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Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?

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A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
BRAHMS' LULLABY
BUMM! BUMM!! BUMM!!!
CORPORAL SCHNAPPS
DIE GEDANKEN SIND FREI
DIE GUTE KAMERAD
DIE LAPPEN HOCH
DIE MOORSOLDATEN
EDELWEISS
GORCH FOCK LIED
HANS BEIMLER
HEISE, ALL
LILI MARLEEN
MARIA DURCH EIN DORNWALD GING
ODE TO JOY (GERMAN)
YAW, YAW, YAW


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GUEST,leeneia 13 Aug 03 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,MMario 13 Aug 03 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,leeneia 13 Aug 03 - 11:16 AM
alanabit 13 Aug 03 - 12:06 PM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 13 Aug 03 - 12:10 PM
Bill D 13 Aug 03 - 02:09 PM
Bill D 13 Aug 03 - 02:14 PM
Bill D 13 Aug 03 - 02:29 PM
Bill D 13 Aug 03 - 02:31 PM
GUEST,Q 13 Aug 03 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,Q 13 Aug 03 - 02:53 PM
michaelr 13 Aug 03 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,Q 13 Aug 03 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Q 13 Aug 03 - 03:21 PM
toadfrog 13 Aug 03 - 03:45 PM
alanabit 13 Aug 03 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,Q 13 Aug 03 - 05:59 PM
Joe_F 13 Aug 03 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,leeneia 14 Aug 03 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Q 14 Aug 03 - 02:03 PM
Joe_F 14 Aug 03 - 05:43 PM
michaelr 14 Aug 03 - 07:21 PM
GUEST,leeneia 15 Aug 03 - 12:27 PM
GUEST,Joerg 15 Aug 03 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,Jim McLean 15 Aug 03 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,Q 15 Aug 03 - 01:38 PM
alanabit 15 Aug 03 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Joerg 15 Aug 03 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Q 15 Aug 03 - 04:15 PM
Jim McLean 15 Aug 03 - 04:50 PM
GUEST 15 Aug 03 - 05:50 PM
GUEST,Q 15 Aug 03 - 07:59 PM
GUEST,Joerg 15 Aug 03 - 11:09 PM
michaelr 16 Aug 03 - 03:51 AM
michaelr 16 Aug 03 - 04:17 AM
GUEST,Wolfgang 22 Aug 03 - 05:48 AM
keberoxu 02 Apr 19 - 12:29 PM
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Subject: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 10:56 AM

I was listening to a little JS Bach yesterday, including the song "Bereite Dir, Jesu, noch itzo die Bahn." (Prepare a way for yourself, Jesus)

Don't you think it should be "mir" (me) and not "dir" (you)? When I was in Sunday School, I was taught to think of Jesus making a way for us, blazing a trail, if you wish, to Heaven. Another example of that kind of thought is the spiritual, "Jesus walked that lonesome valley, had to walk it by himself."

This song appears in a cantata and was probably sung by a boy soprano from a destitute family. Reaching adulthood was hardly assured for him. Don't you think that praying for Jesus to make a way to Heaven for him makes more sense? Or is a construction like "bereite dir die Bahn?" something quite common in older German?


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 11:00 AM

perhaps "prepare a way for yourself" (into my life and heart) implied?


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 11:16 AM

Hmmm, I never thought of it that way. Let's see what German speakers think.


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: alanabit
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 12:06 PM

The "Jesu" is in commas, so we can assume that the dative "Dir" refers to the person being sung to. I think you need a real German speaker here though. I have no idea what "itzo" might mean. It may be an archaic preposition or conjunction - or less likely - be a dialect word. I can't recall hearing it in Köln!


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 12:10 PM

I think "itzo" is probably an archaic "jetzt" = now. But can you give us the rest of the words so that we can make smarter guesses about the original question?


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 02:09 PM

Bereite dir, Jesu, noch itzo die Bahn,
Mein Heiland, erwähle
Die gläubende Seele
Und siehe mit Augen der Gnade mich an!


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 02:14 PM

it's been too long for me to remember the exact way to explain, but in German, 'Bereite dir' doesn't follow the same format as the words would in English....it is more of a polite 'imperative', I think...something like "please, you, prepare FOR me"

(hoping I am close)


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 02:29 PM

no...I have read some of the text, and it is more 'about' the music itsef preparing the way FOR Jesus...it is a comment ON the efficasy of the music, if I read it correctly this time.


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 02:31 PM

I still look for Wolfgang or someone to say it correctly...I am just seeing if I can resurrect enough German to work through it..wow, am I rusty!


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 02:47 PM

Bach, BWV 147, Aria S.
itzo, itzt- jetzt
noch itzo = noch jetzt- even now. In the song, just use now, or at this time.

