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I have to do a lip-sync opera song, the "papagena papageno duet" this Christmas. In the lyrics, I see these sentences where Papageno sings his wishes while playing the music box.

Klinget Glöckchen klinget,
schafft mein Mädchen her,
Klinget Glöckchen klinget,
bringt mein Mädchen her

He is ordering or wishing to the organ. But is "klinget" the imperative form of "klingeln"? And is "bringt" the impertive form of "bringen"? I thought they are "klingle(or kling?)" and "bringe(or bring?)".
The opera is here.

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  • VTC because this type of question can be easily answered by using a conjugation table. Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 3:12
  • I'm not sure what you mean by "orgel", but in the linked clip it seems to be some kind of music box. I don't think that's really specified in the opera though and depends on the production. It could be anything with bells and he's not singing to it but to the bells.
    – RDBury
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 3:57
  • @rdbury Orgel is German for the music instrument organ Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 6:33
  • @planetmaker - It says as much in Wiktionary. But like a pipe organ? That seems wrong in context.
    – RDBury
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 11:18
  • @RDBury: Papageno has a little magic glockenspiel in the text of the opera. Definitely not an organ.
    – HalvarF
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 12:31

2 Answers 2

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There are two very similar German verbs that have different meanings and should not be confused:

  • klingeln = to ring

    He rings at the door. = Er klingelt an der Tür.
    The phone rings. = Das Telefon klingelt.

  • klingen = to sound

    This instrument sounds like a trumpet. = Dieses Instrument klingt wie eine Trompete.
    Your car's engine doesn't sound good. = Der Motor deines Autos klingt nicht gut.

Like (almost) all verbs, they have imperative forms, but in German verbs are also inflected by number (singular/plural), so there is not just only one imperative form.

  • Imperative singular:

    • Tom, please ring at the door!
      Tom, bitte klingle an der Tür!
    • Walter, please sound like a trumpet!
      Walter, bitte klinge wie eine Trompete!
  • Imperative plural:

    • Tom and Lisa, please both ring at the door!
      Tom und Lisa, bitte klingelt beide an der Tür!
    • Walter and Barbara, please both sound like a trumpet!
      Walter and Barbara, bitte klingt beide wie eine Trompete!

Note, that there are more than just two imperative forms. German also has two honorific forms that also make a difference:
Du-Form: »Walter, bitte klinge wie eine Trompete.«
Sie-Form: »Herr Mayer, bitte klingen Sie wie eine Trompete.«

And in older German (more than about 100 years old) but also in modern German still in poems and similar artistic texts, there are alternative forms with an additional syllable if a verb ends in a consonant cluster:

  • usually (consonant cluster at the end)

    trinkt, singt, tanzt, klingt, ...

  • poetic/oldfashioned (additional syllable)

    trinket, singet, tanzet, klinget, ...

There is even another optional form of many imperatives: If it ends in an -e (like almost all singular forms), this ending -e is often omitted in colloquial speech:

  • in written texts and in high level language:

    trinke, singe, tanze, klinge, ...

  • in colloquial speech:

    trink, sing, tanz, kling, ...

An example is the famous christmal carol Kling, Glöckchen. The high level version would be, »Klinge, Glöckchen«, but then the verb would have a syllable too many and that doesn't fit the rhythm.

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  • Thank you for the clear explanation. I also didn't know the two words' difference between 'klingeln' and 'klingen'. I learned a lot from this answer.
    – Chan Kim
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 1:23
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Yes, the imperative of "klingen" in singular is "kling" or "klinge", but in plural it is "klingt" or "klinget" (where "klinget" is archaic or poetic use). Plural means that multiple addressees are spoken to.

Same for bringen: it's "bring(e)" in singular and "bring(e)t" in plural.

"Glöckchen" is the same in singular and plural, but the verbs in imperative plural make it clear that more than one bell is meant.

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  • I see, I have forgotten the very basic grammar. Thank you!
    – Chan Kim
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 7:34

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