Sonderling Sunday – Chapter 10 – Back with the Belgische Scherzkeks

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday – That time when I let you know the German translation of various bizarre phrases using the book Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the translation of The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy.

I left off at the start of Chapter Ten, 10. Kapitel, page 101 and Seite 129. The start of this chapter is a good way to start the blog post.

Das alles ist ja nun ganz gut und schön, aber was hat es eigentlich mit dem Belgischen Scherzkeks auf sich?

In English, that is:

This is all well and good, but what about the Belgian Prankster?

Now, I won’t answer the question, but I’ll give you some phrases that pop up:

“hottest controversy” = hitzigsten Diskussionen

“sprawling” = ausgedehntes

This one’s much longer in German:
“interlinked airborne platforms” = miteinander verbundener schwebender Plattformen (“with one another bound together floating platforms”)

“a terrifyingly scarred Icelandic assassin” = ein schrecklich vernarbter isländischer Meuchelmörder

“steel-toothed” = Stahlzähne

“a noseless Nigerian explosives expert” = einem nasenlosen nigerianischen Sprengstoffexperten

“massive-headed” = mit einem Wasserkopf (“with a water-head”)

Why did I never learn this? “men’s toilet” = Männerklo

Oh, I’m afraid I don’t think this line of translation is up to snuff:
“And you are a Boobly-Boobly-Boo-Boo” = Und du bist ein alter Schaumschläger

And here’s something of a tongue-twister:
»Ein Schaumschläger!«, schäumte der Chinese. = “‘A boobly-boobly-boo-boo?’ raged Ken Kiang.”

Based on Google, that’s something like “a foam-batter!” foamed the Chinese.

I like this one:
“corner booth” = Ecknische (“corner niche”)

“audacious” = abgebrühter (“hard-boiled”)

“vengeance” = Vergeltung (“payback”)

“fluorescent lights” = Neonlampen

“tiny paws” = winzigen Pfötchen

“fate’s plaything” = ein Spielball des Schicksals

“satanic roar” = satanischen Brausens

“jokester” = Witzbold

“inscrutable” = undurchdringlichen

“errand boy” = Laufbursche

Here’s a fun one:
“Well, la-dee-da.” = Na gut, heiliger Bimbam.

Well, that’s all for tonight!

My thought for today: If I’m in a special corner booth, then we must have:

Sondra Eklund in einer Sonderecknische.

Tune in next week for more handy-dandy things to know!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter 9 – Yet More Silliness

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That’s the post where we take a Sonderfahrt, a special trip, through the pages of Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the German translation of James Kennedy‘s The Order of Odd-Fish, and glean from it a collection of delightfully useless German phrases.

You do not have to speak German to enjoy Sonderling Sunday. You should be able to enjoy the sounds of the language and the alternate way of thinking of things.

You do not need to have read The Order of Odd-Fish. I will not include spoilers, but I do hope that the phrases selected will intrigue readers enough that they will decide to get a copy of the book and read it.

The point? To be pointless! This seems delightfully in keeping with a book about an order that prides itself on researching an Appendix of unreliable and useless information.

We left off on page 90 of The Order of Odd-Fish and Seite 115 of Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge.

The first interesting translation that catches my eye is the imaginary country of the “Glovians” is translated die Handschuträger (“the glove carriers”)

Going on, some interesting words:
“slippery” = glitschig

“unexpectedly light-headed” = überraschenderweise schwindlig (“surprisingly dizzy”)

“backyard” = Hinterhof

“blueprints” = Blaupausen

“outsiders” = Au?enstehenden (“out standers”)

“unassuming” = unauffälligen

“disbanded” = Gerichtsverfahren (“legal proceedings”)

“It had a nice ring.” = Es klang irgendwie hübsch.

I like all the alliteration in the German sentence here:
“What manner of world were we passing on to them?” = Welche Welt würden wir ihnen hinterlassen?

“inconveniences” = unliebsame Vorkommnisse (Note: A couple of sentences ago, “inconvenience” was translated Ärgernis, so I suspect this translation is for variety. It literally means “unwelcome events.”)

“feed it to a walrus” = verfüttert es an ein Walross (There! Didn’t you want to know how to say that?)

“marvelously irksome” = bewundernswert ärgerlich (“wonders-worth annoying”)

“exquisitely obnoxious” = ausgesprochen nervenaufreibend ärgerliche (“very nerve-wracking annoying”)

“It annoys with panache.” = Es verärgert mit Verve.

“spluttered” = platzte

“you took an oath” = haben Sie einen Eid geleistet

“trombones, drums, violins” = Posaunen, Trommeln, Geigen

“greasy sheet music” = fettiges Notenblatt

“I’d’ve tied his arms and legs in a knot and used him as a tuffet!” = Ich hätte seine Arme und Beine zu einem Knoten gebunden und ihn als Muff benutzt!

“I’d’ve swung him around by his hair until I took off like a helicopter” = Ich hätte ihn an seinen Haaren herumgeschleudert, bis ich wie ein Helikopter in die Luft gestiegen wäre

“deflate” = zusammenzusinken (“together to sink”)

“blithering like a madman” = herumzuschreien wie ein Verrückter

“we butlers are run off our feet” = wir Butler haben uns Fü?e wundgelaufen

“curled up” = zusammengerollt (“together rolled”)

“orchestra of cockroaches” = Kakerlakenorchesters (I wonder if that word has ever been used before?)

