Archive for the ‘Sonderling Sunday’ Category

Sonderling Sunday – Dithering and Smell-Songs

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

Sonderlinge 1

This week, we’re back to James Kennedy‘s Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, The Order of Odd-Fish

Last time, we left off on page 226 in the English version, Seite 285 in the German edition. The very next paragraph begins with a lovely sentence for translation. Why isn’t this in every phrasebook, anyway?

“Sir Oliver showed them around his observatory, packed with telescopes, star charts, and whirring machines.”
= Sir Oliver führte sie durch sein Observatorium, das vollgestopft war mit Teleskopen, Sternenkarten und surrenden Apparaturen.

(I like “packed” = full-ge-stuffed, I mean vollgestopft.)

“first-rate dithering”
= erstklassig sinnlose Arbeiten (“first-class senseless work”)

(Why am I not surprised that German doesn’t have a word for “dithering”?)

Another good sentence to know:
“I keep all the equipment broken, so I can fiddle with it for hours.”
= Ich sorge zum Beispiel dafür, dass die Instrumente alle kaputt sind, damit ich stundenlang daran herumdilettieren kann.

Oh, here’s a word for dither:
“dither” = tändeln

“exploring” = herumzustreifen

“crawlspaces” = Kriechräume

“peephole” = Guckloch

I like the way this uses English:
“matching pajamas” = Partnerlook-Pyjamas

“sly look” = schelmische Miene

“homemade” = selbst gebaute (“self-built”)

“rubber tubes” = Gummischläuchen

“a wild, looping jig” = eine wilde, hüpfende Gigue

Don’t you think you’ll need to say this if you’re ever in Germany?
“huffing and snorting with gusto” = voller Genuss keuchte und schnaubte

“attempts” = entpuppten

“smell-songs” = Duftliedern

“scales” = Tonleiter (“tone-ladders”)

“clumping up the stairs” = die Treppe hinaufstampfte

“embarrassing and strange” = peinlich und seltsam

And I will finish that section with:
“the picture of happiness” = die Verkörperung von Glückseligkeit

Sonderling Sunday – Das Buch der Tausend Tage, Day 32

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday, that time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books!

Okay, it’s a little late for it tonight, but hey, it’s Daylight Savings Time, so my body doesn’t realize that I should be tired. I’ll try for a short one.

And it’s time to go back to one of my favorite English books, Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale, >Das Buch der Tausend Tage, with the so gorgeous German cover.


Last time (which I can’t believe was a year ago!), I left off before Day 32, which starts on page 31 in the English edition, and Seite 42 in the German edition.

Right away, there’s something that’s more easily said in English:
= flüsterte und rief zur gleichen Zeit
(“whispered and shouted at the same time”)

This is fun in German:
“mending a stocking” = stopfte einen Strumpf

It’s interesting when onomatopoeia is done so differently, but it works:
“Rap, rap, rap” = Tack, tack, tack.

“rotten” = abscheulich

“palms” = Handflächen (“Hand surfaces”)

“wooden spoon” = Holzlöffel

“puddle of moonlight” = Lache Mondlicht

“double stitched” = doppelt genähtem

“I knew he was teasing me” = ich wusste, dass er mich nur neckte

“friendly insult” = wohlgesonnene Beleidigung (Google: “sympathetic insult”)

“sturdy ankles” = stramme Knöchel

“slippers” = Pantoffeln

“the kind with the toe curled up prettily”
= solche mit einer hübsch gebogenen Spitze
(“such with a pretty bowed tip”)

“metal catch” = Eisenhaken

“pine bough” = Tannenzweig

“winter nap” = Winterschlummer

“Midwinter” = Wintersonnenwende (“winter-sun-turn”)

“to feast until it hurts” = zu prassen, bis es wehtut

“felt tents” = Filzjurten

“blotchy face” = fleckiges Gesicht

“browned and callused hands” = braunen schwieligen Hände

“barrel of water” = Wasserfass

“silliest song” = albernste Lied

“bodiless piglet” = Ferkel ohne Körper

“Happily snuffling” = Fröhlich schnüffelts

“grumble” = nörgeln

“brush” (for writing) = Pinsel (Ah! I just learned where the word “pencil” came from.)

“wistful” = wehmütig

“twisting and floating” = zuckend und schwebend

And that’s all for tonight! I finished Day 32.

But what useful things we’ve learned! After all, who would want to travel in Germany without knowing how to say “bodiless piglet”?

Sonderling Sunday – Erschreckte Schrei

Sunday, March 1st, 2015


It’s time for Sonderling Sunday, that time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

This week, we’re back to my stand-by, and the inspiration for Sonderling Sunday, James Kennedy‘s The Order of Odd-Fish, Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge.

