Archive for the ‘Sonderling Sunday’ Category

Sonderling Sunday – To Stop the Belgische Scherzkeks

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I look at the German translation of children’s books and devise a Useful Phrasebook for Very Silly Travelers.

This week, we’re continuing in Chapter 19 of The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy, otherwise known as Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge.


Last time, we left off on page 249 in the English edition, Seite 315 in the German edition.

The first sentence of the next section is a useful one, especially if you’re traveling in Germany:
“The rainy season had started.”
= Der Regenzeit hatte begonnen.

This sounds nicer in English:
“a dim, drizzling morning”
= ein düsterer, verregneter Morgen

What a sad way to think of the morning!
“dawn” = Morgengrauen (“morning-gray”)

Here’s a great word!
“soaked with sweat” = schweißüberströmt (“sweat-over-flowing”)

This isn’t said quite the same way:
“happily exhausted” = fröhlich und erschöpft (“happy and exhausted”)

“rushed past” = vorbeistürmten

Here’s a phrase to know:
“the peevish croak of ostriches waking up”
= das gereizte Krächzen der aufwachenden Strauße

“armor clanking” = klapperten die Rüstungen

“It doesn’t matter.”
= Das spielt keine Rolle.
(“That plays no role.”)

“The Belgian Prankster has made his move.”
= Der Belgische Scherzkeks hat seinen Schachzug gemacht
(“The Belgian Joke-cookie has his chess-move made.”)

“A gunshot went off in Jo’s stomach.”
= In Jos Magen schien etwas zu explodieren.
(“In Jo’s stomach seemed something to explode.”)

This one really is a handy phrase to know:
“I was wrong.”
= Ich habe mich geirrt.

“tinkering” = herumgebastelt

“zigzagging pole” = gezackten Stange

“stuck all over with prongs, wheels, and corkscrews”
= die überall mit Zacken, Zahnrädern und Korkenziehern bestückt

“wrapped up in fur” = mit Fell umwickelt

“the jury-rigged thing”
= das notdürftig zusammengeflickte Teil
(“the makeshift [hardship-meager] together-patched part”)

“spattering storm” = prasselnden Regensturm (“roaring rain-storm”)

“The rain pelted Jo.”
= Der Regen peitschte auf sie herunter.

And I’ll finish the section with a sentence I hope you never need:
“She was soaked and terrified.”
= Innerhalb weniger Sekunden war sie klatschnass und vollkommen verängstigt.
(“Within a few seconds was she scandal-wet and fully frightened.”)

If you are ever schweißüberströmt, here’s hoping you are also fröhlich und erschöpft! Bis bald!

Sonderling Sunday – Momo – Imaginary Adventures

Monday, October 12th, 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 — or in this case, looking at the English translation of a German children’s book. Sort of a Very Silly Phrasebook for Travelers.


Tonight I want to go back to one of my favorite children’s books of all, originally written in German, Momo, by Michael Ende. Last time I looked at Momo, we left off toward the end of Chapter 3, on Seite 36 auf Deutsch, page 22 in English.

[And before I get started, I’d like to give a shout-out to Alex Baugh, who was at KidLitCon this weekend. She blogs at Randomly Reading, and I learned that she was a German literature major and reads Sonderling Sunday! I didn’t know anyone did besides James Kennedy and me! :) Glad to meet you this weekend, Alex!]

We were right in the middle of a dramatic (imaginary) ocean voyage:
Meter für Meter kämpfte sich die >Argo< , alle Maschinen auf Volldampf, gegen die Urgewalt dieses Taifuns vorwärts.
= “With all engines running full ahead, the Argo inched her way forward against the elemental might of the storm.”
(“Meter by meter battled itself the Argo, all engines on full steam, against the elemental power of the typhoon forward.”)