“doze” = Schläfchen

“flailing limbs” = herumfliegenden Gliedma?en

“whirled away in the shouting, stomping throng” = von der grölenden, stampfenden Meute weggerissen

“clumsy and exhilarated” = ungeschickt und berauscht

“were smashed” = zerbarsten

“unchallenged” = unbehelligt

“ungainly” = ungelenker

“unruly” = ungebärdigen

“quietly filed out” = verlie?en ruhig im Gänsemarsch (“left quietly in goose-step”)

So, many of those phrases klang irgendwie hübsch, don’t you think? I find I’m not stopping as often, since I understood more of the sentences, so perhaps I’ll finish the book sometime in the next decade after all!

Now, which of these phrases can you work into everyday conversation in the next week or so? I’m going to try überraschenderweise schwindlig or perhaps zusammenzusinken.

And let me leave you with this thought: Welche Welt würden wir ihnen hinterlassen?

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter 9 – Meeting the Sonderlinge

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! I missed last week because it was my youngest son’s 18th birthday! (Where oh where does the time go?) That reminds me of a funny thing about Germans and birthdays. Did you know that German kids sing “Happy Birthday” in English? Perhaps it was just my landlady’s family, since she grew up around Americans, but I suspect it was more widespread, because the small children who attended this birthday party in 1998 knew the words to the English “Happy Birthday” song.

(The cutie in the bottom right corner is my son, who is now 18 years old.) I believe the birthday girl was 5 years old, and we were so surprised at how well the small children sang in English. I suppose, bottom line, it’s hard to fit Alles gute zum Geburtstag into a nice song.

But back to Sonderling Sunday, the time when I play with language and supply you with delightfully useless phrases to know in German by looking at the translation of James Kennedy‘s The Order of Odd-Fish, Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, a truly Sonderbook.

We left off two weeks ago in the middle of chapter 9, on page 86 in English, and Seite 110 auf Deutsch.

Last time, we learned several different translations for “dithering,” as the knights of the Order of Odd-fish discussed Sir Oliver’s six-hundred-thousand-page dissertation on the subject. I still find it interesting and not at all surprising that Germans don’t have as many different words for dithering as English speakers do.

Ah! There’s a lovely paragraph right at the start of this next section, so I’ll start off by quoting the whole thing:

The cockroaches swooped in, snatched away the soup bowls, and served plates heaping with a gooey stew. It was spicy and slimy, and after a few cautious bites, Jo decided she liked it.

That translates as:

Die Kakerlaken stürmten wieder in den Raum, entrissen allen die Suppenschüsseln und servierten Teller mit einem pappigen Eintopf. Er war würzig und schleimig und nach ein paar vorsichtigen Bissen kam Jo zu dem Schluss, dass sie ihn mochte.

Some of the goodies here:

“soup bowls” = Suppenschüsseln
“gooey stew” = pappigen Eintopf (“cardboardy one-pot”)
“slimy” = schleimig (Surely this is where we got the English word?)

Going on, there are more wonderfully useless phrases about being wonderfully useless:

“properly dubious” = angemessen zweifelhaft

“unreliable” = unzuverlässig

“useless” = nutzlos

“out of date” = überholt (shorter in German!)

“contradictory” = widersprüchlich (“speech against”)

“we never publish anything misleading” = wir niemals irgendetwas veröffentlichen, das auf eine falsche Fährte führen könnte (“we never publish anything that can send one on a wrong trip”)

“deliberately misleading” = vorsätzlich Irreführendes (See the root for trip still in there?)

I thought it was funny that with this sentence the German translator did not dither as much as in English:
“Which, er, isn’t too far, actually, sometimes.” = Was, genau genommen, manchmal nicht sonderlich weit ist. (“Which, strictly speaking, sometimes is not especially far.”)

This one sounds better in German:
“an unreliable reference book” = ein unzuverlässiges Lexikon

Here’s a fun one I didn’t know before:
“at once” = schlagartig

“Jo’s stomach dropped.” = Jo plumpste der Magen in die Kniekehlen. (“Jo flopped her stomach in the hollow of the knees.”)

“Rumors, leads, myths, things that are maybe true, maybe not.” = Gerüchte, vermutungen Mythen, Dinge, die vielleicht wahr sind, vielleicht aber auch nicht.

“whiskers” = Backenbart

“hiccups” = Schluckaufs

“dubious” = fragwürdig (“question worthy”)

“discredited metaphysics” = verrufene Metaphysiken

“It is spectacularly tiresome!” = Es ist ungeheuer ermüdend! (“It is monstrously tiresome!”)

“Some of my research positively sparkles with dullness.” = Etliche meiner Metaphysiken funkeln förmlich vor Trübsinn. (“Some of my metaphysics sparkles formally with gloom.”)

“arcane drudgery” = uralter Trübsal (“ancient sorrow”)

I like this translation:
“Oh ho ho, oh no, oh no!” = Nein und nochmals nein!” (“No, and again no!”)

“Jo couldn’t help but smile.” = Jo musste unwillkürlich lächeln. (“Jo must involuntarily smile.”)

“supreme distaste” = überlegenem Abscheu

“Jo gritted her teeth.” = Jo knirschte mit den Zähnen.

Here’s a nice concise way of putting it:
“wet with sweat” = schwei?nass.

“as Sir Alasdair dissolved into snuffling laughter” = während Sir Alasdair vor Lachen Schniefte (“as Sir Alasdair with laugher sniffed”)

That’s all I have time for tonight! I hope to meet the rest of the Order next week!

Meanwhile, here are some highlights:
Most fun to say: Suppenschüsseln, unzuverlässiges Lexikon, Schluckaufs
Best exclamation: Nein und nochmals nein!
Best figure of speech: Jo plumpste der Magen in die Kniekehlen.
Most concise: schwei?nass.

Bis nächste Woche!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter 9 – Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge at Last!

It’s time again for Sonderling Sunday! That time when I play with language by looking at James Kennedy‘s choice turns of phrase in The Order of Odd-Fish and how they are translated into German in Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge. We look at all the things you’d really like to be able to say in German!

