Sonderling Sunday – Momo, A Usual Dispute

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, or in this case, the English translation of a German children’s book. This week, I’ll be back with the German classic, Momo, by Michael Ende.

I’ve been busy this weekend, with Sunday my only day off work, so I don’t have a lot of time to spend. But I didn’t want to skip Sonderling Sunday this week, since I missed last week. So here goes!

Last time I looked at Momo, I left off in the middle of Chapter Two, which in German is Eine ungewöhnliche Eigenschaft und ein ganz gewöhnlicher Streit, “An unusual character and a completely usual dispute.” In English, it’s just called “Listening.” We finished the “unusual character” part last time, and now we’re on page 12 in the English version and Seite 21 auf Deutsch. I will dive in with some fun phrases, which I hope will motivate readers to look for this incredibly good book.

auf den Tod zerstritten hatten = “quarreled violently”
(literally, “to the death divided had”)

in Feindschaft lebten = “live at daggers drawn”
(“in enemity live”)

geweigert = “objected”

This one isn’t translated directly, so I’ll do the whole sentence:
Nun sa?en sie also im Amphitheater, stumm und feindselig, jeder auf einer anderen Seite der steinernen Sitzreihen, und schauten finster vor sich hin.
= “So there the two men sat, one on each side of the stone arena, silently scowling at nothing in particular.”
(“Now sat they in the amphitheater, silent and hostile, each on another side of the stone rows of seats, and looked darkly at each other.”)

ein starker Kerl = “a strapping fellow”

mit einem schwarzen, aufgezwirbelten Schnurrbart
= “with a black mustache that curled up at the ends”

mager = “skinny”

verstockt = “stubborn as a mule”

puterrot vor Zorn = “puce with rage”

ballte die Fäuste = “clenching his fists”

Aber da siehst du, Momo, wie er lügt und verleumdet!
=”There you are, Momo, you see the dirty lies he tells?”
(“But there you see, Momo, how he lies and slanders!”)

Kragen = “scruff of the neck” (“collar”)

Spülwasserpfütze = “pool of slops” (“rinsing-water-puddle”)

seiner Spelunke = “lousy inn of his” (“his dive”)

ersaufen = “drown”

Beschimpfungen = “insults”

Schandtat = “assaulting”

Ninos ganzes Geschirr zu zertrümmern = “tried to smash all his crockery”

Krug = “jug”

geschmissen = “threw”

Urgro?vater = “great grandfather”

Schiefen Turm von Pisa = “Leaning Tower of Pisa”

knallroten = “bright red”

Wer nichts wird, wird Wirt. = “This inn is out.”
(I don’t get it, but it comes out literally as: “Who nothing will, will Host.”)

Ah, jetzt wirst du bla?! = “Ah, that’s floored you, hasn’t it!”
(“Ah, now you are pale!”)

Du hast du mich nämlich nach Strich und Faden übers Ohr gehauen
= “You cheated me right, left, and center”
(“You have me namely after line and thread over ear carved”)

Umgekehrt wird ein Schuh draus! = “You’ve got it the wrong way around.”
(“The other way around is a shoe out!” [“The shoe’s on the other foot”?])

hereinlegen = “cheat”

gelungen = “succeed”

geschicktes Feilschen = “skillful haggling”

Pappdeckel = “cardboard backing”

Übervorteilte = “outsmarted”

Getauscht ist getauscht! = “A deal’s a deal.”

Ein Handschlag gilt unter Ehrenmännern! = “We shook hands on it, after all.”
(“A handshake applies under honorable men.”)

jubilieren = “warble”

And to end off the chapter:
Und wer nun noch immer meint, zuhören sei nichts Besonderes, der mag nur einmal versuchen, ob er es auch so gut kann.
=”Those who still think that listening isn’t an art should see if they can do half so well.”
(“And who now still always thinks, listening is nothing special, they wish only once to try, if they it also can do so well.”)

Now we know what to call all those Beschimpfungen we learned from The Order of Odd-Fish. See if you get a chance to use some of these phrases this week!

Sonderling Sunday – Momo, Listening

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, or, in this case, the English translation of a German children’s book.

