Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Four, Part Two

It’s Sonderling Sunday again — loosely translated as Nerd Sonntag. Once again, it’s hitting the end of the day, so I’m not sure how far I’ll get. I’m using the German translation of The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy, as a bizarre phrase book and having fun making conclusions about language and words.

It’s been a crazy day. I wore my prime factorization sweater to the US Science and Engineering Festival yesterday, and apparently the Math community got the word. As of 11:04 pm, my site has gotten 24907 hits today. Yesterday, it got 156. Can I just say that I think a lot of Math geeks like me will also enjoy looking at these translations? So I decided to do Sonderling Sunday anyway. (Mind you, I also think it’s time to start querying agents about the children’s book I’ve written using the ideas behind the sweater to make codes and patterns and messages with math.)

We’re on page 38 of The Order of Odd-Fish and on Seite 52 of Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge.

Here are the first two intriguing paragraphs of the next section:

Jo, Aunt Lily, and Korsakov found their way to the kitchen. It still hadn’t been tidied up: crepe paper hung from the ceiling, dirty and damp, and half-filled glasses and stale desserts scattered the tabletops.

Jo opened all the windows to clear the air. She was too shaken to think straight. A package falling from the sky, a talking cockroach, Mr. Cavendish’s head flying around, and now this . . . Aunt Lily stood at the window, looking shell-shocked, and Colonel Korsakov openly wept, overflowing his chair, panting and wheezing.

Here’s how that reads in Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge:

Jo, Tante Lily und Oberst Korsakov erreichten schlie?lich die Küche. Sie war noch nicht aufgeräumt worden; Krepppapier hing von der Decke, schmutzig und feucht, halb volle Gläser und Schalen mit abgestandenem Dessert stapelten sich auf den Tischen und Ablageflächen.

Jo öffnete alle Fenster, um frische Luft hereinzulassen. Sie war zu erschüttert, um einen klaren Gedanken fassen zu können. Ein Paket, das vom Himmel fiel, eine sprechende Kakerlake, Mr Cavendishs Kopf, der durch die Luft flog, und jetzt das . . . Tante Lily stand am Fenster und wirkte wie vom Donner gerührt, und der Russe weinte ganz ungeniert, während er versuchte, seine Körpermasse auf einen Stuhl zu bugsieren. Er keuchte rasselnd.

Some fun things to notice:

Krepppapier is a real word with three p‘s in a row.

“stale desserts” = abgestandenem Dessert (Basically these desserts have been standing there.)

Hmm. A little discrepancy. In English these stale desserts are just scattered on the tabletops. In German, they’re piled (stapelten) on the tables (Tischen) and shelves (Ablageflächen).

I like that there’s one word for what the air’s supposed to do, and it describes it well. “Jo opened all the windows to clear the air.” becomes Jo öffnete alle Fenster, um frische Luft hereinzulassen. She opened the windows so the fresh air will hereinzulassen, be let in here.

“shell-shocked” = vom Donner gerührt (“from thunder stirred”)

“overflowing his chair” is translated versuchte, seine Körpermasse auf einen Stuhl zu bugsieren, which as far as I can tell means “tried, his body mass on a chair to tow.”

“panting and wheezing” is translated keuchte rasselnd, which Google in turn translates as “gasped rattling.”

Now I’ll go on a little farther and try to limit things to the especially interesting bits and the ones that are fun to say.

Here’s one for the fun-to-say category: “There was a shuffle of footsteps in the hall.” = Im Flur waren schlurfende Schritte zu hören. (“In the corridor were shuffling steps to be heard.”)

“sauntered” = schlenderte

“crop duster” = Düngeflugzeug (“fertilizer flying thing”)

“be neighborly” = mache einen Nachbarschaftsbesuch (make a neighbor-business-visit)

“exterminating” = Insektenvernichtung (“insects destruction”)

“generous piece” = gro?zügiges Stück (“big rapid piece”)

“scoundrel” = Schurke

“knave” = Schluft

“rapscallion” = Halunke

“rogue” = Ganove

This calls for one last paragraph to finish off the section:

“A cur, a reprobate! A blackguard, a villain, a rascal! No, silence! There is nothing more between us, sir, but honor and the sword. As for now — I must find my partner.”

In translation, I think you can pick up which word stands for which:

“Ein Schweinehund, ein Taugenichts! Ein Lump, ein Bösewicht, ein Schlingel! Nein, schweigt! Uns beiden steht nur noch eines offen, Sir, Ehre und Schwert. Jetzt jedoch muss ich zunächst einmal meinen Partner finden.”

There you have it! Lots of ways to insult someone in German. I think my favorite may be the easily understandable Schweinehund (pig-dog).

Perhaps the most practical would be saying, “No, silence!” by shouting Nein schweigt! Don’t you think that will get people quiet?

It’s hard to pick favorites from this section, so I think I’ll go with the “Sch” words: schlurfende Schritte, schlenderte, Schurke, Schluft, Schweinehund, Schlingel, schweigt, Schwert

Tune in next week for more fun! And let me know what happens if you shout, Nein, schweigt!

Sonderling Sunday, Kapitel Vier

It’s Sonderling Sunday again! Tonight I just have time for a very short one, but we’ll see how far I get.

For those just joining me, I’m using the German translation of James Kennedy‘s book, The Order of Odd-Fish as a sort of nerdy phrasebook for all those things you always wanted to be able to say in German, like Balderdash! (Papperlapapp!) or “dangerous companion” (gefährlichen Gefährtin).

Chapter Four begins on page 37 in The Order of Odd-Fish and on Seite 51 in Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge. As usual, I’d like to start with the first paragraph. By the way, I should say that I’m hoping all these bits from the book will intrigue people enough to gain it new readers — in either language. Here’s how Chapter Four begins:

The gold Mustang tore up the winding desert highway, crashing through the storm. Jo hadn’t had time to put up the convertible’s top, and rain spattered everywhere, soaking through her clothes, blinding her. Jo still had the black box, squeezed between her knees, but it frightened her now. Even the silver ring on her finger seemed threateningly tight. A stab of lightning, the world lit up, Jo looked for the ruby palace —

It wasn’t there.

Auf Deutsch:

Der goldfarbene Mustang raste den kurvigen Wüstenhighway entlang, fra? sich durch den Sturm. Jo hatte nicht einmal Zeit gehabt, das Verdeck des Cabrios zu schlie?en, daher prasselte der Regen ins Auto, durchnässte ihre Kleidung und nahm ihr die Sicht. Sie hatte noch immer die schwarze Schatulle dabei, eingeklemmt zwischen ihren Knien, aber jetzt flö?te ihr dieser Gegenstand Furcht ein. Selbst der Silberring auf ihrem Finger kam ihr bedrohlich eng vor. Ein Blitz zuckte durch die Nacht, erhellte die Welt und Jo blickte hoch, suchte nach dem Rubinpalast . . .

Er war verschwunden.

So, we’ll warm up with that paragraph.
“winding” = kurvigen (See? German’s so easy to understand!)

“crashing through the storm” = fra? sich durch den Sturm

Interesting. Google says Verdeck means “hood,” so in German it’s talking about closing the convertible’s hood, rather than “putting up its top.”

“spattered” = prasselte (“crackled”)

“blinding her” = nahm ihr die Sicht (“took her sight”)

eingeklemmt is the translation of “squeezed between.” Literally, it means “clamped in.”

Let’s read on and find some more interesting phrases before I call it a night.

“arch” is translated Torbogen. This amuses me because I know that regenbogen means “rainbow,” and Tor means “door.” So an arch is a “doorbow.” Logical, nicht Wahr? (“not true?”)

Here’s a nice long German word: durcheinandergebracht, which is the translation of “scrambled,” and Google says means “messed up.” Literally, that comes out as “through one another brought.” All in one word.

“choked” = würgte (Be careful. You might do it if you say it.)

“slashing” = peitschenden

“emerald” (as in the color) = smaragdgrünem

“gabbling” = rumorten (“rumbled”)

The first section is very short, and since it’s late, I’m going to end there, with the last sentence of the section:

Ein Gedanke hämmerte unablässig durch ihr Hirn: Endlich wurde ihr Leben gefährlich.

This means:

One thought kept banging through her brain: her life was finally becoming dangerous.

So, will we find out how the danger will develop? Tune in next time to learn more bits of useful knowledge like closing a convertible’s hood and walking through a doorbow.

Favorite words for tonight: kurvigen, durcheinandergebracht, und smaragdgrünem.

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter 3 and the Belgian Prankster

It’s Sonderling Sunday again! That’s when I discover new words in German while looking at The Order of Odd-Fish and comparing it with its translation, Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge. While I’m at it, I’m hoping that the bits of the book I quote will intrigue some readers and motivate them to pick up this oh-so-much-fun fantasy tale.