Machinisten und Heizer = “engineers and stokers”

Kesselräume = “boiler rooms”

Übermenschliches = “superhuman efforts”

dicken Tauen = “stout ropes”

grausamen Schlingern und Stampfen des Schiffes
= “the ship’s violent pitching and tossing”

innerste Kern des Wirbelsturms = “innermost eye of the storm”
“innermost core of the cyclone [whirl-storm]”

Auf der Meeresoberfläche, die hier spiegelglatt war, weil alle Wellen einfach von der Gewalt des Sturmes flachgefegt wurden, tanzte ein riesenhaftes Wesen.
= “Gyrating on the surface of the sea, which had been ironed flat as a pancake by the sheer force of the sorm, was a huge figure.”
(“On the seas-over-surface, that here mirror-smooth was, because all waves simply from the violence of the storm flat-swept were, danced a gigantic being.”)

ein Brummkreisel von der Größe eines Berges
= “a mountainous humming top”
(“a humming top of the size of a mountain”)

This is better in German:
Ein Schum-Schum gummilastikum!
= “A Teetotum elasticum!”

allersten Zeiten der Erdentwicklung
= “the earliest phase of life on earth”

Es ist ein Jammer!
= “What a shame”

Das einzige Exemplar = “The sole surviving specimen”

Kontrafiktions-Kanone = “antifriction gun”
(Google: “Contraindications-Fiction Cannon” Is this a case where the translator changed the meaning to a similar-sounding word? It is, after all, an imaginary creature, so an Anti-Fiction Gun might work.)

Riesenkreisel = “giant spinning top”

Stichflamme = “tongue of flame”

Zwillingsrohr = “twin barrels”

leuchtende Geschoß = “flaming missiles”

Es ist zwecklos! = “It’s no use.” (“It is purposeless.”)

Erste Steuermann = “first mate”

Wandernden Taifun = “Traveling Tornado”

Überlieferungen = “traditions”

wahrer Kern = “grain of truth”

bestimmte Tonschwingungen = “certain sonic vibrations”

Nice big words in this section! Appropriate since a child is pretending to be an important scientist.
Lebensbedingungen = “mode of existence”

höchst eigentümlichen Gesang = “most peculiar song”

Donnernd schlossen sich die Wassermassen über ihm.
= “With a thunderous roar, the sea closed over it.”

patschnaß = “soaked” (“smack-wet”)

I’ll finish with the last sentence of chapter 3:
So wie bei Momo konnte man sonst nirgends spielen.
= “The games they played with Momo were more fun than any others.”
(“So as with Momo could one otherwise nowhere play.”)

That’s it for tonight! It’s good to be back! May you avoid any Whirl-storms before we come back to Momo!

Sonderling Sunday – Sonderlinge Kapitel 19

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I look at the German translation of children’s books and devise a Useful Phrasebook for Very Silly Travelers.

This week, it’s back to the book that started it all, Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, by James Kennedy, The Order of Odd-Fish.

Sonderlinge 2

After years of doing this, we are up to Chapter 19 in the book (out of 28). I can safely say that I have not given spoilers. I see the sentences I choose as teasers. Who can possibly resist wanting to read a book containing such choice and useful sentences?

For example, have fun imagining a scenario where you would need to know the translation of the very first sentence in the chapter:
“The next month it was Jo and Ian’s turn to groom the ostriches.”
= Im nächsten Monat fiel Jo und Ian die Aufgabe zu, die Strauße zu pflegen.
(“In the next month fell Jo and Ian the assignment to, the ostriches to maintain.”)

“nested” = nisteten

“came and went as they pleased” = sie kamen und gingen, wie es ihnen gefiel

“banking and swooping raucously over the water”
= wo sie genüsslich über dem Wasser kreisten, hinabstießen und wieder aufstiegen
(“where they pleasurably over the water circled, came down and again went up”)

“their armor glittering in the sun”
= Ihre Rüstungen glitzerten in der Sonne.

“nasty, smelly work” = widerliche, stinkende Arbeit

“embarrassed” = geschämt

“dirty plumage” = schmutzigen Gefieders

“ragged feathers” = zerrupften Federn

“prune their talons” = ihre Krallen reinigen

Perhaps you shouldn’t use this to describe a friend:
“proud, stupid eyes” = stolzen, dummen Augen

“colorful regalia” = bunten Insignien

Hmmm. I would have thought this was straight from the German.
“fledgling” = flügge

“cranky personality” = leicht reizbaren Persönlichkeit
(“slightly irritable personality”)

“slightly offended” = ein bisschen beleidigt

“sparkling, foamy sea” = funkelnde, schäumende See

“zigzagging through the maze of buildings”
= im Zickzack durch das Labyrinth der Gebäude

And who knows when you might need to say this?
“racing wild pterodactyls in the fens outside of town”
= lieferte sich mit den wilden Flugsauriern in dem außerhalb der Stadt gelegenen Sumpf Wettrennen
(“delivered herself with the wild Fly-osaurs in the outside of the city lying swamp races”)