Today I’m part way into Chapter 9, when Jo finally meets The Order of Odd-Fish. I’m on page 82 in English, and Seite 105 auf Deutsch.

We start off with a handy-dandy phrase that’s actually shorter in German, for once!
“dressed in tails” = im Frack

“unkempt” = ungebärdigen

“alarmingly tiny teeth” = beunruhigend winzige Zähne (unrestfully tiny teeth)

Here’s a good one, and candidate for longest word, at 18 letters:
“blare of trumpets” = Fanfarengeschmetter

And I love this one we’ve already seen:
“great shout” = Jubelschrei

“a bejeweled bib” sounds less silly in German: einer juwelenbesetzten Krawatte

Another one that gains a little dignity in translation:
“a trailing cape that looked like a doily gone berserk for seven feet” = ein Häkeldeckchen grö?enwahnsinnig geworden und hätte sich auf zwei Meter ausgedehnt (“a crocheted blanket gone hugely insane and extending behind them for two meters”)

I always like alliteration:
“clinking and jangling” = klingelten und klapperten

More about the trumpets, including an even longer word:
“The trumpets died down” = Die Trompetengeschmetter verstummte

“a multitiered mountain of buttons and bows and collars and jewelry and bustles” = einem vielschichtigen Werk aus Knöpfen, Schleifen, Kragen, Schmuck, Tournüren

“a billowing, flapping, teetering mass of crepe and silk and velvet” = einem wogenden, wehenden, schwankenden Berg aus Krepp, Seide und Samt

“imprisoned in a gigantic, nightmarish wedding cake” = in einen gigantischen, albtraumhaften Hochzeitskuchen eingesperrt

(Come on, doesn’t that just make you want to read the book?)

“firmly” = unerschütterlich

“Jo was starving” = Jo hatte einen Mordshunger (“Jo had a death-hunger.” I like that! Means the same thing, but a fresh take on it, nicht?)

“with a mild pork-plum flavor” = Sie schmeckte ein bisschen nach Schwein und Pflaumen (Well, usually German takes a few more words, I must admit.)

“wrinkles” = einige Falten aus ihrem Gesicht (“some folds on her face”)

“It is a pleasantly futile task.” = Es ist eine höchst erfreulich vergebliche Aufgabe.

“accuracy” = Genauigkeit

“to dither about” = herumzutändeln (I’m so glad I know how to translate that!)

“charter” = Gründungsurkunde (“founding certificate”)

Oh, and here’s a good sentence to say:
“The bit about dithering is the most important.” = Der Teil mit dem Tändeln ist der wichtigste.

“a society of ditherers” = eine Gesellschaft von Tändlern

Oh, and the response is worth quoting the full paragraph:

“You know — fiddling about, puttering, loafing. The Order of Odd-Fish has a long and distinguished history of dithering. Sir Oliver is the world’s foremost authority.”

Auf Deutsch:

»Ihr wisst schon, herumtrödeln, faulenzen, Zeit verbummeln. Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge hat eine lange und würdevolle Geschichte des Tändelns. Sir Oliver ist tändeltechnisch die führende Autorität weltweit.«

Now, you have to wonder if the word tändeltechnisch has ever been used before. It’s basically saying that on the technicalities of dithering, Sir Oliver is the foremost authority worldwide.

Breaking down the other key phrases, we have, of course:
“fiddling about” = herumtrödeln
“puttering” = faulenzen
“loafing” = Zeit verbummeln (“time idling away”)

Oh, and the title of Sir Oliver’s book provides us yet more:
Puttering, Muddling, and Mucking About: An Inquiry into Idleness” becomes Tändeln, Bummeln und Herumtrödeln: eine Untersuchung über den Mü?iggang

Now, they’re clearly using some of the same German words for different English ones. Perhaps they don’t have as many different words for dithering as English does? Knowing the German character of industry, I wouldn’t be surprised. But you definitely get the idea!

Speaking of Zeit verbummeln, my timer informs me I’ve already been at this an hour. There is much much delightful frippery left in the chapter, but I must stop for today.

Summing up, I hope this installment has given you insight into tändeltechnisch.

Longest word: Trompetengeschmetter
Shorter in German: im Frack
Most useful: einen Mordshunger

And of course summing up today’s entire discussion: Der Teil mit dem Tändeln ist der wichtigste.

May your herumzutändeln cause you a great Jubelschrei!

Bis zum nächsten Mal!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Nine – The Seltsamen Sonderlinge’s Squires

It’s time at last for another issue of Sonderling Sunday, where I play with words by looking Der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the German translation of James Kennedy‘s The Order of Odd-fish, and find translations that give interesting insights or are simply fun to say.

The title of this post is a warped German-English hybrid to say The Squires of The Order of Odd-fish. I plan to look at only the beginning section of Chapter Nine. We’ll see if I get carried away….

We’re beginning on page 78 in English, Seite 100 auf Deutsch.

Interesting. Here’s a pretty direct translation:
“homelier” = heimeliger (I wonder which word meant “ugly” first?)
“arched brass ceiling” = verzierten Messingempore (“ornate brass gallery” says Google)

I like this one. It’s so obvious:
“vines” = Schlingpflanzen = “sling plants”

“unidentifiable fruit” = undefinierbaren Früchten (“undefined fruit.” This appeals to my mathematical brain.)

This sentence has a candidate for longest word at 16 letters:
“It was as if they had all been stolen from different places.” = Die Teile schienen von überallher zusammengeklaubt worden zu sein.

More fun to say in German:
“filthy black robes” = schmutziger, schwarzer Roben

Here’s the word for Squires:
“Squires” = Knappen (Ah! So my sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Knapp, may have had a squire in his ancestry. Only in German, the K is pronounced.)