We’re in Chapter Three, on page 30 in the English version, and Seite 42 in the German one, just ready to hear more about the Belgian Prankster. I find this time I have to write out four whole paragraphs:

But Jo simply couldn’t watch the Belgian Prankster — a blubbery old man who wore nothing but dirty fur pelts and a rawhide diaper, with gray hair that frazzled in all directions and oversized green ski goggles. It was the goggles that creeped Jo out most. Every time she looked at the TV, she felt the Belgian Prankster staring right back at her.

Nobody knew exactly who the Belgian Prankster was. Some said he had been an anonymous executive in an Antwerp fishstick company, where he had quietly embezzled billions for his pranks. Others maintained the persona was a hobby of Prince Poodoo, a wealthy and mysterious Sri Lankan playboy. And a few swore that the Belgian Prankster was nothing less than the Devil himself, come to unleash a new era of chaos upon the world.

The Belgian Prankster’s pranks vexed scientists the world over. Nobody knew how the Belgian Prankster caused Vladimir Lenin to rise from his grave and stroll the streets of Moscow, offering free makeovers to startled ladies — makeovers the embalmed dictator performed with expert skill. Nor could anyone fathom how (as the Belgian Prankster had threatened) everyone in New York woke up to find the entire city covered with hideous orange carpet. And it was the Belgian Prankster who, in the work of a single night, had flooded the Houston Astrodome with piping hot clam chowder.

The Belgian Prankster’s pranks could be as playful as releasing ten thousand bichon frise puppies onto the streets of Osaka, or as deadly as turning the Eiffel Tower upside down. The Belgian Prankster was as admired as he was feared, especially by children — parents around the world could discipline their sons and daughters just by saying, “Do you want me to call the Belgian Prankster?”

Okay, let’s see how they express all that in German:

Jo dagegen konnte sich den Belgischen Scherzkeks einfach nicht anschauen. Es war ein aufgeblasener alter Mann, der nur schmutzige Pelze und eine Windel aus ungegerbtem Rohleder trug, dessen graues Haar in alle Richtungen von seinem Kopf abstand und der eine übergro?e grüne Skibrille aufgesetzt hatte. Diese Brille machte Jo am meisten Angst. Jedes Mal wenn sie zum Fernsehgerät blickte, hatte sie das Gefühl, als würde der Belgische Scherzkeks sie direkt ansehen.

Niemand wusste genau, wer der Belgische Scherzkeks eigentlich war. Einige behaupteten, er wäre ein unbekannter Manager in einer Fischstäbschenfabrik in Antwerpen gewesen, wo er heimlich Milliarden Dollar für seine Streiche veruntreut hätte. Andere erklären steif und fest, ihn darzustellen, wäre ein Hobby von Prinz Poodoo, einem wohlhabenden und geheimnisvollen Playboy aus Sri Lanka. Wieder andere schworen, der Belgische Scherzkeks wäre kein Geringerer als der Teufel selbst, gekommen, um eine neue Ära von Chaos auf die Welt loszulassen.

Die Streiche des Belgischen Scherzkekses faszinierten Wissenshaftler überall auf der Welt. Niemand wusste, wie der er es fertiggebracht hatte, Wladimir Lenin aus seinem Grab wiederauferstehen zu lassen, der daraufhin durch die Stra?en von Moskau schlenderte und erschrockenen Ladys Stylingberatungen anbot. Stylingberatungen, die der einbalsamierte Diktator mit au?ergewöhnlicher Geschicklichkeit durchführte. Ebenso wenig kamen die Wissenschaftler dahinter, wie es möglich war, dass — genau wie der Belgische Scherzkeks gedroht hatte — die Bewohner von New York aufwachten und feststellen mussten, dass die ganze Stadt mit grauenvoller orangefarbener Auslegeware überzogen war. Und auch das war das Werk des Belgischen Scherzkekses gewesen: In einer einzigen Nacht war das Houston Astrodome mit kochend hei?er Krebssuppe überflutet wordern.

Die Streiche des Belgischen Scherzkekses konnten so verspielt sein wie zum Beispiel damals, als er zehntausend Bichon-Frise-Welpen auf den Stra?en von Osaka ausgesetzt hatte, oder auch tödlich, als er zum Beispiel den Eiffelturm auf Kopf gestellt hatte. Er wurde ebenso bewundert wie gefürchtet, vor allem von Kindern. Eltern überall auf der Welt konnten ihre Söhne und Töchter ganz leicht zur Ordnung rufen, indem sie einfach nur sagten: “Willst du etwa, dass ich den Belgischen Scherzkeks rufe?”

Let’s look at some fun ones there:

“blubbery” = aufgeblasener (“inflated.” I think it’s more literally “blown up.”)
“diaper” = Windel
“rawhide” = ungegerbtem Rohleder (“untreated raw leather”)
“fishstick company” = Fischstäbschenfabrik
“embezzled” = veruntreut
“wealthy” = wohlhabenden (“well having”)
“no less” = kein Geringerer
Just fun to say: “unleash” = loszulassen
“vexed” = faszinierten (Hmm. I think “vexed” is a little stronger than “fascinated.”)
“caused” = fertiggebracht hatte (“brought to finish”)
“strolled” = schlenderte
“makeovers” = Stylingberatungen (“styling consultancies”)
“embalmed” = einbalmsamierte
“expert skill” = au?ergewöhnlicher Geschicklichkeit
“hideous” = grauenvoller (“gray full”)
“carpet” = Auslegeware (“overlaid wares”)
“clam chowder” = Krebssuppe (“crab soup”)
“flooded” = überflutet

Hmm. I can tell this is growing on me, because more and more of it seems perfectly normal. But aren’t you glad you know how to say “fishstick company,” “embezzled,” and “embalmed” now?

I’ll read on and list some words that strike me:

“sulked” = hatte geschmollt (I like this one. I think next time I’m angry, I’ll have geschmollt)

“frail” = gebrechlich (“prone to breaking”)

“had seen murder in their eyes” = hatte ihre mordlustigen Blicke durchaus bemerkt (“had marked murderlust through their views”)

“volunteer” = Freiwilligen (“Free will-er”)

“fragile” = zarten (“tender”)

“panicking caterpillars” = in Panik geratene Raupen (“panic advised crawlers”)

“The chattering in the room died down.” = Der Stimmengemurmel in dem Raum verebbte. (Don’t you like that for chattering in a room? Stimmengemurmel is basically “voice murmuring”)

“punched in the stomach” = in dem Magen geschlagen (another one that’s just fun to say)

Here’s a good paragraph. Can you get the idea of what they’re saying?

Jo war sprachlos. Und im Café brach die Hölle aus. Jeder, der konnte, sprang auf und rannte zur Tür. Tische kippten um, Teller zerschmetterten am Boden, der Belgische Scherzkeks lachte ohrenbetäubend im Fernsehen. Mrs Cavendish sa? fassungslos da, Mr Pooter ging unter dem Tisch in Deckung und Mrs Horpness schleuderte entzückt Waffeln durch die Gegend. Jo hatte alles Mögliche erwartet, was passieren könnte, wenn man die Kurbel drehte, aber nicht das — nicht, dass Tante Lilys Zaubertrick tatsächlich funktionieren würde.

In English:

Jo was floored. The café erupted into pandemonium. Those who could, leaped up and bolted for the door; tables overturned, plates smashed, the Belgian Prankster laughed deafeningly; Mrs. Cavendish sat gaping, Mr. Pooter dived under the table, and Mrs. Horpness was rapturously throwing waffles everywhere. Of all the things that could’ve happened by turning the crank, Jo least expected this — that Aunt Lily’s magic trick would actually work.

Some notable translations in that paragraph:

“pandemonium” = Hölle (“Hell”)
“overturned” = kippten um
“smashed” = zerschmetterten (Oh, fun to say!)
“deafeningly” = ohrenbetäubend (“ear numbing”)
“sat gaping” = sa? fassungslos da (“sat there stunned”)
“rapturously throwing waffles everywhere” = schleuderte entzückt Waffeln durch die Gegend

Going on, we have important words to know, such as:


“bobbing like a balloon” = wie ein Luftballon durch die Luft hüpfte (Try saying it! It’s fun!)

“Great galloping Gorbachevs!” = Beim gro?en Galoppierenden Gorbatschow! (Okay, English wins that one.)

“doubled over” = krümmte sich (“curved himself”)

“hanging loosely” = hing schlaff

“whooping” = johlte vor Vergnügen (“hooted for pleasure.” Of course, we all know Vergnügen from the Volkswagen commercials.)

“struggling head” = widerspenstigen Kopf (“recalcitrant head”)

“rumpled” = zerknitterten

“a big, shambling pudding of a man” = ein gro?er, schlurfender Bulle von einem Mann (“a big, shuffling bull of a man”)

This one’s not nearly as good in German: “Heck! What’s all the hoot and holler?” = Was zum Teufel soll dieses Gebrüll? (“What the devil is this roar?”)

“squeezed” = quetschen

Okay, that’s it for Chapter Three! Tune in next time as we start in on Chapter Four.

To review:

Fischstäbschenfabrik! loszulassen! hatte geschmollt! Stimmengemurmel! in dem Magen geschlagen!


Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Three

It’s Sonderling Sunday again! Yes, it’s late, but I have time to get in a little bit of language fun before the day’s over.

Did I mention that one of the things I loved about living in Germany 10 years was seeing the ways similar things are expressed in different languages? A favorite incident in France was a sign that said the passage was difficile (difficult) due to the rehabilitation of the bridge! Completely understandable, but definitely not a way I ever would have thought of putting it.

And that’s some of the fun I’m finding in this Sonderling Sunday project. I’m taking bizarre words, sentences, and paragraphs from The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy — things I certainly never would have thought to say without reading this book — and I’m seeing how they are expressed in German in the book Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge. I’m coming up with all kinds of delightful surprises!

And I’m ready to start Chapter Three. In English, this takes up 10 pages. In German, it is 12 pages, so not a huge difference this time.

As usual, I’ll begin with the first paragraph, but I find I also want to include the second:

Jo backed out of the ruby palace’s garage, yanked the gearshift, and rolled Aunt Lily’s gold Mustang out onto the bumpy road. She didn’t have a driver’s license, but after Aunt Lily crashed their car through the supermarket’s front window, Jo had taken over driving between the ruby palace and Dust Creek.

Aunt Lily and Colonel Korsakov were bickering and flirting in the back. Korsakov was so huge that he took up the entire seat; Aunt Lily, to her delight, had to sit on his lap.

Auf Deutsch:

Jo fuhr rückwärts aus der Garage des Rubinpalastes, riss an der Gangschaltung und rumpelte mit dem goldfarbenen Mustang ihrer Tante auf die holprige Stra?e hinaus. Sie hatte zwar keinen Führerschein, aber nachdem Tante Lily mit ihrem Wagen in die Fensterscheibe des Supermarkts gerauscht war, hatte Jo es vorgezogen, an ihrer Stelle zwischen dem Rubinpalast und Dust Creek hin- und herzufahren.

Tante Lily und Oberst Korsakov hockten im Fond und flirteten kichernd miteinander. Der Russe war so fett, dass er die gesamte Rückbank mit Beschlag belegte, und so musste die frühere Filmdiva sich zu ihrem Entzücken auf seinen Scho? setzen.

So far, we have:
“gearshift” = Gangschaltung (Go Circuit)
“rolled” = rumpelte
“bumpy” = holprige
hockten im Fond = “crouched in the rear” (I thought it meant were fondly bickering, but Google says I was wrong.)
In fact, I don’t find any bickering.
flirteten kichernd miteinander seems to mean “were flirting giggily with one another.”
Also, Germans say it like it is. English says Korsakov was so huge. German says “The Russian was so fat.” = Der Russe war so fett.
Instead of using Aunt Lily’s name again in the last sentence, the translator put in die frühere Filmdiva, “the former Film diva.”

Going on from there, an interesting translation:
“snuggling up to him” = an ihn schmiegte

Ah, on page 28 of the English version, we’ve got a fun paragraph. Watch for the translation of “armadillo.” Here it is in English:

It was a grubby room crowded with metal folding chairs and simulated-wood tables, dimly lit and almost intolerably hot, swimming in the thick stink of burnt coffee, fried dough, and maple syrup. The only decoration sat next to the cash register, a plastic armadillo so dented and abused that Jo almost pitied it.

Translated as:

In dem schmuddeligen Raum drängten sich metallene Klappstühle und Kunststofftische mit Holzimitat. Es war nicht besonders hell dort und unerträglich hei?. Der Raum war erfüllt von dem Gestank nach verbranntem Kaffee, altem Fett und Ahornsirup. Die einzige Dekoration befand sich neben der Kasse: ein Gürteltier aus Plastik, das so verbeult und abgeschlafft war, dass Jo es fast bedauerte.

Here are the goodies from that paragraph:
“grubby” = schmuddeligen
“folding chairs” = Klappstühle (I particularly like that one. “Folding” = Klapp)
“simulated-wood” = Holzimitat (Wood imitation)
German doesn’t say the room was “swimming” in the stink, just that it was erfüllt (filled) with it.
And my favorite:
“armadillo” = Gürteltier (“Belts animal”)

Going on:
“wobbly stool” = wackligen Hocker
“withered” = runzlige
“flowery” = in geblümte Kleider gehüllten (“in flowery clothes wrapped”)
“undertaker” = Bestattungsunternehmer (“burial undertaker”)
“standards” = Ma?stäben
“Adorable!” = Hinrei?end!
“funeral” = Beerdigung (“earth-going”)
“complaining” = beschwerten
“good-for-nothing grandchildren” = nichtsnutzigen Enkelkinder (nothing-useful grandchildren)
“squawked” = keckerten
“pouted” = schmollte
“theme music” = Titelmelodie
“storm clouds” = Gewitterwolken (That one’s just fun to say.)

Yikes! Look at the time! Sunday is over, so I will stop and get this posted. I’m on the Belgian Prankster paragraph on page 30 in English, Seite 42 auf Deutsch.

My favorites today were Gürteltier, schmiegte, schmollte, and Klappstühle.

Tune in next week, as we continue with Chapter Three.

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Two, Part Two

It’s Sonderling Sunday again! “Nerd Sonntag,” where I play with language by looking at German translations of bizarre English words and phrases as found in James Kennedy’s The Order of Odd-Fish.

Last time, I left off on page 16 of The Order of Odd-Fish, and page 25 of Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge.

Let me begin with the first paragraph of this next section:

Jo’s bathroom, like everything else at Lily Larouche’s palace, was a gilded wreck of red and gold marble, kaleidoscopic mirrors, and frenzied geometric mosaics, dimly lit by dozens of spicy smoking candles sprouting from a brass chandelier so mammoth and ornate it seemed like a fiery flying city. Jo lay soaking in the ivory bathtub, the silence broken only by the distant chatter of the television, and thought about Aunt Lily.

(Side note: You can see why this book is such a rich source to look at for interesting words to translate! I mean, what phrase book would ever think to translate “kaleidoscopic” or “frenzied geometric mosaics”? No wonder these German words are new to me!)

Here’s the same paragraph in Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge:

Jos Badezimmer war, wie alles andere in Lily Larouches Palast auch, ein vergoldetes Wrack aus rotem und goldenem Marmor, kaleidoskopartigen Spiegeln und verrückten geometrischen Mosaiken. Dutzende Duftkerzen tauchten alles in ein dämmriges Licht. Sie brannten in einem Messinglüster, der so riesig und so von Ornamenten überladen war, dass er wie eine gewaltige fliegende Stadt wirkte. Jo lag in der Badewanne aus Elfenbein. Die stille wurde nur von dem fernen Geplärr des Fernsehgerätes und ihren Gedanken an Tante Lily gestört.

Note: I’m going to use Google translate to get at more literal translations of the German, to get at the roots of what’s being communicated here.

Well, the ones I was looking forward to aren’t quite as interesting as some others. But here we go:

“kaleidoscopic mirrors” = kaleidoskopartigen Spiegeln

“frenzied geometric mosaics” = verrückten geometrischen Mosaiken (I’ve also seen verrückten used to translate “crazy.”)

This one has a lilt to it:
“dozens of spicy candles” = Dutzende Duftkerzen
The sentence itself, Dutzende Duftkerzen tauchten alles in ein dämmriges Licht, translates more literally into: “Dozens of scented candles appeared in a dusky light.”

“brass chandelier” = Messinglüster (“brass shine”)

“ivory” = Elfenbein (“elven bone”? Or is this related to Elefant?)

“distant chatter” = fernen Geplärr (“far bawling”)

My favorite from that paragraph is Dutzende Duftkerzen. I always like the translations that turn out more mellifluous than the original. (I still like saying gefährlichen Gefährtin to myself. Or Papperlapapp!)

I won’t do the full paragraphs for this next part, but here are some fun words:

“handyman” = Faktotum (I had no idea that was a German word.)

“shuffled” = schlurfte (Now that is fun to say! I’m going to schlurfe around my house today.)

“pink foam” = rosafarbenem Schaum

“squirreled away” = eingesperrt (Google: “incarcerated”)

“prowling” = schleichen (“sneak”)

“practiced” = übte

“curiosity” = Neugier (“new greed” — love that! “Curiosity” is a greed for the new!)

“secretly” = insgeheim (“in mystery”)

This one just sounds good:
“what the world was really like” = wie die Welt wirklich war

“stunt” = Art von Nummer (“type of number”)

“frustrated” = frustriert

Here’s another section, so I’ll give the opening paragraph again:

Es war fast Zeit für Jo, zur Arbeit zu gehen. Sie stieg aus ihrem Bad, trocknete sich ab und zog ihre Kellnerinnen-Uniform an: ein pinkfarbenes kratziges Polyesterkleid, das ihr nicht wirklich passte. Dann ging sie nach oben und sah nach Oberst Korsakov.

In English:

It was almost time for Jo to go to work. She got out of her bath, dried off, and changed into her waitress uniform — a pink, itchy polyester dress that didn’t really fit — and went to check on Colonel Korsakov.

