71 votes

What is the horrible phrase my wife learned from her grandpa?

Hello! My wife's grandfather would say the phrase "ʃɛkrɛplj jɛɽɛ" from what I can decode from the phonetic alphabet on Wikipedia, or my best English estimation "shikrepple yere" with a flipped r if that makes no sense. He would say this when he lost a hand in poker, when she repeated it as a kid got chewed out and told not to say it, and he died without having ever said what it meant. He was stationed in Germany during the Korean War, so our best guess is something Polish..? But we can't find much that matches.

Tilderinos, can you translate what horrible phrase my wife has been casually repeating to people trying to figure it out and what language it's even in? Apologies if this is a slur or something... And thanks!

28 comments

  1. [5]
    tyrny
    Link
    I asked my dad to take a look (he is Dutch but knows German amongst many other languages). He thinks that it could be something about a shitstorm year. That the first part might be a combo of...

    I asked my dad to take a look (he is Dutch but knows German amongst many other languages). He thinks that it could be something about a shitstorm year. That the first part might be a combo of scheiß which is shit and rappel which is like crazy or rage. Then second bit could be jähr or year.

    He also mentioned that it could be partially Yiddish because many German phrases incorporate Yiddish and he couldn’t place the k.

    36 votes
    1. Noox
      Link Parent
      This is why I'm team 'please pronounce it out loud and upload it' - I have a vague sense that it's something familiar to me (am Dutch as well, but can understand German to a degree as all Dutch...

      This is why I'm team 'please pronounce it out loud and upload it' - I have a vague sense that it's something familiar to me (am Dutch as well, but can understand German to a degree as all Dutch people can)

      19 votes
    2. smoontjes
      Link Parent
      I think you're on the right track. The first part, ʃɛkrɛplj / shikrepple - after a game of telephone like this - could be very close to the German word schrecklich (awful, dreadful, terrible,...

      I think you're on the right track.

      The first part, ʃɛkrɛplj / shikrepple - after a game of telephone like this - could be very close to the German word schrecklich (awful, dreadful, terrible, etc.) is definitely something you would say when losing in poker. Not sure why OP's mother would not be allowed to say that though perhaps this is where Yiddish comes in?

      And jɛɽɛ / yere could definitely be Jahr (year). Makes less sense contextually though maybe it's a more regional dialect thing, or a turn of phrase locally.

      8 votes
    3. [2]
      luks
      Link Parent
      Not sure if it's only dialect or normal German, as I've heard my parents say it often, but "Schietwetter" (German for shit weather, ˈʃiːtvɛtɐ) could sound similar to the first part. Not sure about...

      Not sure if it's only dialect or normal German, as I've heard my parents say it often, but "Schietwetter" (German for shit weather, ˈʃiːtvɛtɐ) could sound similar to the first part. Not sure about the second though. There's also a ton of other words you could make with Schiet...

      6 votes
      1. elcuello
        Link Parent
        I'm sorry if this is derailing but I would just like to give everybody who hasn't seen the comedian ISMO doing his bit on the word "shit" a chance to enjoy it.

        There's also a ton of other words you could make with Schiet...

        I'm sorry if this is derailing but I would just like to give everybody who hasn't seen the comedian ISMO doing his bit on the word "shit" a chance to enjoy it.

  2. [2]
    bj-rn
    Link
    Do you know where exactly? I'd think it's rather unlikely that he came accross a Polish phrase in western Germany during the early 50s that was so popular he adopted it. (Then again maybe there...

    was stationed in Germany

    Do you know where exactly?

    I'd think it's rather unlikely that he came accross a Polish phrase in western Germany during the early 50s that was so popular he adopted it. (Then again maybe there was that one Polish regular he played cards with in a bar off base.)

    It being German in some local dialect seems more likely. Esp. in the fifties where speaking dialect was much more prevalant. Thing with dialects is they can already be mutually unintelligible between regions in Germany. On top of that a lot of Americans butcher even "regular" German to a degree that even Germans have a hard time trying to decipher it. Your wife "playing the telephone game" probably made things worse unfortunately.

    Can you record that phrase and share it somehow?

    30 votes
    1. Lapbunny
      Link Parent
      Hey! She doesn't know the exact place, sorry. But she did record it for me: https://vocaroo.com/1eenOFIMyJnj

      Hey! She doesn't know the exact place, sorry. But she did record it for me: https://vocaroo.com/1eenOFIMyJnj

      6 votes
  3. [10]
    sth
    Link
    There are just too many steps where inaccuracies to the original phrase/sound get introduced, from some original expression to how your wife's grandpa pronounced it to how your wife as a child...

    There are just too many steps where inaccuracies to the original phrase/sound get introduced, from some original expression to how your wife's grandpa pronounced it to how your wife as a child tried to say it, how she remembers it today, how you translated it to IPA and how a random reader imagines that IPA to be pronounced. Chances to get something recognizable get much higher by cutting out as many of those steps as possible, which in this case would mean to listen to your wife say it. That still might be very far from the original phrase, but it's the best we can hope for.

