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Einer sagt, die Schlüsselfrage sei, “ob Kurz es schafft, zu verhindern, dass Kickl ein Eigenleben entwickelt” und aus der Kabinettsdisziplin ausschert. [excerpt from “Der Spiegel” 52 / 2017, pg. 84]

Well, to understand such rather plain a sentence [being my “strategic” aim that of becoming capable of reading first-hand German newspapers] I had first to mentally erase and ignore all inserted commas, to me totally absurd and misleading. Of course my fault, being still incapable of appreciating the rhythm, the musical “cadenza” of the German language. Any help / suggestion or reference welcome, also written in German language that, anyhow, I'm stubbornly determine to learn, at least so to become capable of understanding press and TV news. Thank you. Yours, - P.M.

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    So...what exactly is your question? – Arsak Mar 15 '18 at 19:54
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    Commas in German are entirely logical and have nothing to do with "melody" or "rhythm" - They are (different than in English) marking grammatical components of the sentence instead of being hints to speak. – tofro Mar 15 '18 at 21:43
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    You should set a comma after "Of course" ;-) – mic Mar 15 '18 at 22:20
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    Der Spiegel begeht hier einen stilistischen Fehler, in dem er direkte und indirekte Rede vermischt. Es kann nicht beides zugleich sein und daher gehören die Gänsefüßchen beseitigt, oder der Satz derart modifiziert, dass er lautet: Einer sagt: "Die Schlüsselfrage ist, ob …". An den Kommas ändert das freilich wenig; vor allem erklärt es sie nicht. – user unknown Mar 16 '18 at 9:57
  • @Marzipanherz They are trying to understand the sentence – PiedPiper Mar 16 '18 at 11:38
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The commas in this sentence are required by the rules of German grammar, as opposed to English where commas are placed more by feel.

To understand a sentence like this you have to peel back the layers like an onion. (Ignoring the stylistically questionable mixture of direct and indirect speech)

Einer sagt [...]
Einer says

What does he say?

die Schlüsselfrage sei [...]
the key question is

Note: the subjunctive is used because it's reported speech

What's the key question?

ob Kurz es schafft [...]
whether Kurz can manage to

What could Kurz manage to do?

zu verhindern [...]
to prevent

What could he prevent?

dass Kickl ein Eigenleben entwickelt und aus der Kabinettsdisziplin ausschert
that Kickl develops a life of his own and breaks out of the cabinet line of discipline

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