German slang is just a bit different than American slang. In general, it isn’t nearly as flexible and rich. It also tends towards the scatalogical.
Here, you don’t say, “kiss my ass”. You say, “lick my ass”.
And although you won’t hear it in church, sweet little old ladies, small children, priests and pastors and nuns all say, “scheisse!” Which means, “shit!” This expression is so common that it hardly means more than “shucks” or “darn”.
But they don’t usually use the German equivalent of the word “fuck”. This makes dubbing Hollywood films not only difficult, but sometimes hilarious. Lately, they have given up and started translating a bit more literally—which is also funny in its own way. A friend of mine told me his wife walked out of the theater when watching the most recent Scorcese film. She had never in her life heard such vulgar language. There’s a whole generation of people who have never heard the German F-word in a movie before.
Sometimes they make up their own F-word expressions—they’ve got to keep up with the Americans, afterall. But the expressions don’t always make sense. A common one (not that using the F-word is at all common) is, “Go fuck yourself in the knee!”
What in the world does that mean?
But the expressions I hate the most have nothing to do with cussing. Rather, they are the expressions for something being really cool. The first word of choice is probably the word “cool” itself. This should be okay, I suppose, but it offends my ears because of how they pronounce it. They say, “Koo-uhl”. Yes, cool has two syllables.
A lesser-used variant is the word “krass”, which means…well…”crass”. Which is of course a good thing. Unless it isn’t. I guess we have the same problem in English.
Sometimes an expression doesn’t last. Two summers ago I heard some of my softball players using the expression “porno”. Also meaning a good thing. As in, “That catch you just made was porno”. This was a stupid expression, and as far as I know it has disappeared.
But the big winner for words which irritate me, in fact the most used word to mean “cool” other than the word “koo-uhl”, is “geil”. This is pronounced with a hard G and a long I sound, as in “ghile”. So one might say, “Oh, your shoes are geil!”
Why does this irritate me? Well, it is not only vulgar, it is grammatical nonsense. The word originally meant something like in heat—as in the birds and the bees during the mating season. Of course, it came to be used for humans as well, so in its most literal sense the word means “horny”. So one might say, “Oh, your shoes are horny!” Again, this is not only vulgar, it is ridiculous. How can shoes be horny? But then again, how can one copulate with one’s knee? It doesn’t have to make sense.
As is the case with “scheisse” (pronounced with a long I and with the last E also pronounced, as in “shissuh”), “geil” has become so wide spread that one hears it everywhere but in church. And this irritates me. Lately, I’ve even caught my wife and son using the term. Apparently the word is not to be stopped. Someday we’ll hear the pope used the term in some speech.
Well, maybe not. Someone must have standards.