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The official lyrics of Rammsteins "Zeit" (YT) begin with

Manches sollte manches nicht

(see video description). This surprised me. As this seems to be an enumeration, I would have assumed that it should be written as

Manches sollte, manches nicht

. One may argue that lyrics generally don't value punctuation as much, however the rest of the lyrics make heavy use of commas. Is there a possible interpretation of this line which is not an enumeration?

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  • Of course, there must be a comma. (A hyphen would also be conceivable, to emphasize that there are two contrasting things.) I simply consider the absence of any separator as a mistake. Apr 7, 2022 at 17:02
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    @BjörnFriedrich The more I break my head over this (arguably not very important) problem, I find possible interpretations without a comma that even somewhat make sense in the context of the rest of the song. "Manches sollte manches nicht" could be interpreted as "Some shouldn't do some things". The song is not only about time, but also about death, which would make sense for this interpretation. However, interpreting it as an enumeration seems to make even more sense. I'll just continue to make a Mücke aus einem Elefanten =) Apr 7, 2022 at 17:13
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    Given that these are song lyrics, it wouldn't surprise me if there was some deliberate ambiguity or wordplay going on here. Such shenanigans occur often in English at least; I wouldn't know about German though. An example I'm fond of is 'I was born(e) before the wind' from Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic". The line has very different meanings depending on whether or not the "e" is there, and the words sound the same so only lyrics sheet can tell you which is meant; actually Morrison meant both at the same time.
    – RDBury
    Apr 7, 2022 at 18:35
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    Note that at least some transcriptions do include a comma, for example. According to that page, another possible issue is whether the following line, ... doch sind wir blind should really be ... doch. Sind wir blind. It helps to be familiar with the artist and if they have a habit of using wordplay. Wordplay is more common in some genres than others, for example it's not too common in American country music and deutsche Schlager.
    – RDBury
    Apr 7, 2022 at 19:05
  • @RDBury Basically every song by the vocalist of Rammstein (Till Lindemann) consists of wordplays.
    – user6495
    Apr 8, 2022 at 4:38

1 Answer 1

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Rammstein is pretty much known for deliberate ambiguity of their song lyrics and elaborate play with language (amongst deliberate ambiguity in their expression of political attitude and handling of the media - A decent amount of mysticism is part of their "business model"). So, with Rammstein lyrics (and the use of conflicting symbolism in both lyrics and videos), it often pays off to spend a second thought.

You can be relatively sure this is intentional, and not just a typo or transcription error (after all, you linked the "official lyrics").

The lyrics part you stumbled across can be interpreted as

  1. Manches sollte - manches nicht - Some things should happen, some other things shouldn't. This interpretation would normally require a comma. But it doesn't really fit with the rest of the lyrics. Grammar is an enumeration of two main clauses that both have a "manches" as subject.
  2. Manche Dinge sollten nicht manche Dinge [tun] - z.B. Momente sollten nicht vergehen, Menschen sollten nicht sterben, Liebe sollte nicht vergehen, ... This interpretation does not require a comma. Grammar is the first "manches" is the subject of a single main clause, the second an object.

The second interpretation IMHO fits much better the rest of the lyrics. But it's, well, up to interpretation.

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