After all this time, we’re past the halfway point, on page 225 in English, and Seite 283 auf Deutsch. I’m still hoping that the phrases I choose to translate, while obviously being tremendously practical, will also intrigue readers into picking up this book, without giving away spoilers.

“straying” = streunten

Hmm. What does this translation say about the title?
“freakish” = seltsamer

“extinct” = ausgestorben (“out-died”)

“his skin became bark-like” = seine Haut aus wie Borke

“sneaked” = schlichen

“muttered scathing insults” = murmelte beißende Beleidigungen (“murmured biting insults”)

“deliriously colored butterflies” = berauschend bunte Schmetterlinge

Interesting that English is more efficient here:
“prodded” = stupste mit einem Finger (“poked with a finger”)

“trudged” = schlurfte

You never know when you’ll need to say this:
“beeping crystal-like flowers” = piepsenden kristallartigen Blume

“Amazingly” = Verblüffenderweise

And how handy to know the German word for this, for your next vacation!
“secret dissection lab” = geheimen Sezierlabor

“colorful guts” = bunte Innereien

Should we be worried that I find this fun to say?
“sliced into sheets” = in Scheiben geschnitten

“stole” = stibitzte

“furry starfish” = pelziger Seestern

Another fun one to say:
“roar of shock” = erschreckte Schrei

“campaign” = Schlachtplan

“funeral” = Beerdigung

“It’s become harder and harder to fritter away the entire day.”
=Es wird immer schwerer, den ganzen Tag nur herumzuhängen.

Okay, I can’t get past that sentence, when I look at the clock! I’m going to call it a night.

Some fun words to say tonight. On your next vacation to Germany, be sure to ask where you can find piepsenden kristallartigen Blume or a geheimen Sezierlabor.

Bis bald!

Sonderling Sunday – Jinx und der magische Urwald

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

I have a new book to look at today! I found this German edition of one of my favorites, Jinx, by Sage Blackwood, on Amazon, and I had to order it!


You can see that my copy is an Advance Reader’s Edition — hopefully there weren’t too many changes.

You’ll also notice they’ve added to the title. I find I like Jinx und der magische Urwald, “Jinx and the magical Primeval Forest.”

Oh! Surprise! This is one of the few books that is shorter in German. Maybe because of the bigger pages? It’s 360 pages in English, and only 351 in German. Wow. Looking more closely, that’s even with the English Chapter One starting on Page 1, but the German Erstes Kapitel starting on Seite 7.

I’m going to begin with some interesting front matter. The translator’s name is Sylke Hachmeister.

Opposite the title page, we have the author bio:
“Sage Blackwood lives at the edge of a large forest, with thousands of books and a very old dog, and enjoys carpentry, cooking, and walking in the woods of New York State.”

This translates to: Sage Blackwood lebt am Rande eines dunklen Waldes, mit Tausenden von Büchern und einem sehr alten Hund. Sie liebt es, zu tischlern und zu kochen, und macht gerne Spaziergänge durch die Wälder des Bundesstaats New York.

My favorite in that bio is “carpentry” = tishlernen, “table-learning.”

The dedication in English is, “To Jennifer Schwabach because it’s her kind of story.”

It has a lilt in German: Für Jennifer Schwabach weil es eine Geschichte nach ihrem Geschmack ist. (“For Jennifer Schwabach because it a story after her taste is.” But the sound of it rolling off the tongue is what’s especially nice about it.)

Jinx has a classic opening line, so let’s look at that.

“In the Urwald you grow up fast or not at all.”
= Im Urwald wurde man entweder schnell groß oder gar nicht.

Now I’ll mention interesting words and phrases as they come up:

“carefully” = bedächtig

Interesting. “Stepparents” = Stiefeltern (“boot-parents”)

“Inherited” = geerbt

Here are some good-to-know phrases for your next foreign adventure!

“died of werewolves” = von Werwölfen getötet

“was carried off by elves” = von Elfen verschleppt worden war

“a passing firebird” = eines vorüberfliegenden Feuervogels (“an over-flying Firebird”)

“ignited” = angezündet

“Besides” = Zu allem Überfluss (“To all this overflow”)

Something German has a word for:
“the winter would be a hungry one”
= ein Hungerwinter stand bevor
(“a Hungerwinter stood before”)

“calculating eye” = berechnenden Blick (“reckoning glance”)

“surplus children” = überzählige Kinder

“a single bite of his toad porridge”
= nur einen Happen von seinem Krötenbrei
(“only one bite of his toad-brew”)

Again, it actually feels a little smoother in German:
“great trees as big around as cottages”
= gewaltige Bäume mit hausbreiten Stämmen
(“huge trees with house-wide trunks”)

“the front of his coat” = Mantelkragen (“coat collar”)

“doomed” = verdammt

Interesting. This must be where we got the word:
“twilight” = Zwielicht

“disapproval” = Missfallen

“gnarled” = knorrigen

“twisty hair” = zwirbeligen Haaren

“pointed beard” = Spitzbart

Here’s a good phrase:
“the wizard’s nose twitched at the bad smell of the lie.”
die Nase des Zauberers zuckte, als er die Lüge roch

“measly” = mickrigen

“Bergthold drew himself up.” = Bergthold straffte sich.