This week, I’m going back to one of my all-time favorite books, Momo, written in German by Michael Ende. Last time I covered Momo, I got through the entire first chapter, and also got to explain a little of why I love it so much.

This time, I’m going to dive in, beginning on Zweites Kapitel (“Second Chapter”), Eine ungewöhnliche Eigenschaft und ein ganz gewöhnlicher Streit. The chapter is, however, simply titled “Listening” in English. A literal translation of the German title is “An unusual character and a completely usual dispute.” A little more descriptive, don’t you think?

I like the first sentence, so I’ll quote the entire thing:
Von nun an ging es der kleinen Momo gut, jedenfalls nach ihrer eigenen Meinung.
= “Momo was comfortably off from now on, at least in her own estimation.”

mal mehr, mal weniger
= “sometimes more and sometimes less”

wie die Leute es entbehren konnten
= “what people could spare”

unentbehrlich = “indispensable”

nach und nach = “in time” (“by and by”)

feststehenden Redensart = “stock phrase” (“fast-standing phrase-type”)

unglaublich klug = “incredibly smart”

geheimnisvollen Spruch = “magic spell” (“mystery-full speech”)

And the key word of the book:
Zuhören = “listening”

I like the way the author addresses the reader:
Das ist doch nichts Besonderes, wird nun vielleicht mancher Leser sagen, zuhören kann doch jeder.
= “Anyone can listen, you may say — what’s so special about that?”
(Literally: “That is in fact not special, will now perhaps some reader say, listening can anyone do, actually.”)

Aber das ist ein Irrtum.
= “But you’d be wrong.”

ganz und gar einmalig
= “quite unique”

Momo konnte so zuhören, da? dummen Leuten plötzlich sehr gescheite Gedanken kamen.
= “She listened in a way that made slow-witted people have flashes of inspiration.”
(“Momo could so listen, that dumb people suddenly very clever thoughts came.” — Good thing they didn’t translate it like that!)

Aufmerksamkeit = “attention” (“out-marking-ness”)

Anteilnahme = “sympathy” (“interest-taking”)

ratlose oder unentschlossene Leute = “worried or indecisive people”
(“advice-less or un-closed people”)

Schüchterne = “shy people”

I like the conclusion of this section:
Und wenn jemand meinte, sein Leben sei ganz verfehlt und bedeutungslos und er selbst nur irgendeiner unter Millionen, einer, auf den es überhaupt nicht ankommt und der ebenso schnell ersetzt werden kann wie ein kaputter Topf – und er ging hin und erzählte alles das der kleinen Momo, dann wurde ihm, noch während er redete, auf geheimnisvolle Weise klar, da? er sich gründlich irrte, da? es ihn, genauso wie er war, unter allen Menschen nur ein einziges Mal gab und da? er deshalb auf seine besondere Weise für die Welt wichtig war.
So konnte Momo zuhören!

= “And if someone felt that his life had been an utter failure, and that he himself was only one among millions of wholly unimportant people who could be replaced as easily as broken windowpanes, he would go and pour out his heart to Momo. And, even as he spoke, he would come to realize by some mysterious means that he was absolutely wrong: that there was only one person like himself in the whole world, and that, consequently, he mattered to the world in his own particular way.
Such was Momo’s talent for listening.”

Let’s face it, with this book, it’s not so much about the cool words as that I so love what they say!

Anyway, that was only the “Unusual character” part of chapter two, but I’m trying not to go on so long, so that will do it for tonight!

In honor of Momo, try a little zuhören this week!

Sonderling Sunday – Neverending, Unendliche

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

Last week, my Sonderling Sunday post was interrupted when I found out the offer I’d made on a new home was accepted, and I was way too distracted to continue. (I’m so excited! It’s a lovely condo with a lake view! And my very first home purchase!)

So this week, I’ll continue where I left off in Die unendliche Geschichte, by Michael Ende, translated into English as The Neverending Story

About all I’d covered last time was the snorkeled letters on the door of the shop. This is the section before the chapters with large alphabet illustrations. I didn’t mention that in the German edition, this section is in red type, while the later chapters are in green type. The English version has this section in italics.

