Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Seven – Here’s to Villainy!

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! Where we play with words in all their nerdy glory, by looking at the German translation of The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy, in the volume Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge.

I’m on Chapter Seven, which begins on page 60 in the English version and on page 78 in the German translation.

My caption comes from the first sentence. And I will continue, because it’s too full of wonderful words and alliterative delights not to mention:

“Here’s to villainy!” cried Ken Kiang, lifting his glass. “Here’s to wicked work well wrought! Here’s to outrage, injustice! Violence and venom! Marvelous murderers and cutthroat criminals! I embrace you all, brothers! I’m one of you now!

How will the translator deal with this? Will he attempt to retain the alliteration? Will he simply define the concepts as closely as possible? Will he retain the rollicking, roll-off-the-tongue language? The feeling of criminal glee in a moment of apparent triumph?

Here’s what the translator presents us with:

»Auf die Schurkerei!«, schrie Ken Kiang und hob sein Glas. »Auf gut gemachte widerliche Werke! Auf Wahnsinn und Ungerechtigkeit! Gewalt und Gift! Makellose Morde und gemeine Gauner! Ich umarme euch alle, Brüder! Ich bin jetzt einer von euch!

Answer? Yes, he pretty much kept the alliteration, with the understandable exception being “wicked work well wrought.” gut gemachte widerliche Werke is close, anyway.

Some other phrases to look at:
“villainy” = Schurkerei (Google translates this word “roguery”)

gut gemachte widerliche Werke would be “well-made disgusting work,” a good translation, I think, for “wicked work well wrought.”

“outrage, injustice!” is a pretty straight translation, Wahnsinn (“madness”) und Ungerechtigkeit

“Violence and venom!” = Gewalt und Gift!

“Marvelous murderers”= Makellose Morde (“flawless murders,” which is not quite the same thing, but worth it for the alliteration.)

“cutthroat criminals” = gemeine Gauner (“common crooks.” Hmm. Pretty good.)

Later, as Ken Kiang confesses:
“Until tonight, I was all hat and no cattle!” = Bis heute Nacht habe ich nur gebellt, nicht gebissen! They didn’t attempt the cowboy metaphor, but translated it as “I’d only barked, not bitten.”

And more alliteration: “It’s only now, with this magnificent quadruple murder, that I’ve married my malevolent mistress of malefaction and started sliding down the slippery slope to sweet sin!” There’s not as much alliteration in the translation, but there is some: Erst jetzt, nach diesem herrlichen vierfachen Mord, habe ich endlich meine bösartige Geliebte der Schandtaten geheiratet und den ersten Schritt getan, um diese schlüpfrig schiefe Bahn der sü?en Sünde hinabzugleiten!

“married my malevolent mistress of malefaction” = meine bösartige Geliebte der Schandtaten geheiratet (“my evil Beloved of crime married”)

“started sliding down the slippery slope to sweet sin” = den ersten Schritt getan, um diese schlüpfrig schiefe Bahn der sü?en Sünde hinabzugleiten! Yeah, okay, that just isn’t the same. But it means “took the first steps to slide down the slippery sloping path of sweet sins.”

schlüpfrig schiefe Bahn is almost, but not quite, as good as “slippery slope” because the slippery sound of schlüpfrig schiefe almost makes up for the out of place word Bahn. But I’m sorry, “slide down” fits much, much better into the sentence than hinabzugleiten! I do have to say that sü?en Sünde is much more seductive sounding than “sweet sins.”

Moving on, I’d like to say a little bit about Pie.

Hoagland Shanks is obsessed with pie. This is translated as “Kuchen.” Now, I always was told that “Kuchen” is “cake.”

Ah, but some things are un-translatable! I’m not crazy about a lot of German food. Not a big fan of various kinds of Schnitzels. But anything that comes from a German bakery? Outstanding.

This kind of explains why my dear German friend, Elfriede, called all of the wide range of German pastries, “cake.” They were called Kuchen, which she’d been told is the English word “cake.” But, truth be told, we simply don’t have English words for all the kinds of German kuchen available.