That’s a good stopping place for now, just before a violent death. I feel like I need to walk in the woods to get good use out of these phrases — which makes me miss living in Germany, where there are always plenty of woods to walk in.

Have a wonderful week! It may be a cold winter, but at least it’s not a Hungerwinter!

Sonderling Sunday – Kapitel 18

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Hooray! At long last, it’s again time for Sonderling Sunday: That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

I hardly got to it when I was reading for the Cybils. And then I wanted to catch up on posting reviews. And then I went to ALA Midwinter Meeting. And had a medical scare. (Benign!) And have just been busy.

So tonight I may not be able to go as long as I’d like. But I am going to do it. And since it’s been awhile, I am going to go back to the book that started it all, Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, The Order of Odd-fish, by James Kennedy.

Sonderlinge 2

Last time, we actually finished up Chapter 17, so we are on Kapitel 18, which is on page 223 and Seite 281.

It begins with a sentence that’s good to know in any language:

“Jo and Audrey became fast friends.”
= Jo und Audrey freundeten sich rasch an.
(“Jo and Audrey friended themselves rapidly.”)
Apparently “to friend” was a concept in German before Facebook!

Now you know what to call these people:
“a stuttering deliveryman” = den stotternden Lieferanten

“a hapless tourist” = den ahnungslosen Touristen

“seemingly inexhaustible collection” = scheinbar unerschöpfliche Sammlung

And now you know how to ask for this if you’re ever in Germany and need to go undercover:
“false whiskers” = falschen Backenbärten

“fat suits” = Fettpolstern

I like this one:
“furious” = recht ergrimmt

“slightly daunted” = leicht eingeschüchtert zusammen

This is for when you’re describing why you’re going undercover:
“nefarious plans” = ruchlosen Pläne

This is a good word to know:
“nonsense” = Quatsch

“barely restrained contempt” = kaum verhüllter Verachtung

“scrawling notes in the margins” = Notizen in kleine Hefte kritzelte

“constructing bewildering charts of arrows and boxes and labels”
= merkwürdige Tabellen mit Pfeilen, Kästchen und Etiketten anfertigte

Okay, that’s actually a good stopping place — the end of the first section of Chapter 18. Perhaps if I give it a short segment tonight, it will be easier to get around to next week.

And this week I’ll wish you someone with whom you may friend yourselves rapidly!

Sonderling Sunday – Pu der Bär

Monday, December 8th, 2014

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of Children’s Books.


Tonight, on a whim, I think I’ll go back to Pu der Bär, otherwise known as Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne.

It’s been more than a month since I posted Sonderling Sunday, but today I finished a fabulous book for the Cybils, so I can take an hour and indulge in Sonderling Sunday. Once again, I think I’ll dedicate this week’s post to my niece Kristen, who will be studying in Germany next year. Let’s see if I can find some handy-dandy German phrases for her to learn from Winnie-the-Pooh!

Today we’ll be looking at the second chapter, “In Which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets Into a Tight Place” = In welchem Pu einen Besuch macht und an eine enge Stelle gerät

Now for some handy phrases:

“Pooh for short” = einfach Pu (“simply Pooh”)

I’d like Kristen to need this phrase, whether she actually does or not:
“… was walking through the forest one day, humming proudly to himself.”
= … ging eines Tages durch den Wald und summte stolz vor sich hin.

“a little hum” = ein kleines Gesumm

“Stoutness Exercises” = Kraftübungen (“Strength exercises” — not the same thing at all!)

“as he stretched up as high as he could go” = und er reckte sich, so hoch er konnte

“as he tried to reach his toes” = als er versuchte seine Zehen zu erreichen

“by heart” = auswendig
(This is interesting. It seems to be “out” + “nimble, mobile.” So it gives the idea of readily available. No heart mentioned at all.)

“right through” = vollständig

“properly” = fehlerfrei (“failure-free”)

“sandy bank” = sandigen Abhang

This one’s a bit longer in German (Surprise, surprise!):
“If I know anything about anything” = Wenn ich überhaupt irgendwas über irgendwas weiß

“Rabbit means Company” = Kaninchen bedeutet Gesellschaft

“Company means Food and Listening-to-Me-Humming and such like”
= Gesellschaft bedeutet Essen und Mirbeim-Summen-Zuhören und Ähnliches in der Art

“scuffling noise” = ein Trippeln (“a scurrying”)

“Bother!” = So ein Mist!

