7

What is the meaning of the word "Abfahrt" in the context of this song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfVK9z7BlUM

I know the word to literally mean departure, exit, descent, etc, but it's used in FiNCH's music and seems to carry a specific meaning that I don't understand.

In English if a song was titled "Departure" and comprised those kinds of lyrics I'd probably have a guess at what it means but I wanted to be sure...

12
  • 4
    Although Finch Asozial was born in Frankfurt (Oder), I think the use of "Abfahrt" has nothing to do with East German slang. The song says "he's my East German morning sun [...] he's from Lichtenberg not West Berlin". Lichtenberg is a district of Berlin which belonged to East Berlin before the German reunification. The German parts of the song are more or less Standard German with a few fragments of Berlin dialect. But there is no use of "typical" East German slang. – Paul Frost May 3 at 10:48
  • 2
    @PaulFrost Seine größtenteils satirisch anmutenden Texte sind oftmals in vulgärer Sprache verfasst und geprägt von Ostalgie und einer größtenteils positiven Einstellung gegenüber dem modernen Ostdeutschland (Wikipedia) I agree with you, that he does not use a special slang, but he clearly has some connection to Eastern Germany. – Allerleirauh May 3 at 12:18
  • 3
    And here is the link to read the text, without need to look the whole video ;) – Allerleirauh May 3 at 12:22
  • 2
    According to one of my more illiterate and perhaps simpleminded colleagues, Abfahrt must also be "probably the largest city" in Germany. He came to this conclusion along the Autobahn in our rental car, and proceeded to present it, absent of any reflection on his part. – Stian Yttervik May 4 at 7:29
  • 1
    @StianYttervik The largest German city is not Abfahrt, but Ausfahrt. Also this city is very big. – Paul Frost May 4 at 8:05
14

"Abfahrt" seems to be a slang expression for partying in the realm of techno music, possibly also refering to drug use. The newspaper taz mentions the word as early as 1998 in an article about a Berlin club. In 2021, a lot of merchandise with the word Abfahrt can be found in online shops, too.

Four meanings of "Abfahrt that I'm aware of might have been alluded to when using the word in this context first. There may be even more and it's a question of interpretation whether they were intentional:

  1. "Abfahrt!" is obviously mainly used in the sense of "Let's go!", "Let's get started!" in the video. It was already used in that sense for a long time when starting a literal trip in a car. This meaning is easily understandable even if you don't know the word from the context of techno.
    Also, drug lingo has always used words like trip for the experience of drug effects. Also see @Hobbamok's answer on fahren.

  2. The video also alludes to Abfahrtsski which means downhill skiing. Die Abfahrt in this sense is the descent on ski which is obviously also a good metaphor for partying or amphetamine use.

  3. Auf etwas/jemanden abfahren means "to dig something/somebody".

  4. An exit from a highway is called Abfahrt, which could be associated to being close to approaching the destination, or to leave the popular path.

1
  • Gute Auflistung, aber für Punkt 4 sehe ich keine Anhaltspunkte beim Video, von dem ich nach 3 Minuten aber auch genug hatte. Für Punkt 3 spricht nur wenig, trotz des "massive things". "Auf jmd./etw. abfahren" ist verbreitet, aber als Substantiv habe ich es in dem Kontext noch nicht gehört. – user unknown May 3 at 13:15
8

In slang „Abfahrt“ is used to describe starting excessively celebrating or „partying until it drops“, i.e., in the context of the song, taking drugs, dancing in (and on) ecstasy, and generally misbehaving.

6

A short introduction on the word level:

  • fahren means 'to go by means of transports', 'to drive' or 'to ride' (whereas gehen is going by foot).
  • abfahren (and abgehen, accordingly) literally means 'to go off'
  • Abfahrt (resp. Abgang) is the corresponding noun, literally meaning 'the go-off' (= start, departure etc.)

That being said, Abfahrt belongs to a figurative semantic field with abgehen in its center that is used to express 'to go down' (note the similarity), 'all hell was let loose', 'to whoop it up', 'to paint the town red' etc. It's probably cognate to the idea of let's go in English:

  • Jetzt geht's ab (also … geht die Post ab) means 'now it's happening', 'now it's going down'
  • abgehen figuratively means 'to go wild'
  • Abfaaaaaahrt! is a common fire-up slogan by carnival barkers on fairground rides. Maybe because of that, Abfahrt has been a joking expression for let's go in other contexts.