For example, when Elfriede would take a break and go to the “coffee place,” she’d always want to bring me something, and she’d ask what I wanted: “fruity or creamy?” One of my favorites was Flockensahne which was almost (but not quite) a phyllo dough filled with cream. (Ha! I found an image on the internet. Follow the link to see the credit for this image of Flockensahne.)

Would you call that Pie? Certainly not! But it’s not exactly cake either.

And when we’d go there on my birthday in June, I’d always have one of the concoctions that involved fresh strawberries. This Erdbeerkuchen is similar to strawberry pie. Similar, but not the same.

Mmmm. I’m getting so hungry. Thinking about those wonderful birthdays in Germany always makes me nostalgically sad. (The weather is always perfect in June as well. We’d go to a castle for dinner…..)

However, as it appears that Americans do not have words to adequately describe German Kuchen, neither do Germans have words for pie. This is perhaps appropriate, since haven’t we all heard the words “as American as apple pie”?

I like where Hoagland Shanks tells Ken Kiang to stop waxing so eloquent and get him some pie:

“Now talk sense, talk pie!” = Jetzt reden Sie endlich Klartext, reden Sie von Kuchen!

I like Klartext. Make your text clear.

I have to mention this one:
“The Club of Weird Desserts” = dem Klub der Sonderbaren Desserts

A candidate for longest word!
“dormant taste buds” = schlummernde Geschmacksknospen (Yes, you pronounce both those ks.)

Oh! I spoke too soon! Here’s one with 23 letters:
“black-and-white TV” = Schwarzwei?fernsehgerät

This translation doesn’t come out as catchy:
“A deal’s a deal.” = Eine Abmachung ist eine Abmachung.

Nor this one:
“a mighty yawp” = einen lauten Schrei (“a loud cry”)

There we have it! That’s it for Chapter Seven. Summing up:

Longest word: Schwarzwei?fernsehgerät

Hardest to say: Geschmacksknospen

Most fun to say: sü?en Sünde

Clunkiest translation: habe ich endlich meine bösartige Geliebte der Schandtaten geheiratet

Best metaphor: nur gebellt, nicht gebissen

Best new concept: Klartext

Best use of the prefix Sonder: Sonderbaren Desserts

Tune in next week as we find out what happened to Jo and friends!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Six, Flying Away

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday again – Where I indulge in my nerdy passion for the curiosities of language. I’ve got a different picture this week, from a package that arrived yesterday that had me jumping up and down in excitement:

No, I’m not changing the book I’m using as a bizarre German phrasebook. But, you see, when Shannon Hale, one of my very favorite authors, posted on her blog various international covers of one of my very favorite books, Book of a Thousand Days, I couldn’t resist e-mailing her and telling her about Sonderling Sunday and asking if she might have a copy of Das Buch der Tausend Tage to send me, to be my next book to go through after I finish Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge. While she was at it, she sent an Advance Review Copy of Palace of Stone, sequel to Princess Academy. I’m so excited!

Mind you, I don’t need more German books. I’ve already shown off my collection. Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge has started me off on something I’m totally enjoying, in my own quirky way. I’m looking forward to going through some books originally written in German, like Momo, by Michael Ende, or Cornelia Funke’s books. But Das Buch der Tausend Tage! I’m so excited!

Anyway, that’s a preview of things to come. Now I’m on Chapter Six in Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the German translation of The Order of Odd-fish, by James Kennedy. This begins on page 53 in the English version and Seite 70 in the German.

Now, I’m afraid I may have been daunting non-German speakers by beginning with a full paragraph. No, you do not have to speak German to enjoy this. I was going to start today with merely sentences or phrases. However, the first paragraph is simply too choice! What turns of phrase! What things I must learn how to say in German! I mean, come on: “duct tape,” “indignant,” and “sputtering”! So here is the first paragraph of Chapter Six:

Colonel Korsakov’s plane, the Indignant, resembled a flying box cobbled out of bits of a dozen other planes, lashed together with chains, frayed rope, and duct tape. It seemed ready to collapse at any moment, but somehow kept sputtering through the sky, coughing and wobbling, plowing through the thunder and rain.