This has to be included for the nice long word:
“Well, could you very kindly tell me where Rabbit is?”
= Könnten Sie mir dann liebenswürdigerweise sagen, wo Kaninchen ist?

“very much surprised” = überaus erstaunt

“So Pooh pushed and pushed and pushed his way through the hole”
= Also gab sich Pu einen Schubs und noch einen Schubs und noch einen Schubs in das Loch hinein
(“So Pooh gave himself a shove and another shove and another shove through the hole.”)

“You were quite right” = Du hattest völlig Recht

“looking at him all over” = sah ihn von oben bis unten an

Words to live by:
“One can’t have anybody coming into one’s house.”
= Man kann nicht jeden in sein Haus lassen.

“a mouthful of something” = einem Mundvoll irgendwas

‘a little something” = eine Kleinigkeit

“Honey or condensed milk with your bread?” = Honig oder Kondensmilch zum Brot?

“not to seem greedy” = um nicht gierig zu wirken

“humming to himself in a rather sticky voice” = mit ziemlich klebriger Stimme vor sich hin summend

“So he started to climb out of the hole.” = Und er begann aus dem Loch zu klettern.

“front paws” = Vorderpfoten

“back paws” = Hinterpfoten

“I can’t do either!” = Es gelingt er beides nicht!

“front door” = Vordertür

“Hallo, are you stuck?” = Hallo, sitzt du fest?

“carelessly” = sorglos

“one of us was eating too much” = einer von uns beiden zu viel isst

“Silly old Bear” = Dummer alte Bär

“sniffing slightly” = schniefte leicht

“Rabbit scratched his whiskers thoughtfully” = Kaninchen kratzte sich nachdenklich am Schnurrbart

“having got so far, it seems a pity to waste it.”
= nachdem du nun schon mal so weit vorgedrungen bist, Verschwendung wäre, nicht in derselben Richtung weiterzuarbeiten.
(“after you have already penetrated so far, it would be a waste not to work further in the same direction.”)

Good words to know:
“‘We’ll read to you,’ said Rabbit cheerfully.”
= »Wir werden dir vorlesen«, sagte Kaninchen vergnügt.

It’s hard to imagine needing to use this phrase, but best to be prepared:
“do you mind if I use your back legs as a towel-horse?”
= Würde es dir etwas ausmachen, wenn ich deine Hinterbeine als Handtuchhalter verwende?

“doing nothing” = untätig

“it would be very convenient just to hang the towels on them.”
= es wäre sehr praktisch, wenn ich meine Handtücher dort zum Trocknen aufhängen könnte.
(“It would be very convenient, if I my hand towels there to dry could hang.” — Now it’s wet towels!)

“gloomily” = düster

And practical to know:
“What about meals?”
= Wie ist es mit den Mahlzeiten?

“getting thin quickly” = schnelleren Dünnerwerdens

“Bear began to sigh” = Bär wollte gerade seufzen

“tightly stuck” = eingeklemmt

And my favorite sentence from this chapter:
“Then would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness?”
= Würdest du dann bitte ein gehaltvolles Buch vorlesen, eins, das einem eingeklemmten Bären in starker Bedrängnis Hilfe und Trost spendet?

“slenderer” = schlanker

“all Rabbit’s friends and relations” = sämtliche Bekannten-und-Verwandten von Kaninchen

And not to give anything away, but here’s the last paragraph of the Zweite Kapitel:

“So, with a nod of thanks to his friends, he went on with his walk through the forest, humming proudly to himself. But, Christopher Robin looked after him lovingly, and said to himself, ‘Silly old Bear!'”

= Also schenkte er seinen Freunden ein Nicken des Dankes und setzte seinen Weg fort, wobei er stolz vor sich hin summte.

Aber Christopher Robin sah ihm liebevoll nach und sagte »Dummer alter Bär!« vor sich hin.

That’s quite enough for this week! Here’s wishing that you may read ein gehaltvolles Buch this week!

Sonderling Sunday – For Kristen!

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

It’s Sonderling Sunday, that time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books!

This week’s installment is dedicated to my niece, Kristen, who recently learned that she gets to spend her Sophomore year of college in Heidelberg, Germany!

Heidelberg Castle

During my ten years living in Germany, we were only about 30-45 minutes from Heidelberg, and it was one of my favorite places to bring visitors. I hope I’ll get the chance to go visit Kristen while she’s there!

And now for Sonderling Sunday. This week, I was asked to step in at the last minute to be a Cybils panelist for first-round Middle Grade Speculative Fiction! What this means is that I probably shouldn’t spend much time on Sonderling Sunday until after the end of the year — I should be reading! (And I *love* that I can legitimately say “I should be reading.”) However, it’s been a long time since I posted, and last week, I spent an hour on a post — and then lost it in a fluke (I hope) WordPress accident. When it got to where it was taking me as long to try to recover it as it would to rewrite it, I decided to stop. But it’s still eating at me that I want that section done!

