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"Pulling Balance"

The noun die Bilanz sounds similar to the English word "balance" and is often translated thus, in the sense of a "financial balance" or a "balance sheet," as opposed to getting dizzy and losing your balance, which is das Gleichgewicht. You might occasionally run into the phrase Bilanz ziehen, which sounds a bit odd if you were to translate it literally as "pull balance." Its real meaning becomes clearer when we see the phrase used in some different contexts:

 

Fehmarn kann eine erfreuliche Bilanz ziehen: Es kamen 2009 zehn Prozent mehr Gäste.
Fehmarn strikes a happy balance: ten percent more guests came in 2009.
Caption 3, Die Insel Fehmarn: Gästeboom

 

Zeit, Bilanz zu ziehen.
It's time to strike a balance.
Caption 9, Fortuna Düsseldorf: Kreißsaal für Fußballfans

 

Seit knapp neun Jahren gibt es die Berliner Band, da ist es an der Zeit, einmal Bilanz zu ziehen.
The Berlin band has existed for almost nine years, so it's about time to strike a balance.
Captions 3-4, Culcha Candela: zieht Bilanz

 

Although I had long assumed—incorrectly—that "to strike a balance" had to do with physical balancing (die Gleichgewicht), in fact the Oxford English Dictionary defines the phrase as meaning "to determine the exact difference, if any, between the two sides of an account," thus using the same sense of "balance" as the German die Bilanz. As with the English phrase, the German phrase too is probably used more often in a metaphorical sense.

 

The noun die Bilanz without the verb ziehen is also commonly translated thus: 

 

1918 zeigt uns eine Bilanz
1918 shows us a result
Caption 38, Majolika Karlsruhe: Der Bambi-Filmpreis

 

Am Ende der Veranstaltung ist die Bilanz dann auch recht eindeutig.
At the end of the event, the result then is also quite clear.
Caption 64, Manga-und-Anime-Treffen: in Mainz-Kastell

 

The least figurative translation of die Bilanz, however, is simply "the balance sheet."

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German to find other examples of how the noun die Bilanz is used in a real-world context.

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