Sonderling Sunday – Hinunter, Hinunter, Hinunter

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!

1 comment

  1. German seems to be MADE for this chapter. The squishy complicatedness of the scene and the meaty visceral feel of German (at least to these English-speaking ears) just seem to fit perfectly.

    “Glattem Schwammigem Moos” sounds like the name of a formidable postmodern star architect.

    And “Kroch Kopfüber” somehow sounds like a great name for a private eye in 1970s Berlin.

    And Nachzügler (straggler or “after traveler”) sounds like yet another name for a villainous sci-fi alien race…

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