“rambling farmhouses” = verstreute Bauernhöfe

“tidy fields of crops” = ordentliche Getreidefelder

Of course Germans have a word for this:
“half-collapsed castle” = Schlossruine

I found a missing phrase in the translation! In the sentence, “When it got too hot in the city, Jo, Ian, and Nora would climb on their ostriches, Audrey would hold on to Ian’s back, and they would fly out to a deserted beach where a river streamed out into the ocean, near a decaying mansion overgrown with weeds.” It’s missing the phrase “near a decaying mansion overgrown with weeds.” Here’s the translation:
Wenn es in der Stadt zu heiß wurde, stiegen Jo, Ian und Nora auf ihre Strauße. Audrey setzte sich auf den von Ian und hielt sich an ihm fest, und so flogen sie hinaus zu einem verlassenen Strand, wo ein Fluss in den Ozean mündete.

“chasing the crabs” = jagten Krabben

And may you find a need to use this sentence:
“Those days were close to perfect.”
= Diese Tage waren nahezu vollkommen.

“specter” = das Gespenst

“keep at bay” = in Schach halten (“in check [chess] keep”)

“just by immersing herself in everyday life”
= indem sie sich einfach nur um ihren Alltag kümmerte

“crowd” = Menschenmenge

“thinnest piece of tissue” = hauchdünnen Papierwand (“hint-thin paper-wall”)

That’s all for tonight! May it be said of you this week, Diese Tage waren nahezu vollkommen.

Sonderling Sunday – Book of a Thousand Days

Sunday, September 13th, 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, sort of a Very Silly Phrasebook for Travelers.


This week I’m back to one of my favorite books in English, Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon HaleDas Buch der Tausend Tage.

Last time, I left off ready to start Day 35.

I’ll start with a nice pleasant sentence from Tag 35:
“I hope he has a safe journey.”
= Hoffentlich kommt er sicher voran.
(“Hopefully comes he safely ahead.”)

And this is good to know, from Day 39:
“I’m in love!” = Ich bin verliebt!

Oooh, I like these sentences too much not to include them, even though the translation isn’t complicated:
“My heart’s so light it floats and carries me so my feet don’t walk.”
= Mein Herz ist so leicht, dass es in der Luft schwebt und mich trägt, sodass meine Füße nicht laufen müssen.

“I sing all day and I don’t mind the washing, and that’s how I know I’m in love.”
= Ich singe den ganzen Tag und die Wäsche macht mir nichts aus. Daran erkenne ich, dass ich verliebt bin.

Now I have to finish the paragraph!
“Completely smitten with My Lord the cat.”
= Hin und weg von Mylord, dem Kater.
(Bwahaha! Google Translate gives a very funny translation for this:
“Toward and away from my Lord, the hangover.”)

“sleek and gray” = schlank und grau

“prettier than a morning sky” = hübscher als der Morgenhimmel

“mangy” = räudig

I love Shannon Hale’s use of language, and it translates well here:
“they wheezed like startled snakes”
= sie schnauften wie afgeschreckte Schlangen

“petted” = gestreichelt

“never occurred to me before” = ist mir zuvor nie in den Kopf gekommen
(“has to me before never in my head come.”)

“rim of ice” = Eisschicht

“bucket” = Eimer

“funeral” = Begräbnis

“a lower tone” = eine tiefere Tonlage

“high harmony” = hohen Akkorden

“rolled up” = hüllte

“smothered” = erstickte

“my jaw was hammering” = pochte es in meinem Kiefer
(“throbbed it in my jaw”)

“reindeer” = Elchfell

“what I gave him in return” = was ich ihm im Gegenzug gab

“crumble into a heap of ash” = zu einem Häufchen Asche verbrenne

I’m going to stop there — just before a much longer section, Day 158. (I’m going to read it in English to myself, though, before I shut the book. It’s a dramatic part!)

May you be so happy this week that you can say, Mein Herz ist so leicht, dass es in der Luft schwebt und mich trägt, sodass meine Füße nicht laufen müssen.

Meanwhile, ich singe den ganzen Tag.

Bis bald!

Sonderling Sunday – We Need to Talk!

Sunday, September 6th, 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. Sort of a Traveler’s Phrasebook for Very Silly People.


This week we’re back to the book that started it all, The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy, otherwise known as Der Orden der seltsamen Sonderlinge.

