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er ist vogelfrei

English translation: he is an outlaw

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
German term or phrase:er ist vogelfrei
English translation:he is an outlaw
Entered by: Mats Wiman
Options:
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- Include in personal glossary

18:36 Dec 13, 2001
German to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary
German term or phrase: er ist vogelfrei
er ist vogelfrei
anna
He is an outlaw
Explanation:
is one meaning.
Another: Free and merry

Abgebrannt und vogelfrei (Swedish expression): footloose and fancy-free

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Note added at 2001-12-15 14:23:31 (GMT)
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To be an outlaw is to have no rights, which corresponds well with subsequent suggestions.
'Free and merry' is part ironic, part defiant to underline that one has no obligations (which an outlaw also doesn't have).
Selected response from:

Mats Wiman
Sweden
Local time: 12:38
Grading comment
Graded automatically based on peer agreement. KudoZ.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +3He is an outlaw
Mats Wiman
5 +1He has been declared fair game, or Open season has been decalred on him (or with respect to him).
Dr. Fred Thomson
4 +2proscribed / outlawed
Claudia Tomaschek
4Addendum
Claudia Tomaschek
4Wanted dead or alivegangels
4 -1free as a birdrangepost


  

Answers


6 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
He is an outlaw


Explanation:
is one meaning.
Another: Free and merry

Abgebrannt und vogelfrei (Swedish expression): footloose and fancy-free

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2001-12-15 14:23:31 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

To be an outlaw is to have no rights, which corresponds well with subsequent suggestions.
'Free and merry' is part ironic, part defiant to underline that one has no obligations (which an outlaw also doesn't have).


    Norstedts+MW
Mats Wiman
Sweden
Local time: 12:38
Native speaker of: Native in SwedishSwedish
PRO pts in pair: 1498
Grading comment
Graded automatically based on peer agreement. KudoZ.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Kim Metzger: Definetly!
21 mins

agree  Uschi (Ursula) Walke: 'Ich hab kein Geld, bin vogelfrei'. Der Bettelstudent was quite a crook. Nice song though.
2 hrs

agree  Ursula Peter-Czichi: Hi, I remember that song. It sounds nice.
3 hrs

neutral  Claudia Tomaschek: In a modern context "vogelfrei" means that other people consider you rightless, e.g. when you're mobbed your feeling "vogelfrei". Being "vogelfrei" is usually the opposite of being free and merry. Please see my comment.
3 hrs

neutral  Andrea Nemeth-Newhauser: I think it would be useful to know the context. Historically, to be declared "vogelfrei" meant to be an outlaw, excluded from the community and the protection it offered. But I see the word also used in the context that "free as a bird" would cover.
1 day 19 hrs
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10 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): -1
free as a bird


Explanation:
or outlaw

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Note added at 2001-12-13 19:07:19 (GMT)
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(hist)outlawed

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Note added at 2001-12-13 19:27:02 (GMT)
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(hist)outlawed

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Note added at 2001-12-13 19:38:32 (GMT)
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(hist)outlawed

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Note added at 2001-12-13 19:48:56 (GMT)
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(hist)outlawed

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Note added at 2001-12-13 22:56:32 (GMT)
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see also www.vogelfrei.de and .at

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Note added at 2001-12-13 22:57:53 (GMT)
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see also www.vogelfrei.de and .at


    Reference: http://wordreference.com
rangepost
Local time: 03:38
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 66

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  Kim Metzger: Vogelfrei means outlawed. Frei wie ein Vogel is free as a bird.
18 mins

agree  Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO): We don't have the full context, so both answers are valid and good!
33 mins
  -> thank you...sorry about the x-tra notes

disagree  Claudia Tomaschek: It doesn't mean free *as* a bird, it means you are free *to be shot* as a bird. The word origin is a very brutal midiaeval punishment.
3 hrs
  -> current usage..able to act at will; not under compulsion or restraint
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Wanted dead or alive


