[lit-ideas] Re: Quick German Question (Vermutlich und Wahrscheinlich)

  • From: "Peter D. Junger" <junger@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2004 14:14:18 -0500

"Richard Henninge" writes:

: The examples in the Wahrig (a German dictionary) for "vermutlich" are:
:       Er kommt vermutlich nicht mehr: He's probably not coming. I
: daresay he won't be coming. Presumably, he's not going to come.
:       Vermutlich ist er es gewesen: He was probably the one. Then it
: was probably him.
: The examples for "wahrscheinlich" are:
:       Er ist wahrschienlich schon fort: He's probably already gone.
: He's probably already left.
:       Der wahrscheinliche T=E4ter: the person who probably committed the
: crime (this is another clue: the prosecution would say "der
: wahrscheinliche T=E4ter," but the defense would insist on "vermutlich" =
: or
: an even less certain identification, the suspected criminal, not the
: probable criminal)
:       Das ist m=F6glich aber nicht wahrscheinlich: That's possible but
: not likely.
:       Es ist sehr wahrscheinlich, dass...: It is very likely that...;
: the chances are good that...
: The Wahrig gives a clue by noting that "wahrscheinlich" is a loan
: translation of the Latin *verisimilis*, the French *vraisemblable*, to
: mean something that is "wahr + =E4hnlich scheinend" (true + similarly
: appearing). In the definitions of both words the expression "es ist
: anzunehmen, dass...," or "it is to be assumed that...."
: Another clue, added to this, is Robert's Leo tip on the British
: "daresay" for vermutlich, but not for wahrscheinlich. The Brit is more
: skeptical of probabilities, or at least is more inclined to temper the
: overly quick assumption based on appearances with a pinch of the salt of
: doubt. That's what makes his humour so dry.
: Two Brits looking out over the Channel three years after Erin first
: asked for help on two German words: "I daresay we shan't be hearing from
: Mainz on vermutlich and wahrscheinlich...."

A Google search led me to the conclusion---if my almost non-existent
Spanish is correct---that "Wahrscheinlich" means "presumably" whereas
"Vermutlich" means "probably."

See <URL: 

Peter D. Junger--Case Western Reserve University Law School--Cleveland, OH
 EMAIL: junger@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    URL:  http://samsara.law.cwru.edu   
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