While reading some recent newspaper stories as well as book jacket introductions, I noticed that when describing the characters of the story the writers were often using " Personen " and " Menschen " completely interchangeably.
It got me wondering what the real difference in usage might be. What is the preferred time to use " Personen " instead of " Menschen " when simply differentiating between people? Does it narrow down the scope more on each individual person, or is it more just a stylistic preference without a real change in meaning? This is a rather typical problem in German - especially for English speakers and in the context of translations from English.
I'd bet that most of the book jacket texts you're referring to are translations from English, right? Translators often have huge problems translating a perfectly acceptable occurrence of "people" into idiomatic German. I just noticed that my examples make it look as though we mostly use "Mensch" when English speakers would use "person" - but I'm pretty sure this is a coincidence.
Perhaps someone else has some thoughts on this. Also when talking about people who really exists, but who are out of scope of daily life, you use "Personen":. Ich will mit dieser Person nichts mehr zu tun haben, schafft mir diesen Verbrecher aus den Augen! Das sind zwar vielleicht auch freundliche Personen darunter, aber das bemerkt man ja nicht. In Books, when you are talking about people who you don't know, or about people who met accidentally, and if they later share a common destiny, then "Menschen" is the best choice.
Also, if you count them, you use "Menschen":. Zwanzig junge Menschen, die einander heute zum ersten Mal sahen, betraten das Klassenzimmer, dass sie von nun an vier Jahre lang teilen sollten. If you are talking about a crowd of interchangeable people who you don't know, who don't know each other, and who do not have a common destiny, then "Leute" would be better "Leute" has no singular:. An der Haltestelle warteten bereits ein paar Leute. Share your thoughts with other customers.
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Brief an mein Leben: Erfahrungen mit einem Burnout by Miriam Meckel
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Jun 05, Julschaen rated it liked it. Ich hatte mir leider ein wenig mehr erwartet. Dennoch eine netter Zusatz.