Here that is, rendered in German:

Oberst Korsakovs Flugzeug, die Echauffierte, ähnelte einer fliegenden Kiste, die aus Einzelteilen von einem Dutzend anderer Flugzeuge zusammengestellt worden war, mit Ketten, Faserseil und Klebeband. Sie drohte jeden Augenblick auseinanderzufallen, flog jedoch wie durch ein Wunder weiter und kämpfte sich stotternd und schwankend durch Sturm und Regen.

Such goodies! We have:

Indignant” = Echauffierte

“resembled” = ähnelte (Hmm. This reminds me of Ahnung, which means “Idea.” I learned Ahnung from reading Harry Potter books in German. They kept saying they had keine Ahnung, “no idea.”)

“box” = Kiste

“cobbled” = zusammengestellt (“together-asked”)

“chains” = Ketten

“frayed rope” = Faserseil (Google says that means “fiber cable”?!?)

“duct tape” = Klebeband (This just comes out as “adhesive tape.” Don’t they have a special word for duct tape?)

Ah! At 19 letters, a candidate for longest word of the day: “collapse” = auseinanderzufallen (“out of one another to fall”)

I like “somehow kept sputtering through the sky” translated as flog jedoch wie durch ein Wunder weiter (“flew however as through a wonder farther”)

und kämpfte sich stotternd und schwankend durch Sturm und Regen is the last phrase, which translates more literally as “and fought stuttering and fluctuating through storm and rain.”

Ah, lovely words just keep happening! I will refrain, however, from giving you the next complete paragraph, and settle for some choice words.

“mothbally” = Mottenkugeln (“moths scoops.” I know kugeln from ordering ice cream!)

“slapped” = geohrfeigt (“boxed on the ears”)

“domestic clutter” = Krimskrams (Google translates this as “odds and ends.” Great word!)

“dangled” = baumelte (This has the root for “tree,” baum in it.)

“crawlspace” = Kriechraums

“bomb bay” = Bombenschacht

Hmm. English says the colonel’s oboe hung in the bomb bay. German says Die Oboe des Obersts hung in its case in the bomb bay. Perhaps Germans are simply too appalled to think that an oboe might be hanging out of its case?

“blunderbuss” = Donnerbüchse (“Thunder rifle” I wonder if “blunderbuss” is a warped version of how this sounds.)

I like the way this sounds: “shoebox” = Schuhschachtel

“cufflinks” = Manschettenknöpfen (“Men’s cuffs buttons”)

“jawbone” = Kieferknochen (Fun to say!)

“untidy bag of bolts” = unordentlichen Blechkiste (“unorderly tin box”)

“laughingstock” = Gespött

“antennae” = Fühler (“feelers”)

“beady eyes” = Knopfaugen (“button eyes”)

“Fleet of Fury” = Furiose Flotte (Ah! Alliteration retained!)

“sleek” = schlanke

“dive” = Sturzflug (“fall-fly”)

“swatting” = scheuchte

“tumbled” = taumelte

“not much of an excuse” = zwar ein recht fadenscheiniger Vorwand (“indeed a right flimsy excuse”)

“crushed” = zermalmt

“streaming fire” = mit einem Feuerschweif (“with a fire-tail”)

“conqueror” = Bezwinger

“For the love of Lenin” = Bei Lenins Liebe (Oo, that one’s even better in German!)

“silly things” = alberne Dinge

Huh? “dandelions” = Gänseblümchen (“gooseflowers”)

“burping” = zirpte

Okay, this one just is NOT as good in German! “Babies! Beautiful, bouncing babies!” = Babys! Sü?e umherkrabbelnde Babys! (“Babies! Sweet crawling-around babies!”)

“fussy British musicians” = pedantischen britischen Musiker

“eaten” = verschlungen (“swallowed”)

That’s the end of Chapter Six. Next week, we’ll have Ken Kiang’s reaction to his apparent evil triumph.

Summing up:

Longest word: auseinanderzufallen

Most fun to say: Schuhschachtel

Best new word: Krimskrams

Best figure of speech: “as through a wonder”

Translation with most improvement: Bei Lenins Liebe

Translation with least improvement (indeed, the opposite of improvement): Babys! Sü?e umherkrabbelnde Babys!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Five, Ken Kiang

Happy Sonderling Sunday! Alles Gute zum Muttertag!

