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In one of Rammstein’s most famous songs, Du hast, the lyrics go like this:

Willst du bis der Tod euch scheide

Treu ihr sein für alle Tage?


Now, I am a bit puzzled why there is no t in the end of scheide. Der Tod is third person singular, so I would expect the verb to be in the appropriate form. Is it just for the sake of the rhyme or is there any grammatical explanation?

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Which rhyme? Willst du bis der Tod euch scheide/ treu ihr sein, der Tage beide? – user unknown Apr 17 '12 at 3:44

4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

A Google Search gave me some information which motivated me to hear the song again and I perceived an interesting fact which I’ve never recognized before. I should listen more carefully to songs in future.

There is a wordplay (if it is good or not you can decide on your own). The second to last repetition says:

Willst du bis zum Tod der Scheide

Sie lieben auch in schlechten Tagen

instead of

Willst du bis der Tod Euch scheidet,

Treu’ ihr sein für alle Tage

That means, they refer to the female genital! And I think that sie lieben (also sang once) will mean to make love rather than to love.

Note that this is the only time they omit the t. In the other parts before they don’t elide the t. Also become aware of the fact that the whole song is based on another wordplay, namely haben (to have) versus hassen (to hate). In second person they are equally pronounced.

Du hast

Du hasst

And they repeat du hast mich which wouldn’t make sense (why everyone would think of to hate), not until they complete the sentence:

Du hast mich gefragt

As you already said, songs do not necessarily follow grammatical rules. Same for poetry, etc. For the benefit of rhyme, metric or whatever the sentences can be rephrased in such a way that the are still understandable but are not perfect German (same for English).

Regarding the rules of German (and which was my first (wrong) interpretation):
Talking in indicative you are right. Then there would be a t at the end of the word. But if they leave out the t the sentence would be phrased in subjunctive (for the reason given in previous paragraph) and as you can see on wiki the subjunctive of third person singular (present active) is er/sie/es scheide.

In subjunctive the sentence is grammatical but, of course, there is a semantic error or at least the sentence is semantically disputable.

A short overview of the song on wikipedia says that the part is Willst du bis zum Tod, der scheidet, sie lieben auch in schlechten Tagen?. I heard the part again and again but I can’t hear a t so I insist that the t is elided and the wiki article is wrong (not least because there are enough Google hits which agree).

I hope I’m allowed to link Youtube videos here. Have you already listen to the English version of the song? That’s absolutely not ambiguous:

Will you ’til death be her rider

her lover too, to stay inside her

Also have a look on this overview.

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>made a Google Search which leads to an interesting fact - do I have to google myself or could you link to your resources? :) – John Smithers Apr 16 '12 at 14:35
Thank you for your answer. Could I ask you to please explain how do they refer to female genitalia by "Willst du bis zum Tod der Scheide Sie lieben auch in schlechten Tagen" ? – Armen Tsirunyan Apr 16 '12 at 14:50
@Kevin: "Scheide" isn't slang, but the normal term when you don't want to use the medical term "Vagina", which sounds quite "technical". See e.g. – Landei Apr 16 '12 at 18:26
Thank you em1 for the fascinating analisys of the word play in this song. – Marty Green Apr 16 '12 at 19:04
Note, that it is the intention of Rammstein to phrase ambiguous songs. I even read somewhere today that the drummer himself said that. So, you should never take them too seriously. I think that it is more a provocation than anything else. – Em1 Apr 16 '12 at 20:14

The verb form "scheide" is the subjunctive mood, quite similar to the English translation "till death do us part". The verb form "scheidet" (indicative mood) is nowadays far more common, and "scheide" might be seem as slightly archaic, but definitively not grammatically incorrect.

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When using "bis dass der Tod euch scheide" they say until death may part them.

When using "bis dass der Tod euch scheidet“ they say until death will part them.

The first expression implies that there might be something else parting these two but it should only be death. The second literally says death will do it somewhere in the future. As a pity the second phrase is used more and more often.

Nowadays German, as a language you can express yourself in very precisely, is not used correctly very often. Maybe I should say one has the opportunities to express precisely but many people do not use those and merely paraphrase.

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Actually, the form "scheide" in this case is a Konjunktiv Präsens, 3. Person singular. The singer asks whether the person wants to stay together (or not) until "death do us part", therefore this grammatical form can be used, as he speaks in a speculative context.

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This is already mentioned in the accepted answer. Nonetheless, thanks for the contribution. – clinch Jun 16 at 21:44

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