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Bitte as I understand it:
The verb bitten simply means to ask or to request. When regular verbs end with -e instead of en, it becomes first person present (I do something).
So, bitte would mean I ask, essentially equivilent to please or pardon.
German speakers farther along than me: Is this correct?
While in Germany I was confused by the phrase "Bitte schön", which, to me, roughly translated to "please pretty" or "please lovely". I suppose it might be like the English colloquial "pretty please" but I don't think so. From context, it seemed more like a "thank you". I'm still stumped.