Explanation:
would apply to an outlaw (in adaptation of Pres. Bush)

Free as a bird = free to roam at will

gangels
Local time: 04:38
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in pair: 5508
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3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
proscribed / outlawed


Explanation:
Vogelfrei doesn't mean that you are free as a bird but that you have as little rights as a bird, i.e. you might be killed by everybody. In the mediaeval time, but be declared "Vogelfrei" meant a severe punishment equal to the death punishment. During the romantic period "vogelfrei" was seen in a more romantic view. Today "vogelfrei" is often used for people who are mobbed. A former criminal might be considered "vogelfrei" when all the neighborhood is slandering his/her name. Some pop icons feel "vogelfrei" when all there private live is discussed openly by the press.

I hope that helps.

Cheers
Claudia

Claudia Tomaschek
Local time: 12:38
Native speaker of: German
PRO pts in pair: 602

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Kim Metzger: Definitely!
26 mins

agree  Uschi (Ursula) Walke: brilliant!
1 hr

agree  Hans-Henning Judek: very good explanation!
2 hrs

disagree  Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO): in "frank und vogelfrei", the meaning is that you are not restricted by any rules, limits, etc. - in effect, you are free to do as you please (also includes the element of being carefree)
4 hrs
  -> This quote is from the poem "Obdachlos" by Christine Zickmann. The whole line reads: "Ein Niemand, frank und vogelfrei, ein Strandgut aus dem Menschenmeer" --> see comment
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
He has been declared fair game, or Open season has been decalred on him (or with respect to him).


Explanation:
Under old German law "vogelfrei" meant to be deprived of all legal rights, cincluding the right to be protected by the law. Thus, the person is fair game, and may be attacked with impunity by anyone. Sounds a little like Bin Laden.

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Note added at 2001-12-13 22:46:49 (GMT)
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You could say: He has become fair game.

Dr. Fred Thomson
United States
Local time: 04:38
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 5861

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Johanna Timm, PhD: this would be my interpretation also!
4 hrs
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16 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Addendum


Explanation:
As the notes function doesn't work. Here a my somewhat longish additionals comments:

In his objection Werner Patels mentions a poem by Christine Zickmann which very well illustrates the meaning of "vogelfrei" today. Zickman used the positive German expression "frank and frei" (which means something like "free as the wind" and changes it to "frank and vogelfrei" which bears a rather cynic connotation as it is aimed to destroy the romantic image of a homeless person as being "free and carefree". That Zickmann's view of the live of the homeless is not at all positive becomes clear when you read the whole stanza:

Das Leben pulst an ihr vorbei,
als gäb' es sie nicht mehr.
Ein Niemand, frank und vogelfrei,
ein Strandgut aus dem Menschenmeer

(life is pulsing beside her, as if she was no longer there, a nobody "free and outlawed", wreckage from the sea of humanity.

The poem (which you find under http://www.luene.net/pages/slzh/archiv/obdachsi.html) titled "Obdachlos" (homeless) doesn't leave any doubt that the live of a homeless woman means above all being deprived of all rights and dignity.

Yesterday evening I checked a bit more into the origin of the term. The original meaning of "vogelfrei" is that you were released to be killed by everyone and than to be left free for the birds to devour you. This meant you were not even granted the honor and diginity of being buried and everybody who helped you, had to face the same fate. This was a very severe form of ban . One of the big-names being declared "vogelfrei" was Martin Luther. It is very interesting to note that during that period another term "wolfsfrei" existed, however that has been lost today.

Cheers
Claudia

Claudia Tomaschek
Local time: 12:38
Native speaker of: German
PRO pts in pair: 602

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Dr. Fred Thomson: I still like my short rendition for the translation, but I really appreciate the thoroughness and corectness of you interpretation.
8 hrs
  -> My addendum wasn't aimed at your translation. IMHO your translation would be much better suited for "zum Abschuss freigegeben". It is definitely valid of a person like ObL, but might be problematic in other contexts.
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