    Additionally additional context would be useful. When did the grandpa say it? Did he for example use it to swear at people or when something went wrong? Or did he say it when he was excited about something? That might narrow it down a bit.

    Since grandpa learned the phrase while in Germany, the most likely option is that it's German. The only reasonable German word I could hear is the part "krɛplj jɛɽɛ", which might be "krepiere!". That means "die miserably!" and could very well be part of a "horrible phrase". The preceding "ʃɛ" is also a common sound in German and might be part of another word.

    21 votes
    1. [8]
      Tuna
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Maybe the first part is a english pronunciated "geh" ? Together it would then be "geh krepieren" ( gɛ krɛplj jɛɽɛŋ) which would be translated to "go die miserably"

      Maybe the first part is a badly english pronunciated "geh" ?

      Together it would then be "geh krepieren" ( gɛ krɛplj jɛɽɛŋ) which would be translated to "go die miserably"

      12 votes
      1. [7]
        sparksbet
        Link Parent
        Could be dialectical too. Playing poker in some random German town might have exposed him to something other than Standard German, especially back then.

        Maybe the first part is a badly english pronunciated "geh" ?

        Could be dialectical too. Playing poker in some random German town might have exposed him to something other than Standard German, especially back then.

        1. [6]
          vektor
          Link Parent
          I wouldn't exactly expect any dialect within Germany to pronounce "Geh!" as anything that could be transliterated as "shi", but I've been wrong before. It's not one of the typical places where...

          I wouldn't exactly expect any dialect within Germany to pronounce "Geh!" as anything that could be transliterated as "shi", but I've been wrong before. It's not one of the typical places where pronunciation differs, but in the backwaters, a lot is possible.

          That said, "Geh krepieren!" is absolutely a decent bit of potty mouth. I wouldn't understand it to be directed at anyone. It's about as "personal" as "oh fuck off" in english is - you don't usually want anyone to leave the room, you might just be yelling about rotten luck bestowed upon you by inanimate dice or cards. That said, because if you actually say it at someone, it is super not ok, it's the kind of thing you don't want kids to say until they understand the difference.

          2 votes
          1. [5]
            sparksbet
            Link Parent
            I don't know any particular dialect that does it, but I know /g/ to /j/ is a thing in several dialects and it's not so outrageous for it to end up as some sort of palatal fricative instead...

            I don't know any particular dialect that does it, but I know /g/ to /j/ is a thing in several dialects and it's not so outrageous for it to end up as some sort of palatal fricative instead (perhaps something close to /ç/, the "ch" in "ich" in Standard German -- I can say from personal experience that many Americans have trouble hearing the difference between this sound and the "sh" sound). But I don't know any specific dialects that would make that particular change in that context, as I'm not that well versed in the variations throughout Germany, so it's just a guess at something that seems linguistically plausible.

            1 vote
            1. [4]
              vektor
              Link Parent
              Yeah, with "ch" you can make a lot more sounds that are somewhat compatible with "g". Though I can't imagine even the swiss with their insane love of "ch" to put it into "geh". But if we throw in...

              Yeah, with "ch" you can make a lot more sounds that are somewhat compatible with "g". Though I can't imagine even the swiss with their insane love of "ch" to put it into "geh". But if we throw in some "made in USA" errors in transliteration there, who knows.

              On a vaguely related note, can I interest you in the word "Streichholzschächtelchen"? Bonus points if you can make an IPA transliteration that checks out. ;)

              1. sparksbet
                Link Parent
                I could probably write in phonemically in IPA for Standard German just based on spelling, but you'd have to pay me to get me to try and pronounce it with my accent or transcribe how I'd sound lol

                I could probably write in phonemically in IPA for Standard German just based on spelling, but you'd have to pay me to get me to try and pronounce it with my accent or transcribe how I'd sound lol

                1 vote
              2. [2]
                SeeNipplesAndDo
                Link Parent
                Yeah, I mean they just had to figure out some way to put it in all their websites. What total weirdos! Joking aside, does their version of German replace a lot of other letters with "ch"?

                Though I can't imagine even the swiss with their insane love of "ch"

                Yeah, I mean they just had to figure out some way to put it in all their websites. What total weirdos!

                Joking aside, does their version of German replace a lot of other letters with "ch"?

                1. vektor
                  Link Parent
                  I'm not sure whether they actually spell it like so (I think so though, at least when "writing" swiss german), but swiss german uses a lot of "ch" sounds. The Dach [dax] one, not the ich [ɪç] one....

                  I'm not sure whether they actually spell it like so (I think so though, at least when "writing" swiss german), but swiss german uses a lot of "ch" sounds. The Dach [dax] one, not the ich [ɪç] one. Apparently, they mostly put it where you'd otherwise find "k" in standard german. Wikipedia tells me to see also Chuchichäschtli, which I needed help to even understand. Apparently Küchenkästlein (please note the lack of "ch" in the indicated places:)

                  Küchenkästlein
                  ^     ^
                  

                  can hold quite a lot of "ch". Unusual word, but like Streichholzschächtelchen, one of those you use to poke at language with a stick.