“precisely knotted bow tie” = einer sorgfältig gebundenen Fliege (Interesting. The word for “bow tie” is also the word for “fly.”)

Better in English:
“teetering trays” = beladenen Tabletts

Better auf Deutsch:
“rushing back and forth” = hin- und herhuschten (“there and here scurried”)

I’ve mentioned this one before but love it:
“tiptoe” = Zehenspitzen (“toe points”)

“discredited metaphysics” = Ungnade gefallene Metaphysik (“disgrace-befallen metaphysics”)

“a beloved eccentric.” = ein hochgeschätzter Exzentriker

“flash photography” = Fotos mit Blitzlicht (very descriptive, nicht?)

More fun to say in German:
“wooden stool” = hölzernen Hocker

“one weirdly birdlike” = der einem Vogel unheimlich ähnelte

“an unfortunate nose” = eine knubbelige Nase (“knobbly nose”)

I like this better in German, too. You could say your kid is in this, and it sounds mysterious and important:
“growth spurt” = Wachstumsphase

“perpetual stoop” = ständig gebückt

“babbling” = plapperte

“the Silent Sisters” = der Stummen Schwestern

Shorter in German!:
“a tattered tan corduroy jacket” = ein verschlissenes Cordsakko

Maybe a little more dignified in German?:
“the wispy beginnings of a mustache” = der erste Flaum eines Bartes (“the first fuzz of facial hair”)

That’s the end of the first section, and all I have time for tonight. To sum up:

Most logical: Schlingpflanzen
Most fun to say: hin- und herhuschten
Most descriptive: Fotos auf Blitzlicht
Best German short form: Cordsakko
Best Euphemism: der erste Flaum eines Bartes

Armed with this knowledge, I can aspire to be ein hochgeschätzter Exzentriker!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter 8 – Eldritch City At Last!

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday, loosely translated as “Nerdy Sonntag.” I hasten to add that you definitely do not need to be a German speaker to enjoy this series. Indeed, I wouldn’t really call myself a German speaker. This series is, quite simply, for people who love words. In it, I look at Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge and compare it with its original English version, The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy, to discover some bizarre and fun things about German and English and different ways of thinking about things and different combinations of wonderful sounds.

We are on Chapter Eight, which begins on page 65 in the English version and Seite 84 in the German. This is a long chapter, so I’m going to go straight to focusing on the most interesting sentences and phrases.

On the first page a fun one comes:
“Crashing into the ocean” = in den Ozean zu plumpsen

“pretty dull afterlife” = Ein ziemlich trübseliges Leben nach dem Tod (Google translates that as “a rather dreary life after death.”)

“The plane was destroyed, its hull torn and flooded with black, swirling seawater.” = Das Flugzeug war zerstört; der Rumpf war zerfetzt und von schäumendem schwarzem Meerwasser überflutet.

Just to clarify, here Rumpf is “hull”; zerfetzt is “torn,” and schäumendem is “swirling.”

This one is evocative:
“oily murk” = ölige Brühe (Be sure to put lots of “oo” and “ew” in those vowels.)

“floated” = herumdümpelten (“bobbed about”)

“waterlogged” = aufgeweichte (Google just translates this “softened.” Ewww.)

“soaked” = durchnässt (“through-wetted”)

“gash” = klaffenden Riss (“gaping cracks”)

“slimier” = irgendwie schleimiger und glitschiger (Google: “Somewhat slimier and slipperier” – I suspect we have a little elaboration here.)

I like this sentence. Perhaps some insight on where the word “wade” came from, not to mention “slimy”?
“Soon they were all wading in the slimy water.” = Kurz darauf wateten sie alle durch das schleimige Wasser.
Now, “slimy” sounds slimy. But schleimige?! You can almost feel it clinging to you.

“squishy” = matschig

More exquisite disgustingness:
“spilling juices” = aus denen Flüssigkeiten sickerten (“from which liquids leaked”)

For once the German is shorter:
“whoop of delight” = Jubelschrei (Now there’s a good name for a band.)

“treacherous goo” = verräterische Brühe

“rhapsodized” = schwärmte

Okay, say this a few times, just to savor the sounds:
“an enormous mucilaginous gorge” = eine gewaltige, schleimige Schlucht
(Has it struck you, like me, that English has more different words than German for the concept of “slimy”? But you have to give them that the one German word is really good.)

This paragraph is too fun in English not to mention:

“Wonders upon wonders!” said Colonel Korsakov. “I don’t recall eating a small law firm.”

Auf Deutsch:

»Wunder über Wunder!«, erklärte Oberst Korsakov. »Ich kann mich nicht erinnern, eine Anwaltskanzlei gegessen zu haben.«

“with a shiver” = dann fröstelnd ab

“Its crumbling bricks were crabbed with gray, sickly ivy, and cold thin mist twisted around.” = Die verfallenen Steine waren von krausem widerlichem Efeu überzogen und ein kalter, dünner Nebel wirbelte um das Haus.

“yellowed books” = vergilbten Büchern

“crumbling maps” = zerbröselnden Karten

“shattered chandelier” = zerborstener Kronleuchter (“burst crown-lights”)

“gangly” = schlaksig

Oh this is good:
“freckled” = Sommersprossen (“summer sprouts”)

Longest word candidate (19 letters):
“squinted at his visitors” = musterte seine Besucher aus zusammengekniffenen Augen (“looked at his visitors with together-narrowed eyes”)

“whimsical tomfoolery” = wunderlichen Albernheiten

“bony” = knorrige

“snug” = kuschelig Ah! “cushy”!

“puzzlement” = Verblüffung (I think I’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s so good.)