Direct me, Jesus, now, onto the path,-
My Saviour, choose
this believing soul,
And regard me with mercy.

Now will someone correct my school German of years ago, and put it in poetic English?


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 02:53 PM

Texts of Bach's vocal works: Bach Cantatas

A useful site. I used it to see if the quotation was correct. I received some cds of the Cantatas without notes, and this site really helped.


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: michaelr
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 03:14 PM

Sorry, Q, you got it wrong. Alanabit is right: the dative "dir" in this context means "for yourself": "Prepare for yourself, Jesus, now a path..."

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 03:17 PM

Gee whillikers! The Bach translations are on line as well. Bach Translations
www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/
Click on BWV texts, then Cantatas, then 147, and scroll to 5. Aria (S).

I'll give my translation 50%.


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 03:21 PM

"Make ready, O Jesus, to thee now the way,
My Saviour, elect now
My soul ever faithful
And look down with eyes full of grace now on me!"

Not quite idiomatic translations at that site.


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: toadfrog
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 03:45 PM

Gest Q: I like your first translation better. More accurate if not more "poetic." Translating very idiomatic turns of phrase word-for word can give an absurd result. For example, "Gleich geht's los!" should not be translated "Equal goes it loose!" [Or in reverse, try "Du bist ein Zeimaler! Ich bin durch mit dir!"]That "bereite dir" sounds archaic, and I doubt very much "to thee now" really gives the meaning.

Try:
Jesus, now show me the way,
My saviour, choose the believing soul,
And look on me with grace.


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: alanabit
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 03:52 PM

Thanks Michael and everyone else. It's the Mudcat way isn't it? A bit from everyone and we get closer to what we are looking for. I have learned a new word today. "Itzo" is a word which I don't hear when I am out drinking Kölsch (which is just about the only time I speak German/Kölsch these days)!


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 05:59 PM

German dative can be peculiar. Dir is to thee but to express the thought in the poem in our idiom, it must be turned over. In our grammar, we tend to leave out much that Germans think (or used to think) necessary.
Bach wrote some interesting secular cantatas, and in them used some words and dialect that were no longer in general use but which persisted among the peasants and country people. Like many great composers, he has an ear for folk.
Toadfrog, I agree with you.


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: Joe_F
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 06:37 PM

I think the technical term for this use of "dir" is "ethic dative": "...a common Greek or Latin use in which a person no more than indirectly interested in the fact described in the sentence is introduced into it, usually by himself as the speaker, in the dative.... The construction was formerly English also: In _He that kills me some six or seven dozen of Scots at breakfast_ the word _me_ amounts to a parenthetic `just fancy!'". -- H. W. Fowler, _Modern English Usage_ s.v. ethic(al).

If that is the explanation -- viz., if the ethic dative is archaic German as well as archaic English -- then perhaps a literal translation would be "prepare for Thy sake a way".


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 11:08 AM

I see what you mean, Joe F. (I remember once hearing a grizzled miner in Utah cooing to his little dog, "You hop out and get you a drink.") Still, I would like to hear from somebody who speaks German well and is familiar with older literature.

I've seen facsimilies of Bach's handwriting, and it was not good. Or perhaps when he wrote the words down, one of his twenty children was talking loudly near him, and he heard "dir" and wrote it when he meant "mir."

The main question is, has this construction ever appeared elsewhere?


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 02:03 PM

Should be no problems with these (BWV 16, initial Coro, and a fragment from BWV 22, Aria A). More normal use of dir:

Herr Gott, dich loben wir,
Herr Gott, wir danken dir.
Dich, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit,
Ehret die Welt weit und breit.

Mein Jesu, ziehe mich nach dir,
Ich bin bereit, ich will von hier,
Und nach Jerusalem zu deinen Leiden gehn.


Bach's Cantatas went through several editions with annotations and corrections; little chance that any poor penmanship would have remained uncorrected.
His use of peasant and local dialect and slang does make it difficult for the modern German speaker, as well as the non-German.

From Cantata 212, "Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet":

Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet
an unsern Kammerherrn.
Ha gibt uns Bier, das steigt ins Heet,
das ist der klare Kern.
Der Pfarr mag immer büse tun;
ihr Speelleut, halt euch flink!
Der Kittel wackelt Mieken schun,
das klene luse Ding.

This was Saxony dialect, used by Bach in that Cantata.

Or his little verse on love from the same cantata:

Ach, es schmeckt doch gar zu gut,
wenn ein Parr recht freundlich tut.
Ei, da braust es in dem Ranzen,
als wenn eitel Flöh und Wanzen
und ein tolles Wespenheer
miteinander Zänkisch wär.