Wait a minute! Before “pink” was rosa, and now it’s just pink? Hmm. Maybe German is giving us different shades of pink?

I love “itchy” = kratziges Doesn’t that just sound itchy?

Reading on:
“knocked” = klopfte

“Jo hesitated, then cautiously tiptoed into the darkened room.” = Jo zögerte, öffnete die Tür und schlich auf Zehenspitzen behutsam in den dunklen Raum.

Of course, that gives us:
“hesitated” = zögerte

“tiptoed” = schlich auf Zehenspitzen (“crept on pointed toes”)

“cautiously” = behutsam

Oo, this next paragraph is so lovely in English, it demands mentioning in its entirety:

Korsakov lay on the sagging bed, snoring and snorting, his stomach heaving under his pajamas like an unsteady mountain of jelly. Jo stared in a kind of awe. Korsakov was somehow even more colossal than she remembered — like an exuberantly portly walrus.

Auf Deutsch:

Der Russe lag auf dem Bett, dessen Matratze durchhing, und schnarchte aus Leibeskräften. Sein Bauch hob sich in dem Pyjama wie ein wabbelnder Berg aus Gelatine. Jo starrte ihn fast ehrfürchtig an. Korsakov war noch kolossaler, als sie ihn in Erinnerung hatte, er schaute aus wie ein ausgesprochen korpulentes Walross.

Some more good ones from that:
“sagging” = durchhing (“hanging through”)

This one’s better in English: “snoring and snorting” = schnarchte aus Leibeskräften (“snored with all his might”)

But this makes up for it: “an unsteady mountain of jelly” = wabbelnder Berg aus Gelatine (I don’t know about you, but I really like wabbelnder.)

“awe” = ehrfürchtig (“glory fear” I like that!)

And of course, we can’t let this one go by:
“an exuberantly portly walrus” = ausgesprochen korpulentes Walross (ausgesprochen by itself I would have thought was “outspoken,” but Google translates it “pronounced.” That works, though we don’t really have “exuberance.” But what can you do? Is “exuberantly portly” such a bizarre concept that it can’t be translated? Really?)

Going on, some more choice translations:

“wadded up” = zusammengeknüllten (“together crumpled”)

“gurgling chimes” = glucksende Glöckchen (“clucking little bells”! Again, the German is more mellifluous.)

Ah! This time they do a little better with the onomatopoeia:
“murmuring beeps and bloops” = murmelndes Piepen und Ploppen

“crank” = Kurbel

Here’s another one much more fun to say in German:
“The dirty rag!” = Dieses schmutzige Schmierblatt!

“Shameless!” = Unverschämtheit!

Okay, I’ve been waiting for the introduction of Sefino. Here’s the section in German:

Eine gigantische Kakerlake hatten den Raum betreten. Sie war mindestens einen Meter fünfzig gro?, trug einen violetten Samtanzug, darunter ein Seidenhemd, eine Krawatte und einen Bowler auf dem Kopf. Im Knopfloch steckte eine grüne Nelke. Die Kakerlake hielt mit vier Armen eine Zeitung, die sie durch ein Monokel studierte. Jo wich zurück, aber das Insekt nahm sie kaum war.

In English:

A giant cockroach had walked into the room, three feet tall, wearing a purple velvet suit with a silk shirt, cravat, and bowler hat. A green carnation was fixed in its buttonhole. The cockroach clutched a newspaper with four arms, reading it through a monocle. Jo backed away, but the insect barely acknowledged her.

Don’t miss this one: “giant cockroach” = gigantische Kakerlake (May I never ever have a reason to know that!)

I think this is funny. The translator is very literal with the translation of “three feet tall,” using einen Meter fünfzig gro?, using “one meter, fifty centimeters” instead of just saying about a meter. And wait a minute, a meter is slightly more than three feet, not fifty centimeters less. What’s up with that?

“buttonhole” = Knopfloch

More fun words:
“Libel!” = Verleumdung!

“Outrage!” = Frechheit! (“cheekiness”)

“Shootings, canings, and bludgeonings from the sky enlivened the evening” = Schie?ereien, Züchtigungen und Prügel aus heiterem Himmel belebten den Abend

Oh, here’s a chandelier again:
“a frightful glass chandelier that, I maintain, was improperly installed” = ein furchterregender Kristalllüster, der, worauf ich bestehe, nicht sachgemä? installiert war (Don’t you love a language where the proper spelling of a word can involve three Ls in a row?)

“Chatterbox” = Plaudertasche

“Will I never be rid of these rumor-mongering muckrakers?” = Werde ich diesen im Schlamm wühlenden Dreckspatzen denn niemals entkommen? (“Will I never escape burrowing in the mud with these dirt sparrows?”)

“intestines” = Dickdarm (“large intestine” Don’t ask!)

Oh, Sefino’s dictation must be quoted:

Dear Eldritch Snitch. I slap you with the satin glove of righteous wrath! From what noxious nest of nattering nincompoopery do you release your rancorous roosters of rumor . . .

This translates to:

Liebe Schauerliche Petze! Ich ohrfeige Euch mit dem Seidenhandschuh rechtschaffenen Zorns! Aus welchem verderbten Nest schwatzhafter Einfaltspinsel Ihr Eure boshaften, aufgeblasenen Gerüchte . . .

Some notable translations:

“Eldritch Snitch” = Schauerliche Petze (“gruesome sneak”)

“I slap you with the satin glove of righteous wrath!” = Ich ohrfeige Euch mit dem Seidenhandschuh rectschaffenen Zorns! (“I box you on the ears with the silk hand shoe of righteous scorn!”)

Alas! The alliteration of the last sentence seems untranslatable. We do have:
“noxious” = verderbten
“nattering” = schwatzhafter (“chatty”)
“nincompoopery” = Einfaltspinsel (“simpleton”)
“rancorous roosters of rumor” = boshaften, aufgeblasenen Gerüchte (“evil overblown rumors”)

Going on:
“narrowed his eyes” = kniff die Augen zusammen (“pinched his eyes together”)

“Jo had just about had enough.” = Jetzt hatte Jo die Nase endgültig voll. (“Now Jo’s nose was finally full.”) Love it!

“tied up” = gefesselt

“upsidedown” = kopfüber (head over)

“You’re never so happy as when you have a nice fresh bullet lodged in your belly.” = Sie sind nur dann glücklich, wenn Sie eine hübsche neue Kugel in Ihrem Wanst haben.

“You deliberately enrage armed lunatics!” = Sie ermutigen diese bewaffeneten Verrückten doch absichtlich!

“Boiling Brezhnevs!” = Brodelnde Breschnews!

Not as good in German: “We meander, we drift.” = Wir folgen verschlungenen Pfaden, wir treiben umher. (“We follow tortuous paths, we drive around.”)

“I once gallivanted” = Einmal habe ich mich sogar herumgetrieben.

“powdered wigs” = gepuderter Perücken (Another one more fun to say in German.)

“Danish” = Kopenhagener (Same idea, there. It’s talking about the pastry.)

“sighed loudly” = seufzte vernehmlich

“in a small voice” = klang kläglich (“rang miserably”) Nice and alliterative.

“coughed” = räusperte

“pile” = Haufen

“doubt” = bezweifle (This has the word for “two,” zwei, in it. Like “doubt” comes from “double”? Wavering between two opinions?)

Okay, I got through the rest of Chapter Two! Perhaps I can make progress after all…. Now that I know more of the words, I’m pausing to translate only the most interesting. But they still haven’t gotten to Eldritch City, so I know there will be many more interesting phrases to come! And I hope I’ve intrigued some readers into reading the inimitable book The Order of Odd-Fish in order to find out the context of some of these phrases! Enjoy!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Two

Time for another Sonderling Sunday, where I use Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the German Translation of The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy, as a bizarre German-English phrasebook. It’s also where I use some surprising and delightful German translations to open my eyes to a completely different way of looking at something. It’s also where I learn some German words that are terribly fun to say.

This week, I’m beginning Chapter Two.
The Order of Odd-Fish: pages 13-26
Der Orden der Seltsamer Sonderlinge: Seite 21-38

Let’s begin with the first paragraph:

“There was something ridiculous about the ruby palace by day. It looked tired, not exuberant; its concrete walls were cracked, its paint faded and stained. The debris of last night’s party lay strewn about in the harsh daylight — ripped streamers, broken champagne glasses, burnt-out torches, and some guy’s underwear floating in the pool.”

Auf Deutsch:

“Tagsüber wirkte der Rubinpalast ein bisschen lächerlich. Er sah eher morbide aus, nicht strahlend; die Betonwände waren rissig, die Farbe verblasst und schmutzig. Das helle Tageslicht beleuchtete den Müll der gestrigen Party, zerrissene Wimpel, zerbrochene Champagner gläser, ausgebrannte Fackeln und irgendjemandes Unterwäsche, die im Pool trieb.”