“jars” = Einmachgläsern

“floating” = schwammen

“stunned” = verblüfft

“violence” = Neigung zur Gewalttätigkeit (“inclination to violence”)

“questionable” = Fragwürdiges (“question worthy”)

This phrase is nice in German:
“Just the opposite” = Ganz in Gegenteil

A simple one that’s just fun to say:
“wondered” = nachgedacht (“thought after”)

Nice and alliterative:
“shook again” = erbebte erneut (“quaked anew”)

“Grunting, sweating, shouting” = Grunzend, schwitzend und brüllend

“sunset” = Sonnenuntergang (“sun downfall”)

“foaming river” = von Gischt schäumenden Fluss (“with spray foaming river”)

“booming and trumpeting” = mit viel Tamtam und Tschingderassa

“We would be run out of town.” = Wir würden geteert und gefedert aus der Stadt geworfen. (“We would be tarred and feathered and thrown out of the city.”)

“divert” = ablenken

“handlebar mustache” = Schnauzbart

“heave” = Kraftakt (“might act”)

“The applause outside was tremendous.” = Der Applaus war ohrenbetäubend. (“The applause was ear-numbing.”)

An even longer word, right at the end of the chapter:
“the screech of grinding metal, laughter and carousing” = das Kreischen von aneinanderschabendem Metall, Gelächter und Freudenschreie (“the screech of on-one-another-scraping metal, laughter and joy-cries”)

Very evocative:
“stuff myself” = mich vollzustopfen

And finally, even more “Sonder” than in the title:
“The Grand Feast of the Odd-Fish” = Das gro?e Fest der Sonderbaren Sonderlinge (“The grand feast of the “special” “special ones”.)

Summing up:

Longest word: aneinanderschabendem

Most improved translation: “an enormous mucilaginous gorge” = eine gewaltige, schleimige Schlucht

Most disgusting translation: Tie between schleimiger und glitschiger and ölige Brühe

Most onomatopoetic: plumpsen

Best name for a band: Jubelschrei

Best image: “freckles” = Sommersprossen

Most alliterative translation: Ganz in Gegenteil

Now then, wasn’t that fun? And a delightful way to spend my time in the 48-Hour Book Challenge. Definitely book-related. Tune in next week as we explore Das gro?e Fest der Sonderbaren Sonderlinge!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Seven – Here’s to Villainy!

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! Where we play with words in all their nerdy glory, by looking at the German translation of The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy, in the volume Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge.

I’m on Chapter Seven, which begins on page 60 in the English version and on page 78 in the German translation.

My caption comes from the first sentence. And I will continue, because it’s too full of wonderful words and alliterative delights not to mention:

“Here’s to villainy!” cried Ken Kiang, lifting his glass. “Here’s to wicked work well wrought! Here’s to outrage, injustice! Violence and venom! Marvelous murderers and cutthroat criminals! I embrace you all, brothers! I’m one of you now!

How will the translator deal with this? Will he attempt to retain the alliteration? Will he simply define the concepts as closely as possible? Will he retain the rollicking, roll-off-the-tongue language? The feeling of criminal glee in a moment of apparent triumph?

Here’s what the translator presents us with:

»Auf die Schurkerei!«, schrie Ken Kiang und hob sein Glas. »Auf gut gemachte widerliche Werke! Auf Wahnsinn und Ungerechtigkeit! Gewalt und Gift! Makellose Morde und gemeine Gauner! Ich umarme euch alle, Brüder! Ich bin jetzt einer von euch!

Answer? Yes, he pretty much kept the alliteration, with the understandable exception being “wicked work well wrought.” gut gemachte widerliche Werke is close, anyway.

Some other phrases to look at:
“villainy” = Schurkerei (Google translates this word “roguery”)

gut gemachte widerliche Werke would be “well-made disgusting work,” a good translation, I think, for “wicked work well wrought.”

“outrage, injustice!” is a pretty straight translation, Wahnsinn (“madness”) und Ungerechtigkeit

“Violence and venom!” = Gewalt und Gift!

“Marvelous murderers”= Makellose Morde (“flawless murders,” which is not quite the same thing, but worth it for the alliteration.)

“cutthroat criminals” = gemeine Gauner (“common crooks.” Hmm. Pretty good.)

Later, as Ken Kiang confesses:
“Until tonight, I was all hat and no cattle!” = Bis heute Nacht habe ich nur gebellt, nicht gebissen! They didn’t attempt the cowboy metaphor, but translated it as “I’d only barked, not bitten.”

And more alliteration: “It’s only now, with this magnificent quadruple murder, that I’ve married my malevolent mistress of malefaction and started sliding down the slippery slope to sweet sin!” There’s not as much alliteration in the translation, but there is some: Erst jetzt, nach diesem herrlichen vierfachen Mord, habe ich endlich meine bösartige Geliebte der Schandtaten geheiratet und den ersten Schritt getan, um diese schlüpfrig schiefe Bahn der sü?en Sünde hinabzugleiten!

“married my malevolent mistress of malefaction” = meine bösartige Geliebte der Schandtaten geheiratet (“my evil Beloved of crime married”)

“started sliding down the slippery slope to sweet sin” = den ersten Schritt getan, um diese schlüpfrig schiefe Bahn der sü?en Sünde hinabzugleiten! Yeah, okay, that just isn’t the same. But it means “took the first steps to slide down the slippery sloping path of sweet sins.”

schlüpfrig schiefe Bahn is almost, but not quite, as good as “slippery slope” because the slippery sound of schlüpfrig schiefe almost makes up for the out of place word Bahn. But I’m sorry, “slide down” fits much, much better into the sentence than hinabzugleiten! I do have to say that sü?en Sünde is much more seductive sounding than “sweet sins.”

Moving on, I’d like to say a little bit about Pie.