We left off last time in the middle of chapter 18 on page 239, Seite 303, with Nora about to whisper the immortal words, “We need to talk.”

Confess! Don’t you think it would be useful to know how to say this in German? And yet, I’m guessing you won’t find it in your normal run-of-the-mill traveler’s phrasebook. (What a travesty!)

And the translation is:
Wir müssen uns unterhalten.

Here’s a not-surprising response to that:
“Jo was in no mood for it.”
= Jo war eigentlich nicht in der richtigen Stimmung dafür.

“Nora insisted” = Nora blieb hartnäckig (“Nora stayed obstinate.”)
(This looks to me as if it’s related to hard-naked, but I don’t think it actually is.)

“floorboards” = Bodenbretter

“crawl spaces” = Kriechräume

“chimney” = Schornstein

“She was exhausted, her nerves frayed.”
= Sie war erschöpft und angespannt.
(“She was exhausted and tense.”)

And who knows when you might need to say this?
“underground cathedral” = unterirdische Kathedrale

This one’s handy:
“just in case” = Sicherheitshalber
(“Safety’s sake”)

The translator sacrificed some flair here:
“Fear dripped slowly into Jo’s heart.”
= Furcht durchströmte Jo.
(“Fear flowed through Jo.”)

“All-Devouring” = All-Verschlingenden

“favorite topic” = Lieblingsthema

“stitch her back together” = sie wieder zusammenflicken

“disturbing” = erschütternd

“fuse” = verschmelzen

This seems like a long way to say it:
“And here’s how”
= Und zwar folgendermaßen
(“And indeed follows-reasonably”)

I hope you never need to say this:
“They sucked out all his blood”
= Sie saugten ihm all sein Blut aus

“unpredictable powers” = unvorstellbare Macht

“boiling over” = übergekocht ist

“It drove him crazy.”
= Sie hat ihn in den Wahnsinn getrieben.

“stinger” = Stachel

This could be useful:
“I know it doesn’t make sense”
= Ich weiß, dass es nicht logisch klingt

“beak” = Schnaubel

“Her fear hardened into anger.”
= Dann schlug ihre Furcht in Wut um.

“thighs” = Schenkel

“revenge” = Rache

“coffin” = Sarg

“revulsion” = Ekel

“shrank” = schrumpfen

“helpless feeling” = ohnmächtigen Gefühl (“without-power feeling”)

This sounds grand:
“Jo suspected her choices counted for nothing”
= Jo vermutete, dass ihre Entscheidungen keinerlei Konsequenzen hatten
(“Jo suspected that her decisions no consequences had”)

“quietly panicked” = kämpfte stumm gegen ihre Panik
(“fought silently against her panic”)

I hope you won’t need to say this:
“a moist sucking sound” = ein feuchtes, saugendes Geräusch

“snoring” = schnarchten (Isn’t that a much better word for “snoring”?)

“The snuffling got louder.” = Das Schniefen wurde lauter.

“engorged” = vergrößert

“a shapeless mass of skin and fat and veins”
= eine formlose Masse aus Haut und Fett und Adern

“something long, pale, and scabby”
= etwas Langes, Blasses und Schuppiges

You can see how this had to be changed:
“inched out”
= Zentimeter um Zentimeter herauskam
(“centimeter by centimeter came out”)

And I’ve finished up Chapter 18. Here’s hoping that knowing how to say these things will invoke Murphy’s Law, and you’ll never have occasion to say them! Aber Sicherheitshalber…

Sonderling Sunday – Pu der Bär – Hunting the Wuschel

Monday, August 24th, 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, sort of a Silly Phrasebook for Travelers.


This week, I’m going back to one of my favorite books, Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne, otherwise known as Pu der Bär.

Last time we looked at Pu, we finished Chapter 2, about Pooh getting stuck in a very tight place. So this time we will cover Chapter 3, “In Which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle” = In welchem Pu und Ferkel auf die Jagd gehen und beinahe ein Wuschel fangen.

Oh! This is my opportunity to see what the translator did with the elaborate joke about Piglet’s Uncle “Trespassers William.”


It’s a pretty straight translation, just using a different name.

For research, I used Google Translate to see what “Trespassers will be prosecuted.” would be in German. Google came up with Strafrechtlich verfolgt wird. Maybe “v” is for verfolgt?

