seeking help with "hätte nicht so sein dürfen" in a sentence

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edmont
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seeking help with "hätte nicht so sein dürfen" in a sentence

Beitrag von edmont »


I'm not clear on how to analyze "hätte nicht so sein dürfen" below.


Diese Zielsetzung hätte nicht so sein dürfen, daß nur militärische Macht sie zu tragen hatte...

I'm trying to get to the literal meaning of the phrase, however non-sensical the literal may at first seem.

In non-literal English, I guess that it means either "should not have been so" or "could not have been so" or "should not have been allowed to be so".

Part of my confusion is that hätte sometimes means "would have" but apparently can also mean "could have" and "should have" -- the latter two meanings perhaps only occur when hätte is combined with dürfen?



Thank you for any assistance.




edmont
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Re: seeking help with "hätte nicht so sein dürfen" in a sentence

Beitrag von edmont »


I have been reviewing double infinitives a bit since my first post in this thread. So maybe I'm ready to try a literal translation of the underlined German phrase.

Have I got it right?

______________________________________________________________


Diese Zielsetzung hätte nicht so sein dürfen, daß nur militärische Macht sie zu tragen hatte...
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Attempted literal translation:


    hätte             nicht so     sein       dürfen
would have      not thus    to be    been permitted

______________________________________________________________


Rearranged to be in somewhat better English:

would have not been permitted to be thus

______________________________________________________________

Thank you for any assistance.

tiorthan
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Re: seeking help with "hätte nicht so sein dürfen" in a sentence

Beitrag von tiorthan »

I thought I had submitted my answer to this question already.
The "hätte" part is not exactly "would have". Hätte is a conjunctive and thus it marks things as irrealis. I'm not going to give a full explanation of German irrealis forms here, that would be too much, but in case of "hätte" there are several possible translations all depending on how it is used.
"hätte nicht so sein dürfen" = should not have been like that
"hätte nicht so sein sollen" = should not have been like that
"hätte nicht so sein können" = could not have been like that
"hätte nicht so sein müssen" = didn't have to be like that
With dürfen and sollen I chose the same translation. While you could translate the dürfen version as "should not have been allowed to be like that" the distinction in German is actually much less pronounced. You can, in fact, replace "dürfen" with "sollen" in most cases without really changing the meaning (sollen to müssen is a lot more complicated though). As it is, in modern German, "sollen" is a bit more severe and restrictive than "dürfen". If you like a more elaborate explanation I would have to do some research myself though.
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edmont
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Re: seeking help with "hätte nicht so sein dürfen" in a sentence

Beitrag von edmont »

tiorthan, thank you very much for that detailed and very helpful explanation. I think it's all I need.
If at some point you should happen to come across a webpage that you feel is good on German irrealis forms and hätte, would be grateful for a link to the page.
Thanks again.

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