Continuing on, listing German first, because that’s the original language:

regenfleckige Mauer = “rain-splotched wall”

da? eine kleine Traube von Messingglöckchen, die über hing, aufgeregt zu bimmeln begann
= “that a little cluster of brass bells tinkled wildly”
(literally: “that a little bunch of grapes of little brass bells, that hung over it, excited to jingle began”)

Der Urheber dieses Tumult = “The cause of this hubbub”

durchweicht = “soaked” (“through-wet”)

Schulmappe = “school satchel”

Dämmerlicht = “half-light” (“twilight”)

mannshohen = “shoulder-high” (“man-high”)

I like this one:
Rauchkringel = “ring of smoke”

Es zieht = “There’s a draft.” (“It attracts.”)

in einem hohem Ohrenbackensessel aus abgewetztem Leder
= “in a high worn leather wing chair”
(“in a high Ears-back-chair of threadbare leather”)
“Wing chair” or “Ears chair”? I kind of like the latter!

Büschel = “outcroppings”

bissigen Bulldogge = “vicious bulldog” (“biting bulldog”)

knollenförmigen Nase = “bulbous nose” (“tuber-formed nose”)

Oh, I like this word!
Mundwinkel = “corner of his mouth” (“mouth angle”)

A new expression to try:
Ach du liebes Bi?chen! = “Goodness gracious.” (“Oh dear little bit!”)

ein Mordsgetue = “a terrible fuss” (“a murder-to-do”)

I probably shouldn’t challenge you to use this sentence:
Ich bin ganz and gar kein Kinderfreund.
= “I simply have no use for children.”
(“I am completely and totally no child-friend.”)

Oh, goody! More insults! (Always the most fun)

blöde Schreihälse = “screaming”
(“stupid screamnecks” — I guess the translator didn’t want to be so rude.)

Quälgeister = “torturing people”
(“spirits of torment”)

die alles kaputt machen = “breaking things”
(“who make everything broken”)

die die Bücher mit Marmelade vollschmieren = “smearing books with jam”
(“who the books with jam fully smear”)

die Seiten zerrei?en = “tearing the pages”

die sich den Teufel darum scheren, ob die Erwachsenen vielleicht auch ihre Sorgen und Kümmernisse haben
= “It never dawns on them that grown-ups may also have their troubles and cares.”
(“who don’t give a damn that adults possibly also have their worries and cares.”)

seine Lektüre fort = “went on reading”
(Interesting! Lektüre means reading, not talking. I bet that’s how the English word “lecture” started out.)

Here’s a fun expression, and a tongue-twister, to boot:
Manieren hast du nicht für fünf Pfennig = “Where are your manners?”
(“Manners have you not for five pennies.”)

dich verspotten = “make fun of you”

Spinner = “Screwball” (“spider”)

Mondkalb = “nitwit” (“mooncalf”)

Aufschneider = “braggart” (“out-cutter”)

Schwindler = “liar”

Love those sch- words!
schlurfte = “shuffled”

dumpfes Gemurmel = “low mumbling”

Unwiderrufliches = “irrevocable”

wunderschöne, gro?e Anfangsbuchstaben
= “large, beautiful capital letters at the beginning of the chapters”
(I love it! German has a word for “capital letters at the beginning of the chapters”)

eigentümlich verschlungenen Buchstaben = “strangely intricate letters”
(“strangely inter-snaked letters”)

I’ll stop tonight where Bastian reads the name of the book he has discovered:
Die unendliche Geschichte

Summing up, I think the best new word of the night was Anfangsbuchstaben.

Most fun to say: schlurfte

Hardest to say: Manieren hast du nicht für fünf Pfennig

Cutest word: bimmeln

Biggest change of perspective: Ohrenbackensessel

Best insult: blöde Schreihälse

Worst insult: die die Bücher mit Marmelade vollschmieren

Again, go out and practice your new vocabulary! If only in the form of a dumpfes Gemurmel.