Some notable translations:
“ridiculous” = “lächerlich” (“laughly,” or, more properly, “laughable”)
“tired” = “morbide” (That’s not the translation I learned to say I’m tired!)
“exuberant” = “strahlend”
“cracked” = “rissig” which you can see is the same root as in:
“ripped streamers” = “zerrissene Wimpel”
“burnt-out torches” = “ausgebrannte Fackeln”
“underwear” = “Unterwäsche” (“Underlaundry” Is that because Germans wash more than we do or just a more polite way to talk about it?)

Later on the page, we’ve got a choice sentence:
“Her little bed, plastic table, and scattered clothes were dwarfed inside the vast sparkling gaudiness, as if lost in a giant jeweled egg.”

“Ihr kleines Bett, der Plastiktisch und die überall verstreute Kleidung wirkten in dieser riesigen funkelnden Buntheit winzig, wie verloren in einem gigantischen juwelengeschmückten Ei.”

Here we have
“scattered” = “verstreute”
“dwarfed” = “wirkten. . . winzig”
“sparkling gaudiness” = “funkelnden Buntheit” (I think “Buntheit” is color-ness)
But the greatest word here?
“jeweled” = “juwelengeschmückten” (I think this means something like decorated with jewels.)

Another paragraph:
“Who was Colonel Korsakov? Jo went to the bathroom, splashed cold water on her face, and squinted at herself in the mirror. In the morning light, she found it hard to believe Korsakov really existed. Still, she could hear him grunting and shifting upstairs; it made her uneasy, as if there were a wild rhinoceros in the house.”

This becomes:
“Wer war Oberst Korsakov? Jo ging ins Bad, spritzte sich kaltes Wasser ins Gesicht und musterte sich kritisch im Spiegel. Bei Tageslicht betrachtet, konnte sie kaum glauben, dass der Russe tatsächlich existierte. Trotzdem konnte sie hören, wie er sich oben stöhnend herumwälzte; sie verspürte Unbehagen, so als wäre ein wildes Nashorn im Haus.”

“splashed” = “spritzte” (We’ve borrowed that one, it’s so good.)
“squinted at herself” = “musterte sich kritisch” (I think that’s something like “looked at herself critically”)
“made uneasy” = “verspürte Unbehagen”
And the really good one?
“rhinoceros” = “Nashorn” (“nose horn”)

Interesting. Further down, the translation of “Jo padded out of the bathroom” is “Jo ging auf nackten Fü?en aus dem Bad.” I believe the literal translation of that would be “Jo went on naked feet out of the bathroom.” That pretty much describes “padding,” don’t you think?

This is a bit more awkward in German: “fumbling with an antique shoebox-sized remote control” becomes “fummelte ungeschickt mit einer antiken Fernbedienung herum, die die Grö?e einer Schuhschachtel hatte.”
“remote control” = “Fernbedienung,” which I think is roughly “far service.”

And then, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: The introduction of the Belgian Prankster!

Here he is on TV:
“Aunt Lily clicked the remote and the television slowly came to life. A goggled man in furs was rampaging around the streets of Copenhagen on a dogsled, chasing screaming Danes. ‘The Belgian Prankster!’ said Aunt Lily, and her eyes glazed.”

“Tante Lily drückte auf die Fernbedienung und das Fernsehgerät erwachte langsam zum Leben. Ein Mann mit einer grünen Skibrille und einem Pelzmantel fegte mit einem Hundeschlitten durch die Stra?en von Kopenhagen und hetzte schreiende Dänen vor sich her. ‘Der Belgische Scherzkeks!’ Tante Lilys Augen glänzten.”

Yes, the Belgian Prankster is “der Belgische Scherzkeks.” Remember how last week I said “joke” = “Scherz.” This is basically “joke cookie.”

I also find it interesting that “goggled man” is translated “Mann mit einer grünen Skibrille.” That would be “man with green ski glasses.” Okay, but why are they green?

“Dogsled” is “Hundeschlitten,” which is a good one.

The next paragraph is also interesting:

“Jo lag im Sarkophag, hatte die Augen geschlossen und versuchte, das Gequatsche des Belgischen Scherzkekses auszublenden. Sie sollte in einer Stunde auf ihrer Arbeitsstelle sein, allerdings war noch etwas Zeit, sich nach der erschöpfend kurzen Nacht zu entspannen. Das innere des Mumiensarges war mit schwarzen Samtkissen ausgekleidet und überraschend gemütlich. Als sie jetzt darin lag, fühlte sie sich auf angenehme Weise tot.”

That is translated from:
“Jo lay in the sarcophagus, her eyes closed, and tried to block out the yammering of the Belgian Prankster. She was expected at work in an hour, but there was still some time to relax after her exhausting late night. The inside of the mummy’s coffin, lined with black velvet cushions, was surprisingly comfortable. Lying in it, she felt pleasantly dead.”

I like these ones:

“yammering” = “Gequatsche”
“block out” = “auszublenden” (like she’s trying to get those noises to blend with the background)
“exhausting” = “erschöpfend”
“relax” = “entspannen”
“surprisingly comfortable” = “überraschend gemütlich”

Now, the German translation says nothing about fish in this paragraph:
“Jo frowned. ‘It also said something about fish . . . have you ever heard of that? The Order of Odd-Fish?'”

“Jo runzelte die Stirn. ‘Au?erdem stand etwas von Sonderlingen darauf . . . Hast du schon mal etwas davon gehörrt? Von diesem Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge?'”

And “frowned” becomes basically “wrinkled her forehead” — “runzelte die Stirn.”

Here’s a nice rhyming phrase:
“Sie sa?en beide stumm in dem bröckelnden Glanz des Ballsaals, und obwohl Jo in der Hitze schwitzte, fröstelte sie.”

That’s from: “Jo and Aunt Lily sat silently in the crumbling ballroom’s gloom, and even though Jo was sweating in the heat, she shivered.”

Okay, looking closer, it doesn’t quite rhyme, but I still love that “sweating in the heat” becomes “in der Hitze schwitzte.” It’s also a lovely tongue twister to pull out this summer. Another good one is “shivered” = “fröstelte.”

One more sentence:

“The Belgian Prankster was pouring tons of cottage cheese down the streets of Copenhagen, burying his fleeing victims; the audience roared with delight.”

“Der Belgische Scherzkeks kippte Tonnen von Hüttenkäse in die Stra?en von Kopenhagen und begrub seine flüchtenden Opfer darunter. Die Zuschauer brüllten vor Entzücken.”

I like that “cottage cheese” = “Hüttenkäse,” which means, basically, “cottage cheese.”
“begrub” = “burying” (Graben means “grave,” so this is be-graving someone.)
“fleeing victims” = “flüchtenden Opfer”
“audience” = “Zuschauer”
“roared with delight” = “brüllten vor Entzücken.”

Okay, that’s enough for today. I got up to page 25 in German, and page 16 in English.

Today I think my favorite phrase was “in der Hitze schwitzte.”

Tune in next week, when we continue with Chapter Two!

Sonderling Sunday — Chapter One, Part Three

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday, otherwise known as Nerd Sonntag, otherwise known as A Bizarre German-English Phrasebook, otherwise known as Language Fun for Silly People.

What I’m doing is looking at translations found in Der Orden der Seltsamer Sonderlinge of the so-interesting words and sentences from The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy. I’m hoping to finish Chapter One today.

I left off last week on page 8 of The Order of Odd-Fish and page 15 of Der Orden der Seltsamer Sonderlinge.

Let’s pick up where Lily Larouche returns after having been missing for forty years and where she meets Jo:


“Lily Larouche had awakened in her dusty bed, in her ruby palace. But she had no idea how she had got there. And she had no idea what she had been doing for the past forty years.

“Then she heard a distant crying. She followed the sound to her laundry room — and there, inside the washing machine, she found a baby.

“She also found a note:

This is Jo. Please take care of her.
But beware.
This is a DANGEROUS baby.

In the German translation, these paragraphs read:


“Lily Larouche war in ihrem staubigen Bett in ihrem Rubinpalast aufgewacht, hatte aber keinerlei Ahnung, wie sie dorthin gekommen war. Ebenso wenig wusste sie, was sie in den letzten vier Jahrzehnten gemacht hatte.

“Sie hörte ein leises Wimmern. Daraufhin folgte sie dem Geräusch bis zu ihrer Waschküche und dort, in der Waschmaschine, fand sie ein Baby.

“Und eine Nachricht.

Das ist Jo. Bitte kümmere Dich um sie.
Aber sei vorsichtig.
Sie ist ein GEFÄHRLICHES Baby.

Okay, there’s a super good one here, right at the start:


How lovely! This is another serendipitous one to say three times fast: Gefährlichen Gefährtin. Gefährlichen Gefährtin. Gefährlichen Gefährtin.

As far as I can tell, it is simple happy circumstance that these sound so much alike. This is a case where the translation trumps the original by at least ten points.

Some other words from these paragraphs:

“dusty” = “staubigen”

Instead of “forty years,” the translator used “four decades” = “vier Jahrzehnten.”

