Sonderling Sunday – Heidi Discovers Snow

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 is a snowy weekend, so I wanted to find a snow passage to use this week. I was thinking I’d like to use Heidi and bemoaning that I have a German edition, but not an English one, and my son pointed out that I could probably easily find a copy online. Sure enough! I checked out a copy right away through Fairfax County Public Library.

Instead of starting at the beginning, I’m going to start on Chapter 4, where Heidi first sees snow. Since Heidi was originally written in German, I’ll list the German text first. This chapter is called Bei der Grossmutter in German, and “The Visit to Grandmother” in English. As usual, I’ll translate interesting phrases:

den Geissen = “the goats”
der Weide = “the high meadows”

so ging es Tag für Tag = “and so it went on day after day”

und Heidi wurde bei diesem Weideleben
= “till Heidi, passing her life thus among the grass and flowers”
Aha! It seems that sometimes it’s just the translated language that is longer. German just uses “meadow-life.”

der Wind lauter zu sausen anfing
= “the wind blew louder and stronger”

Missgeschick = “mishaps”

English translated this with two words:
störrig = “naughty and obstinate”

den es sah immer irgend etwas Erfreuliches vor sich
= “for wherever she was she found something to interest or amuse her”

Raubvogel = “great bird”

herumrührte = “stirred”

das Wogen und Rauschen in den drei alten Tannen hinter der Hütte
= “the waving and roaring of the three old fir trees”

dieses tiefe, geheimnisvolle Tosen in den Wipfeln da droben
= “the deep mysterious sound in the tops of the trees”

hauchte in die Hände
= “blowing on his fingers to keep them warm”

den auf einmal fiel über Nacht ein tiefer Schnee, und am Morgen war die ganze Alp schneeweiss und kein einziges grünes Blättlein mehr zu sehen ringsum und um
= “for one night there was a heavy fall of snow and the next morning the whole mountain was covered with it, and not a single little green leaf was to be seen anywhere upon it.”

schaute ganz verwundert
= “looking out in wonderment”

den nun fing es wieder zu schneien an = “for the snow was beginning again”

die dicken Flocken fielen fort und fort
= “the thick flakes kept falling”

bis der Schnee so hoch wurde, dass er bis ans Fenster hinaufreichte
= “till the snow was up to the window”

und man ganz verpackt war in dem Häuschen
= “and she and her grandfather were shut up fast within the hut.”

den nun schneite es nicht mehr = “the snow having ceased”

und schaufelte ums ganze Haus herum
= “and shoveled away the snow round the house”

und warf grosse, grosse Schneehaufen aufeinander, dass es war wie hier ein Berg und dort ein Berg um die Hütte herum
= “and threw it into such great heaps that they looked like mountains standing at intervals on either side the hut.”

Dreifuss = “three-legged stools”

hohen Schichten = “deep snowdrifts”

zu tauen = “to thaw”

ein gelinder Wasserfall = “a trickling waterfall”

Griffel = “pencil”

Wissbegierde = “curiosity” (“knowledge-desire”)

trocknen von oben bis unten = “thoroughly dry”

I love this phrase:
die Mundwinkel gezuckt
= “a twitch of amusement at the corners of his mouth”

als es draussen knisterte und knarrte vor Kälte bei jedem Schritt
= “when with every step one took the ground crackled with frost”
(“as it crackled and creaked out cold at each step”)

und die ganze grosse Schneedecke ringsum hart gefroren war
= “and the whole vast field of snow was hard as ice”

Heuboden = “hayloft”

Ah! Except for the “after him” part, this is what I did today!
In grosser Freude hüpfte das Kind ihm nach in die glitzernde Schneewelt hinaus
= “The child skipped out gleefully after him into the glittering world of snow.”

in dem Sonnenschein schimmerte und funkelte es überall von den Bäumen in solcher Pracht
= “they looked so lovely as they glittered and sparkled in the sunlight”

Heidi hoch aufsprang vor Entzücken
= “Heidi jumped for joy”

Stossschlitten = “hand-sleigh”

laut aufjauchzte = “shouted aloud with delight”

I’ll have to stop there, where Heidi just arrived at the grandmother’s house. But this was a perfect section for today — I like Heidi’s delight in the glittering, snowy world — die glitzernde Schneewelt, and yesterday we certainly had die dicken Flocken fielen fort und fort.

Till next time, bis bald!

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