For Kristen — I like to think of Sonderling Sunday as a sort of phrasebook, with translations you won’t find in ordinary phrasebooks, but which are clearly useful, since they have been used in a children’s book, for goodness’ sake!

This week (and last week), I’m back to Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, The Order of Odd-fish, by the illustrious James Kennedy, whom, it turns out, also knows a lot about Star Wars.

Last time — or anyway, the last time I managed to post — we left off on page 216 in the original English edition, and Seite 273 auf Deutsch. I have to start with the reply to the last line I posted.

“Knitting? I’ll knit you!”
= Stricken? Ich werde dir gleich zeigen, wie man strickt!
(“Knitting? I will you the same show, how one knits!”)

“awkward pause” = verlegene Pause

“snorted” = schnaubten

Here’s hoping you will never ever need to use this phrase, but just in case:
“a rotting face smiling inches from her own”
= ein verrottetes Gesicht, das nur wenige Zentimeter vor ihrem eigenen grinste

“murmuring just beneath human hearing”
= das unterhalb der Hörschwelle des menschlichen Ohres schlug
(“that below the hearing-threshold of the human ear struck”)

“throat” = Schlund

This is mellifluous:
“ruby-lipped” = mit dem rubinroten Lippen

“with all the noise and fury of an oncoming train”
= mit dem Lärm und der Wucht eines heranrasenden Zuges

“sharp lights were stabbing behind her eyes”
= stechendes Licht flammte hinter ihren Augen auf

“Jo was left treading water.”
= Jo blieb zurück und strampelte im Wasser.
(“Jo stayed back and struggled in the water.”)

“hopelessly lost”
= hoffnungslos verirrt

“her body” = ihre Leiche (“her corpse”)

“a concrete shelf near a sewer pipe”
= einem Betonvorsprung in der Nähe eines Abflussrohrs

“Ian kicked open the sewer grate”
= Ian öffnete das Gitter des Abflusskanals mit einem kräftigen Tritt
(“Ian opened the gate of the outflow-channel with a powerful kick”)
— That one gains something in translation.

“humming city” = summenden Stadt

Interesting. This time through I noticed a little stitching up in the German. Nick and Jo are outside the sewers, and it said nothing about bringing Nick out. But as they’re talking, the English then jumps to describe the cut across Nick’s brow. The German covers that, but first inserts, Sie gingen zurück, “They went back.”

Speaking of Nick’s brow:
“There was a nasty cut across Nick’s brow”
= Nicks Stirn zierte eine hässliche Platzwunde
(“Nick’s brow graced an ugly gash”)

“wig” = Perücke

This is definitely longer in German:
“familiar jeweled key”
= vorkommenden juwelenbesetzten Schlüssel

But this one’s shorter:
“half running, half walking”
= im Laufschritt
(“on the run-step”)

And here’s another one I hope Kristen will never use:
“dragging around an unconscious girl”
= ein bewusstloses Mädchen herumschleppten

“front parlor” = Empfangsalon

“Jo suddenly realized what must have happened.”
= Jo begriff plötzlich, wie alles zusammenhängen musste.

“Unscramble the letters”
= Schüttle die Buchstaben… durcheinander

“nursing the lump on her head”
= betastete die Beule auf ihrem Kopf

“deathly croak” = heiserem Krächzen

“sleepily mischievous” = verschlafen-mutwillig

“shyly hopeful” = zaghaft hoffnungsvoll

“petty” = albern

“East Squeamings” = Ost-Heikel (“East-Delicate”)

“Nora’s head would explode”
= dann platzt Nora der Kragen
(“then bursts Nora the collar”)

“every last thing”
= die kleinste Kleinigkeit
(“the littlest littleness”)

“garish” = grelle

“the buttery glow of the moon”
= das gelbliche Glühen des Mondes

And to finish off Chapter 17 with a sentence I hope Kristen will have many occasions to use:
“They took the long way home.”
= Sie nahmen den längeren Weg nach Hause.

Until next time!

Sonderling Sunday – You Need a Schnauch!

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday, that time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

This week, I’m going to dive back into Der Lorax, von Dr. Seuss! Last time, we left off when the Einstler had just seen die Bäume! Die Trüffelabäume!


And here’s where we can see how Dr. Seuss’s use of made-up words actually makes a rhyming translation easier:

“And, under the trees, I saw Brown Bar-ba-loots
frisking about in their Bar-ba-loot suits
as they played in the shade and ate Truffula Fruits.”

= Im Schatten der Bäume sah ich Braunfelliwullis.
Die hüpften in ihren Braunfellipullis
auf puscheligen Braunfellifüßen
und naschten von den Trüffelanüssen.