“crying” = “Wimmern”

“sound” = “Geräusch”

“laundry room” = “Waschküche” (Wash kitchen)

Let’s move on. I simply must tell you how this paragraph is translated:

“‘Balderdash,’ said Aunt Lily. ‘Whoever left that note was just having their little joke. The girl’s as dangerous as a glass of milk. Lived with her for thirteen years, so I should know. Not a peep, not a pop.’

“Jo glared at Aunt Lily.”

In German:

“‘Papperlapapp’, erklärte sie. ‘Wer diese Nachricht hinterlassen hat, hat sich einfach nur einen kleinen Scherz erlaubt. Das Mädchen ist genauso gefährlich wie ein Glas Milch. Ich lebe jetzt seit dreizehn Jahren mit Jo zusammen, sollte es also wissen. Sie ist so still wie ein Mäuschen.’

“Jo warf ihrer Tante einen bösen Blick zu.”

Okay, I think this is my favorite translation so far:

“Balderdash” = “Papperlapapp” Too fun!

As for the rest, we’re going to encounter this one later:

“joke” = “Scherz”

I’m a little disappointed with the translation of “Not a peep, not a pop.” They just said, “She is as quiet as a mouse.” (Something with peep and pop would have gone so very well with Papperlapapp, too!) And they don’t really say Jo “glared” at Aunt Lily, more that she gave her an evil look.

Ah! In the next paragraph we have a new translation of daffodil! Here’s the German:

“Der Oberst wirkte ein wenig enttäuscht und selbst die Osterglocke auf seinem Kopf schien ihre Blätter ein wenig hängen zu lassen. Doch dann erholte er sich. ‘Blödsinn. Ich wei? von höchster Stelle, dass Jo Larouche tatsächlich gefährlich ist und dass ein extrem bedeutungsvoller Gegenstand, ein Gegenstand, der in den falschen Händen möglicherweise sogar gefährlich sein könnte, noch heute Abend hierher geliefert wird, an ebendiese. . .'”

This is translated from:

“Colonel Korsakov looked disappointed — even the daffodil on his head seemed to droop a little — but then he rumbled, ‘Nonsense. I have it on excellent authority that Jo Larouche is dangerous — and that an extremely important item, an item that may even be unsafe in the wrong hands, will be delivered here tonight, to this very — ‘”

Yes! This time “daffodil” is translated as “Easter bell,” “Osterglocke.” Oh, the delights of language! And the daffodil doesn’t just droop. It “lets its leaves hang a little,” “schien ihre Blätter ein wenig hängen zu lassen.”

Of course, you have to catch this one:

“Nonsense” = “Blödsinn”

“important” = “bedeutungsvoller” (which I would have translated “meaningful”)

“possibly” = “möglicherweise” (I knew that one already, but it’s just fun to say.)

Well, I simply must include the dramatic next paragraph:

“But Korsakov never finished. A futuristic white sports car burst out of nowhere, skidded through the rosebushes, and spun to a stop in the sand. Its door flew open and the hedgehog leaped out, shouting, ‘All right, where is he? Let me at him!'”

This translates as:

Der Russe kam nicht dazu, seinen Satz zu beenden. Ein futuristischer wei?er Sportwagen tauchte wie aus dem Nichts auf, fegte durch die Rosenbüsche und kam schleudernd im Sand zum Stehen. Der Wagenschlag flog auf und der Igel sprang heraus. ‘Also gut, wo steckt er? Lasst mich zu ihm!'”

From these:

“skidded” = “fegte”

“spun to a stop in the sand” = “kam schleudernd im Sand zum Stehen” (I’ll give equal points to those phrases.)

“car door” = “Wagenschlag”

“hedgehog” = “Igel” (I still don’t get that one.)

Here’s another dramatic paragraph:

“There was a shrieking blast of wind that sent sand flying, paper lanterns swaying. A plane roared far above — and something fell from the sky, down into the garden, and down onto the hedgehog’s head.”

This becomes:

“Ein kreischender Windsto? wirbelte Sand auf und lie? die Papierlampions heftig schaukeln. Hoch über ihnen dröhnte ein Flugzeug hinweg und etwas fiel vom Himmel in den Garten und dem Igel auf den Kopf.”

We’ve got:
“shrieking blast of Wind” = “kreischender Windsto?”

“sent sand flying” = “wirbelte Sand auf” (might mean “whirled sand up”?)

“paper lanterns flying” = “Papierlampions heftig schaukeln” (“paper lanterns violently rocking”)

“plane roared” = “dröhnte ein Flugzeug” (“droned the flying thing”)

And let’s finish up the chapter with the final paragraphs:

“Jo scrambled back, just barely avoiding Korsakov as he thudded into the sand, and tripped over the thing that had fallen from the sky — a brown cardboard package, with these words written across the top:


“After that, everyone had the leisure to start screaming.”

Auf Deutsch:

“Jo krabbelte hastig zurück. Es gelang ihr gerade noch, sich vor der massigen Gestalt Korsakovs in Sicherheit zu bringen, als der Russe mit einem dumpfen Aufprall auf dem Sand landete. Dabei stolperte sie über das Ding, das aus dem Himmel gefallen war. Es war ein brauner Pappkarton, auf dem die Worte geschrieben standen:


“Dann endlich hatten sich alle so weit erholt, dass sie loskreischen konnten.”

Some final goodies:

“scrambled back” = “krabbelte hastig zurück” (“crawled quickly back.” I picture her crawling backwards like a crab.)

“just barely avoiding Korsakov” talks about in the nick of time avoiding his massive body safely.

“tripped” = “stolperte”

“cardboard package” = “Pappkarton”

“screaming” = “loskreischen”

There you have it! We’ve gotten through one chapter, and it only took three weeks! Isn’t this fun?

I just have one more thing to say:

Papperlapapp! And beware of gefährlichen Gefährtin!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter One, Part Two

It’s Sonderling Sunday again! Roughly translated, that means “Nerd Sonntag.” So do something nerdy to celebrate!

My own choice is using The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy, along with Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the German translation of the same, to make a sort of phrase book with translations of bizarre phrases and sentences into German.

We left off last week on page 6 of The Order of Odd-Fish and Seite 13 of Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge.

The first paragraph of the next section is:
“The inside of Lily Larouche’s palace was all red and gold. Crimson velvet curtains with gold embroidery hung in the windows, ancient and frayed; far above, hundreds of scarlet candles burned in gold chandeliers, dripping wax onto the shaggy carpet.”

Auf Deutsch:
“Das Innere von Lily Larouches Palast war vollständig in Rot und Gold gehalten. Vor den Fenstern hingen rote Samtvorhänge mit goldenen Stickereien. Sie waren uralt und verschlissen. Hoch oben unter der Decke brannten Hunderte roter Kerzen in goldenen Lüstern, von denen das Wachs auf die schäbigen Teppiche herabtropfte.”

Some fun ones there. “Frayed” = “verschlissen” “Embroidery” = “Stickereien” “dripping on” = “herabtropfte” I find it rather amusing that “Lüstern” seems much less descriptive than “chandeliers.”

Oh! The next paragraph has some fun ones! Remember, a costume party is going on. See if you can spot the German word for “squid.” (It’s as good as “Raccoon” = “Waschbär.”)

German first:
“Mittlerweile hatte sich die Party nach drinnen verlagert und man hatten begonnen zu tanzen. Ein Tintenfisch glitt über den Tanzboden und umschlang mit seinen Tentakeln eine zierliche Geisha. An einem Tisch spielten in Smokings gekleidete Tausendfü?ler Whist, während ein Rudel Hexen und Affen über Politik debattierte. Ein Pinguin, der auf einer dicken Zigarre herumkaute, marschierte durch den Saal, schüttelte Hände und schlug den Leuten auf den Rücken. In einer Ecke kicherte obszön ein Vampir.”

In English:
“The party had moved inside and the dancing had begun. A squid glided across the dance floor, its tentacles wrapped around a dainty geisha. A table of centipedes in tuxedos played whist as a pack of witches and monkeys argued politics. A cigar-chomping penguin worked his way around the room, shaking hands and slapping people on the back. A vampire giggled obscenely in the corner.”

That’s right. “squid” = “Tintenfisch” (“inkfish”)! And did you catch the translation of “centipede”? “Tausendfü?ler”! (Yes, that means “thousand-footer”!) Some others I like are “wrapped” = “umschlang,” and “dainty” = “zierliche.”

So, I’ve gotten through two paragraphs….

Here’s another good one, a page down:
“Jo climbed up onto the organ, a baroque machine with five keyboards, fifty pedals, and hundreds of little dials and switches. As she started to play, she saw Colonel Korsakov shouldering his way through the crowd, the daffodil bouncing on his head, asking everyone for Worcestershire sauce. “You can’t mix a proper Flaming Khrushchev without Worcestershire sauce!” he insisted to a skeptical bear. Jo waved at Korsakov and pointed him toward Aunt Lily; maybe she knew where the Worcestershire sauce was.”