Hoagland Shanks is obsessed with pie. This is translated as “Kuchen.” Now, I always was told that “Kuchen” is “cake.”

Ah, but some things are un-translatable! I’m not crazy about a lot of German food. Not a big fan of various kinds of Schnitzels. But anything that comes from a German bakery? Outstanding.

This kind of explains why my dear German friend, Elfriede, called all of the wide range of German pastries, “cake.” They were called Kuchen, which she’d been told is the English word “cake.” But, truth be told, we simply don’t have English words for all the kinds of German kuchen available.

For example, when Elfriede would take a break and go to the “coffee place,” she’d always want to bring me something, and she’d ask what I wanted: “fruity or creamy?” One of my favorites was Flockensahne which was almost (but not quite) a phyllo dough filled with cream. (Ha! I found an image on the internet. Follow the link to see the credit for this image of Flockensahne.)

Would you call that Pie? Certainly not! But it’s not exactly cake either.

And when we’d go there on my birthday in June, I’d always have one of the concoctions that involved fresh strawberries. This Erdbeerkuchen is similar to strawberry pie. Similar, but not the same.

Mmmm. I’m getting so hungry. Thinking about those wonderful birthdays in Germany always makes me nostalgically sad. (The weather is always perfect in June as well. We’d go to a castle for dinner…..)

However, as it appears that Americans do not have words to adequately describe German Kuchen, neither do Germans have words for pie. This is perhaps appropriate, since haven’t we all heard the words “as American as apple pie”?

I like where Hoagland Shanks tells Ken Kiang to stop waxing so eloquent and get him some pie:

“Now talk sense, talk pie!” = Jetzt reden Sie endlich Klartext, reden Sie von Kuchen!

I like Klartext. Make your text clear.

I have to mention this one:
“The Club of Weird Desserts” = dem Klub der Sonderbaren Desserts

A candidate for longest word!
“dormant taste buds” = schlummernde Geschmacksknospen (Yes, you pronounce both those ks.)

Oh! I spoke too soon! Here’s one with 23 letters:
“black-and-white TV” = Schwarzwei?fernsehgerät

This translation doesn’t come out as catchy:
“A deal’s a deal.” = Eine Abmachung ist eine Abmachung.

Nor this one:
“a mighty yawp” = einen lauten Schrei (“a loud cry”)

There we have it! That’s it for Chapter Seven. Summing up:

Longest word: Schwarzwei?fernsehgerät

Hardest to say: Geschmacksknospen

Most fun to say: sü?en Sünde

Clunkiest translation: habe ich endlich meine bösartige Geliebte der Schandtaten geheiratet

Best metaphor: nur gebellt, nicht gebissen

Best new concept: Klartext

Best use of the prefix Sonder: Sonderbaren Desserts

Tune in next week as we find out what happened to Jo and friends!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Six, Flying Away

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday again – Where I indulge in my nerdy passion for the curiosities of language. I’ve got a different picture this week, from a package that arrived yesterday that had me jumping up and down in excitement:

No, I’m not changing the book I’m using as a bizarre German phrasebook. But, you see, when Shannon Hale, one of my very favorite authors, posted on her blog various international covers of one of my very favorite books, Book of a Thousand Days, I couldn’t resist e-mailing her and telling her about Sonderling Sunday and asking if she might have a copy of Das Buch der Tausend Tage to send me, to be my next book to go through after I finish Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge. While she was at it, she sent an Advance Review Copy of Palace of Stone, sequel to Princess Academy. I’m so excited!

Mind you, I don’t need more German books. I’ve already shown off my collection. Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge has started me off on something I’m totally enjoying, in my own quirky way. I’m looking forward to going through some books originally written in German, like Momo, by Michael Ende, or Cornelia Funke’s books. But Das Buch der Tausend Tage! I’m so excited!

Anyway, that’s a preview of things to come. Now I’m on Chapter Six in Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the German translation of The Order of Odd-fish, by James Kennedy. This begins on page 53 in the English version and Seite 70 in the German.

Now, I’m afraid I may have been daunting non-German speakers by beginning with a full paragraph. No, you do not have to speak German to enjoy this. I was going to start today with merely sentences or phrases. However, the first paragraph is simply too choice! What turns of phrase! What things I must learn how to say in German! I mean, come on: “duct tape,” “indignant,” and “sputtering”! So here is the first paragraph of Chapter Six:

Colonel Korsakov’s plane, the Indignant, resembled a flying box cobbled out of bits of a dozen other planes, lashed together with chains, frayed rope, and duct tape. It seemed ready to collapse at any moment, but somehow kept sputtering through the sky, coughing and wobbling, plowing through the thunder and rain.

Here that is, rendered in German:

Oberst Korsakovs Flugzeug, die Echauffierte, ähnelte einer fliegenden Kiste, die aus Einzelteilen von einem Dutzend anderer Flugzeuge zusammengestellt worden war, mit Ketten, Faserseil und Klebeband. Sie drohte jeden Augenblick auseinanderzufallen, flog jedoch wie durch ein Wunder weiter und kämpfte sich stotternd und schwankend durch Sturm und Regen.

Such goodies! We have:

Indignant” = Echauffierte

“resembled” = ähnelte (Hmm. This reminds me of Ahnung, which means “Idea.” I learned Ahnung from reading Harry Potter books in German. They kept saying they had keine Ahnung, “no idea.”)

“box” = Kiste

“cobbled” = zusammengestellt (“together-asked”)

“chains” = Ketten

“frayed rope” = Faserseil (Google says that means “fiber cable”?!?)

“duct tape” = Klebeband (This just comes out as “adhesive tape.” Don’t they have a special word for duct tape?)

