Sonderling Sunday – Jinx und der magische Urwald

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.

I have a new book to look at today! I found this German edition of one of my favorites, Jinx, by Sage Blackwood, on Amazon, and I had to order it!


You can see that my copy is an Advance Reader’s Edition — hopefully there weren’t too many changes.

You’ll also notice they’ve added to the title. I find I like Jinx und der magische Urwald, “Jinx and the magical Primeval Forest.”

Oh! Surprise! This is one of the few books that is shorter in German. Maybe because of the bigger pages? It’s 360 pages in English, and only 351 in German. Wow. Looking more closely, that’s even with the English Chapter One starting on Page 1, but the German Erstes Kapitel starting on Seite 7.

I’m going to begin with some interesting front matter. The translator’s name is Sylke Hachmeister.

Opposite the title page, we have the author bio:
“Sage Blackwood lives at the edge of a large forest, with thousands of books and a very old dog, and enjoys carpentry, cooking, and walking in the woods of New York State.”

This translates to: Sage Blackwood lebt am Rande eines dunklen Waldes, mit Tausenden von Büchern und einem sehr alten Hund. Sie liebt es, zu tischlern und zu kochen, und macht gerne Spaziergänge durch die Wälder des Bundesstaats New York.

My favorite in that bio is “carpentry” = tishlernen, “table-learning.”

The dedication in English is, “To Jennifer Schwabach because it’s her kind of story.”

It has a lilt in German: Für Jennifer Schwabach weil es eine Geschichte nach ihrem Geschmack ist. (“For Jennifer Schwabach because it a story after her taste is.” But the sound of it rolling off the tongue is what’s especially nice about it.)

Jinx has a classic opening line, so let’s look at that.

“In the Urwald you grow up fast or not at all.”
= Im Urwald wurde man entweder schnell groß oder gar nicht.

Now I’ll mention interesting words and phrases as they come up:

“carefully” = bedächtig

Interesting. “Stepparents” = Stiefeltern (“boot-parents”)

“Inherited” = geerbt

Here are some good-to-know phrases for your next foreign adventure!

“died of werewolves” = von Werwölfen getötet

“was carried off by elves” = von Elfen verschleppt worden war

“a passing firebird” = eines vorüberfliegenden Feuervogels (“an over-flying Firebird”)

“ignited” = angezündet

“Besides” = Zu allem Überfluss (“To all this overflow”)

Something German has a word for:
“the winter would be a hungry one”
= ein Hungerwinter stand bevor
(“a Hungerwinter stood before”)

“calculating eye” = berechnenden Blick (“reckoning glance”)

“surplus children” = überzählige Kinder

“a single bite of his toad porridge”
= nur einen Happen von seinem Krötenbrei
(“only one bite of his toad-brew”)

Again, it actually feels a little smoother in German:
“great trees as big around as cottages”
= gewaltige Bäume mit hausbreiten Stämmen
(“huge trees with house-wide trunks”)

“the front of his coat” = Mantelkragen (“coat collar”)

“doomed” = verdammt

Interesting. This must be where we got the word:
“twilight” = Zwielicht

“disapproval” = Missfallen

“gnarled” = knorrigen

“twisty hair” = zwirbeligen Haaren

“pointed beard” = Spitzbart

Here’s a good phrase:
“the wizard’s nose twitched at the bad smell of the lie.”
die Nase des Zauberers zuckte, als er die Lüge roch

“measly” = mickrigen

“Bergthold drew himself up.” = Bergthold straffte sich.

That’s a good stopping place for now, just before a violent death. I feel like I need to walk in the woods to get good use out of these phrases — which makes me miss living in Germany, where there are always plenty of woods to walk in.

Have a wonderful week! It may be a cold winter, but at least it’s not a Hungerwinter!


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