The phrase, „Und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, dann leben sie noch heute,“ is found at the end of most German fairy-tales (Märchen). It is roughly equivalent to the English "They all lived happily ever after," but it means literally, "And if they haven't died, then they're still alive today." While this may seem unsatisfying (though not surprising, given the typically gruesome nature of German fairy-tales) when compared to the certainty of the happiness found in the English-language counterpart, it highlights the eternal nature of a fairy-tale, whose moral is supposed to be everlasting.1

The phrase is often modified slightly to fit the story, such as to „Dort lebt er noch heute, wenn er nicht gestorben ist.“ ("He still lives there now, if he hasn't died.") or „Und wenn die Bären nicht gestorben sind, dann leben sie noch heute im steinernen Haus.“ ("And if the bears haven't died, then they still live today in the stone house.") However, the title of this node is the standard, canonical version.


(1) An interesting discussion of this can be found at http://www.dwelle.de/dpradio/bildung/alltagsdeutsch/archiv/Allt1300.html

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