“it was short for Trespassers Will”
= es sei die Abkürzung von Betreten Vic

“which was short of Trespassers William”
= welches die Abkürzung von Betreten Victor sei.

“And his grandfather had had two names in case he lost one”
= Und sein Großvater habe zwei Namen gehabt, für den Fall, dass er mal einen verlöre

“Trespassers after an uncle, and William after Trespassers.”
= Betreten nach einem Onkel und Victor nach Betreten.

“carelessly” = leichtsinnig

A good phrase to know:
“Well, there you are, that proves it.”
= Siehst du, das beweist es ja.

“Pooh was walking round and round in a circle”
= Pu ging immer im Kreis herum

“tracking” = spüre

This is straightforward, but I like it:
“That’s just what I ask myself. I ask myself, What?”
= Genau das frage ich mich auch. Ich frage mich: Was?

“What do you think you’ll answer?”
Und was, glaubst du, wirst du dir antworten?

“paw-marks” = Pfotenabdrücke

“He gave a little squeak of excitement.”
= Es quiekte leicht vor Aufregung.

This is classic Pooh. Not quite the same in German:
“‘It may be,’ said Pooh. ‘Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. You never can tell with paw-marks.'”
= »Könnte sein«, sagte Pu. »Manchmal ist es das und manchmal ist es das nicht. Bei Pfotenabdrücken kann man nie wissen.«

“was bending over the tracks in a puzzled sort of way”
= beugte sich verblüfft über die Spuren
(“bent himself perplexedly over the tracks”)

“Hostile Animals” = feindselige Tiere
(The translator did not retain the Meaningful Use of Capital Letters.)

“a small spinney of larch trees”
= ein kleines Dickicht aus Lärchenbäumen
(Ah! Now I can find out what a “spinney” is! Dickicht = “thicket.”)

“what his grandfather Trespassers W had done to Remove Stiffness after Tracking”
= was sein Großvater Betreten V gegen Steifheit in den Gliedern nach der Spurensuche unternommen hatte

“Shortness of Breath”
= Kurzatmigkeit

Again, classic Pooh:
“It is either Two Woozles and one, as it might be, Wizzle, or Two, as it might be, Wizzles and one, if so it is, Woozle.”
= Es sind entweder zwei Wuschel und ein, falls es das ist, Wischel oder zwei, falls sie das sind, Wischel und ein, falls es das ist, Wuschel.

“Hostile Intent” = feindselig Absichten

“muddled” = vermengten

“The tracks of four sets of paws”
= die Spuren von vier Pfotenpaaren

“it brought very little comfort”
= dies wenig Trost brachte

Just in case you need to say this:
“I have just remembered something that I forgot to do yesterday and shan’t be able to do tomorrow.”
= Mir ist etwas eingefallen, was ich gestern zu tun vergessen habe und was ich morgen nicht tun kann.

“dear old Pooh” = liebster, bester Pu

“Silly old Bear” = Dummer alter Bär

“I see now.” = Jetzt verstehe ich.

“I have been Foolish and Deluded.”
= Ich war ein verblendeter Narr.
(“I was a deluded fool.”)

This doesn’t have the same ring to it:
“I am a Bear of No Brain at All.”
= Ich bin ein Bär ohne jeden Verstand.
(“I am a bear without any understanding.”)

“You’re the Best Bear in All the World.”
= Du bist der beste Bär der ganzen Welt.

“And then he brightened up suddenly.”
= Und dann erhellte sich plötzlich seine Miene.

Perhaps the most useful phrase of all:
“Anyhow, it is nearly Luncheon Time.”
= Auf jeden Fall, ist es schon fast Zeit zum Mittagessen.

Auf jeden Fall, ist es schon fast Mitternacht. Gute Nacht! Till next time!

Sonderling Sunday – No Longer Exiled

Sunday, August 9th, 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. Sort of a Traveler’s Phrasebook for Very Silly People.

Sonderlinge 1

This week, I’m back to my stand-by, the ever-so-Sonder Der Orden der seltsamen Sonderlinge, by James KennedyThe Order of Odd-Fish.

Last time, we left off with some alliterative headlines. Jo has learned that Aunt Lily is no longer exiled!

We’re on page 236 in the original English version, Seite 298 auf Deutsch.

As usual, we’ll look at whatever interesting phrases catch my eye. Trust me, this won’t give away the plot — though I do hope it intrigues a few people.