Ah! At 19 letters, a candidate for longest word of the day: “collapse” = auseinanderzufallen (“out of one another to fall”)

I like “somehow kept sputtering through the sky” translated as flog jedoch wie durch ein Wunder weiter (“flew however as through a wonder farther”)

und kämpfte sich stotternd und schwankend durch Sturm und Regen is the last phrase, which translates more literally as “and fought stuttering and fluctuating through storm and rain.”

Ah, lovely words just keep happening! I will refrain, however, from giving you the next complete paragraph, and settle for some choice words.

“mothbally” = Mottenkugeln (“moths scoops.” I know kugeln from ordering ice cream!)

“slapped” = geohrfeigt (“boxed on the ears”)

“domestic clutter” = Krimskrams (Google translates this as “odds and ends.” Great word!)

“dangled” = baumelte (This has the root for “tree,” baum in it.)

“crawlspace” = Kriechraums

“bomb bay” = Bombenschacht

Hmm. English says the colonel’s oboe hung in the bomb bay. German says Die Oboe des Obersts hung in its case in the bomb bay. Perhaps Germans are simply too appalled to think that an oboe might be hanging out of its case?

“blunderbuss” = Donnerbüchse (“Thunder rifle” I wonder if “blunderbuss” is a warped version of how this sounds.)

I like the way this sounds: “shoebox” = Schuhschachtel

“cufflinks” = Manschettenknöpfen (“Men’s cuffs buttons”)

“jawbone” = Kieferknochen (Fun to say!)

“untidy bag of bolts” = unordentlichen Blechkiste (“unorderly tin box”)

“laughingstock” = Gespött

“antennae” = Fühler (“feelers”)

“beady eyes” = Knopfaugen (“button eyes”)

“Fleet of Fury” = Furiose Flotte (Ah! Alliteration retained!)

“sleek” = schlanke

“dive” = Sturzflug (“fall-fly”)

“swatting” = scheuchte

“tumbled” = taumelte

“not much of an excuse” = zwar ein recht fadenscheiniger Vorwand (“indeed a right flimsy excuse”)

“crushed” = zermalmt

“streaming fire” = mit einem Feuerschweif (“with a fire-tail”)

“conqueror” = Bezwinger

“For the love of Lenin” = Bei Lenins Liebe (Oo, that one’s even better in German!)

“silly things” = alberne Dinge

Huh? “dandelions” = Gänseblümchen (“gooseflowers”)

“burping” = zirpte

Okay, this one just is NOT as good in German! “Babies! Beautiful, bouncing babies!” = Babys! Sü?e umherkrabbelnde Babys! (“Babies! Sweet crawling-around babies!”)

“fussy British musicians” = pedantischen britischen Musiker

“eaten” = verschlungen (“swallowed”)

That’s the end of Chapter Six. Next week, we’ll have Ken Kiang’s reaction to his apparent evil triumph.

Summing up:

Longest word: auseinanderzufallen

Most fun to say: Schuhschachtel

Best new word: Krimskrams

Best figure of speech: “as through a wonder”

Translation with most improvement: Bei Lenins Liebe

Translation with least improvement (indeed, the opposite of improvement): Babys! Sü?e umherkrabbelnde Babys!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Five, Ken Kiang

Happy Sonderling Sunday! Alles Gute zum Muttertag!

I want to point out that Sonderling Sunday is not necessarily for people who speak German. It’s for nerdy types (Sonderlinge) who enjoy playing with language, who enjoy looking at concepts from a new perspective (such as “knew by heart” translated as “knew like her own vest pocket”), or who enjoy the sounds of words (such as “Balderdash!” translated as Papperlapapp!).

For Sonderling Sunday, I use Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the German translation of James Kennedy’s The Order of Odd-Fish as a source for learning all the things you never knew you wanted to be able to say in German.

We’re on Chapter Five. This begins on page 48 of the English version, and Seite 65 auf Deutsch.

I’ll start with the opening (two) paragraphs:

But who is Ken Kiang?

Let us rewind to several years ago. Imagine a room — a large room, the size of a theater or cathedral. The room is almost empty, the walls bare, the floor nearly deserted.

This is translated as:

Wer ist nun Ken Kiang?

Gehen wir einige Jahre zurück. Stellen wir uns einen Raum vor, einen gro?en Raum etwa von der Grö?e eines Theaters oder einer Kathedrale. Der Raum is fast leer, die Wände sind nackt und es steht so gut wie nichts auf dem Boden.

There aren’t really new words in that section for me. The only thing I find particularly interesting is that the word translated from “bare,” is nackt, which I thought meant “naked.” And yes, that is the same meaning, but in English we tend to use naked more often for people and “bare” for things like walls. I would venture to guess that we got our English word “naked” from this source.

Going on, let’s look for some more interesting translations. In fact, a paragraph a little ways down the page has much more potential.

It is a small, wind-up brass donkey. Ken Kiang watches it trudge across his desk. The donkey is a medieval Arabic automaton he unearthed at a recent archaeological dig in Syria. He wants to be impressed by its unique workmanship. He longs to glory in its exquisite detail. He aches to be fascinated by its stunning ingenuity.

It bores him.

Auf Deutsch:

Es ist ein kleiner Blechesel zum Aufziehen. Ken Kiang sieht zu, wie er über seinen Schreibtisch hoppelt. Der Esel ist ein mittelalterlicher arabischer Automat, den er bei einer archäologischen Ausgrabung in Syrien kürzlich gefunden hat. Er würde sich gerne von der einzigartigen Handwerkskunst beeindrucken lassen, sehnt sich danach, sich in den wundervollen Einzelheiten zu verlieren. Er wünscht sich beinahe schmerzhaft, von der verblüffenden Genialität dieses Apparates fasziniert zu sein.

Er langweilt ihn.