(“In the shadow of the trees saw I Brown-felli-wullis.
They hopped in their Brown-felli-pullovers
on puscheligen [?] Brown-felli-feet
and nibbled on the Truffula nuts.”)

As suspected, kräusligen is also made-up, from sich kräuseln, “to ripple.”

“From the rippulous pond
came the comfortable sound
of the Humming-Fish humming
while splashing around.”

= Vom kräusligen Teich
stieg ein wohliger Klang,
wo der Summerfisch summte
und planschte und sang.

Oh, alas! The first two lines of this are lovely, but the next two lines? Well, it’s a noble effort, but the German lines don’t have the same rhythm as the original.

“But those trees! Those trees!
Those Truffula Trees!

All my life I’d been searching
for trees such as these.”

Doch die Bäume! Diese Bäume!
Die Trüffelabäume!
Mein ganzes Leben lang wünschte ich mir
Bäume wie diese,
nun standen sie hier.

Really, it’s a challenge to translate rhymes like these:

“The touch of their tufts
was much softer than silk.
And they had the sweet smell
of fresh butterfly milk.”

= Der Tuff dieser Bäume,
zu meinem Entzücken,
glänzte so seidig
wie Schmetterlingsrücken.

(“The tufts of these trees
to my delight,
shone so silky
as butterfly backs.”)

(Notice they didn’t even attempt butterfly milk!)

And it just feels like we’re losing something:

“In no time at all, I had built a small shop.
Then I chopped down a Truffula Tree with one chop.
And with great skillful skill and with great speedy speed,
I took the soft tuft. And I knitted a Thneed!”

= Am Mittag war alles schon ausgepackt,
ein Laden gebaut und ein Baum abgehackt.
Und schneller als schnell, den geschickt war ich auch:
Aus dem kuschligen Tuff strickte ich einen Schnauch.

(“By noon was everything already unpacked,
a shop built and a tree hacked down.
And faster than fast, skillful was I also:
From the cuddly tuft knitted I a Schnauch.”)

I like this page:

“The instant I’d finished, I heard a ga-Zump!
I looked.
I saw something pop out of the stump
of the tree I’d chopped down. It was sort of a man.
Describe him?… That’s hard. I don’t know if I can.”

= Und grad war ich fertig, da machte es plumpf!
ich schaute
und sah, etwas sprang aus dem Stumpf —
aus dem Baum, den ich fällte. Es war so ein Mann.
Ihn beschreiben? Ich weiß nicht, ob ich das kann.

The schimpfte und schnauzte line here makes up for a lot:

“He was shortish. And oldish.
And brownish. And mossy.
And he spoke with a voice
that was sharpish and bossy.”

= Er war kurz, braun und ältlich
und oben bemoost.
Er schimpfte und schnauzte
und machte auf Boss.

(“He was short, brown, and elderly
and over be-mossed.
He grumbled and snarled
and acted the boss.”)

They don’t do badly with this classic line:

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”

= Ich sprech’ für die Bäume, den die können’s ja nicht.

(“I speak for the trees, for they cannot.”)

And I do like the Thneed description:

“I’m being quite useful. This thing is a Thneed.
A Thneed’s a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!
It’s a shirt. It’s a sock. It’s a glove. It’s a hat.
But it has other uses. Yes, far beyond that.
You can use it for carpets. For pillows! For sheets!
Or curtains! Or covers for bicycle seats!”

= Ich mache mich nützlich. Dieses Ding is ein Schnauch.
Und ein Schnauch ist etwas, was jedermann braucht.
Man nimmt ihn als Pulli, als Socke, als Kragen.
Ein Schnauch ist sehr praktisch, sozusagen.
Er geht auch als Teppich und Nackenstütze,
als Vorhang, als Kissen oder Fahrradsitzmütze.

(“I’m making myself useful. This thing is a Schnauch.
And a Schnauch is something, that all people need.
One takes it as a pullover, as a sock, as a collar.
A Thneed is very practical, so to speak.
It goes also as a carpet and neck-rest,
as a curtain, as a cushion or bicycle-seat-cap.”)

And I’ll finish off with some words with far too much truth:

“I laughed at the Lorax, “You poor stupid guy!
You never can tell what some people will buy.”

= Ich lachte: Du Dummkopf, jetzt hör auf zu schnaufen!
Man weiß eben nie, was die Leute so kaufen.

That’s it for this week! In general, the translator, Nadia Budde, did come up with lines that still roll off the tongue.

Sonderling Sunday – Hinunter, Hinunter, Hinunter

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday – That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books. This week it’s back to the delightful book that started it all — Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, by James Kennedy, otherwise known as The Order of Odd-fish.

