German Lessons


Key Words and Phrases from Chancellor Merkel's Speech, Part 2

Last week, we offered you Part 1 of the vocabulary in Chancellor Merkel's televised speech about COVID-19, and today we're giving you the second and last part. It's pretty rare that a German chancellor appeals directly to the nation on television like this, and we think her message has many aspects that are valid for everyone during this crisis, regardless of where you live. You may not hear some of the words she uses in everyday casual speech, however, so it's important that you focus on some key words to effectively extend your German vocabulary.


Ich möchte Ihnen erklären, wo wir aktuell stehen in der Epidemie, was die Bundesregierung und die staatlichen Ebenen tun, um alle in unsrer Gemeinschaft zu schützen und den ökonomischen, sozialen, kulturellen Schaden zu begrenzen.

I would like to explain to you where we currently stand with the epidemic and what is being done at the Federal Government and state levels to protect everyone in our community and limit the economic, social, and cultural damage.

Captions 29-33, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Die Ebene has three distinct definitions in the German Duden dictionary: the first is an area of flat land, the second a geometry or physics term usually translated as "plane" in English, and the third definition is the one used here, "level." Der Schaden means "the damage". This is easy to remember as it correlates to a German adjective you are probably already familiar with: schade ("too bad"). 


Zeit, damit die Forschung ein Medikament und einen Impfstoff entwickeln kann.

Time, so that researchers can develop a drug and a vaccine.

Caption 49, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Aber noch gibt es weder eine Therapie gegen das Coronavirus noch einen Impfstoff.

But there is still neither a treatment for the coronavirus nor a vaccine.

Captions 43-44, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Hopefully for all of our sakes this situation will change soon, but in the meantime der Impfstoff ("the vaccine") is an important word to know.


Wir müssen das Risiko, dass der eine den anderen ansteckt, so begrenzen, wie wir nur können.

We must limit the risk of one person infecting another as much as we can.

Captions 22-23, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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The German verb anstecken means "to infect" and is a separable verb that takes a direct object. The less we have to do with any anstecken, the better!


Die verschärften Grenzkontrollen und Einreisebeschränkungen zu einigen unserer wichtigsten Nachbarländer in Kraft.

The tightened border controls and entry restrictions on some of our most important neighboring countries have been in force.

Captions 42-43, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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The 6-syllable noun die Einreisebeschränkung, or the "travel entry restriction", has been used often in the last few years as part of the ongoing debate about emigration, since the level of such restrictions determines who is allowed or forbidden entry to a country.


Alle staatlichen Maßnahmen gingen ins Leere, wenn wir nicht das wirksamste Mittel gegen die zu schnelle Ausbreitung des Virus einsetzen würden.

All government measures would come to nothing if we didn't employ the most effective means of keeping the virus from spreading too quickly.

Captions 9-11, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 3

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The noun die Ausbreitung may also be translated into English variously as "propagation", "dissemination", or "distribution", depending upon the context.


Further Learning
Watch the Chancellor's speech on Yabla German and listen for these key words and phrases. The city of Berlin website has set up a news feed under Nachrichten with updates on the crisis in German and in English. Try reading an article in German, such as their recommendations of what is allowed during the Easter Holiday, then check your comprehension by going to the top right-hand side of the page and choosing the English version of the article. Best wishes from Yabla to you and your family during these times of crisis.

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