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Germany out of the World Cup

Berlin is a wonderful city during the soccer world championship. Most Spätis (small convenience stores) just place large TVs on the sidewalk and every 50 meters or so there's a makeshift outdoor sports bar. When Germany gets a goal, you can hear cheering and fireworks across the city. But when Germany loses and is no longer playing, the city seems to suddenly go quiet.


The headline today of the Berlin tabloid newspaper BZ was Die Mannschafft sich ab, reflecting the fact that after having lost 0-2 to South Korea, the German soccer team, reigning world champions, are out of the World Cup after only three games. The accompanying photograph was of five players on the field at the end of the match with their hands on their heads, much like prisoners being led away under arrest. Very depressing indeed!


The phrase in the headlines is not strictly correct, grammatically speaking. It's a play on words of the noun die Mannschaft ("the team") and the verb abschaffen ("to abolish," "to do away with," "to eliminate"). The proper non-wordplay version would be Die Mannschaft schafft sich ab. An approximate translation could read "The team eliminates itself," as they have been eliminated from playing in the World Cup. 


Let's take a look at some other contexts where the verb abschaffen can be used in the present tense:


Eine Partei im deutschen Bundestag will die Pressefreiheit abschaffen.

A party in the German Parliament wants to abolish the freedom of press.

Caption 9, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 3

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Man will die Buslinie abschaffen, mit der Sie immer zur Arbeit fahren.

They want to get rid of the bus route that you always ride to work with.

Caption 25, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 5

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By the way, it's not possible for a political party to "do away" with freedom of the press in Germany because it's a basic constitutional right, but if a bus line is being cut, you can start a citizen's initiative to save it. Unfortunately, no basic rights or citizen's initiatives will be able to bring the German team back into the World Cup!


Insgesamt zweiundzwanzig Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzungen wurden heute auf hessischen Autobahnen abgeschafft.

Twenty-two speed limits in total were scrapped today on Hessian autobahns.

Captions 7-8, Deutsche Autobahnen - Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzungen

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„Captain's Dinner“ [Englisch] und feste Tischzeiten wurden abgeschafft.

The "captain's dinner" and fixed meal times were done away with.

Caption 18, Kreuzfahrtschiff - An Bord der Europa 2

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Früher hatten sie solche Riesenmaschinen, aber die haben sie abgeschafft.

Long ago they had such giant machines, but they have abolished them.

Captions 40-41, Piggeldy und Frederick - Maschine

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It's interesting to note that by taking the verb schaffen ("to create") and adding the prefix ab-, you essentially create the opposite of "create" with abschaffen: "to abolish." 

Freedom of Choice

If you are fortunate enough to live in a constitutional democracy, I'd like to remind those of you who are eligible voters to be sure and make your voices heard. If you are too young to vote, please encourage your friends and family to make their votes count! Here are some examples of references to democracy in Yabla videos.



In einer Demokratie ist eine Funktion von regelmäßigen Wahlen...

In a democracy a function of regular elections is...

nach dem Willen der Wählermehrheit den Wechsel der Regierung zu ermöglichen.

to allow the change of the government according to the will of the majority of voters.

Captions 10-11, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 6

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Weil es geht hier um Freiheit und Demokratie [weil es hier um Freiheit und Demokratie geht],

Because it is about freedom and democracy here,

die tagtäglich gefährdet ist [sic, sind], und wir müssen dafür kämpfen,

which are in danger on a daily basis, and we have to fight to ensure

dass Freiheit und Demokratie uns erhalten bleiben.

that freedom and democracy are preserved for us.

Captions 17-19, 25 Jahre Wiedervereinigung - Ampelmännchen wird Einheitsmännchen

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Es hat uns über ein halbes Jahrhundert Frieden, Freiheit,

It has brought us more than a half century of peace,

Gerechtigkeit, Menschenrechte und Demokratie gebracht.

freedom, justice, human rights and democracy.

Captions 15-16, Angela Merkel - Neujahrsansprache

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Ein Ort lebendiger Demokratie soll es werden,

It should become a place of living democracy,

ein Haus für jeden, der Politik hautnah erleben will.

a building for everyone who wants to experience politics next to their skin [idiom, up close].

Captions 16-17, Berlin - Hauptstadt des vereinten Deutschland

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Was ist kein Merkmal unserer Demokratie?

What is not a characteristic of our democracy?


Censorship of the press.

Captions 3-4, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 3

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Warum gibt es in einer Demokratie mehr als eine Partei? [Wahlen]

Why is there more than one party in a democracy? [Elections]

Weil dadurch die unterschiedlichen Meinungen der Bürger und Bürgerinnen vertreten werden.

Because the various opinions of the citizens [male] and citizens [female] are thus represented.

Captions 18-19, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 3

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Ja, das ist ein  krasser Einschnitt in unsere Demokratie,

Yes, this is a crass break in our democracy,

Marktdiktatur kann entstehen,

a market dictatorship can arise,

ganz viele Sachen, die einfach sehr negativ sind für uns.

quite a lot of things that are just very negative for us.

Captions 10-11, Deutsche-Welle-Nachrichten - Massenprotest gegen TTIP

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Further Learning
Watch the above videos in their entirety on Yabla German and learn more German words related to politics. And don't forget to vote in upcoming elections and to remind your friends and family to do so too!