I want to point out that Sonderling Sunday is not necessarily for people who speak German. It’s for nerdy types (Sonderlinge) who enjoy playing with language, who enjoy looking at concepts from a new perspective (such as “knew by heart” translated as “knew like her own vest pocket”), or who enjoy the sounds of words (such as “Balderdash!” translated as Papperlapapp!).

For Sonderling Sunday, I use Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the German translation of James Kennedy’s The Order of Odd-Fish as a source for learning all the things you never knew you wanted to be able to say in German.

We’re on Chapter Five. This begins on page 48 of the English version, and Seite 65 auf Deutsch.

I’ll start with the opening (two) paragraphs:

But who is Ken Kiang?

Let us rewind to several years ago. Imagine a room — a large room, the size of a theater or cathedral. The room is almost empty, the walls bare, the floor nearly deserted.

This is translated as:

Wer ist nun Ken Kiang?

Gehen wir einige Jahre zurück. Stellen wir uns einen Raum vor, einen gro?en Raum etwa von der Grö?e eines Theaters oder einer Kathedrale. Der Raum is fast leer, die Wände sind nackt und es steht so gut wie nichts auf dem Boden.

There aren’t really new words in that section for me. The only thing I find particularly interesting is that the word translated from “bare,” is nackt, which I thought meant “naked.” And yes, that is the same meaning, but in English we tend to use naked more often for people and “bare” for things like walls. I would venture to guess that we got our English word “naked” from this source.

Going on, let’s look for some more interesting translations. In fact, a paragraph a little ways down the page has much more potential.

It is a small, wind-up brass donkey. Ken Kiang watches it trudge across his desk. The donkey is a medieval Arabic automaton he unearthed at a recent archaeological dig in Syria. He wants to be impressed by its unique workmanship. He longs to glory in its exquisite detail. He aches to be fascinated by its stunning ingenuity.

It bores him.

Auf Deutsch:

Es ist ein kleiner Blechesel zum Aufziehen. Ken Kiang sieht zu, wie er über seinen Schreibtisch hoppelt. Der Esel ist ein mittelalterlicher arabischer Automat, den er bei einer archäologischen Ausgrabung in Syrien kürzlich gefunden hat. Er würde sich gerne von der einzigartigen Handwerkskunst beeindrucken lassen, sehnt sich danach, sich in den wundervollen Einzelheiten zu verlieren. Er wünscht sich beinahe schmerzhaft, von der verblüffenden Genialität dieses Apparates fasziniert zu sein.

Er langweilt ihn.

Here we have:

“brass donkey” = Blechesel

“trudge” = hoppelt (I suspect it’s really saying the brass donkey hopped across the desk.)

I still enjoy that “impressed” goes back to the same roots in German. I know this because on the computer printing out something in English is ausdrucken in German. And the translation for “impressed” is beeindrucken. I think that’s sort of like “imprinted,” which you have to admit is in the word “impressed” when you really look at it.

“stunning ingenuity” = verblüffenden Genialität

Onward! Some more interesting words and phrases:

“weary” = überdrüssig

“most rare” = seltensten (This clearly has the same root as in the word “Odd” = seltsamen

“experiences” = Erfahrungen (This has fahr, the root for “travel” in it.)

“connoisseur’s instinct” = Genie?erinstinkte

“homeless shelter” = Obdachlosenunterkunft (literally, something like “whether-roofless-accommodation” and “accommodation” is literally “under future.”)

“verve” = Schwung (Google translates this “momentum.”)

“showmanship” = Publikumswirksamkeit (I’m going to start looking for the longest word in each section. So far, Obdachlosenunterkunft has it by one letter.)

“charities” = Mildtätigkeit (Hmm. Google just translates this as “mild activites”)

“more obscure crusades” = düstereren Kreuzzügen (literally, “darker cross trains”)

“ambitious” = ehrgeiziges (literally “honor stingy”)

“baffled needy” = verblüfften Bedürftigen

“laurels” = Lorbeeren

An even longer word!:
charity programs = Wohltätigkeitsprogramme

“standard for excellence” = Ma?stäbe (The German is shorter than the English! Literally, this is “measure-bars”)

Here’s a good one!
“when inspiration struck” = als ihn die Muse küsste (“when the muse kissed him.”)

