My daughter is reading All Quiet on the Western Front for school, and she's come across something neither one of us can make out...and for the first time ever, Google is failing me.
One of the characters has said something the others consider to be foolish, and another character tells him, "Four and a half-wit make seven." We get that it's a rebuke of some kind, especially since the next sentence is, "You've got a maggot in your brain." But what in the world does it mean? The only guess I have is some kind of skewed math--ordinarily, four and one make five, but if you've got a half-wit in the crowd, they make seven (?)

Can anyone help?
Yes, a half-wit can twist the rules of math to fit anything ....

Sounds like a pretty good interpretation to me.

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 Marius Hancu's reply was promoted to an answer.
Thanks. I wonder if this is a literal translation of some common German expression?
I received the following from a native speaker of German. He is Swiss.

I found the passage in the German original ("Im Westen nichts neues"): "Verrückt und drei macht sieben" ("Crazy and three is seven"). It means someting like "You are crazy" or "This is crazy". It is as far as I know an out-dated expressen (though it is normally "Verrückt und drei macht neune") from Berlin dialect. It certainly isn't an every day expression in contemporary German. If it is still actively used in Berlin, I don't know.
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Thanks, Philip. It makes more sense to me expressed literally, oddly enough. I mean, it sounds crazier Emotion: smile

Hi guys,

I am a native German speaker. I know this expression ('verrückt und drei ist sieben' "crazy plus three eaquals seven") from my grandparents. I have no idea where it comes from and it is certainly not in use anymore, although I like it.

I'd say the closest translation in English would be something along the line of 'awesome'.

I'd guess it originated from the German affinity to equations and mathematics. Another expression that came into my mind is 'unberechenbar' wich would have to be translated as 'unpredictable' instead of the one on one transition 'incalculable' since the expression 'unberechenbar' has nothing to do with the mathematical term after all.

Etwas/jemand ist unberechenbar.

Something/someone is unpredictable. It can not be foretold how this person will react or how this event will turn out.

"Wenn er etwas getrunken hat, wird er unberechenbar."

"If he was out drinking, he becomes unpredictable." Which means he could fall asleep, start raging, be happy, anything could happen.

"Der Ausgang des Kalten Krieges ist unberechenbar."

"The outcome of the Cold War is unpredictable."

I hope that was helpful. I wonder why craziness (x) eaquals 4 after all since x+3=7


There is probably no particular reason for it after all since it's about madness. Madness has no principles after all, if you ask me, it's just nonsense.