Let’s start with the key word:
“exiled” = verbannt

As in:
“This means you’re not exiled any more?”
= Das bedeutet, du bist nicht mehr verbannt?

May you never need to use this sentence:
“The mayor’s dropped the case.”
= Der Bürgermeister hat den Fall eingestellt.

But this is a good phrase to know:
“For now, at least.” = Jedenfalls fürs Erste.

Oh, I like this word!
“nap” = Mittagsschläfchen (“midday-little-sleep”)

Another useful phrase:
“Are you crazy?” = Bist du verrückt geworden?

“she whispered fiercely” = flüsterte sie hitzig

Oo, I like how this sounds in German:
“That the Silent Sisters have gone away?”
= Dass die Stummen Schwestern verschwunden wären?

“They are all on the move.”
= Sie alle sind sehr umtriebig.
(“They all are very go-getting.”)

I hope you don’t need this sentence:
“But I’m living a lie!”
= Aber ich lebe in einer Lüge!

I’ve mentioned this before, but still like knowing the word:
“Inconvenience” = Ärgernis

“people who’ve been sticking their necks out for you”
= die Leute, die für dich ihren Hals riskiert haben

Again, I hope you don’t have reason to say this, but best to be prepared:
“It’s the worst possible plan!”
= Es ist sogar der schlimmstmögliche Plan!

Think about the situation where you might want to say this!
“prying at a mishmash of intertwined mechanisms.”
= wühlte in einem Haufen miteinander verhakter mechanischer Teile.
(“rummaged in a heap together entangled mechanical parts.”)

I always like James Kennedy’s lists of interesting phrases:
“Months of silence, of awkward pauses, of avoiding the topic broke down.”
= All die Monate des Schweigens, der verlegenen Pausen, der Vermeidung dieses Themas forderten ihren Tribut.
(“All these months of silence, the embarrassed pauses, the avoidance of these themes demanded their tribute.”)

“the least thing” = der kleinste Kleinigkeit

“Her face had warped and sagged.”
= Ihr Gesicht war verzerrt und eingefallen.

I like this word:
“Doorknob” = Türknauft

“escape” = Fluchtweg (“flight-way”)

“sheepish” = schüchtern

“No hard feelings?” = Kein Groll?

Here’s a grand collection of long words!
“Minor difference of interpretation of city ordinances.”
= Das waren nur unbedeutende Meinungsverschiedenheiten hinsichtlich der Interpretation der Stadtverordnungen

And we’ll finish with the end of the scene:
“Jo left the room as quickly as possible and didn’t look back.”
= Doch Jo veließ den Raum so schnell wie möglich und blickte nicht zurück.

If you are ever verbannt, I hope your exile will be lifted quickly. Bis bald!

Sonderling Sunday – Der Lorax, Part Three

Sunday, August 2nd, 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, I’m going to take another look at Der Lorax, by Dr. Seuss.


Last year, I found a German version of this classic when I shopped at Powell’s in Portland, and I looked at the beginning of the book, and then the second part. It is time to push onward!

With The Lorax, it’s fun to do sections at a time, because this is poetry! I’ll include the original, the translation, and then give an idea of how the translation reads, literally.

I had just finished the part where the Once-ler had laid out his Thneed Scheme.

“‘I repeat,’ cried the Lorax,
‘I speak for the trees!’
‘I’m busy,’ I told him.
‘Shut up, if you please.'”

= „Ich sprech’ für die Bäume,
den die Bäume sind stumm!‟
„Tut mir leid, ich hab’s eilig,
und schrei nicht so rum.‟

(“I speak for the trees,
for the trees are silent!
I’m sorry, I’m in a hurry,
and don’t shriek so loud.”)

I like it when the translator makes up words. Since, after all, Dr. Seuss does the same.

“I rushed ‘cross the room, and in no time at all,
built a radio-phone. I put in a quick call.
I called all my brothers and uncles and aunts
and I said, “Listen here! Here’s a wonderful chance
for the whole Once-ler Family to get might rich!
Get over here fast! Take the road to North Nitch.
Turn left at Weehawken. Sharp right at South Stitch.”