“clods” = Schwachköpfe (“weakheads”)

“dabbled” = dilettierte

“itched” = juckte

“use it to great effect” = wirkungsvoll in Szene zu setzen (“effectively set the scene”)

That’s it for Chapter 5!

Longest word of the day: Wohltätigkeitsprogramme

Most fun figure of speech: als ihn die Muse küsste

Best insult: Schwachköpfe

Most fun to say: verblüfften Bedürftigen

Tune in next week, when Jo, Aunt Lily, Colonel Korsakov, and Sefino flee from the evil Ken Kiang!

Sonderling Sunday – Escape from the Ruby Palace

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! I’m on Chapter Four, Part Three in my use of The Order of Odd-Fish and Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge in a quest to learn how to say bizarre things in German.

We’re on page 40 in the English version, and Seite 55 in the German version. Here’s the first paragraph of the next section:

Jo and Colonel Korsakov raced down the foggy, twisty passages, searching for Sefino. The deeper they plunged into the palace, the thicker the clammy clouds of insecticide became, until they had to hold handkerchiefs to their noses to breathe.

Auf Deutsch:

Jo und Oberst Korsakov rannten durch die leeren, verschlungenen Gänge und suchten Sefino. Je weiter sie in den Farbenpalast vordrangen, desto dichter wurde die verdammte Wolke aus Insektiziden, bis sie sich Taschentücher vor die Nasen halten mussten, damit sie Luft bekamen.

I know I’m getting better at German from this process, because nothing about that passage surprised me. However, I’ll make some observations.

I know we’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s still fun to say. “twisty” = verschlungenen

“plunged” = vordrangen

“clammy clouds” = verdammte Wolke (No, they’re not swearing. It’s damp.) I have to admit that the English for that one sounds better. (What can I say, I like alliteration.)

You know, when I typed “handkerchiefs” I thought that must be a word of German origins, being a portmanteau word, and since I know “hand” itself comes from German. And doesn’t “kerchief” sound like it’s probably of German origin? But the actual German word is even better. Taschentücher means “pocket cloths.” Isn’t that perfect?

Going on, I’ll list some interesting words:

“greenhouse” = Gewächshauses (“plant house,” and “plant” is same root as “to grow”)

“prodding” = piksten (like “poke,” I think.)

“pleased with himself” = selbstzufrieden (for once, the German is shorter!)

“multiply” = vervielfachen (“for many times”)

“duties” = Pflichten

Here’s a lovely long one:
“differences” = Meinungsverschiedenheiten (“opinion differences”)

“tender recesses” = zarten Gliederungen (“tender outlines”)

“inconveniences” = Unbequemlichkeiten (Funny. I was investigating this word. As did not surprise me, bequem means “convenient.” More interesting: bequemlich means “sedentary.” I guess inconveniences are things that don’t allow you to be sedentary.)

“barked” = blaffte

This one uses a funny idiom in place of an English one:
“Jo knew the twisting maze of the ruby palace by heart.” becomes Jo kannte das verschlungene Labyrinth des Rubinpalastes wie Ihre eigene Westentasche.

wie Ihre eigene Westentasche means “like her own vest pocket.”

“wide-brimmed” = breitkrempigen

I like the word at the end of this sentence:
Das Faktotum packte Ken Kiangs Hand und schüttelte sie wie einen Pumpenschwengel.

That’s translated from: “Hoagland Shanks grabbed Ken Kiang’s hand, shaking it vigorously.” wie einen Pumpenschwengel means “like a pump handle.”

“suffocating” = erstickend

“double doors” = Flügeltüren (“flying doors”)

“glory of battle” = der Pracht der Schlacht

“whacking him with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs” = Sie schlugen mit Gehstöcken, Krücken und Rollatoren auf ihn ein.

A new word for “crop duster” is Sprühflugzeug. (“spray flying thing”)

And that gets us through Chapter Four! Summing up, I think my favorite words of the day are Pumpenschwengel und der Pracht der Schlacht.

Happy Sonderling Sunday! Do something today to make yourself selbstzufrieden.

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!