Sonderling Sunday – Die unendliche Geschichte

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. Today, I’m going to flip it around and look at the English translation of a German children’s book, Michael Ende’s Die unendliche Geschichte, known and loved in English as The Neverending Story

First, the stats: The original German version is 428 pages long, but it’s a much nicer, more lavishly illustrated version than my English paperback, which is 377 pages long. Still, the English version did at least give a full page to each starting chapter illustration, even though they’re in black and white instead of two-color as in my lovely German edition. And they did preserve the A-to-Z nature of the illustrations.

But right on the title page, we find a difference! The German edition has a subtitle!

Die unendliche Geschichte

Von A bis Z mit Buchstaben und Bildern versehen von Roswitha Quadflieg

This translates to: “from A to Z with letters and pictures provided by Roswitha Quadflieg.”

You see, the full-page illustration at the front of each chapter has a letter in the illustration, progressing from A to Z. The English edition merely says “Illustrated by Roswitha Quadflieg.”

The beginning of the book is about Bastien Balthazar Bux, and does not have the Illuminated Letters or any heading except the backwards words on the door of the bookshop.

In the English version, this is:
“rednaeroC darnoC lraC
skooB dlO”
— except mirrored as well as backwards. (Carl Conrad Coreander: Old Books)

In the German version, it is:
rednaeroK darnoK lraK :rebahnI (ANTIQUARIAT: Inhaber: Karl Konrad Koreander)

While talking about the rain rolling over the letters on the door, we learn
“ornate letters” = geschnörkelten Buchstaben
In the context, it made me think of snorkeling letters! And when I look in Google translate, they call it “scrolled.” Perhaps that’s where a snorkel gets its name — from that curve on the end.

**Okay, my Sonderling Sunday was interrupted by finding out that my offer was accepted on a new home!**
And you know what? Now I’m too hyper to focus at all! I’m so excited!

Mind you, this place went on the market yesterday, and I loved it by the pictures. But was it really so good? I looked at it today, and it was even better than the pictures. My favorite part? A whole wall filled with windows and a lake view. I didn’t even know that it was possible to find a place near my church with a lake view!

But four people had already seen it, and there was already an offer. So my realtor recommended offering full price. I did, and they accepted my offer! What a whirlwind of a day!

So next time, I will continue beyond the snorkel-shaped letters! But I think that’s all for now! Good night!

Sonderling Sunday – Momo

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time when I use children’s books to give interesting and enlightening translations of phrases that must be useful — they’re used in a children’s book! This is intended to be interesting even for readers who don’t speak German, but who find words even a little bit fascinating.

I wanted to look at a book originally written in German, and of course the first book I thought of was Momo, by Michael Ende.

Momo was the first book I ever purchased from Book-of-the-Month Club, and worked out so well, I blame it for my subsequent addiction. Momo was, I believe, the first book my husband-to-be and I read aloud to each other. We later read it aloud to our boys. A copy of Momo, in the original language, was my very first purchase when we moved to Germany in 1996, along with a hiking map of the area we moved to. Even if I couldn’t read it yet, I wanted to own it. I can’t quite put Momo above Anne of Green Gables in my list of all-time favorite children’s books, but I consistently call it Number Two.

Besides being a good story, Momo is mythic. Gray men come stealing people’s time. They convince people to save time — and then they steal it. Momo is the only one who can see them, since she has a gift of listening. My then-boyfriend and I were finishing reading this book aloud during Finals Week in college. We knew we “didn’t have time” — but it’s not a book you can use that excuse not to read!

This book is only slightly longer in German than in English, unlike some others. However, my English edition uses much larger print than the German one, so that may be a factor. It is 227 pages in English, translated from 285 pages in German.

I don’t have much time left of Sunday, but let’s see if I can make a start into Chapter One. Part One, Erster Teil is called “Momo and Her Friends” in English, translated from Momo und ihre Freunde. Erstes Kapitel is titled Eine gro?e Stadt und ein kleines Mädchen, which means “a big city and a small girl.” I like that much better than the English chapter title, “The Amphitheater.” Here are the two different chapter title pages:

I love it! I looked at the front matter more carefully than before, and it turns out that the German edition has a subtitle on the title page. The English edition does not. It goes like this:



Die seltsame Geschichte von den Zeit-Dieben und von dem Kind, das den Menschen die gestohlene Zeit zurückbrachte

