I’ve only learned one “cuss word” since I have been in Germany — Scheisse, which means shit. Or does it? I am starting to think that’s a poor translation. It’s in the printed dictionary, it’s online, but it just doesn’t fit what I see on the streets of Berlin. I have noticed for a while now that Scheisse is much more casual than shit in English, and I now have a perfect example.
Last week I was waiting for my train in one of the S-Bahn stations, can’t remember which. On the opposite side of the platform, the train in the opposite direction was getting ready to leave. I heard the familiar Nach Westend, einsteigen bitte (towards Westend, get on board please) and then a few seconds later zurückbleiben, bitte (stand back, please, meaning the train is about to leave). At that point, I hear a girl about 10 years old running up the steps.
Poor girl doesn’t make it on time. The little light above the door comes on and the three notes sound “doo deee doo” letting you know the door is about to close. She arrives right as the door is closing.
She is a fraction of a second late, the doors closing as she runs up to the train. She pounds her little fist once on the window and yells “NEIN! SCHEISSE!”
No one raises an eyebrow.
Maybe the translation Scheisse=shit is not wrong, but there’s some context there that’s not coming through. It goes to show how hard it is to capture one word in one language using just one word in another. The upshot of all this is that the only bad word I know is one that little girls can shout in crowded train stations. This is not acceptable.