Prefix Advent Calendar – 14


Look inside the stocking! Now!



Looks like it’s related to fehlen as in to miss but nooooo. It’s not. Befehlen, which is based on a verb that has since completely disappeared,  is an offspring of the same root pelt. Yes, pelt as in fur. A core idea of that family is “cover, protection”.
At first, befehlen was used in sense of „I’ll put that in your hands, you protect that now. Your responsibility.” But soon it was also used for tasks and changed to a more general sense of “You do it”. And from there it’s but a small step to the meaning it has today: to give an order, to command. 
der Befehl – the command, order (not for ordering pizza)

  • Ich befehle dir, dein Zimmer aufzuräumen.
  • I command you to clean your room.
  • Hier, wie befohlen, eure Pizza, euer Gnaden. 
  • Here, as commanded, your pizza your grace. 

If you want you can try out some more examples in the comments. Viel Spaß beim Weihnachtsshopping.

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Andres C.
Andres C.
6 years ago

Oh, so they made a movie. That should be interesting. Thanks for the links!

I tried to read the book in German (I really tried…) but eventually I gave up and ended up buying the Spanish language edition (“Ha vuelto”). I don’t know if there was a lot of Berlin dialect in there or what, but I found it quite difficult. Maybe it’s just beyond my German language skills, and that’s all… :)
I have to confess that as the story advanced I became a bit less interested in it, and I got the idea that perhaps it was due to the fact that many nuances seem to be lost during the adaptation to other languages. It is a very “local” story, in the sense that there are a lot of references to present-day public figures in Germany, current German politics, and so on. To be completely fair with the book, one must take into account the fact that the author mainly wrote the story with a German audience in mind.

Andres C.
Andres C.
6 years ago

And that word certainly made its way into the popular internet subculture for a while when people began to have fun with a certain clip from a certain movie. I am sure you can all recognize it by now.

“Das war ein Befehl! Der Angriff Steiner war Befehl! Wer sind Sie, dass Sie es wagen,sich meinen Befehlen zu widersetzen? So weit ist es also gekommen…Das Militär hat mich belogen!Jeder hat mich belogen, sogar die SS! Die gesamte Generalität ist nichts weiter als ein Haufen niederträchtiger, treuloser Feiglinge!”

And from there it goes on and on.

To be fair, I can’t really understand most of what Bruno Ganz says. I have to rely on German subtitles. Interestingly, many versions circulating on the internet have mistakes.

Гоце Докоски

Reinige mal die Wohnung! Das ist ein Befehl!