Sonderling Sunday – Das Buch der Tausend Tage

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! – Otherwise known as Nerdy Sonntag. That’s when I play with language by finding German translations of useless and interesting phrases in children’s books.

I’m going to do something a little different tonight. I got the idea of Sonderling Sunday thanks to the brilliant and kind James Kennedy sending me a copy of his book Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the translation of The Order of Odd-Fish. It even has Sonderlinge in the title!

But, let’s face it, it’s taking a long time to go through the book! That’s because my German is definitely not fluent, and it takes me time to wade through the text, find interesting phrases to use, and such. Now, I have quite a collection of German books, and recently the fabulous Shannon Hale sent me a copy of one of my all-time favorite books, Book of a Thousand Days, translated into German, Das Buch der Tausend Tage.

So, here’s what I think I’ll do: Every other week, I’ll go back to Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge and continue to slowly make my way through it. But on alternate weeks, I’ll look at other books, such as the delightful translation, Winnie der Pu, the Harry Potter series, and another all-time favorite, Momo, by Michael Ende, which was originally written in German. (Right now, my son has taken it with him to the dorm. But all in good time.)

Tonight, in appreciation to Shannon Hale for her kind gift, and because I’ve been itching to get to it, I will begin with Das Buch der Tausend Tage.

I took this picture when she sent me Das Buch der Tausend Tage along with an Advance Reader Copy of Palace of Stone.

Let’s start with stats. As always, the German version is longer. In English, we’ve got 308 pages, contrasted with 319 in German. So it’s not a big difference, but the German print is somewhat smaller.

As with Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, I will try not to give any spoilers, but do hope that I’ll pick some intriguing sentences and phrases that will motivate some readers to pick up the book.

I think it’s nice to start off with the first section. “Part One, The Tower” is Erster Teil, Der Turm In English, we have:

Day 1

My lady and I are being shut up in a tower for seven years.

Lady Saren is sitting on the floor, staring at the wall, and hasn’t moved even to scratch for an hour or more. Poor thing. It’s a shame I don’t have fresh yak dung or anything strong-smelling to scare the misery out of her.

The men are bricking up the door, and I hear them muttering and scraping cement. Only a small square of unbricked sky and light still gape at me. I smile back at its mean grin to show I’m not scared. Isn’t it something, all the trouble they’re going to for us? I feel like a jewel in a treasure box, though my lady is the —

Auf Deutsch:

Tag 1

Meine Herrin und ich werden für sieben Jahre in einen Turm gesperrt.

Lady Saren sitzt auf dem Boden, starrt die Mauer an und hat sich seit einer Stunde nicht mal gekratzt. Die Ärmste, Schade, dass ich keinen frischen Yak-Fladen oder etwas anderes streng Riechendes habe. Ich möchte sie erschrecken, damit sie ihr Elend vergisst.

Die Männer mauern die Tür zu. Ich höre, wie sie murmeln und kratzend den Zement verteilen. Oben klafft nur noch ein kleines, nicht zugemauertes Viereck aus Himmel und Licht. Ich lächele gegen sein gemeines Grinsen an, um zu zeigen, dass ich mich nicht fürchte. Das ist doch schon mal was, dass sie sich unseretwegen so viel Mühe geben. Ich fühle mich wie ein Edelstein in einer Schmuckschatulle, obwohl ja meine Herrin der. . .

Ah, did I think the less bizarre story would yield less interesting phrases to talk about? The beginning has already born fruit. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know how to say “fresh yak dung,” frischen Yak-Fladen, in German? Some more:

“hasn’t even moved to scratch for an hour or more” = hat sich seit einer Stunde nicht mal gekratzt (The translator’s gone briefer in German — “has for an hour not once scratched.”)

“Poor thing.” = Die Ärmste

“scraping cement” = kratzend den Zement verteilen (“scratching the cement to distribute” — see that same root earlier in gekratzt? It’s a good sound for “scratch”!)

“gape” = oben klafft

“a jewel in a treasure box” = ein Edelstein in einer Schmuckschatulle

Going on:

“stupor” = Lähmung (How lame!)

“clawing” = krallte

“trying to shove her way out” = sich mit aller Kraft in die Freiheit zu schieben (“with all her strength in freedom to push”)

“Like an angry piglet.” = Wie ein wütendes Ferkel.

“Stay until your heart softens like long-boiled potatoes.” = Du bleibst da drin, bis dein Herz weich wird wie Kartoffeln, die zu lang gekocht wurden. (“You stay in there, until your heart becomes soft like potatoes, that were too long boiled.” Hmm. A little more awkward that way. But aren’t you glad to know how to say it?)

“to kill you on sight” = dich augenblicklich zu töten

This has a ring to it:
“to think about disobedience” = dir deinen Ungehorsam auszutreiben (“to drive out your disobedience”)

“Until you are meek with regret” = Ehe du nicht lammfromm wirst vor Reue

“feisty ram” = widerspenstigen Bock

This one’s a bit better in English:
“skinny as a skinned hare” = mager wie ein gehäuteter Hase

“the calming song” = das Trostlied

“snoring on my lap” = schnarchend auf meinen Scho?

I like this in both languages:
“Sticky sobs shake my lady even while she sleeps.” = Meine Herrin wird im Schlaf von schwerem Schluchzen geschüttelt. (“My lady in sleep from heavy sobs shakes.”)

“metal flap” = Eisenklappe

“chamber pot” = Nachttopf (“night pot”)

“mucker” = Aratenmädchen

So, that’s a good start! I’m looking forward to attempting to use such handy-dandy phrases as frischen Yak-fladen, das Trostlied, ein Edelstein in einer Schmuckschatulle, wie ein wütendes Ferkel and especially schnarchend auf meinen Scho?.

Tune in next week, as we’ll find out more about what the Belgische Scherzkeks is up to!

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