                  Ninja edit: If you can understand german, I beg you (and /u/sparksbet too) to give the audio version of WP:Chuchichäschtli a spin. Below "Weblinks", there's an audio file from an older version of the article, spoken by a swiss german. So much ch in places it don't belong... well, wouldn't belong in standard german.

                  1 vote
    2. sparksbet
      Link Parent
      Yeah, I'd never heard of the word "krepieren" until now but it seems by far the likeliest suggestion in these comments -- it's both pretty damn close in pronunciation and something you'd probably...

      Yeah, I'd never heard of the word "krepieren" until now but it seems by far the likeliest suggestion in these comments -- it's both pretty damn close in pronunciation and something you'd probably tell a kid not to say.

      7 votes
  4. gpl
    Link
    I don’t have an answer, put it’s possible the first sound is the Lithuanian šikt which means shit or to shit. Perhaps the first word in a phrase.

    I don’t have an answer, put it’s possible the first sound is the Lithuanian šikt which means shit or to shit. Perhaps the first word in a phrase.

    13 votes
  5. [6]
    fxgn
    (edited )
    Link
    Assuming your IPA transcription is correct, that's definitely not Polish, since it doesn't have the "ɽ" sound or something similar. Wikipedia has a list of languages that use this sound, though...

    Assuming your IPA transcription is correct, that's definitely not Polish, since it doesn't have the "ɽ" sound or something similar.

    Wikipedia has a list of languages that use this sound, though perhaps it's a similar sound and not this specific one, so not sure how helpful this list would be:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiced_retroflex_flap#Occurence

    This phrase sounds like something middle eastern, like Turkish or Arabic, though I unfortunately don't know any words that sound like that.

    13 votes
    1. dpkonofa
      Link Parent
      Yeah… definitely not Polish, or at least not any Polish phrase that I can make out from that phonetic spelling.

      Yeah… definitely not Polish, or at least not any Polish phrase that I can make out from that phonetic spelling.

      4 votes
    2. [4]
      psi
      Link Parent
      If it's Arabic, the first part might be شكرا ("thanks")?

      If it's Arabic, the first part might be شكرا ("thanks")?

      1 vote
      1. [3]
        cfabbro
        Link Parent
        If it's Turkish, it could be yere which is the dative singular of yer, which means "ground/earth/place". No idea what the first word could be, but combined it could mean "(something) to the...

        If it's Turkish, it could be yere which is the dative singular of yer, which means "ground/earth/place". No idea what the first word could be, but combined it could mean "(something) to the ground."

        p.s. @kwyjibo might be able to figure it out, if it actually is Turkish.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          kwyjibo
          Link Parent
          Hey, sorry for the late reply! Unfortunately though, I can't think of anything you can say in Turkish that resembles the sound of shikrepple yere in any context, let alone as something you say out...

          Hey, sorry for the late reply!

          Unfortunately though, I can't think of anything you can say in Turkish that resembles the sound of shikrepple yere in any context, let alone as something you say out of frustration. If I had to give an answer, I'd say shikrepple only slightly resembles şerefsiz (cher-f-sieze) which means dishonorable and you can put many nouns after it, but none that sounds like yere.

          Also, historically speaking, while I don't have any concrete numbers, I don't think there were many Turkish citizens living in Germany at the time. Turkish troops were stationed in Korea during the Korean War and Turks migrated in droves to Germany in the 60s.

          3 votes
          1. cfabbro
            Link Parent
            No worries, and thanks for trying. :)

            No worries, and thanks for trying. :)

            2 votes
  6. [2]
    Pistos
    Link
    Maybe you can speak it into Hey Google, or Siri, or Alexa. Ask it to translate, or "what does .... mean"

    Maybe you can speak it into Hey Google, or Siri, or Alexa. Ask it to translate, or "what does .... mean"

    9 votes
    1. psi
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I tried something similar. I passed a machine-generared pronunciation of the IPA transcription into whisper.cpp (with and without translation/language detection), but I didn't have much success....

      I tried something similar. I passed a machine-generared pronunciation of the IPA transcription into whisper.cpp (with and without translation/language detection), but I didn't have much success. (Unless we think Grandpa's been saying "thank you for subscribing!" for the past 50 years....)

      12 votes
  7. strank
    Link
    It could be related to "sacre bleu", literally "holy blue", meaning something like "damn". It's French but used in German and it's thought to be a version of French "sacre dieu" (holy god). No...

    It could be related to "sacre bleu", literally "holy blue", meaning something like "damn". It's French but used in German and it's thought to be a version of French "sacre dieu" (holy god). No idea for the second part though

    6 votes
  8. eggy
    Link
    I am really dying to know what it means, if you put whatever you typed in google translate it sounds like "crapple J" which is very different i think. I hope someone can figure this out

    I am really dying to know what it means, if you put whatever you typed in google translate it sounds like "crapple J" which is very different i think. I hope someone can figure this out

    5 votes