Sonderling Sunday – We Need to Talk!

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. Sort of a Traveler’s Phrasebook for Very Silly People.


This week we’re back to the book that started it all, The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy, otherwise known as Der Orden der seltsamen Sonderlinge.

We left off last time in the middle of chapter 18 on page 239, Seite 303, with Nora about to whisper the immortal words, “We need to talk.”

Confess! Don’t you think it would be useful to know how to say this in German? And yet, I’m guessing you won’t find it in your normal run-of-the-mill traveler’s phrasebook. (What a travesty!)

And the translation is:
Wir müssen uns unterhalten.

Here’s a not-surprising response to that:
“Jo was in no mood for it.”
= Jo war eigentlich nicht in der richtigen Stimmung dafür.

“Nora insisted” = Nora blieb hartnäckig (“Nora stayed obstinate.”)
(This looks to me as if it’s related to hard-naked, but I don’t think it actually is.)

“floorboards” = Bodenbretter

“crawl spaces” = Kriechräume

“chimney” = Schornstein

“She was exhausted, her nerves frayed.”
= Sie war erschöpft und angespannt.
(“She was exhausted and tense.”)

And who knows when you might need to say this?
“underground cathedral” = unterirdische Kathedrale

This one’s handy:
“just in case” = Sicherheitshalber
(“Safety’s sake”)

The translator sacrificed some flair here:
“Fear dripped slowly into Jo’s heart.”
= Furcht durchströmte Jo.
(“Fear flowed through Jo.”)

“All-Devouring” = All-Verschlingenden

“favorite topic” = Lieblingsthema

“stitch her back together” = sie wieder zusammenflicken

“disturbing” = erschütternd

“fuse” = verschmelzen

This seems like a long way to say it:
“And here’s how”
= Und zwar folgendermaßen
(“And indeed follows-reasonably”)

I hope you never need to say this:
“They sucked out all his blood”
= Sie saugten ihm all sein Blut aus

“unpredictable powers” = unvorstellbare Macht

“boiling over” = übergekocht ist

“It drove him crazy.”
= Sie hat ihn in den Wahnsinn getrieben.

“stinger” = Stachel

This could be useful:
“I know it doesn’t make sense”
= Ich weiß, dass es nicht logisch klingt

“beak” = Schnaubel

“Her fear hardened into anger.”
= Dann schlug ihre Furcht in Wut um.

“thighs” = Schenkel

“revenge” = Rache

“coffin” = Sarg

“revulsion” = Ekel

“shrank” = schrumpfen

“helpless feeling” = ohnmächtigen Gefühl (“without-power feeling”)

This sounds grand:
“Jo suspected her choices counted for nothing”
= Jo vermutete, dass ihre Entscheidungen keinerlei Konsequenzen hatten
(“Jo suspected that her decisions no consequences had”)

“quietly panicked” = kämpfte stumm gegen ihre Panik
(“fought silently against her panic”)

I hope you won’t need to say this:
“a moist sucking sound” = ein feuchtes, saugendes Geräusch

“snoring” = schnarchten (Isn’t that a much better word for “snoring”?)

“The snuffling got louder.” = Das Schniefen wurde lauter.

“engorged” = vergrößert

“a shapeless mass of skin and fat and veins”
= eine formlose Masse aus Haut und Fett und Adern

“something long, pale, and scabby”
= etwas Langes, Blasses und Schuppiges

You can see how this had to be changed:
“inched out”
= Zentimeter um Zentimeter herauskam
(“centimeter by centimeter came out”)

And I’ve finished up Chapter 18. Here’s hoping that knowing how to say these things will invoke Murphy’s Law, and you’ll never have occasion to say them! Aber Sicherheitshalber…

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