Sonderlinge 2

Last time, we left off on page 210 in English, Seite 265 auf Deutsch. Jo and Ian have followed Nick past the Drehkreuz.

Here’s one of those rare phrases that’s shorter in German:
“crowded subway platform” = überfüllten Bahnsteig (Well, okay, just barely shorter. That means, essentially, “over-filled train-climb”)

“straggler” = Nachzügler (“after traveler”)

“tracks” = Gleise

Not as much of a ring to it:
“Down, down, down” = Hinunter, hinunter, hinunter

“cramped and filthy passageways” = enge, schmutzige Gänge

“darker, slimier, and rougher” = dunkler, schleimiger und primitive

“lantern” = Taschenlampe (“pocket-lamp” I wonder if the translator thought it meant a flashlight?)

This sounds even more repulsive in German:
“a wet hole” = ein feuchtes Loch

“slick, spongy moss” = glattem schwammigem Moos

I like this one:
“crawled headfirst” = kroch kopfüber

“which suddenly contracted and slurped”
= das sich plötzlich zusammenzog und ein schlürfendes Geräusch von sich gab
(“that itself suddenly together-moved and a slurping noise from itself gave”)

“warily” = mistrauich

“a sloppy, drooling mouth” = ein schlaffes, sabberndes Maul

One word for this!
“just to make sure” = sicherheitshalber (“for safety’s sake”)

“jealous” = eifersüchtig (“zeal-seeking”)

“tumbling and sliding” = rutschte taumelnd

“splashed” = platschend

“torches” = Fackeln

“their faces looked strange and red in the flickering fire”
= ihre Gesichter wirken im Licht der flackernden Flammen merkwürdig rötlich
(“their faces looked in the light of the flickering flames strangely red”)

“twinkling jewels” = funkelnden Juwelen

“elaborate arched passages” = kunstvoll gemeißelte Durchgänge

“dome” = Kuppel

“humbled by age” = vom Alter gedmütigt

“arranged in glimmering mosaics” = zu schimmernden Mosaiken angeordnet

“whistled” = pfiff

“snorts” = schnaubte

“tame” = zahm

“squids” = Kalmare

“scratched” = kraulte

“We’ll go for a ride.” = Wir machen einen kleinen Ausritt.

“falling off” = herunterfielen

“squeeze them with your legs” = klemmt sie euch zwischen die Beine

“grunting beasts” = grunzenden Tieren

“oozed” = sickerte

“the back of her head” = ihren Hinterkopf

This time English has the compound word:
“slingshot” = Schleuder

“hushed gibbering” = leises Schnattern

“monkey-like beast” = affenähnliches Tier

“bolder” = kühner

“the roar of a hundred tiny throats” = einem tosenden Brüllen aus Hunderten winziger Kehlen

“leaped” = griffen

“snarling shapes” = knurrenden Gestalten

“bursting out of the water” = aus dem Wasser auftauchten
(I like that. auftauchten is, basically, “out-dived.”)

“bucked and dived” = bockte und tauchte

“surface” = Wasseroberfläche

“That was close.” = Das war knapp.

“peevish” = ein bisschen gereizt

“with heavy irony” = troff von Sarkasmus

“a spot of tea” = ein Schlückchen Tee

And let’s finish up with a tremendously useful phrase:
“I understand that knitting is very soothing.”
= Ich habe gehört, Stricken soll sehr entspannend sein.

I find myself hoping my readers don’t have any occasion to say these things this week. May you not hear the leises Schnattern of any affenähnliches Tier, nor einem tosenden Brüllen aus Hunderten winziger Kehlen.

But if you do, you’ll know what to call them!

Sonderling Sunday – Der Lorax

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books. And look what I found at Powell’s books in Portland! A copy of Der Lorax!


It’s been many weeks since I last did Sonderling Sunday. No, I’m not going to let it fall by the wayside. But I’ve had a busy summer, including a wonderful vacation in Oregon. And I haven’t posted on my website much lately, because this week my computer broke. But I’ve managed to restore the operating system, and I’m hoping to spend my Labor Day restoring files. And fortunately, I can post Sonderling Sunday without having my files back. While I was in Oregon, I visited my oldest son Josh, and we went to Powell’s Books in Portland. I had no idea they had a small German section — and I found Der Lorax.

Later, my younger son Tim and I had a marvelous time taking turns reading pages of the whole thing aloud. He reflected that it’s probably not as hard as you might think to translate Dr. Seuss — a lot of his words are invented, so just invent a word that rhymes as needed. You’ll see what he means….

And the translation is done by Nadia Budde.

I like the places where they had to put words in the pictures. “The Street of the Lifted Lorax” fits much more neatly than Weg des Entschwundenen Lorax.