(Ah, it's just so tasty
When a couple gets nice and friendly.
Oh, the body shakes
Like having fleas and bugs
And as if an angry swarm of wasps
Were crashing together inside us.)


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: Joe_F
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 05:43 PM

leeneia:

"Get you a drink" is dative, all right, but it's another construction (also archaic): the use of the bare pronoun for the reflexive, as in "Now I lay me down to sleep". Modern standard English of course has "get yourself" and "lay myself".


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: michaelr
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 07:21 PM

leeneia -- Still, I would like to hear from somebody who speaks German well and is familiar with older literature.

Well, you have (the first half, anyway). I reiterate my earlier post. As to whether this construction has appeared elsewhere -- it's standard usage.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 12:27 PM

standard usage?

I took four years of German in high school, minored in it college, have been to Germany, and have never seen it anywhere else.


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 01:30 PM

This one:

"Make ready, O Jesus, to thee now the way,
My Saviour, elect now
My soul ever faithful
And look down with eyes full of grace now on me!"

given by Q is a pretty literal translation. "Itzo" is indeed an archaic, poetic form for "jetzt"=now. "Noch itzo" means "still now". I consider it a filler without any actual meaning, simply inserted to make the words fit the music.

"Bereite dir" means "prepare for yourself". In german reflexivity is seldom actually expressed, only when there might arise a misunderstanding. In English you shave ME but I shave MYSELF. In both cases I am the one who is shaved. If I said "I shave me" this would only be gramatically wrong but it would still be clear who is shaving and who is shaved. This is done in German: "Ich rasiere mich." I say "Ich rasiere mich selbst" when I want to stress that I am not assigning this task to anybody else, not when I simply want to say what I am doing. The issue here is not a matter of dative it's a matter of reflexivity.

There is a second way to understand "bereite dir". "Bereite" is not only imperative but also 1st person singular, present tense: "ich bereite dir" = I prepare for you, and as in English it is also possible to omit the "I" in German. However I consider this meaning less likely. Still it is a nice example for a reason to say "yourself" although in most cases "you" would also say what is meant: this would avoid the ambiguity.

There might also be a way to misunderstand the upper translation. What is said is definitely "for yourself" or "for you" (in case I was doing it), not "to you" in the sense of a way "to heaven" or "to New York".

As for the meaning of the first line I understand it as "Fight your way, Jesus", not the way to heaven but rather in general, whereever he is going, or even the way to me in particular. But I admit that it is not completely clear.

All the best

Joerg


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Jim McLean
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 01:37 PM

'Etze' means 'now' in Bavarian (from 'jetzt') and 'gleich' means 'soon' not 'equal', 'gleich geht's los' means 'it'll start soon' (near enough).


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 01:38 PM

From a German friend here, who agrees that the German is archaic, and wonders if Bach took it partly from some older text. She regards dir as a dative reflexive that is unnecessary in making the translation.

Literal-
Jesus, (you yourself) prepare for me (now) the path,
My Saviour, select (elect, choose) this believing soul (Faith-full)
and regard (look upon) me with merciful eyes.

Into idiomatic English-

Jesus, prepare for me the path;
My Saviour, choose this soul, full of faith,
And look upon me with mercy.

I think I will go with that. My experience is mostly with technical German. One key to good scientific German translation is to leave out unnecessary repetitive constructions and that seems to be true with early literary work as well, although I would not attempt formal translation of that form of German.

For Leonore Bockemühl, I made the translation of her "Odontoglossum, Monographie und Ikonographie," 1989, Brücke-Verlag Kurt Schmersow, Hildesheim, German and English together in one volume. This is a beautiful book, color illustrations by the author of all the species, and the "bible" on that group of orchids.


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: alanabit
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 01:59 PM

Jim, to say a word "means" something is always a risky assertion. I am just taking a break from a nine hundred line translation and I have already translated several of the same words in different ways at different points in the text. Language is always about context - which is why translation will always be an art rather than a science. I am sure that Michael R and Jörg will both back me up if I assert that the translation of "gleich" is always dependent on context. It is very often used to imply that something will happen very soon. It is also used to express the idea of equality. Context...context...


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 02:02 PM

Sorry, Q, "prepare for me" is wrong. The path is definitely prepared for Jesus, one might only argue who is doing that.

"Now" in bavarian is "jetz", "jetza", "etza" or even "etz" ("AIDS geht's los!"). The a is pronounced as the u in 'cut'. An e at the end of "etze" would be pronounced like the a in 'cat'. Never heard a Bavarian do so. They are kind of afraid of sounding like a "Schwob", you know.

Cheers

Joerg


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 04:15 PM

Texts used by Bach in his Cantatas are from as early as the 15th century and extend to the late 17th. The author of the aria in question, 5 (S), is unknown. The next verse is from Jahn (Janus) 1661. First publication of the cantata in 1717.

