Ich brech ab. Wo hat der Kerl seinen Lappen gemacht?

English Translation

What the hell? That guy got his license from a cereal box!

Would “The hell with this!” (which expresses a desire to end involvement with something) be a better match than “What the hell?”

The suggested English translation is very loose. I like yours better.

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The translator took a great amount of liberty here. Turning a question into a regular sentence, and vice versa.

“Abbrechen” is slang, used when something is so funny that you can’t hold it together anymore. “Lappen” is slang for driver’s license.

I would translate the English sentence to:

“Was zur Hölle? Der Kerl hat seinen Führerschein doch im Lotto gewonnen.”

(and even that is taking liberty, saying “he won his driver’s license in the lottery” instead of getting it from a cereal box, which is not a common saying in Germany)

I would translate the German sentence to:

“How funny. Where did this guy get his driver’s license?”

As you can see, these two translations don’t quite match. In one situation, the person is angry, in the other situation the person seems amused. (Imagine watching a fail video, filled with Schadenfreude, of someone driving his car into a lake or down a cliff, or something like that.)

Your suggestion “The hell with this” is more akin to being fed up with something and not wanting to see it anymore. Not quite applicable, in my opinion.


I see. So it’s as if you’re “breaking up” (falling apart) with laughter, not that you want to “break up” with the situation. Thanks for the detailed explanation!

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Normally, “abbrechen” means “to abort/cancel”.

But it can also mean “to break off (a piece from the whole)”, for example, break off a branch from a tree.

As to the slang: Don’t ask me for a logical connection here. I can’t explain how you’d get from “I am breaking off from the whole” to “I find that extremely funny”. Some things don’t make much sense and need to be taken as they are.