This translates to:
“Sie stieg die kleine Treppe zur Orgel hinauf, einer barocken Apparatur mit fünf Tastaturen, fünfzig Pedalen und Hunderten von kleinen Schaltern und Schiebereglern. Als sie anfing zu spielen, sah sie, wie sich Oberst Korsakov durch die Menge drängte. Die Glockenblume wippte auf seinem Kopf, während er jeden, an dem er vorbeikam, nach Worcesterso?e fragte. ‘Ohne Worcesterso?e kann man keinen ordentliche Flammenden Chruschtschow mixen!’, versicherte er einem skeptischen Bären. Jo winkte dem Russen zu und deutete dann auf Tante Lily; vielleicht wusste sie ja, wo die Worcesterso?e war.”

Interesting. Jo doesn’t just climb up onto the organ in German, she climbs up the little steps to the organ. (I wonder how it got little steps?) Say the phrase for “dials and switches” three times fast: “Schaltern und Schiebereglern. Schaltern und Schiebereglern. Schaltern und Schiebereglern.” I confess, I can’t do it very fast at all. Must practice. It’s much longer than “dials and switches,” but a lot more fun to say.

And did you notice the Glockenblume is back? Yay for bell flowers! (I wonder. Was the town of Bellflower in the Los Angeles area founded by Germans?)

Also fun: “bouncing” = “wippte.”

I wonder. Does “waved” really translate to “winkte,” or in German did Jo wink at him instead of waving?

This brings us to the section I quoted heavily in my review, where we learn about Jo’s mysterious beginnings and Lily Larouche’s scandalous headlines.

“The story of Lily Larouche was well known.
She had been a famous actress long ago, with a reputation for strange behavior. The tabloids knew she was good for at least one sensational rumor per week:




The rumors usually proved true. Lily Larouche had hurled a live rat at another actress who had insulted her. For many years, her red hot-air balloon had been a nuisance over Los Angeles, regularly disrupting air traffic. And Lily Larouche still had on her desk, floating in a jar of formaldehyde, the lonely eyebrows of President Eisenhower.”

This becomes:
“Der Geschichte von Lily Larouche war allgemein bekannt.
Vor langer Zeit war sie eine berühmte Schauspielerin gewesen, stand jetzt jedoch in dem Ruf, sich vor allem merkwürdig zu benehmen. Die Boulevardpresse wusste, dass sie wenigstens für einen sensationellen Skandal pro Woche gut war.




Diese Gerüchte stellten sich normalerweise als zutreffend heraus. Lily Larouche hatte tatsächlich einer anderen Schauspielerin, die sie beleidigt hatte, eine lebendige Ratte an den Kopf geworfen. Und viele Jahre lang war ihr roter Hei?tluftballon ein Ärgernis gewesen, weil er regelmä?ig den Luftverkehr über Los Angeles störte. Und in ihrer Schreibtischschublade verwahrte Lily Larouche noch immer in einem mit Formaldehyd gefüllten Glas die Augenbrauen von Präsident Eisenhower auf.”

Now, some phrases from this so interesting passage:

“actress” = “Schauspielerin” (“show-player”)

“strange” = “merkwürdig” (“mark-worthy”)

“tabloids” = “Boulevardpresse”

“rodent” = “Nagetier”

“reckless” = “rücksichtslosen” (“without hindsight”) (Kind of makes you wonder if our English word came from the German.)

and of course: “hot-air balloon” = “Hei?tluftballon”

“heartsick” = “liebeskranker”

“desperate” = “verzweifeltem”

“eyebrows” = “Augenbrauen”

“nuisance” = “Ärgernis”

“disrupting air traffic over Los Angeles” = “regelmä?ig den Luftverkehr über Los Angeles störte” (störte means “destroy” and regel means “rules” and Luftverkehr is air traffic, so I think this is saying that she destroys the rule-following air traffic over Los Angeles.)

Hmm. They don’t actually call the eyebrows “lonely” in German.

Well, I’m tuckered out. I still haven’t finished the first chapter. But I am definitely having lots of fun, so what’s the rush?

Tune in for next week’s Sonderling Sunday, when I will attempt to finish Chapter One!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter One

Okay, last Fall, when James Kennedy sent me a copy of Der Orden der Seltsamer Sonderlinge, I was super excited and promised to blog about reading it. Then last night, when I was thinking about how I’d finally get my review of The Order of Odd-Fish posted today, I wondered when I would start blogging about the German version.

I’ve been following Liz Burns’ reading of Frankenstein, reading along and enjoying her blog posts for “Frankenstein Friday.” That’s when it hit me: I’ve got the perfect title with “Sonderling Sunday.” So that means I simply have to start tonight!

You know, I’d love to have others join me. Since one translation of “Sonderling” is Nerd, maybe some members of the Nerdy Book Club would like to celebrate Sonderling Sundays in their own special way? Maybe it’s something Nerdfighters should celebrate? Then again, it’s going to be about the fun of words and translating a story between languages, so maybe my sister, a self-proclaimed Word Lover, would like to take part? Anyone who thinks of a way to celebrate Sonderling Sundays with me, please let me know in the comments! Meanwhile, let me begin with Chapter One.

The Order of Odd-Fish, Chapter One: 12 pages
Der Orden der Seltsamer Sonderlinge, 1. Kapitel: 14 pages.

With this first chapter, I don’t have to worry about spoilers. With all the chapters, I think it would be nice to give the first sentence in each language (where that won’t cause a spoiler, anyway).

“The desert was empty, as though a great drain had sucked the world underground.”
“Die Wuste war leer, als hätte ein gro?er Abfluss die Welt weggesaugt.”

Weggesaugt. That’s a good word. (Vay-ga-sowgt) You can almost hear the giant sucking sound.

The paragraph about the costume party has some good words:
“A man dressed as an astronaut chatted with a devil.”
“Ein Mann, der wie ein Astronaut gekleidet war, plauderte mit einem Teufel.”

“A gang of cavemen sipped fizzing cocktails.”
“Eine Rotte Höhlenmenschen nippte an sprudelnden Cocktails.”

“A Chinese emperor flirted with a robot, a pirate arm-wrestled a dinosaur, a giant worm danced with a refrigerator — it was Lily Larouche’s Christmas party, and all her old friends had come.”
“Ein chinesischer Kaiser flirtete mit einem Arbeiter, ein Pirat spielte mit einem Dinosaurier Armdrücken und ein gigantischer Wurm tanzte mit einem Kühlschrank. Es war Lily Larouches Weihnachtsmaskenball und all ihre alten Freunde waren gekommen.”

I don’t know about you, but doesn’t a “Weihnachtsmaskenball” sound more fun than a simple Christmas party? And it includes that it’s a masked ball. I don’t think it was a stretch for the translators to include that detail, given the characters we’ve already seen.

Interesting. When they translate the sentences where we meet Jo Larouche, they don’t include the final phrase:
“It was a thirteen-year-old girl, small and thin, with brown skin and black bobbed hair. Her name was Jo Larouche. She was Lily Larouche’s niece. She also lived at the ruby palace, and she was spying.”
“Es war ein dreizehnjähriges Mädchen, ein kleines, dünnes Ding mit brauner Haut und schwarzen, zu einem Bob gestutzten Haaren. Sein Name war Jo Larouche. Es war Lily Larouches Nichte, die ebenfalls im Rubinpalast wohnte.”

You see? Nothing at all about her spying. You think they decided the earlier information that she was hiding in a bush was enough?

They do translate a sentence in the next paragraph:
“Jo never talked to Aunt Lily’s friends, but she loved spying on them.”
“Sie sprach zwar nie mit Tante Lilys Freunden, liebte es jedoch, ihnen nachzuspionieren.”

There’s another word I can’t help but love: “nachzuspionieren.” something like “to spy upon” but so much cooler sounding!

Here’s another sentence for which I just have to check the translation:
“A couple of feet away, a woman disguised as an enormous eggplant was talking to a man dressed like a UFO.”
This becomes:
“Ein Stück neben ihr redete eine als gewaltige Aubergine verkleidete Frau mit einem Mann, der wie ein UFO ausschaute.”

There you have it. Who wouldn’t want to know the German words for “an enormous eggplant”? “Eine gewaltige Aubergine.” That’s got to be useful knowledge.

Oh, and an even more useful phrase comes up in the very next paragraph:
“‘Did you see?’ whispered the eggplant. ‘Lily’s gone nuts again.'”
“‘Hast du das gesehen?’, flüsterte die Aubergine. ‘Lily is wieder mal völlig durchgeknallt.'”

Okay, I think that “gone nuts” is easier to say than “völlig durchgeknallt.” But maybe that’s just me.

The man’s response is definitely not as good as the English one “Cracked as a crawdad.” In German, he says, “Sie ist verrückt wie ein Flusskrebs.” No, sorry, not as good. It’s charming in English because it’s alliterative. Take that away, and I don’t think it really works.