It must be pointed out that the German of the period was diverse with differences from modern German.

Finally, Alanabit is correct. Translation into idiomatic English requires changes that alter the literal translation, which would not make sense to an English-speaker. Note the literal translation of this aria given at the website given in a previous post (which agrees with some of the suggestions here); theologically the first line makes no sense, and is not comprehensible in any sense.


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 04:50 PM

Alanabit, I agree obviously with the context assertion and that's why I meant in the context of 'gleich geht's los', gleich can only mean now or 'soon'. I lived in Rothenburg ob der Tauber for quite a while and learned 'Rothaburgerisch' from the Oma in the youth hostel, where I worked. If one was asked to do something and you wanted to prevaricate, you could say 'gleich, gleich!' meaning 'OK, I'll do it in a minute!'
Jim


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 05:50 PM

Gleich can have many meanings, used either as an adverb or as an adjective.
Some idioms of the adjective (like, same, equal, etc.) include gleich und gleich gesellt sich gern - birds of a feather flock together.
As an adverb, (alike, immediately, directly, equally) includes gleich nach - right after; das ist gleich geschehen; es ist gleich zehn, it is almost ten (o'clock); gleich!, I'm on my way! Almost equivalent to All right, already! Luckily, these idioms are rare in technical German.
Gleich! gleich! (Jim McLean), doubling the word for emphasis, is done in several languages.

Perhaps translating Bereite dir as (You) cause there to be... might clarify this a bit, since dir as a reflexive dative is translated as you.
Any more? OK, Nach dir! (After you!)


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 07:59 PM

Further Notes:
Z. Philip Ambrose has published (German publisher) his translations of many of the Back Cantatas. The complete translations are at the website posted previously. I have found no others on line.
His first line to 147 5(S) is as I have noted:
Make ready, O Jesus, to thee now the way.
He attempted to keep to the meter rather than making idiomatic translations. They read poorly.

Bach made changes to 147, 5 (S) for solo soprano:
From Beziehe de Höhle des Herzens, to- Mein Heiland, erwähle die glaübige Seele.

The book by Eric Chafe, "Analyzing Bach Cantatas," is available in paperback for $29.95 (0195161823). Good reviews.


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 11:09 PM

, this is a nice introduction in what "gleich" can mean, and it is correct, but in order to avoid confusion one should mention: in "Bereite Dir, Jesu, noch itzo die Bahn." is nothing a native speaker would replace with "gleich" when asked to tell it in other words. The first meaning of "gleich" is "equal" or "same". If you tell me to do something RIGHT NOW I can answer "I'll do it AT ONCE" (or vv) both expressions having to be translated into German as (1st) SOFORT, (2nd) GLEICH (=at the SAME time as I/you tell you/me). However, "noch itzo" might mean "right now" but it can not mean "at once". You wouldn't tell Jesus to come here or go somewhere AT ONCE, would you?

A possible meaning of "noch itzo" is "still now" (even though it might be too late or something like that). If you suggested to have a party at 1:30 AM I might ask you "Jetzt noch?" (= shouldn't this have come to your mind a little earlier?). If I asked you "Jetzt gleich?" this would mean the opposite (can't we wait until 4 AM?).

Things are expressed differently in other languages - aside from different vocabulary. Forget "gleich" in this case here, it will only confuse you.

:-)

Joerg


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: michaelr
Date: 16 Aug 03 - 03:51 AM

Belieeeeve meeee... I knooooowwww....


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: michaelr
Date: 16 Aug 03 - 04:17 AM

"Ich bereite mir ein Essen" -- "I prepare myself a meal".

"Ich bereite dir ein Essen" -- "I prepare a meal for you".

Common usage. And yes, context is crucial to deciphering meaning.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: GUEST,Wolfgang
Date: 22 Aug 03 - 05:48 AM

my two guesses:
(1) 'Ich' should be inserted (in thoghts) before the 'bereite'. It is poetic licence to leave it out (like often in English: 'Got your letter today'). And so it becomes as many have posted: (I) prepare for you, Jesus,...
(2) 'noch' here is not 'still'. It is used in a sense like in 'noch heute' when it has to be translated as 'starting today' and not as 'still today'. 'Noch heute werde ich mit dem Rauchen aufhoeren'. The 'noch' here underlines the urgency of 'heute'. In that sense 'noch itzo' means 'from now on without any delay'.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Warum (why) 'bereite dir'?
From: keberoxu
Date: 02 Apr 19 - 12:29 PM

About "itzo" --

in nineteenth-century German lieder texts,
I am used to seeing "jetzo"
and I figured that
"itzo" is an archaic "jetzo."
Am I mistaken?


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