Sonderling Sunday – For Kristen!

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!

1 comment

  1. Ah, the “littlest littleness”! That’s unbearably cute!

    Nice catch with the logistical stitching-up that the translator did on an unclear passage!

    I love how mundane English phrases expand and embiggen in German — the ordinary “familiar jeweled key” majestically unfolding into the titanic “vorkommenden juwelenbesetzten Schlüssel”!

    Thanks for this, and good luck with the Cybils!

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