February 14, 2006

Scheibenkleister

Posted in Language, Theology at 9:44 am by egalitaria

My German friend constantly said “Scheibenkleister” whenever something went wrong. Literally translated, it means “slates of cement”. I found it very amusing that one would say “slates of cement” whenever one cut oneself, or dropped something by accident. It’s no more a swear word than is: Strawberry Shortcake.

The truth is that it sounds phonetically similar to the word Scheisse, which means shit in German. Plainly, shit is the common swear word across the globe. My friend, in attempting to disguise an ugly word in the language, replaces it with an innocent-sounding word.

We laugh about it and Scheibenkleister has become an internal joke whenever we meet up.

But this naturally begs the question of what constitutes a swear word? In the Bible, we are taught not to curse and swear from the same mouth that is used to bless others and worship God. Cursing and swearing at others is seen as a negative act, simply because it inflicts some level of pain towards the person it is directed at. Buddhists also believe that it is wrong to cause any harm towards anyone other than self.

So we have established that cursing and swearing is wrong when it comes to relating to a second party. What happens when this takes place out of no consequence to an other? Is using nasty language in everyday situations right or wrong? Is it alright for us to spew out verbal abuse, if even merely upon an inanimate object that has recently taken to hitting you on your leg (as you kicked it, but never mind).

Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.

Why curse and swear at something, which is merely a manifestation of unworded frustration and anger?

Furthermore, a word is a word is a word. The form and shape of an innocent word has the exact meaning attached to it as does the word it replaces. If used for all the same intent and purposes, nothing is taken away nor added to it. Fish is the same as F**k, Basket is the same as Bastard, and sadly enough for me, Scheibenkleister is the same as Scheisse.

Having said that, this does not give me free reign and permission to immediately start swearing in heavy language. The solution is simply not to say anything at all, of course. But if necessary, it is also responsible acting not to use a word when one knows this will have a negative impact on someone. Depending on the recipient and level of maturity, one ought to be careful in conversation. This doesn’t require much; just a responsible act.

And so, to qualify myself for my final statement, 1) I am not directing this at any party; 2) This is not a result of latent frustration and anger at this very moment; and 3) I do not feel this would negatively affect someone either by circumstance or character.

I just like the word… Scheibenkleister!

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4 Comments

  1. Cat said,

    We lived in Germany when I was little (my dad was in the military) and somewhere along the way we picked up “Scheibenkleister” and I say it to this day. I thought we had made it up and was happy to find it on your blog today. I had no idea what it meant. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Pat Fisher said,

    I’m going to e-mail your information about my one and only ‘swear’ word to my
    German ex-husband who always insisted that Scheibenkleister had no meaning.
    I just love the sound of it!

  3. egalitaria said,

    Haha.. wow! I had no idea that other people around the world had used the word Scheibenkleister! This is a discovery for me 🙂 thanks guys. scheibenkleister. i like the sound of it too.

  4. Tim said,

    Scheibenkleister does NOT mean “slates of cement”. Whoever said that tried to translate something literally by looking in a dictionary, which never works. Scheibenkleister means “window glue” and used to be used to stick panes of glass to the wooden frames of windows. All the rest is true, phonetically sounds like Scheisse or shit in German. German speakers use it regularly to make something more innocent, like saying gosh darnit instead of goddammit.


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