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In the lyrics to the song "Mutter" there is this verse:

ich zieh sie auf ein weißes Haar
werf in die Luft die nasse Kette
und wünsch mir, dass ich eine Mutter hätte

What is the subject of wünsch?

wünsch should be the imperative form of wünschen so that line is an order to somebody to wish that he had a mother. However, judging from the rest of the lyrics, it should be the narrator the one that wishes, so I would have expected something along the lines of und ich wünsche mir, dass…. Is it a deliberate artistic licence?

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Maybe it helps to know that there was a word ommited: "ich zieh[e] sie auf ein weißes Haar... und ich wünsch[e] mir, dass ich eine Mutter hätte". So "wünsch" is not imperative, but rather the realis mood (or "Indikativ"). The English translation that is given in the linked article is quite good IMO. –  0x6d64 Feb 15 '13 at 14:39
@0x6d64 You should post this as an answer. –  Deve Feb 15 '13 at 15:06
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1 Answer

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The "ich" is the subject of all three verbs in that stanza. As a simple sentence, it would be:

"Ich zieh(e), werf(e), und wünsch(e) mir."

The "wünsch mir" is from the reflexive verb "sich wünschen" ("to wish"). The other words in the sentences just further describe the actions.

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Shouldn't it be ich wünschE mir? Or can the -e ending be dropped like it happens for ich habeich hab'? –  gioele Feb 15 '13 at 17:42
@gioele: It can be dropped, just as you say. You can do this in spoken German (not just in lyrics), just don't use it in written language. –  0x6d64 Feb 15 '13 at 18:56
I edited the answer to reflect this –  Kevin Feb 15 '13 at 21:15
Omitting a trailing "e" (in fact of any omitted letter) should be indicated with an apostrophe in written language. Hence: "Ich wünsch' mir". –  bitmask Feb 18 '13 at 6:42
@bitmask: Duden disagrees with you: duden.de/sprachwissen/sprachratgeber/… –  John Smithers Feb 26 '13 at 12:08
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