Es braust ein Ruf wie Donnerhall (function of "es")

Zundung

Member
English
Der Satz steht im Lied, Die Wacht am Rhein. Was bedeutet das 'es' darin?

Es braust ein Ruf wie Donnerhall,
wie Schwertgeklirr und Wogenprall:
Zum Rhein, zum Rhein, zum deutschen Rhein!
Wer will des Stromes Hüter sein?

Is that phrase an idiom?

Danke für ihre Hilfe und Erklärungen. :)
 
  • Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    Es ist ein sogenanntes Dummy-Subjekt, wie im Englischen: "It's been raining all day."

    Vielleicht kann man es am einfachsten mit "There is/are" übersetzen. Dabei muss man aber in kaufen nehmen, das aus dem Verb "brausen" ein schnödes "sein" wird.

    P.S.: Schöner Musikgeschmack. :D
     

    Gernot Back

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    Der Satz steht im Lied, Die Wacht am Rhein. Was bedeutet das 'es' darin?
    Es braust ein Ruf wie Donnerhall,
    wie Schwertgeklirr und Wogenprall:
    Es in es braust is not an impersonal expression as in it is raining (es regnet), because what is swooshing (brausen) is even explicitly mentioned here: a call (ein Ruf)!

    But still: Es means nothing here, it is just there to occupy the first position in the declarative sentence, where the finite verb occupies the second position in German.

    The alternative would be to put one of the other phrases of the sentence in the first position:

    Ein Ruf braust wie Donnerhall,
    wie Schwertgeklirr und Wogenprall


    or

    Wie Donnerhall braust ein Ruf,
    wie Schwertgeklirr und Wogenprall

    ... but that was not the intention of the poet, who wanted to have a different rythm, rhyme and topic-comment order of the lines he wrote.

    Compare the following lyrics:

    Es tönen die Lieder,
    der Frühling kehrt wieder,
    es spielet der Hirte
    auf seiner Schalmei
    http://www.mamas-truhe.de/lieder/es-tonen-die-lieder.html

    Here the subject of the first sentence is clearly die Lieder in the plural. That is why the finite verb is in agreement and also in the plural: tönen. Es is not a subject here, not even just a dummy subject, because otherwise the finite verb would have to be in the singular: In
    Es tönt die Lieder

    ... Lieder would be interpreted as the accusative object and not as the subject of the sentence.
     
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    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    With es braust ein Ruf, etc. the verb braust is the topic. The sentence is about the sound of the roaring. Since the verb can't be in the topic position (first place in its clause), there has to be a placeholder, da or es, to fill the first position in the clause.
     
    Last edited:

    Gernot Back

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    With es braust ein Ruf, etc. the verb braust is the topic.

    I don't agree here: There is no topic yet here. If the verb brausen were the topic (topic/Thema) the sentence would probably read as follows:

    Brausen tut ein Ruf wie Donnerhall, ...


    The purpose of constructions like this is to establish a new topic for the next sentence, without having a topic of their own. It is for this reason that most fairy-tales start like this in German:
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhema#Beispiele said:
    (1) Es war einmal ein König (Rhema). Der (Thema) hatte drei Töchter (Rhema).
     
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