German Language Blog

Communication difficulties: Der Tatortreiniger Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Culture, Language

Communication difficulties can arise whenever two people are engaged in a conversation. This also applies to the episode “Nicht über mein Sofa” (Not over my sofa) of the German comedy TV series Der Tatortreiniger (The Crime Scene Cleaner). Fortunately, the two interlocutors overcome their communication problems and Frau Hellenkamp finally opens the door for Schotty to let him clean up the crime scene in her mansion.

Admittedly, the title Der Tatortreiniger might lead to the assumption that the TV series is gloomy and gory. Of course, you can see theatrical blood every now and then but the murders themselves play only a minor role in Der Tatortreiniger. The focus is rather on the conversations between the crime scene cleaner Heiko “Schotty” Schotte (Bjarne Mädel) and a bereaved person.

While cleaning a crime scene Schotty (pronounced: Shotty) always learns something about the relationship between a dependant and the murder victim. In turn, Schotty’s job also becomes a conversational topic on every crime scene. But you better do not call Schotty an ordinary cleaner! Tatortreinigung (crime scene clean-up) is a specialised field in cleaning and Schotty had to complete an additional training for that. Every time Schotty is assumed to be an ordinary building cleaner he makes clear: “Meine Arbeit fängt da an, wo andere sich vor Entsetzen übergeben!” (lit. My work beginns at the point where others do throw up because of horror!).

Let’s get to know Schotty and listen to a slight North German dialect. Below you find the German transcription and the English translation.



If you cannot watch the clip on YouTube try this video on Dailymotion. It’s the full episode:


Schotty: Och Mann! Los jetzt, Oma, mach!
Alte Dame: Haben Sie grad Oma zu mir gesagt?
Schotty: Bitte? Nee, ich sagte nur: Oma … mal die Hecke schneiden sollte.
Alte Dame: Sind Sie vom Ordnungsamt?
Schotty: Nee, ich komm von der Reinigungsfirma Lausen. Sie hatten uns angerufen.
Alte Dame: Das waren Sie aber nicht am Telefon. Das war so ein netter, älterer Herr.
Schotty: Ja, das war mein Chef. Das war der Herr Lausen.
Alte Dame: Und Ihr Name ist?
Schotty: Schotte. Heiko Schotte.
Alte Dame: Wie?
Schotty: SCHOTTE!
Alte Dame: Sind Sie Ausländer?
Schotty: Nee, das ist mein Name. Sind Sie Frau Hellenkamp?
Alte Dame: Warum wollen Sie denn das wissen?
Schotty: Weil Sie angerufen hatten.
Alte Dame: Haben Sie Ihren Ausweis bei sich? … Hallo?
Schotty: Ja.
Alte Dame: Ich seh gar nichts.
Schotty: Hier.
Alte Dame: Ach jetzt. Sind Sie das?
Schotty: Ja, das seh’n Sie doch.
Alte Dame: Nee, hör’n Sie irgendwie ist die Kamera zu hoch eingestellt. So seh ich ja nur den Ausweis. Würden Sie bitte mal hüpfen?
Schotty: Wa?
Alte Dame: Na hochspringen, dass ich Ihr Gesicht sehen kann.
Schotty: Ja, soll ich dann in der Luft oben noch kurz stehen bleiben?
Alte Dame: Können Sie das denn? … Hallo?
Schotty: Ja, ich bin noch da.
Alte Dame: Sie müssten etwas höher hüpfen.
Schotty: Ist der Baum da im Bild?
Alte Dame: Der Baum?
Schotty: Wenn Sie vor sich auf den Bildschirm gucken, was seh’n Sie denn da?
Alte Dame: Da ist die Straße und ‘n Baum. Hach, hab ich mich erschreckt.
Schotty: Ja, das geht den meisten so. Damit muss ich leben.
Alte Dame: Also, soweit ich das von hier aus sehen kann haben Sie noch ‘n ganz anständiges Gesicht.
Schotty: Ja, danke
Alte Dame: Aber nach Abitur sehen Sie mir auch nicht gerade aus. Wie war noch mal der Name?
Schotty: Mein Name ist Heiko Schotte und ich hab kein Abitur.
Mann: Na so stolz wär ich da mal nicht darauf.
Alte Dame: Na wenigstens sind Sie ehrlich, junger Mann.


Schotty: Gosh! Hurry up, granny!
Old lady: Have you just called me granny?
Schotty: Sorry? No, I just said: Granny-you … cut the hedge?
Old lady: Are you from the regulatory agency?
Schotty: No, I’m from the cleaning company Lausen. You called us.
Alte Dame: But it wasn’t you on the phone. It was a nice elderly gentleman.
Schotty: Yes, this was my boss. This was Mr. Lausen.
Old lady: And what’s your name?
Schotty: Schotte. Heiko Schotte.
Old lady: Pardon.
Schotty: SCHOTTE! (remark: “Schotte” also means Scot)
Old lady: Are you a foreigner?
Schotty: No, this is my name. Are you Mrs. Hellenkamp?
Old lady: Why do you want to know?
Schotty: Because you called us.
Old lady: Can I see your ID card? … Hello?
Schotty: Yes.
Old lady: I don’t see anthing.
Schotty: Here you go.
Old lady: Ah, now! Is this you?
Schotty: Yes, don’t you see that?
Old lady: No, listen, the camera is adjusted too high. I can only see your ID card. Could you jump, please?
Schotty: What?
Old lady: Jumping up, so that I can see your face.
Schotty: And should I also freeze in the air for a moment?
Old lady: Can you do this? … Hello?
Schotty: Yes, I’m still here.
Old lady: You have to jump higher.
Schotty: Can you see the tree over there?
Old lady: The tree?
Schotty: When you have a look at the screen in front of you: What can you see on it?
Old lady: I can see the street and a tree. Oh God, you startled me.
Schotty: I know, you are not the only person who has to deal with that. I got used to it.
Old lady: As long as I can see it from here: You have a decent face.
Schotty: Thank you.
Old lady: But you don’t give the impression of possessing a high school diploma. What was your name again?
Schotty: My name is Heiko Schotte and I don’t possess a high school diploma.
Man: I wouldn’t be so proud of that.
Old lady: At least, you are honest, Sir.

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About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. Jim:

    Unfortunately, the video says it won’t play in the US. 🙁

    • Sandra:

      @Jim Hi Jim,

      Thank you for letting me know. I’ve added another video from Dailymotion. I hope it works.



  2. Allan Mahnke:

    Yes, but the series is now available broadcast, but also for purchase through MHZ in the US ( We absolutely love it. It is currently streaming online on Thursday evenings. Normally, there are only two actors in an episode, which makes it a little easier to understand. Occasionally there are more characters, as when Bukow & König make a cameo appearance from their Tatort series, another wonderful series. It’s hard to explain in brief, but Tatort is a series of series. Perhaps we could have a blog on the phenomenon of those series. Tatort Reiniger appears at 9 PM EDT and Tatort (Bukow & König) at 9:30 EDT Thursdays.

  3. Jane Caron:

    Thank you! I struggle to understand German when it is spoken, but when I know the context and what words to look for, it is clear as a bell for me. This was great and fun way to practice my German.