The German Arschkalt

The German Linguistic Art with (Arsch: ass) and (Scheiße: crap)

The two words (Arsch: ass) and (Scheiße: crap) enjoy a very high daily frequency at least in spoken German. They are practically on everybody´s mouth no matter what age group people are. Sometimes you feel annoyed and even disgusted with this exaggerated overuse to the degree you think they are only noises of dissatisfaction and disapproval or simply linguistic fillers which lost their content and original meaning.

The two in an a way related words can be used in a variety of daily informal social situations ranging from being tools of insult like Du Arsch (you asshole), Arschficker (bugger) and Scheißkerl (bastard or son of a bitch, motherfucker) to cursing like Arschgeige (bastard) (Scheißdreck: damned, fucking), Scheißegal (I don´t give a damn).

German is indeed very imaginative with oxymoron i.e. putting two semantically contrastive words together to give the new compound a more forceful negative quality like Scheißfreundlich (all friendly, as friendly as could be, palsy-walsy, as nice as pie), klugscheiße (smart arse) and Arschklar (bloody obvious). In addition, the intensity degree of what you want to say can be taken to its extreme end as with arschkalt which can be rendered as (bloody cold, fucking cold, ass cold in American English which indicates that it was a literal translation coined by the German Americans, the second largest group in the US, it´s cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey, it´s brass monkeys out there).

Occasionally the meaning of some German compounds is not clear to the non-German as with arschkalt since you might think the bottom is usually kept warm and you wonder why the Germans say that but when it´s brass monkeys out there and that part of human body is the the first which is exposed tot he cold weather you begin to understand the reason and logic behind such compounds.


Bremen, 28 December 2016