Here’s the English translation of “Is mir egal” you never knew you needed to ask for

This week, the BVG (or Berlin Transit Corp, basically the Berlin equivalent of the MTA for you New Yorkers) went the way of “Supergeil” and put out a viral ad based on the curious work of a YouTube star. This time said star is Kazim Akboga, and the spot is called “Is mir egal” (I don’t care. No, I care, “is mir egal,” which is slang for “das ist mir egal,” means I don’t care.) Fun fact: The first German curse I learned was a form of “das ist mir egal,” which is “scheiß egal,” which means “I don’t give a shit.”

But I do! I give many shits about this spectacular video.

I also think that the English-speaking public DESERVES to know the lyrics (which, like “Supergeil,” range from “a three-year-old would say this” to “something even the kid who sleeps through German every day 101 would get right”).

So, here you go. I have also “helpfully” annotated each thing the BVG allegedly “doesn’t care” about viz. its veracity, and, also, don’t think I DIDN’T notice the conspicuous absence of all the U-Bahn passengers drinking beer at 10 p.m. on a Friday night, which is technically not allowed but literally everyone does it on the way to wherever they’re going. Like, 15-year-olds or 50-year-olds, hipsters, moms, whatever. Everyone has a beer on the U-Bahn at one point or another. They should make a video about that. Anyway. Here is your translation.


Mach mal ein Beat
(Give me a beat)

Is mir egal, egal
Is mir egal, egal
I don’t care

Montag morgen – is mir egal
Monatsticket – is mir egal
Keine Ticket – ist nicht egal
Ist nicht egal, egal
Monday morning – I don’t care (T)
Monthly ticket – I don’t care (T)
No ticket – I care, I care (T—don’t try to ride without a ticket or they will fuck you UP. By which I mean frown at you and kick you off the train and fine you)

Mann mit Bauch – is mir egal
Musik laut – is mir egal
Hund mit Hai – is mir egal
Is mir egal, egal
Mann with midriff – I don’t care (T)
Loud music – I don’t care (definitely depends on conductor/driver mood)
Dog with shark – I don’t care (T, IFF sharkdog has muzzle and leash)

Mann macht Umzug – is mir egal
Mann auf Pferd – is mir egal
Mann auf Mann – is mir egal
Is mir egal, egal
Man moves furniture – I don’t care (literally: “man makes moving,” and definitely T if you’re quick about it)
Man on a horse – I don’t care (F)
Man on man – I don’t care (definitely T, Berlin is LGBT friendly and PDA is cool across the spectrum in most neighborhoods)

Striptease – is mir egal
Oma mit Gruftis – is mir egal
Bart an Ladies – is mir egal
Is mir egal, egal
Striptease – I don’t care (I’ll give that one a strong “maybe” depending on the line and time of day)
Grandma with Goths – I don’t care (T and definitely possible)
Beard on ladies – I don’t care (T)

Kein Kleingeld – is mir egal
Kein Trinkgeld – is mir egal
Gar kein Geld – ist nicht egal
Ist nicht egal, egal
No small change – I don’t care (F, the bus driver will kick you the fuck OFF if you try giving him 500 EUR, even if it’s as a gift)
No tip – I don’t care (definitely T, old German ladies don’t tip anyone for anything ever)
No money at all – I care (T)

Zwiebel schneiden – is mir egal
Käse reiben – is mir egal
Roboter mit Senf – is mir egal
Is mir egal, egal
Cutting onions – I don’t care (I’ll give that a “probably,” though you might get yelled at)
Grating cheese – I don’t care (depends on the type of cheese I’d wager)
Robot with mustard – I don’t care (T, though if the robot is big enough he might have to buy a ticket)

So schmeckt Schal – is mir egal
Das ist Karl – keine Wal
Stevens Regal – is mir egal
Is mir egal, egal
This is what a scarf tastes like – I don’t care (DEFINITELY T, and if my baby is to be believed, delicious)
This is Karl – no whale (sure)
Steven’s shelves – I don’t care (why not?)

Mann mit Trommel – is mir egal
Frau mit Kartoffel – is mir egal
Kind mit Bommel – is mir egal
Is mir egal, egal
Man with drum – I don’t care (probably F, though if Germany is in the world cup I imagine there are no rules)
Woman with “potato-nose” – I don’t care (T, and also RUDE!!)
Child with pompom – I don’t care (T)

Das ist stark
Das ist Plagiat
Junge macht Spagat
That is strong (T)
Mendelssohn-Bartholdy-Park (a stop on the U2 that definitely exists)
That’s plagiarism (pretty sure it’s legal, if not inadvisable, to have a bodysuit made out of the “festive” U-Bahn upholstery)
Boy does the splits (T, unless he trips an old lady doing it)

Is mir egal, egal
Is mir egal, egal

Könnt ihr machen – ist mir egal
Solche sachen – sind uns egal
Wir euch lieben – ist euch egal
Ist euch egal, egal
You can do it – I don’t care (F)
This kind of stuff – we don’t care (F)
We love you guys – you don’t care (I’d say either F/T or T/T, but the second definitely T)
You don’t care (T)



21 thoughts on “Here’s the English translation of “Is mir egal” you never knew you needed to ask for

  1. Also worth noting is the swipe they take at our parents in the last scenes: “Nur wir lieben dich so, wie du bist.” (Only we love you just the way you are.) 😀 Next conference paper: A psychoanalytic interpretation of this video.


  2. C’mon Rebecca, you don’t know the German word “Kartoffelnase”? Admittedly, it’s not very charming but then, the staff of Berlin’s BVG has never been known for being too polite. So, no, it’s not a slang, it’s just frankly telling people to their face what they think about the center of somebody’s face 😉


  3. I’d love to see a nyc version with (I’ve seen all of these) the panhandler whose plea for money includes the heartwarming assurance that he’s not out on the street robbing people; the teenagers with a loud boombox whose breakdancing includes swinging by their feet from the overhead bars; whole rows of guys taking up extra seats by manspreading; the older woman who walks through the train handing out leaflets and screaming that meat is poison; the guy in the creepy bright-blue tunic who refers loudly to the young women on the train as angels; the scary woman who makes awful throat noises and spits at people.

    Yet I love the subway. Today I spoke briefly to a 4-year-old girl who complimented me on my good manners. A guy once sang a song to me that segued into “my girl.” I once beat teen fashion world tastemaker/broadway actress taxi gevonson to a seat

    Is mir egal.


  4. “Stevens Regal – is mir egal

    Steven’s shelves – I don’t care (why not?)”

    Akboga’s original video includes the line “Steven Segal – is mir egal”. “Stevens Regal” is a play on that.


  5. It might also be noteworthy, especially in this current xenophobic climate, that Kazim Akboga, representing the BVG here, has a particular Berlin-Turkish accent (that is very recognizabe in Berlin but probably not to most of your readers).


    • It’s definitely ‘keine Wal,’ and is a reference to the original song, which also mentions a whale, with precisely as little context. In the add, though, it’s kind of a double entendre, since it also sounds like ‘keine Wahl,’ no choice, implying that if you’re riding the U-Bahn, it’s for lack of other options.

      Liked by 1 person

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