Here’s a good paragraph, where the fat Russian Jo noticed earlier turns up again:

“Es war der fette Russe. Wo war er blo? so plötzlich hergekommen? Er war ein schwerfälliges, schäbiges, gewichtiges und auf absurde Weise würdevolles Mammut von einem Mann, mit einem zuckenden wei?en Backenbart in einer glänzenden Uniform, und schwang einen gro?en schwarzen Gehstock.”

Oh, and what that means is:
“It was the fat Russian again — where had he come from? — a lumbering, shaggy, harrumphing, absurdly dignified mastodon of a man, with twitching white whiskers and a gleaming uniform, swinging a great black cane.”

I could be wrong, but I don’t think the translator even made an attempt at translating “harrumphing.” What a shame!

Okay, here’s another exquisite English paragraph. How will this translate?

“‘Do you understand what it means to disturb my digestion, sir?’ said the Russian. ‘That even now, my stomach rumbles with contempt? That my kidneys flood with excruciating acids? That my entire gastrointestinal tract revolts at your ungentlemanly conduct?'”

I don’t know. That’s an awfully high standard to hit. Here’s the translated version:

“‘Ist Euch klar, was es bedeutet, meine Verdauung zu stören, Sir?’, erkundigte sich der Russe. ‘Was es hei?t, dass in diesem Moment mein Bauch vor Verachtung brodelt? Dass meine Nieren in unerträglichen Säuren schwimmen? Mein gesamter Gastrointestinaltrakt angesichts Eures unhöflichen Verhaltens revoltiert?'”

(I don’t know how to get German quotation marks on my computer, so I’m just substituting English ones.)

I kind of like the way the kidneys sentence turned out: “Dass meine Nieren in unerträglichen Säuren schwimmen?”

I like this one:
“‘I am a daffodil,’ he murmured uncomfortably.”
This translates to
“‘Ich gehe als Glockenblume’, erklärte er murmelnd, fühlte sich jedoch sichtlich unwohl dabei.”

A few more words than the English version this time! But what I like about it is the translation of “daffodil,” which I hadn’t seen before. “Glockenblume” is a portmanteau word (like so many German words) meaning “bell flower.” Isn’t that nice?

Well, I’ve taken far too long on this, and Sunday is over, so I won’t finish the first chapter tonight. But what a fun way to increase my German vocabulary, don’t you think? Forgive me if this is boring for those who don’t have a smattering of German, but I’m afraid I’m enjoying it very much. So tune in next week for the next Sonderling Sunday!

A Sonderbook Indeed!

Those who read my blog should know by now that Sonder is a German prefix meaning “special.” I put that statement at the bottom of every page.

You may also realize that I have a thing about my name. I get a thrill any time I see it in print, spelled correctly. All my years in school, teachers who had just met me would always, or it seemed always, read my name as “Sandy.” I had one Sunday School teacher who, for a few years, called me Sandra. I did not like him.

The story went that my parents named me “Sondy” instead of “Sandy” because they wanted to have a boy named “Randy,” and that would be too much alike. (And I do indeed have a little brother named Randy.) My mother’s mother had a piano student named “Sondra,” and they decided they liked the name and would use that. Some time or other, my Mom told me they expected me to go by Sondra, but they called me “Sondy,” and so that’s what I went by when I got to school age. If Sandra’s can go by Sandy, it seems perfectly logical for Sondra to go by Sondy, right?

But somehow, people can’t seem to read the name “Sondy.” They always seem to think they’re not seeing it right, or it’s spelled wrong or something. I also found that when I went by a display of Name souvenirs — like California license plates with people’s names, or necklaces with people’s names, or key chains, or whatever you might hope to find — well, there was never a Sondra or a Sondy in the crowd. I know. I always looked.

So, I got to Germany. I very very quickly spotted that Sonder is a prefix meaning “special.” There was a town relatively near us called Sonderhausen (“special houses”). I looked on a map for more Sonder towns, and about popped my eyes out when I discovered an actual village that shared my name. I dragged my family three hours to get a picture with the sign. (We went to a castle while we were at it, of course.)

Stores would offer a Sonderangebot (“special offer”). Of course, childishly, my very favorite German word quickly became Sonderfahrt (“special trip”).

I looked in my German dictionary for more Sonder words, knowing that in German, the dictionary will by no means list them all. I found some fun ones: Sonderaustellung, “special exhibit”; Sonderfall, “special case”; sonderlich, “remarkable”; Sondernummer, “special edition”; Sonderpreis, “special price”; Sonderstellung, “exceptional position”; Sonderurlaub, “emergency leave”; and Sonderzug, “special train.”

As I was so pleased to read all the ways Sonder means special, I was a bit embarrassed when I read the definition of Sonderling: “queer (or eccentric) fellow, crank.” But all my years in Germany, I never heard anyone use that word or saw it written, so I decided I could safely focus on the “special” meaning.

With all that, you can see why the name of my website was easy to choose. In fact, I talked about making a website called “Sonderbooks” for quite some time before I actually did it.

Okay, many years after starting my website, I attended the 2010 ALA Conference in Washington, DC. At the YA Coffee Klatch, I met James Kennedy.

When James described his book, The Order of Odd-Fish, the sense of humor struck me as quirky and clever and delightful. I was sure my sons would love it, since it reminded me of Douglas Adams, so I bought a copy for my younger son’s 16th birthday.

Well, a year later, I was on my way to ALA Annual Conference again. My son still hadn’t read it, and I still hadn’t read it, but James Kennedy’s name was in the program, and I thought how I’d hate to meet him again without having read his book. So I brought it along and began it on the flight there, and finished it on the flight back.

As luck would have it, I did meet James again, this time at the Newbery Banquet. And I was able to tell him that I was reading his book!

I also had the fun of tweeting my reactions as I finished the book while traveling. (Completely fun book!)

Okay, so a few months ago, James announced on his website that The Order of Odd-Fish was being translated into German.

Dear Reader, imagine my delight when I learned the title: Der Orden der Seltsamer Sonderlinge! Yes, that’s right! Remember the “queer or eccentric fellow” the “crank”? Seltsamer basically means “strange” and Sonderlinge is simply the plural form of that delightful word Sonderling. (By the way, I was very happy to learn that more modern dictionaries include the word “nerd” in the definition.)

Well, I expressed my delight via Twitter to James, and he very kindly promised me a German copy.

And it arrived last night! Actually, I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t check my mail the day before yesterday, so it may have come then. When I found it, I suddenly felt much better!

I was especially delighted that my son, who is in his fourth year of studying German, and has actually begun The Order of Odd-Fish now, snagged the German edition before I could look at it very hard. We looked up important things. Like, how did they translate “the Belgian Prankster”? Answer: der Belgische Scherzkeks. Looking up the parts of that word in my German dictionary, prankster is basically “joke-cookie.” Don’t you love those German compound words?

We both were compelled to read the jacket copy on the back aloud, and were both delighted with the parts we understood. For example, I quickly grasped “Jo trifft auf eine sprechende Riesenkakerlake,” which means “Jo met a giant talking cockroach.”

The first thing you notice about the German edition is that it looks much bigger than the English edition. Here’s another view that shows this even more clearly:

The English edition is 403 pages, but the German edition is 511. James put a note in the book suggesting that perhaps they added scenes when translating. That would be fun to discover, but I think a simple listing of random sentences will show a simple truth: German sentences take more space to write than English ones.

Let’s look at the first sentence:
“The desert was empty, as though a great drain had sucked the world underground.”

Auf Deutsch:
“Die Wüste war leer, als hätte ein gro?er Abfluss die Welt weggesaugt.”

Okay, that one does not prove my point. Let’s try another:

“A giant cockroach had walked into the room, three feet tall, wearing a purple velvet suit with a silk shirt, cravat, and bowler hat.”

Auf Deutsch:
“Eine gigantische Kakerlake hatte den Raum betreten. Sie war mindestens einen Meter fünfzig gro?, trug einen violetten Samtanzug, darunter ein Seidenhemd, eine Krawatte und einem Bowler auf dem Kopf.”

That one’s more what I expected. Though why do you suppose they had to mention he had the Bowler on his head (auf dem Kopf)? Maybe a Bowler isn’t always a hat?

Anyway, surely you can see how much fun this is going to be.

Now, I’m horrified as I write this to realize I never did review The Order of Odd-Fish. I’m pretty sure it got out of my big To-Review pile this summer when my son did decide to finally read it. So I’m going to remedy that soon. However, though I can read German, I don’t read it very fast, so it would take who-knows-how-long for me to read the whole book and then report back.

So. I foresee a continuing feature. I mean surely the first time I see Sonderling actually used in print, I simply HAVE to feature it on Sonderbooks? I think after each chapter, I hope about once a week, I will post about my journey through this translation. I’ll explore how they express different unusual concepts and anything else that strikes my fancy. Since the book is definitely quirky, I hope I can work in some quirky observations.

I hope that my readers will enjoy joining me on my Sonderfahrt through Der Orden der Seltsamer Sonderlinge!