The only two translations I can think of are: "petty bourgeois" and "lower middle-class".

"petty bourgeois", to me, has a negative connotation. Cannot imagine the author referring to his family (in whose history he takes great interest/pride) as "petty bourgeois". (Apart from that, don't know how to pluralise bourgeois.) "Lower middle-class" sounds rather clinical and bloodless. Also, I would like to keep the succinctness of the German sentence => "They were ... and farmers."

Any ideas?
Beate Lutzebaeck
New Zealand
Local time: 10:56
English translation:ordinary town and country folk
Explanation:
All the other answers sound too sociological to me.
This is a bit 19th century, I admit, but I think it's more the register you might be looking for.

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Note added at 4 hrs 16 mins (2005-04-08 07:16:41 GMT)
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I\'ve assumed that two sets of people are being contrasted.

If Kleinbürger and Bauern are the same set of people, you could say \"ordinary country folk\".

If they\'re two sets but you\'re not sure where the first set live, you could say \"ordinary people and country folk\".
Selected response from:

Nick Somers (X)
Local time: 00:56
Grading comment
Thank you all for this most insightful discussion. I also appreciated the observations made by commentators. I chose Nick's answer because it avoids sociological lingo and pomposity and it's as neat and concise as the German while still keeping the necessary distinction between town and country. Also appreciated being set straight on the issue of "farmers".
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
3 +8ordinary town and country folk
Nick Somers (X)
4 +2ordinary citizens o. working class people
Tom Funke
4 +1tradesmen / petite bourgeoisie
Michael Schubert
4 +1lower middle-class
VMS
3ordinary working people
Maureen Millington-Brodie
3people such as shopkeepers, clerks, teachers etc.
Kim Metzger
2provincial types
Francis Lee (X)


Discussion entries: 1





  

Answers


7 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Kleinbürger
lower middle-class


Explanation:
If you translate it separately "lower middle-class" is correct. My suggestion is to translate the two items together as "lower middle-class farmers"

VMS
Native speaker of: Native in DutchDutch

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Dr.G.MD (X): lower middle class people
6 mins

agree  Fantutti (X): Lower middle-class and peasants. www.indiana.edu/~altergc/ h104/5_german_families_instruct.htm
36 mins

agree  Rolf Bueskens: Lower middle class people AND farmers
3 hrs

neutral  Nick Somers (X): Apart from the sociological gloss, peasants has a medieval ring and farmers (to me) implies people who own farms rather than those who work on them, which could be the case here.
5 hrs

disagree  Ian M-H (X): Definitely not "farmers" (see Nick's point) and I cannot imagine my grandfather (b. 1897 and probably not completely unlike Beate's letter writer) using sociological categories to refer to anyone.
6 hrs

disagree  Sarah Swift: Lower middle class is correct bur inappropriate - see Ian - and the townies have to be kept separate from the country people
8 hrs
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8 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Kleinbürger
tradesmen / petite bourgeoisie


Explanation:
I would propose "tradesmen," which suggests the less-educated businessmen without any negativity and combines nicely in the phrase "tradesmen and farmers."

If you wish to stick closer to the original, I would suggest the all-French alternate of "petit bourgeois" to avoid the negative associations of "petty"; also, you could get around the singular/plural issue by describing them as "belonging to the petite bourgeoisie."

Hope that helps!

Michael Schubert
United States
Local time: 15:56
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Elimar Orlopp: I would definitely go with "belonging to the petite borgoisie", tradesmen is incorrect because craftsmen as well are subsumed under "kleinbürger", lower middle class is bloodless and a term from modern sociology as i know.
42 mins
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47 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
Kleinbürger
ordinary citizens o. working class people


Explanation:
In your context, negative connotations, such as 'Spießbürger', need not be considered.

(Ordinary citizens or working class people are sometimes alluded to as 'The salt of the earth' -- anything but negative!)

Tom Funke
Local time: 18:56
Native speaker of: English

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Michael Schubert: Both "working-class people" and "salt of the earth" are excellent suggestions!
11 mins

agree  ezbounty@aol.co
2 days 13 hrs
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
Kleinbürger
people such as shopkeepers, clerks, teachers etc.


Explanation:
I think that's how I'd handle the term in this situation. It gives it a more personal touch and is pretty accurate as far as who the Kleinbürger actually were. I wish I could think of a better way than "etc." to indicate that more groups are included in the class.

They were people such as shopkeepers, clerks, teachers, etc. and peasants.

petit bourgeoisie - lower middle class (shopkeepers and clerical staff etc.)
Synonyms: petit bourgeois, petite bourgeoisie

http://www.elook.org/dictionary/petty-bourgeoisie.html

Karl Marx distinguished between the “haute” (high) bourgeoisie (industrialists and financiers) and the “petite” (small or “petty”) bourgeoisie (shopkeepers, self-employed artisans, lawyers).

http://www.answers.com/topic/bourgeoisie

The lower middle class, constituting the bulk of the middle class, came primarily from upwardly mobile members of the lower class. A large number were clerks or small shopkeepers. Many had only a precarious hold on middle-class status and tended to be less concerned with imitating upper-class culture and behavior than with making enough money to sustain a middle-class life-style.

http://countrystudies.us/colombia/40.htm


Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 17:56
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 125
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5
Kleinbürger
provincial types


Explanation:
depending on the context

Francis Lee (X)
Local time: 00:56
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 16
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +8
Kleinbürger
ordinary town and country folk


Explanation:
All the other answers sound too sociological to me.
This is a bit 19th century, I admit, but I think it's more the register you might be looking for.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 4 hrs 16 mins (2005-04-08 07:16:41 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I\'ve assumed that two sets of people are being contrasted.

If Kleinbürger and Bauern are the same set of people, you could say \"ordinary country folk\".

If they\'re two sets but you\'re not sure where the first set live, you could say \"ordinary people and country folk\".

Nick Somers (X)
Local time: 00:56
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Thank you all for this most insightful discussion. I also appreciated the observations made by commentators. I chose Nick's answer because it avoids sociological lingo and pomposity and it's as neat and concise as the German while still keeping the necessary distinction between town and country. Also appreciated being set straight on the issue of "farmers".

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Linda Flebus
1 hr

agree  Francis Lee (X): yes - I think it's good to avoid the generic dictionary definitions posted elsewhere
1 hr

agree  Mustafa Er (BSc MA): -
2 hrs

agree  BrigitteHilgner: Sounds both suitable and natural to me - no so stilted as anything with "bourgeoisie".
2 hrs

agree  MMUlr
3 hrs

agree  Cilian O'Tuama: or 'simple folk', unless that can mean they're nitwits
3 hrs

agree  Ian M-H (X): Cilian got in first with "simple", but it's what first sprang to mind. Implies here (as does your "ordinary") honest, hard-working, straightforward, salt o' the earth, 'decent'...
4 hrs
  -> upstanding, principled, honourable -- in other words like me and thee ;-)

agree  Sarah Swift: This is good, it makes them sound ordinary but not too ordinary - town folk are respectable citizens and not "Arbeiter"
6 hrs
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
Kleinbürger
ordinary working people


Explanation:
don't think you are going to get it as neatly as the original

Maureen Millington-Brodie
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:56
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 6
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