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The meaning of also fangen wir an, according to Google Translate is: let's get started.

While the individual translation of the words are: so, catch we, to.

How did these combine to make that? "So we begin to" with an emphasis because of wir after fangen instead of before?

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Actually, the word-for-word translation is "so we start/begin". Take a look at anfangen. – Em1 Jun 10 '14 at 22:07
FWIW, "also" adds some flavor, and the punctuation mark is also relevant. "Also fangen wir an?" I'd translate with "I guess we should get started?" but "Also fangen wir an!" with "(So) Here we go!" – Raphael Jun 11 '14 at 5:52
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Here anfangen is a so-called "trennbares Verb": it splits into its parts, namely

an|fangen (the whole means to begin).

You conjugate the last part. Here it's in imperative mood and therefore fangen goes first, then the personal pronoun (wir), and finally the first part of the verb (an).

I must say I very often hear instead of fangen ([ˈfaŋən]), fangn ([ˈfaŋn]).

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I don't understand your statement about pronunciation. Was there a comment which got deleted? Or what are you referring to? – Em1 Jun 11 '14 at 9:18
@Em1 well, when people say fangen wir an! I hear nothing between the ng (ŋ) and the n. Example: an orchestra conductor. – c.p. Jun 11 '14 at 10:35
True, but still not seeing the relevance. However, your recent edit is wrong ;) – Em1 Jun 11 '14 at 10:39

I understand your confusion. Thats just because of the similitude of two German verbs: anfangen which means to start or to begin and fangen which means to catch. Despite their spelling (and etymolgoy), those two verbs have no connection in the German language.

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Are you sure about that? The other answers seem to suggest that they are related. First answerer for example, wrote: "Here anfangen is a so-called "trennbares Verb": it splits into its parts, namely an|fangen (the whole means to begin)." – Lavya Jun 27 '14 at 14:51

"Fangen" means "to catch" and "an" means "on."

The literaly meaning of "anfangen" is to "catch on" (to something), which is a roundabout way of saying "start."

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