Sonderling Sunday – Der Lorax, Part Three

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

This week, I’m going to take another look at Der Lorax, by Dr. Seuss.


Last year, I found a German version of this classic when I shopped at Powell’s in Portland, and I looked at the beginning of the book, and then the second part. It is time to push onward!

With The Lorax, it’s fun to do sections at a time, because this is poetry! I’ll include the original, the translation, and then give an idea of how the translation reads, literally.

I had just finished the part where the Once-ler had laid out his Thneed Scheme.

“‘I repeat,’ cried the Lorax,
‘I speak for the trees!’
‘I’m busy,’ I told him.
‘Shut up, if you please.'”

= „Ich sprech’ für die Bäume,
den die Bäume sind stumm!?
„Tut mir leid, ich hab’s eilig,
und schrei nicht so rum.?

(“I speak for the trees,
for the trees are silent!
I’m sorry, I’m in a hurry,
and don’t shriek so loud.”)

I like it when the translator makes up words. Since, after all, Dr. Seuss does the same.

“I rushed ‘cross the room, and in no time at all,
built a radio-phone. I put in a quick call.
I called all my brothers and uncles and aunts
and I said, “Listen here! Here’s a wonderful chance
for the whole Once-ler Family to get might rich!
Get over here fast! Take the road to North Nitch.
Turn left at Weehawken. Sharp right at South Stitch.”

Ich rannte durchs Zimmer und baute ganz fix
ein Funktelefon, in null Komma nix.
Ich rief meine Brüder und Onkel und Tanten.
„Ich hab sie, die Chance für alle Verwandten!
Die Einstler-Familie wird saumäßig reich!
Kommt schnell, fahrt Richtung Nordwudelwaldeich,
biegt ab bei Hühhotten, scharf rechts bei Südschleich.?

(“I ran across the room and built entirely
a radio-telephone, in zero point zero.
I called my brothers and uncles and aunts.
‘I have for you the chance for all the relatives!
The Onceler Family will be lousy rich!
Come quickly, drive in the direction of North-wudel-forest-oak,
turn off at Hoo-hotten, sharp right at South-creeping.'”)

“And, in no time at all,
in the factory I built,
the whole Once-ler Family
was working full tilt.
We were all knitting Thneeds
just as busy as bees,
to the sound of the chopping
of Truffula Trees.”

Schon bald strickte dort
in der neuen Fabrik
die Einstler-Familie
im Schichtbetrieb.
Wir strickten die Schnäuchte,
die Nadel klackte
zum Takt der Axt, die die Bäume hackte.

(“Soon knitted there
in the new factory
the Onceler Family
in shift-work.
We knitted the Thneeds,
the needles clacked
to the beat of the axes, that the trees hacked.”)

It’s fun to see what they do with this:

Oh! Baby! Oh!
How my business did grow!
Now, chopping one tree
at a time
was too slow.
So I quickly invented the Super-Axe-Hacker
which whacked off four Truffula Trees at one smacker.”

Und dann ging es los …
Mein lieber Schwan!
Der Laden fing zu brummen an!
Doch nur eine Axt
war mir viel zu lahm.
Schnell erfand ich das Super-Axt-Abhackmobil.
Das fällte die Bäume, gleich viermal so viel!

(“And then it began…
my lovely swan!
The shop started to grow!
But only one axe
was for me much to lame.
Quickly invented I the Super-Axe-Hack-Down-Mobile.
That felled the trees, four times as much!”)

When the Lorax comes back:

“He snapped, ‘I’m the Lorax who speaks for the trees
which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please.
But I’m also in charge of the Brown Bar-ba-loots
who played in the shade in their Bar-ba-loot suits
and happily lived, eating Truffula fruits.

‘NOW . . . thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground,
there’s not enough Truffula Fruit to go ’round.
And my poor Bar-ba-loots are all getting the crummies
because they have gas, and no food, in their tummies!'”

= „Ich bin der Lorax, der die Bäume vertritt,
die du schneidest mit deinem Hackebeilschnitt.
Doch ich spreche
auch für die Braunfelliwullis,
die glücklich in ihren Braunfellipullis
die Nüsse naschten im Trüffelaschatten
und immer genügend zu essen hatten.

Doch seit DU hier anfingst, die Bäume zu hacken,
sitzt den Braunfelliwullis der Hunger im Nacken.
Die armen Kleinen, was sollen sie machen?
Mit knurrendem Magen gibt’s nichts zu lachen.?

(“I am the Lorax, who the trees represents,
which you cut with your Cleaver-Cutter.
But I speak also for the Brown-felli-woolies,
who happily in their Brown-felli-pullovers
the nuts nibbled in the Truffula shadows
and always enough to eat had.

But since YOU here started, the trees to hack,
sit the Brown-felli-woolies with hunger in their necks.
The poor littles, what shall they do?
With growling stomachs there’s nothing to laugh about.”)

And we’ll finish on a sad note as the Brown Bar-ba-loots walk off:

“I, the Once-ler, felt sad
as I watched them all go.
BUT . . .
business is business!
And business must grow
regardless of crummies in tummies, you know.”

= Ich war etwas traurig,
da gingen sie nun.
Geschäft ist Geschäft!
Da kann man nichts tun.
Ob mit oder ohne Geknurre im Magen:
Geschäft ist Geschäft
kann ich da nur sagen.

(“I was somewhat sad,
there they went now.
Business is business!
You can’t do anything about that.
With or without growling in stomachs:
Business is business
can I only say.”)

I’ll stop there for tonight!

Now you know a slightly more polite way to shut someone up!
Tut mir leid, ich hab’s eilig,
und schrei nicht so rum.

Bis bald!