Ich kann die Leiche nicht ohne Handschuhe anrühren.

What is the difference between anrühren and anfassen?

anrühren is actually wrong. In a literal sense it indeed means to touch, however, it is mostly used in this contect: Ich konnte das Essen nicht anrühren (I couldn’t eat this, not even touch it). Using it in connection with a corpse implies that you were about to eat it but due to emotional distress didn’t manage to. So, anfassen /(berühren) would be a better choice of words.

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English Translation

I can’t touch the corpse without gloves.

This is a little confusing for me.

The sentence on Tatoeba was originally written using berühren by someone who puts down on their profile as being a native Russian speaker with German as a relative weak language. It was then modified by native German speaker pfirsichbauemchen to use anrühren (as well as changing the position of nicht in the sentence).

This change on Tatoeba from berühren to anrühren is the opposite of the suggestion from @dlobok.

So, as I said, I’m now confused!

I agree with dlobok that “anfassen” oder “berühren” would be a more common choice.
It is also true that “anrühren” is used in context with revolting food, but not exclusively so.
I would say, that it just expresses even more disgust than “anfassen” oder “berühren”.
But I would never have the impression that someone is talking about cannibalism just bcause of “anrühren”.

So you don’t make a mistake with any of these choices.


Thanks so much for your reply.

My confusion has disappeared :grin:

My confusion is still mildly present…using the food example, so foul I can’t even touch it, I am just wondering if anrühren could work in this instance where the light is so hot (implied) that one can’t even touch it without gloves. Seems a little bit analogous to the food situation.

A question for native speakers…

Hi @sjfree,

Could I just check whether you’ve misread the word Leiche as either Licht or Leuchte or perhaps some other word?

The German word Leiche in this sentence would translate to English as - corpse, cadaver, dead body; then the full English translation of the sentence as provided by Clozemaster/Tatoeba is given as - “I can’t touch the corpse without gloves.”.

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Thank you, absolutely correct! I blurred Leiche into Licht for some reason, wie peinlich! That said, it seems like not being able to touch the corpse still might be a case for anrühren, based on the earlier discussion, assuming anrühren does not always imply cannibalism. Which reading it again, is what I think MRgK said, so I think my confusion has maybe not disappeared, but returned to its usual base line. Thanks again for your reply.

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