Ich rannte durchs Zimmer und baute ganz fix
ein Funktelefon, in null Komma nix.
Ich rief meine Brüder und Onkel und Tanten.
„Ich hab sie, die Chance für alle Verwandten!
Die Einstler-Familie wird saumäßig reich!
Kommt schnell, fahrt Richtung Nordwudelwaldeich,
biegt ab bei Hühhotten, scharf rechts bei Südschleich.‟

(“I ran across the room and built entirely
a radio-telephone, in zero point zero.
I called my brothers and uncles and aunts.
‘I have for you the chance for all the relatives!
The Onceler Family will be lousy rich!
Come quickly, drive in the direction of North-wudel-forest-oak,
turn off at Hoo-hotten, sharp right at South-creeping.'”)

“And, in no time at all,
in the factory I built,
the whole Once-ler Family
was working full tilt.
We were all knitting Thneeds
just as busy as bees,
to the sound of the chopping
of Truffula Trees.”

Schon bald strickte dort
in der neuen Fabrik
die Einstler-Familie
im Schichtbetrieb.
Wir strickten die Schnäuchte,
die Nadel klackte
zum Takt der Axt, die die Bäume hackte.

(“Soon knitted there
in the new factory
the Onceler Family
in shift-work.
We knitted the Thneeds,
the needles clacked
to the beat of the axes, that the trees hacked.”)

It’s fun to see what they do with this:

Oh! Baby! Oh!
How my business did grow!
Now, chopping one tree
at a time
was too slow.
So I quickly invented the Super-Axe-Hacker
which whacked off four Truffula Trees at one smacker.”

Und dann ging es los …
Mein lieber Schwan!
Der Laden fing zu brummen an!
Doch nur eine Axt
war mir viel zu lahm.
Schnell erfand ich das Super-Axt-Abhackmobil.
Das fällte die Bäume, gleich viermal so viel!

(“And then it began…
my lovely swan!
The shop started to grow!
But only one axe
was for me much to lame.
Quickly invented I the Super-Axe-Hack-Down-Mobile.
That felled the trees, four times as much!”)

When the Lorax comes back:

“He snapped, ‘I’m the Lorax who speaks for the trees
which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please.
But I’m also in charge of the Brown Bar-ba-loots
who played in the shade in their Bar-ba-loot suits
and happily lived, eating Truffula fruits.

‘NOW . . . thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground,
there’s not enough Truffula Fruit to go ’round.
And my poor Bar-ba-loots are all getting the crummies
because they have gas, and no food, in their tummies!'”

= „Ich bin der Lorax, der die Bäume vertritt,
die du schneidest mit deinem Hackebeilschnitt.
Doch ich spreche
auch für die Braunfelliwullis,
die glücklich in ihren Braunfellipullis
die Nüsse naschten im Trüffelaschatten
und immer genügend zu essen hatten.

Doch seit DU hier anfingst, die Bäume zu hacken,
sitzt den Braunfelliwullis der Hunger im Nacken.
Die armen Kleinen, was sollen sie machen?
Mit knurrendem Magen gibt’s nichts zu lachen.‟

(“I am the Lorax, who the trees represents,
which you cut with your Cleaver-Cutter.
But I speak also for the Brown-felli-woolies,
who happily in their Brown-felli-pullovers
the nuts nibbled in the Truffula shadows
and always enough to eat had.

But since YOU here started, the trees to hack,
sit the Brown-felli-woolies with hunger in their necks.
The poor littles, what shall they do?
With growling stomachs there’s nothing to laugh about.”)

And we’ll finish on a sad note as the Brown Bar-ba-loots walk off:

“I, the Once-ler, felt sad
as I watched them all go.
BUT . . .
business is business!
And business must grow
regardless of crummies in tummies, you know.”

= Ich war etwas traurig,
da gingen sie nun.
Geschäft ist Geschäft!
Da kann man nichts tun.
Ob mit oder ohne Geknurre im Magen:
Geschäft ist Geschäft
kann ich da nur sagen.

(“I was somewhat sad,
there they went now.
Business is business!
You can’t do anything about that.
With or without growling in stomachs:
Business is business
can I only say.”)

I’ll stop there for tonight!

Now you know a slightly more polite way to shut someone up!
Tut mir leid, ich hab’s eilig,
und schrei nicht so rum.

Bis bald!

Sonderling Sunday – Headlines!

Sunday, July 19th, 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. Sort of a Traveler’s Phrasebook for Very Silly People.


This week, I’m back to the book that inspired Sonderling Sunday, The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy, the most Sonder book of them all, Der Orden der seltsamen Sonderlinge.

This is my first week back after two and a half weeks of vacation on the west coast (which was great!), so once again I’ll have to keep it short. But there’s enough time for a little fun.

