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More sagen root words

In a previous Yabla lesson, we discussed verbs using sagen ("to say") as their root word, all of which had to do with speaking. Today let's take a look at a couple of other words using sagen as their root word that are not related to speaking—though at first glance, they may appear to be!

 

Doch wenn es etwas stürmischer wird, versagen viele Modelle ihren Dienst.

But if it gets somewhat stormier, many models fail to do their job.

Caption 5, Erfindung aus Japan: Der verkehrte Regenschirm

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Es besteht die Gefahr, dass im entscheidenden Moment Ihre Nerven versagen.

The danger exists that your nerves will fail at the deciding moment.

Caption 67, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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Es tut mir leid, dass ich versagt habe.

I am sorry that I failed.

Caption 28, Küss mich, Frosch: Für immer Frosch?

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Leider haben wir da sehr, sehr oft vorm Tor versagt.

Unfortunately, we failed many, many times before the goal line.

Caption 47, Fußball: Saisonpremiere

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Perhaps versagen originally had sagen as its root word because people "failed" to carry out something they had promised. There is also a noun form of the verb for a person who fails:

 

Ich bin ein Versager, weil ich mich doch nicht traue.

I'm a failure because, after all, I don't dare.

Caption 15, Cro: Bye Bye

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The next word with the root word sagen also has negative connotations:

 

Am liebsten würd ich ihn absagen.

I'd actually prefer to cancel it.

Caption 10, Nicos Weg: Freizeitstress

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Du kannst doch nicht einfach eine Weiterbildung absagen.

You can't just cancel a training program.

Caption 59, Großstadtrevier: Neben der Spur

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Letztes Jahr wurde ein Event abgesagt.

Last year an event was called off.

Caption 29, Traumberuf: Windsurfer

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Ich will wissen, warum du unser Treffen abgesagt hast. -Ich habe das Treffen nicht abgesagt.

I want to know why you canceled our meeting. -I didn't cancel the meeting.

Captions 15-16, Nicos Weg: Der Umzug

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There is no German noun for somebody who cancels a lot, but there is a noun derived from absagen

 

...die radikale Absage an Putin, an die Gasimporte.

...the radical rejection of Putin, of the gas imports.

Caption 3, Umweltbewusstes Wohnen: Zu Besuch in einem Wiener Passivhaus

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The noun die Absage can be either a cancellation or a rejection, depending upon the context.

 

Further Learning
Go to German Yabla and find other examples of the verbs and nouns discussed above to get a better feel for the contexts in which they can be used. 

Von Kopf bis Fuß , Part I

In the classic 1930 film Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) by director Josef von Sternberg, the young actress Marlene Dietrich sings a song by Friedrich Hollaender with the lyrics: 

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Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt
Denn das ist meine Welt und sonst gar nichts

 

This is a good example of the noun der Kopf used in an idiomatic context. Many of the idioms using der Kopf in German are identical — or nearly so — to similar sayings in English.

 

Die Königin gab sich größte Mühe, ihn zu trösten: „Kopf hoch! 

The Queen did her best to comfort him: "Head up [Chin up]!"

Captions 33-34, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse

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In English it's common to say "hold your head up" to help comfort somebody, a British English equivalent being "chin up."  

 

Hiroshi Kajimoto hat den traditionellen Aufbau des Schirms nun auf den Kopf gestellt.

Hiroshi Kajimoto has now turned ​​the traditional construction of the umbrella on its head.

Captions 6-7, Erfindung aus Japan - Der verkehrte Regenschirm

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Thus the figurative meaning of "turning something on its head" is similar in German.

 

Ich habe doch Augen im Kopf!

I have indeed got eyes in my head!

Caption 60, Alexander Hauff - Showreel

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Most of us, of course, have eyes in our head, but the figurative meaning here is the same as in English: "I can see that" or "I'm not blind."

 

But there are some idioms using der Kopf that would sound very odd indeed if translated literally to English:

 

Ach, mach dir keinen Kopf [Umgangssprache], Lothar.

Oh, don't make yourself a head [slang, don't worry], Lothar.

Caption 36, Großstadtrevier - Neben der Spur

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This is similar to the predominantly British English expression "don't bother your head."

 

... weil da jeder Spieler schon seinen eigenen Kopf hat.

...because there every player already has their own ideas [literally: head].

Caption 31, Eishockey - Erich Kühnhackl

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While it's obvious that — short of some terrible disaster — everyone "has their own head," it's used here in a context similar to "headstrong" or "willful."

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Further Learning
Watch Marlene sing the song "Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt" in this video clip from the original 1930 film, then see if you can accurately translate the lyrics quoted at the start of this lesson. You can also go to Yabla German and find some more examples of der Kopf used in other contexts.

Advantage or Disadvantage?

In English, we talk about events or circumstances having "advantages" or "disadvantages," or the "pros and cons" of a situation. Let's take a look at the vocabulary used to express these qualities in German.

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Der Vorteil can be translated as "the advantage" or "the benefit":

 

Vorteil: Schließt man den Schirm, ist die nasse Seite innen.

Advantage: If you close the umbrella, the wet side is on the inside.

Caption 9, Erfindung aus Japan - Der verkehrte Regenschirm

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Der Nachteil can be translated as "the disadvantage" or "the drawback": 

 

Die Musik ist manchmal 'n bisschen zu laut. Das ist der Nachteil.

The music is sometimes a little too loud. That's the drawback.

Captions 52-53, Rockfabrik-Open-Air - Love-Street-Interview - Part 2

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Here we can see the plural forms of both of these words:

 

Das hat viele Vorteile, aber auch Nachteile, gesteht der Sänger im Interview.

That has many advantages, but also disadvantages, the singer admits in the interview.

Caption 9, Andreas Bourani - Startet durch

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To say that something is "advantageous" or "beneficial," we can use the German adjective vorteilhaft. The opposite of that would be nachteilig or unvorteilhaft. We can also create an adjective by including the word von before the noun:

 

Und es wär' dann schon von Vorteil zu sagen: OK, ich kann die Vorlesung halt eben auch daheim anschauen.

And it would then be advantageous to say: OK, I can also just watch the lecture at home.

Captions 25-26, KIT, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie - Umfrage: Was bedeutet barrierefrei?

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Further Learning
After you've looked at these examples on Yabla German, try to figure out the meaning of these additional phrases and sentences:

 

beiderseitiger Vorteil 
finanzieller Vorteil 

erheblicher Nachteil
Es gibt sowohl Vor- als auch Nachteile.
Die Vorteile überwiegen die Nachteile.

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