It's notable that as a verb, only abgehen is used in the figurative sense, the corresponding noun Abgang is not. Inversely, the noun Abfahrt is used figuratively (maybe originating in the fairground rides), but not its verb abfahren.

In the song, it is also used like on fairground rides to fire the listeners up for the forthcoming drop of the song (like a 'rave signal'). The best translation in this context is probably just let's go, but nevertheless Abfahrt conveys many more connations (concerning going wild) as stated above.

2
  • "Mach' mal 'nen Abgang!" sowie "Ist das abgefahren!" sind Gegenbeispiele. – Michael Hoppe May 3 at 14:36
  • @MichaelHoppe Sure there is mach nen Abgang! ('go away!'), however its meaning is different from geh ab! ('go wild!'); hence I wouldn't count it to the same semantic field. Abgefahren, on the other hand, seems to be another good example for it. – amadeusamadeus May 3 at 19:00
2

(almost) Everyone here is completely missing the point, (or at least a very very important connotation)

"Abfahrt" in the specific context of this song comes from "fahren" in "es fährt", a slang term used to describe the moment that a certain subset of drugs (stimulants, mostly MDMA/Ecstacy) hit. This would be quite an unusual interpretation since this use of the word is incredibly niche and somewhat unusual, BUT the entire song is talking about doing drugs - pills to be specific - which means that the song is directly speaking in the context of this subculture.

Do note that this translation can not be used in regular speech outside of techno clubs, as evidenced by the fact that everyone else here missed it

5
  • Welcome to German SE! I'm wondering if this usage ever been documented somewhere else, e.g. online, in literature or in a more unambigous way in lyrics? Have you heard it personally? The logical reason for the question is: if it is incredibly niche, it would maybe not occur in a song. However, if Finch knows it and it is understood by a notable share of the audience, shouldn't it then appear somewhere else, too? – amadeusamadeus May 5 at 19:56
  • @amadeusamadeus blatantly stealing from another comment: taz.de/Die-serioese-Techno-Abfahrt/!1354216 and: it's not really as unambiguous. The entire song is constantly all the time talking about drugs. Literally every sinlge one of Finchs lines (I checked, no exception) refers to taking party drugs. And the line "genau wenn die Murmel klatscht" references exactly this very moment when we'd say "es fährt", because that's the moment it hits. – Hobbamok May 6 at 8:11
  • To add to this: Finch (or his character) is a) from Berlin, Germanys party capital and b) from a lower class, exactly the one you'd picture excessively taking pills on a rave. Also: here is a Swiss-German Newspaper using the phrase: nzz.ch/zuerich/…, so while it is incredibly niche slang, it does crop up. Just very rarely due to the nature of the topic – Hobbamok May 6 at 8:12
  • 1
    I absolutely agree that Abfahrt in the song could also mean the drugs kick in, however I'm still wondering whether es fährt is a common expression on its own, because the linked texts feature only the forms "Abfahrt" (Germany) and "es fährt ein" (Switzerland). I also found another reference for "es fährt ab" (Austria) as for a drug. So I'd believe you if you said that you've heard the phrase es fährt used in that way, but right now I still have the impression that Abfahrt in the song is derived from generic abgehen or auf etw. abfahren. – amadeusamadeus May 6 at 17:43
  • 1
    PS: einfahren is simply a Helvetism, e.g. "Plötzlich kam Bert eingefahren, zusammen mit seiner Freundin." 1, also used for the upcoming of the effects of drugs: "Grüner Tee [hält] den Suchtmittel-Spiegel besser. Es fährt langsam ein und hält länger an" 2; "ein getränk [sic] dass [sic] wirklich heimtückisch einfährt :-)" 3. So we still have (auf etw.) abfahren, Abfahrt and Swiss einfahren. – amadeusamadeus May 6 at 17:57
0

The meaning is to feel not comfortable with the circumstances that have been talked about before.

Let's imagine you are a religious person and someone tries to convience you that there exists no one like god and nothing will happen after death than you can say the word "Abfahrt" to this one because of the reason that you don't believe in his opinion.

To say "Abfahrt" is the same as letting the others know that you don't give a shit on his doubts.

By the way Frankfurt (Oder) is a town in the eastern part of Germany in the so called neuen Bundesländer. The Frankfurt (Main) which you means is in west of Germany.

1
  • 1
    Good, but not applicable in the songs context – Hobbamok May 4 at 8:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.