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I'm trying to understand the following phrase (the bit in bold is the bit I don't get - the rest is fine):

Schau sie dir doch an, wie sie aussehen, die für ein bißchen Wohlstand ihr Leben und ihre Seele verkauft haben

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what exactly do you not understand?? – Vogel612 Sep 19 '13 at 9:26
up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is the German equivalent (usually including the same dismissive intonation) of:

"Just look at them,..."

I suppose you have trouble with the "doch" in the German sentence, right? In this case, it serves precisely the same function as the English "just": intensifying and giving a negative tone to the statement.

Also, note elena's comment below about "schau dir X an" being the equivalent of "look at X".

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Another difficulty might be the fact that "sich anschauen" is reflexive and requires a dative reflexive pronoun. "Schau", "dir" and "an" are all parts of "look at". – elena Sep 19 '13 at 9:58
Plus, there is a non-reflexive variant of anschauen, too (with a slight shift in meaning). – chirlu Sep 19 '13 at 10:16
also note that the beautiful doch can only be used here as part of a dialogue or maybe monologue, i.e. the speaker must be talking to somebody. – Ralf H Sep 19 '13 at 13:46
@RalfH.: that is not because of doch but because it is a second person singular imperative...of course you need to talk to someone, if you give an order. Doch has nothing to do with that and there are sentences with doch that work just fine without a direct dialog – Emanuel Sep 19 '13 at 13:51
Sind Sprachsituationen ohne Adressaten nicht ohnehin rar? Ich kann doch immer „ich kann doch immer schreiben“ schreiben. – Carsten S Sep 19 '13 at 15:15

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