This roughly translates to: “MOMO, or: The Strange Story of the Time Thieves and of the Child Who Got the Stolen Time Back for Mankind”

Now I’ll go to some phrases from the first chapter. This time, since the original language is German, I’ll begin with the German, then tell how it was translated.

breite Stra?en, enge Gassen und winkelige Gä?chen = “broad streets, narrow alleyways, and winding lanes”

goldenen und marmornen Götterstatuen = “idols of gold and marble”

aus Steinblöcken gefügt waren = “built entirely of stone”

Die Sitzreihen für die Zuschauer lagen stufenförmig übereinander wie in einem gewaltigen Trichter. = “Seats for spectators were arranged in tiers, one above the other, like steps lining the crater of a man-made volcano.”
(Longer in English! Google translates gewaltigen Trichter as “mighty funnel,” and the translator’s choice does seem more descriptive.)

With the intricacies of word order, it’s easier to give this complete sentence:
Es gab prächtige, mit Säulen und Figuren verzierte, und solche, die schlicht und schmucklos waren. = “Some were resplendent with columns and statues [Säulen und Figuren], others plain and unadorned [schlicht und schmucklos].”

unter freiem Himmel statt = “open to the sky”

plötzlichen Regenschauern = “sudden downpours”

leidenschaftlicher Zuhörer und Zuschauer = “enthusiastic playgoers” (“passionate hearers and viewers”)

haben die Steine abgeschliffen und ausgehöhlt = “worn away and eaten into the stonework”

I think this sentence is a little more poetic in the original language:
Im geborstenen Gemäuer singen nun die Zikaden ihr eintöniges Lied, das sich anhört, als ob die Erde im Schlaf atmet. = “Crickets now inhabit their crumbling walls, singing a monotonous song that sounds like the earth breathing in its sleep.”

This, too, sounds better in German:
die Hütten und Häuser immer armseliger werden = “the houses became shabbier and more tumbledown” (Google translates it as “the cabins and houses are always poor”)

Pinienwäldchen = “a clump of pine trees”

Altertumswissenschaft = “Archaeology” (“antiquity knowledge craft”)

These are simply fun to say:
grasbewachsenen Sitzreihen = “grass-grown tiers of seats”

knipsten ein Erinnerungsfoto = “took a couple of snapshots” (literally: “snapped a memory-photo”)

man beim besten Willen nicht erkennen konnte, ob sie erst acht oder schon zwölf Jahre alt war. = “no one could have told her age” (literally: “one with the best will couldn’t tell if she was eight or maybe twelve years old”)

einen wilden, pechschwarzen Lockenkopf = “unruly mop of jet-black hair”)

bunten Flicken = “patches of different colors”

reichte ihr bis auf die Fu?knöchel = “ankle-length” (literally: “reached to her foot-knuckle” I like that word for ankle!)

deren Ärmel an den Handgelenken umgekrempelt waren = “with the sleeves turned up at the wrist”

I like this one:
aufgeschnappt = “picked up”

rostiges Ofenrohr = “rusty stovepipe”

(This picture is from the English edition.)

ein ausgedientes, mit Schnörkeln verziertes Eisenbett = “a decrepit iron bedstead adorned with curlicues” (literally: “an unused, with scrolls decorated iron bed”)

steinernen Loch = “stone cell”

Bühne der Ruine = “stage of the ruined amphitheater”

This doesn’t sound like what it is to me:
behagliches kleines Zimmerchen = “snug little room”

einen kleinen Brotwecken = “a hunk of bread”

The last sentence of the first chapter:
So begann die Freundschaft zwischen der kleinen Momo und den Leuten der näheren Umgebung. = “And that was the beginning of her friendship with the people of the neighborhood.”

Now, for a little fun. Can you use any of these phrases in a sentence? How about translating them into some other language? How do you say “ankle” in Chinese, for example? Or “snug little room” in Spanish?

My favorite phrase from tonight’s chapter was knipsten das Erinnerungsfoto, because I did lots and lots of that all over Europe during the ten years we lived in Germany. But I also have a jacket that I wear deren Ärmel an den Handgelenken umgekrempelt waren. Now when I do so, I will think of Momo.