Last time I left off on page 234 in the English edition, Seite 295 auf Deutsch. I am in the middle of Chapter 18.

The first sentence I had to look up in German reveals no surprise I didn’t understand it:
Sir Alasdair übte oben auf seinem Urk-ack.
= “Sir Alasdair was practicing his urk-ack upstairs.”

“stopped hammering, drilling, and sawing” = aufhörten zu hämmern, zu bohren oder zu sägen

Don’t you want to know how to say this?
“the mellow tones of the urk-ack”
= die sanften Töne des Urk-ack

I still like long German words:
“pounded up and down”
= hinauf- und hinunterpolterten

“Inconvenience” = Ärgernis

This doesn’t sound like what it means:
“comfortable silence” = behagliches Schweigen

“often distracted” = häufig abgelenkt

“cot” = Pritsche

I’m not sure why this place-name was translated this way:
“Snoodsbottom” = Bilgental

“the important thing” = die Entscheidende

Here’s a good one!
“hopping mad” = fuchsteufelswild

“Girl Scout” = Pfadfinderin (“pathfinder girl”)

“brawl” = herumprügele

Another good phrase to know:
“That all sounds grand” = Das klingt alles ganz großartig

“bravely” = tapfer

“etiquette” = Verhaltensregeln (“behavior-rules”)

And I like how this sounds:
“Aunt Lily raised an eyebrow.”
= Tante Lily hob die Brauen.

And I have to list how the alliterative headlines were translated:




(Not bad.)

That’s all I have time for tonight! But it’s good to be back! I am häufig abgelenkt, but die Entscheidende is to get back to it!

Sonderling Sunday – Jinx und der magische Urwald

Sunday, June 7th, 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, I’ve got the third book of the Jinx trilogy waiting for me to read it, so in the spirit of anticipation, today I’m going to look again at the translation of the first book, Jinx und der magische Urwald.


When I started looking at Jinx, we left off on page 6 in the English version, Seite 12 in German.

It’s all in the name of handy-dandy phrases to know:

“valuable curse” = wertvollen Fluch

“the fear was ripply with greed” = seine Angst kräuselte sich vor Gier

“a crunching sound” = ein Knacken zu hören

“terrifying gloom” = schaurige Finsternis

“a rotten cabbage leaf” = ein verfaultes Kohlblatt

“the hollow scrabble of clawed feet on the forest earth”
= das dumpfe Scharren von Tatzen auf dem Waldboden

“Several things happened at once.”
= In diesem Moment passierten mehrere Dinge gleichzeitig.
(“In this moment passed more things at the same time.”)

“heavy, ragged breathing” = schwerem, keuchendem Atem

“a smell like rotting meat” = Verwesungsgeruch
(I like that there’s a single word for this. “Decay-smell”)

“they were so big and tusky”
= sie waren riesig und hatten gewaltige Stoßzähne
(“they were giant and had huge tusks”)

This is more dramatic in German:
“The wizard reached out and grabbed Jinx.”
= Blitzschnell packte der Zauberer Jinx.
(“Lightning-fast grabbed the magician Jinx.”)

And here’s another cool single word:
“cloud of calm” = Ruhewolke

And again:
“howled with glee” = johlten

But then this takes more:
“and danced about” = und vollführten einen Freudentanz
(“and performed a joy-dance”)

“breeze” = Luftzug

“swallowed up” = verschluckt

This time the translation seems slightly stronger:
“the smell of rotting meat” = der Verwesungsgestank

“a very small thing” = eine Winzigkeit

Interesting! The translator completely left out a sentence: “He assumed that everyone did this and that everyone could see what he saw.” Then again, I’m using an Advance Review Copy of the book, and it’s quite possible that sentence was left out of the final version of the book.

A sonder-sentence:
“I don’t expect you’ll miss him very much”
= Du wirst ihn bestimmt nicht sonderlich vermissen
(“You will him certainly not especially miss”)

“a red cloud of anger” = eine rote Wutwolke

“But now what?” = Aber was nun?

“clearings” = Lichtungen

“stealthy rustlings” = verstohlene Geräusche

“I have some bad habits.”
= Ich habe ein paar schlecte Angewohnheiten

There! That finishes Chapter One of Jinx

Aber was nun? Here’s hoping this week you encounter more Ruhewolken than Wutwolken.