I can’t resist giving you the entire first page and sentence:

“At the far end of town
where the Grickle-grass grows
and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows
and no birds ever sing excepting old crows…
is the Street of the Lifted Lorax.”

Auf Deutsch:

Am Ende der Stadt,
wo das Mickergras steht
und der Wind fast versauert, wenn er langsam weht,
und außer den Krähen kein Vogel mehr kräht,
liegt der Weg des entschwundenen Lorax.

(“At the end of the city, where the Micker-grass stands
and the wind almost soured, when it slowly goes,
and except the crows no bird more crows,
lies the way of the vanished Lorax.”)

Here the meaning is changed slightly for rhyme:
“What was the Lorax?
And why was it there?
And why was it lifted and taken somewhere…”

= Was war der Lorax?
Warum war er dort?
Und wohin entschwand er? Denn jetzt ist er fort.

(That last line is roughly, “And to where did he disappear? For now he is gone.”)

This translation makes sense:
“Once-ler” = Einstler

Here’s a section that loses a little something in translation:

“You won’t see the Once-ler.
Don’t knock at his door.
He stays in his Lerkim on top of his store.
He lurks in his Lerkim, cold under the roof,
where he makes his own clothes out of miff-muffered moof.”

= Du wirst ihn nicht sehen
und klopfst lieber nicht.
Er haust ganz oben bei schummrigem Licht.
Er lugt durch die Ritzen. Im kalten Mief
näht er seine Lumpen,
vermuffelt und schief.

(“You will him not see
and knock better not.
He lives at the top in dim light.
He peeks through the cracks. In cold stale air
sews he his rags,
vermuffelt and crooked.”)
Hmm. She didn’t even try to translate “Lerkim.” Not as many made-up words, but it does give the feeling of the Once-ler’s Lerkim.

“And on special dank midnights in August,
he peeks
out of the shutters…”

= Doch an schwülen Tagen um Mitternacht
wird oben der Sehschlitz größer gemacht.

(“But on humid days at midnight
will over the see-slit bigger make.”)

“tin pail” = Eimer

“nail” = Zwecke

“the shell of a great-great-great-grandfather snail” = das Haus einer Ur-Ur-Ur-Uropaschnecke

Here you can see how it’s changed for the sake of rhyme:
“Then he pulls up the pail,
makes a most careful count
to see if you’ve paid him
the proper amount.”

= Dann zieht er den Eimer
hinauf unters Dach
und zählt seinen Lohn
noch hundertmal nach.

(“Then he pulls the bucket
up to the roof
and counts his reward
a hundred times after.”)

Again, I don’t think the translation has quite the same charm:
“Then he hides what you paid him
away in his Snuvv,
his secret strange hole
in his gruvvulous glove.”

= Dann stopft er das alles
hinein in sein Schmoch:
Im schnorrigen Handschuh
Ein seltsames Loch.

(“Then stuffs he it all
into his Schmoch:
In the schnorrigen glove
A strange hole.”)

“Whisper-ma-phone” = Flüsterfon

Down slupps the Whisper-ma-phone to your ear
and the old Once-ler’s whispers are not very clear,
since they have to come down
through a snergelly hose,
and he sounds
as if he had smallish bees up his nose.”

saust das Flüsterfon ran an dein Ohr.
Das Einstler-Genuschel kriecht mühsam durchs Rohr.
Hinab durch die Enge,
und aus seinem Mund
klingt es, als steckten ihm
Hummeln im Schlund.

rushes the Flüsterfon to your ear.
The Einstler-Genuschel crawls laboriously through the tube.
Down through the narrows,
and out of his mouth
sounds it, as if stuck him
Bumblebees in the throat.”)

Ah, and I like this page so much, I have to quote it:

“Way back in the days when the grass was still green
and the pond was still wet
and the clouds were still clean,
and the song of the Swomee-Swans rang out in space…
one morning, I came to this glorious place.
And I first saw the trees!
The Truffula Trees!
The bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees!
Mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze.”

= Lang, lang ist es her, noch grün war das Gras,
die Wolken ganz weiß
und der Teich herrlich nass,
und die Schwippschwäne sangen, der Wind trug es fort.
Da kam ich an diesen herrlichen Ort.
Und ich sah die Bäume!
Die Trüffelabäume!
Hier schaukelten sie auf grüner Wiese
die knallbunten Tuffs in der Morgenbrise.

(“Long, long ago, still green was the grass,
the clouds all white
and the pond delightfully wet,
and the Schwipp-swans sang, the wind carried it away.
There came I to this glorious place.
And I saw the trees!
The Trüffela-trees!
Here swayed they on the green meadow
the brightly colored Tuffs in the morning breeze.”)

Well, it’s getting late, and I haven’t gotten very far. So I will save the rest for another day. May you experience grün Gras, weiß Wolken, und ein Teich herrlich nass.