"Du hast," from Rammstein's 1995 album Sehnsucht, is arguably the most popular German-language song ever in the United States, and the subject of some FAQs. The simple answer is 'yes, there's wordplay involved.' To elaborate a bit (and answer the inevitable question what the wordplay is about), the wordplay in this song is not readily evident. A literal translation will succumb to the quirks of German grammar and be unhelpful. So let's take it step by step:

The first wordplay is on hast. When spoken, it's indistiguishable from hasst.

In the first line, du hasst means you hate. Du hast means you have. An unoriginal but cleverly used play on homonyms (or homophones since there is still a debate regarding the correct term). Whatever the name for it, the two sound exactly the same and the phrase is totally ambiguous.

The second line does nothing to direct the listener one way or the other; du hasst mich is a complete sentence meaning you hate me. Du hast mich, on the other hand, means you have me but, because German grammar allows it to progress in this order, we can still tack something onto it. By changing from past tense to present perfect and turning hast into an auxiliary verb, it's possible to continue to expand the sentence on the next line. German grammar in this tense places the verb at the end of the sentence.

Du hast mich gefragt is where it becomes unambiguous. It now clearly means you asked me. This is where your average translation device will barf since it literally translates to you've asked me which is incorrect. German feels better with the present perfect tense where English requires simple past. I don't know of any software that can catch this and translate it correctly, so the Babelfish is out.

On the question of Scheide, it means sheath only in the most ridiculously politically correct poetic translation. It undoubtedly stands for vagina. It also means scabbard, as in sword and scabbard. Nothing subtle about that, of course. The word for all these is one and the same in German. The very same word is also a form of the verb scheiden, to divide, part or divorce. It has to be taken in the context of the phrase:

Bis der Tod euch scheidet means till death do you part in the marriage-vow sense. It's as grammatically weak as its English equivalent, except the German form cannot be redeemed by its value as a figure of speech (Redewendung) because it has none. It's just plain awful. There is no other translation. Here, though, we have another wordplay; substituting the article der for the subject euch and dropping the final 't' from the verb, its grammar improves and it remains more or less meaningful. Scheide is now clearly a feminine noun in the singular genitive case. Well, it was all along since the word in the text is capitalised as nouns invariably are in German. 'Euch' and 'der' alternate in the lyric, adding to its ambiguity. Actually, they could have used scheide in both lines, the difference being that the verb form without the 't' would indicate subjunctive mood.

Therefore, we have Until the death of the sheath/vagina. Since sheath makes zero sense and it wouldn't be the first time Rammstein's lyrics played on sex, and given that the entire song has a "relationship" context, vagina is the only possible translation. Unlike vagina in English which would sound quite silly in a song (let's face it, it's a pretty lame word), the word Scheide is much more usable and euphonic in German. The wordplay is as weak in German as it is in English but the German sense of humour is a bit more appreciative of it. It's quite consistent with Rammstein's casual use of explicit language.

I hope this settles all debates and answers all questions.

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