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Syllabic Abbreviations in German

A syllabic abbreviation is formed by taking the first syllable of several words and putting them together. It is a common practice in German that is rarely used in English. One English syllabic abbreviation you may recognize is Interpol, formed from "international police." You may not have known that the word for the Nazi secret police terror organization the Gestapo comes from a syllabic abbreviation of die Geheime Staatspolizei. Note that the gender of a German abbreviation is determined by the main noun of the word it is derived from, hence die Gestapo.  Let's take a brief look at some other common German syllabic abbreviations.



Stasi-Akten aus dem Schredder...

Stasi [acronym for state security] files from the shredder...

Caption 2, DDR zum Anfassen - Ganz tief im Westen

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The notorious East German secret police die Stasi also had their own syllabic abbreviation, in this case formed from die Staatssicherheit, the Ministry of State Security.

Das sind Fragen für die Kripo [Kriminalpolizei],

Those are questions for the criminal investigation department,

nicht für uns.

not for us.

Caption 14, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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In this case, die Kripo is derived from die Kriminalpolizei, the department of the police that specializes in criminal investigations. But let's get away from the police while we still can! 

Du musst in die Kita [Kindertagesstätte].

You have to go to daycare.

Caption 20, Mama arbeitet wieder - Kapitel 1: Alle haben sich lieb

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Ironic, considering its German origin, that the most common German word for a daycare center is not der Kindergarten, but rather die Kita, an abbreviation of die Kindertagesstätte.

Ich stehe hier vor dem Audimax.

I am standing here in front of the main lecture hall.

Caption 28, Universität - Karlsruhe

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At the university level, the term das Audimax is standard student parlance for the largest lecture hall of a given university, and in this case is an abbreviation of the Latin term auditorium maximum.


Further Learning
Take a look at this German article about syllabic abbreviations and go to German Yabla to find some of the words and phrases used in context.  

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