Monday, October 29, 2007


You may have noticed that I have been saying sheeesh a lot lately. Actually, this is just a bastardisation of the above four-letter word which means crap or dung or whatever we old sailors often use in polite company. Perhaps we can be forgiven for taking liberties with the language when other "normal" people would not.

Someone sent me a light-hearted e-mail some time ago giving the supposedly true origin of this rude word as a nautical term, used when transporting manure as fertilizer deep in the holds of old sailing ships. The message claims that when manure gets wet, it produces methane gas, which can collect in the hold and blow up the ship when someone lights a candle or lantern. To prevent this, crates or sacks of dung were marked S.H.I.T., meaning "Ship High In Transit" to avoid contact with sea water. But I believe that this is also a lot of ... you-know-what.

My friend and fellow mariner Capt. Leibbrandt (you may have seen him playing colonial mat salleh types in some local made-for-TV movies) have confirmed that the word is indeed derived from the Olde English scitte and probably related to the Dutch word schijten, which means "diarrhoea'. Or the Malay equivalent cirit birit.

We are a little mealy-mouthed these days about the word, one of those classic Anglo-Saxon four-letter words, even though it is among the most common expletives known. When it first appeared, though, I believe there were no negative or vulgar associations or connotations about it and indeed some have even claimed that it is a truly pukka original golf term!



  1. Your light hearted entry today reminds me of an incident on board ship many years ago.
    The Captain was from the north east of England, and a new third mate, had just joined the ship in Liverpool. He was called Smith, and was rather well spoken, coming, as he did, from the Wirral, a well to do neighbourhood over the river Mersey from Liverpool.
    One day the Captain said, "Smith come over here", over he came and said "Excuse me Sir, my name is Smythe not Smith"
    The Captain retorted, "Look here son, Smith or Smythe, Shit or Shite, it's all the same to me!"

    May the wind be always be behind you, Captain Yusof.

  2. capt karim:

    many thanks. Now that was funny..

  3. Salam Captain Yusof,

    My first time on your blog, though we were briefly acquainted at MRT last Tuesday.

    All of a sudden, several people are writing about SHIT, I begin to smell something offensive. Bak pepatah Melayu, if no wind, trees no sway ye.

    Hope you don't mind me dropping more often.

  4. cakapaje:

    welcome on board and nice meeting you.

  5. capt

    there it goes again. The RM4.7 billion rip-off is no longer a news item. The perpetrators can sleep well and now plan for the next rip-off scheme.

  6. It may not make the mainstream news these days, but it is certainly not forgotten.
    I am sure that many voters will have already added it to their "'555' Buku Hutang ", which they will refer to on polling day.

  7. Captain,
    At every opportunity when politic is discussed within my earshot I will always quip in my 2 sens worth of opinion by mentioning the PKFZ fiasco. Unlike the crooked bridge or The Submarine and jet purchase most laymen cant relate to PKFZ. Not only the name is difficult to pronounce but the project and ensuing fiasco wasnt highlighted very much by the mainstream media. As such it isnt easy to create any interest among the public despite the enormosity of the fiasco. Never the less it will be a main topic that I will use to educate the public in my area on the atrocities of the current government.

  8. Are we waiting for the AG's testimony to the PAC?

    Any idea when that will be, Capt?

    So meantime, we befuddle each other with S.H.I.T. anecdotes coz...ahhh.. I see, we're going through what the 3-man independent panel have been doing for the past month with the Lingam show.

    Tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum, ho-hum.. *No, this is not a coded message*

  9. shar101:

    I met one of the the PAC members who told me the PKFZ visit was a waste of time. Kuala Dimensi is an UMNO company, period. So lets see what the AG has got to say.

  10. captain, sir!

    here's a crappy suggestion. how about 'poop' for a change? hihi...


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