Here we have:

“brass donkey” = Blechesel

“trudge” = hoppelt (I suspect it’s really saying the brass donkey hopped across the desk.)

I still enjoy that “impressed” goes back to the same roots in German. I know this because on the computer printing out something in English is ausdrucken in German. And the translation for “impressed” is beeindrucken. I think that’s sort of like “imprinted,” which you have to admit is in the word “impressed” when you really look at it.

“stunning ingenuity” = verblüffenden Genialität

Onward! Some more interesting words and phrases:

“weary” = überdrüssig

“most rare” = seltensten (This clearly has the same root as in the word “Odd” = seltsamen

“experiences” = Erfahrungen (This has fahr, the root for “travel” in it.)

“connoisseur’s instinct” = Genie?erinstinkte

“homeless shelter” = Obdachlosenunterkunft (literally, something like “whether-roofless-accommodation” and “accommodation” is literally “under future.”)

“verve” = Schwung (Google translates this “momentum.”)

“showmanship” = Publikumswirksamkeit (I’m going to start looking for the longest word in each section. So far, Obdachlosenunterkunft has it by one letter.)

“charities” = Mildtätigkeit (Hmm. Google just translates this as “mild activites”)

“more obscure crusades” = düstereren Kreuzzügen (literally, “darker cross trains”)

“ambitious” = ehrgeiziges (literally “honor stingy”)

“baffled needy” = verblüfften Bedürftigen

“laurels” = Lorbeeren

An even longer word!:
charity programs = Wohltätigkeitsprogramme

“standard for excellence” = Ma?stäbe (The German is shorter than the English! Literally, this is “measure-bars”)

Here’s a good one!
“when inspiration struck” = als ihn die Muse küsste (“when the muse kissed him.”)

“clods” = Schwachköpfe (“weakheads”)

“dabbled” = dilettierte

“itched” = juckte

“use it to great effect” = wirkungsvoll in Szene zu setzen (“effectively set the scene”)

That’s it for Chapter 5!

Longest word of the day: Wohltätigkeitsprogramme

Most fun figure of speech: als ihn die Muse küsste

Best insult: Schwachköpfe

Most fun to say: verblüfften Bedürftigen

Tune in next week, when Jo, Aunt Lily, Colonel Korsakov, and Sefino flee from the evil Ken Kiang!

Sonderling Sunday – Escape from the Ruby Palace

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! I’m on Chapter Four, Part Three in my use of The Order of Odd-Fish and Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge in a quest to learn how to say bizarre things in German.

We’re on page 40 in the English version, and Seite 55 in the German version. Here’s the first paragraph of the next section:

Jo and Colonel Korsakov raced down the foggy, twisty passages, searching for Sefino. The deeper they plunged into the palace, the thicker the clammy clouds of insecticide became, until they had to hold handkerchiefs to their noses to breathe.

Auf Deutsch:

Jo und Oberst Korsakov rannten durch die leeren, verschlungenen Gänge und suchten Sefino. Je weiter sie in den Farbenpalast vordrangen, desto dichter wurde die verdammte Wolke aus Insektiziden, bis sie sich Taschentücher vor die Nasen halten mussten, damit sie Luft bekamen.

I know I’m getting better at German from this process, because nothing about that passage surprised me. However, I’ll make some observations.

I know we’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s still fun to say. “twisty” = verschlungenen

“plunged” = vordrangen

“clammy clouds” = verdammte Wolke (No, they’re not swearing. It’s damp.) I have to admit that the English for that one sounds better. (What can I say, I like alliteration.)

You know, when I typed “handkerchiefs” I thought that must be a word of German origins, being a portmanteau word, and since I know “hand” itself comes from German. And doesn’t “kerchief” sound like it’s probably of German origin? But the actual German word is even better. Taschentücher means “pocket cloths.” Isn’t that perfect?

Going on, I’ll list some interesting words:

“greenhouse” = Gewächshauses (“plant house,” and “plant” is same root as “to grow”)

“prodding” = piksten (like “poke,” I think.)

“pleased with himself” = selbstzufrieden (for once, the German is shorter!)

“multiply” = vervielfachen (“for many times”)

“duties” = Pflichten

Here’s a lovely long one:
“differences” = Meinungsverschiedenheiten (“opinion differences”)

“tender recesses” = zarten Gliederungen (“tender outlines”)

“inconveniences” = Unbequemlichkeiten (Funny. I was investigating this word. As did not surprise me, bequem means “convenient.” More interesting: bequemlich means “sedentary.” I guess inconveniences are things that don’t allow you to be sedentary.)

“barked” = blaffte

This one uses a funny idiom in place of an English one:
“Jo knew the twisting maze of the ruby palace by heart.” becomes Jo kannte das verschlungene Labyrinth des Rubinpalastes wie Ihre eigene Westentasche.

wie Ihre eigene Westentasche means “like her own vest pocket.”

“wide-brimmed” = breitkrempigen

I like the word at the end of this sentence:
Das Faktotum packte Ken Kiangs Hand und schüttelte sie wie einen Pumpenschwengel.

That’s translated from: “Hoagland Shanks grabbed Ken Kiang’s hand, shaking it vigorously.” wie einen Pumpenschwengel means “like a pump handle.”

“suffocating” = erstickend

“double doors” = Flügeltüren (“flying doors”)

“glory of battle” = der Pracht der Schlacht

“whacking him with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs” = Sie schlugen mit Gehstöcken, Krücken und Rollatoren auf ihn ein.

A new word for “crop duster” is Sprühflugzeug. (“spray flying thing”)

And that gets us through Chapter Four! Summing up, I think my favorite words of the day are Pumpenschwengel und der Pracht der Schlacht.

Happy Sonderling Sunday! Do something today to make yourself selbstzufrieden.