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490Re: [Lambengolmor] German Translations

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  • David Kiltz
    Sep 25, 2003
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      On Mittwoch, September 24, 2003, at 07:10 Uhr, Hans Georg Lundahl

      >> *Shire*: As A.R. Smith notes, _Gau_ is indeed completely impossible
      >> in
      >> modern German due to its association with Nazi rule. Moreover, _GAU_
      >> means 'größter anzunehmender Unfall' ('maximum credible accident' or
      >> 'worst case scenario') something that is evoked, too (and often is,
      >> deliberately, alluded to in reference to Nazi-Germany).
      > In 1938 some German censors were asking Tolkien if he were _Arisch_ and
      > Tolkien ridiculed the idea of asking it by _regretting_ to admit he
      > had no
      > Jewish ancestry. Now German editors are asking whether a Tolkien
      > translation is completely _entnazifiziert_ - now, the _Gau_ would have
      > been right, not just because the identic historic meaning is _shire_,
      > but
      > also because the reason _the Shire_ was called so was the military
      > organisation of Arthedain. Something which is _not_ quite
      > _entnazifiziert_, or at least not quite _demilitariziert_.

      I don't think German editors are asking that *now*. Indeed, I don't
      think this has anything to do with 'Entnazifizierung'. Entnazifizierung
      means to get rid of Nazi ideology and supporters. While it is true that
      misuse of language should and is being corrected (e.g. _arisch_
      'Aryans' is now correctly used for speakers of Indo-Iranian languages),
      the use of _Gau_ at that time is a historical and linguistic fact.
      Entnazifizierung cannot and indeed should not discount that fact or
      forget history (rather on the contrary!). The associations _Gau_ has
      are a reality and that is one reason why it can't be used.

      _Gau_ originally means 'landscape, region'. At least one etymology
      says it is a collective formation (with prefix *_ga-_ i.e. < *ga-awja_)
      from the same stem as _Aue_ (<*ahwjô, *awjô). They all refer to
      settlement near water (something in line with archaeological data). We
      see two things here:

      1) _Shire_ ('cut-out part of a territory') and _Gau_ aren't that close
      after all. It is true that G. _Gau_ is often used to translate Latin
      _pagus_ in reference to ancient Gaul. This is still the case. Other
      than that, though, the usage of _Gau_ as an administrative unit is
      typical only for the 3rd Reich, contrary to that of 'Shire'. Other than
      that, the word is used for landscapes (Landschaften) only, cf. _Das
      Allgäu_ (dialectal variant _Gäu_ for _Gau_).

      2) If we accept the above etymology (Ms Carroux certainly had)
      _Auenland_ is indeed (a) little more than a modernized way to say

      To sum up, the word Gau is still used when translating, e.g., Caesar
      or in reference to landscapes (its use before the WWII) but simply
      doesn't fit, for all the various reasons, to translate 'Shire'.

      Lastly, I might say, that _Auenland_ is not a bad choice at all because
      _Aue_ conveys an idea of tranquility and peace (at least to me). Once
      again it becomes apparent that Ms Carroux has, for the most part, done
      a very good job.

      David Kiltz

      P.S.: I've been told a newer German translation out now is
      catastrophic. I currently don't have the time (or indeed the wish) to
      undergo the ordeal of reading it.
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