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German Translations

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  • David Kiltz
    Once again, I d like to set out and give a few comments on Arden R. Smith s excellent and interesting column in VT, Transitions in Translations . In numbers
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 23, 2003
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      Once again, I'd like to set out and give a few comments on Arden R.
      Smith's excellent and interesting column in VT, "Transitions in
      Translations".

      In numbers 36 and 37 in particular A. R. Smith looks at the German
      translation of names in Tolkien's works. Please refer to the respective
      issues of Vinyar Tengwar for the original comments by A. R. Smith.

      *Brandywine*: Translating this word simply as German _Branntwein_ would
      have sounded as if the name was just _Brandy_ or indeed _Firewater_ in
      English. That's why, I think, Ms Carroux didn't opt for it.
      _Brandywine_ isn't a bad adaption, I'd say, because E. _brandy_ is
      widely known in German.

      *Isenmouthe*: _Isenmünde_. The element corresponding to English
      _-mouthe_ is not just _-munde_ but also _-münde_ in place names, cf.
      _Penemünde_ et al..

      *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 my eyes,
      _Das Ländle_ wouldn't have been too bad but that's associated with
      Baden-Würtemberg in particular in Germany.

      *Snowbourn*: _Schneeborn_ is perfect (with an alternative
      _Schneebrun(n)_ also quite possible). _Schneebrunnen_ as suggested by
      Tolkien simply means 'well of snow' and doesn't sound very
      place-name-like.

      *Elves*: A. R. Smith gives a very good overview over the problem of
      _Elb/Alb_ in German. Still, I think the back-formation (from the
      plural), namely _Elb_ is preferable to _Alb_ as the latter evokes
      _Alptraum_ 'nightmare' and other unpleasant things. Alas, the word
      _Alb_ has darkened in German meaning rather 'bogey' or similar
      creatures. Still, as noted in the article, _Elf_, _Elfen_ wouldn't have
      been right, as that gives the impression of little figures with
      firefly-like wings swirling around. _Elb, pl. Elben_ is both a strong
      and condign word.

      Best regards,

      David Kiltz
    • Hans Georg Lundahl
      ... 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
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 24, 2003
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        David Kiltz <dkiltz@...> wrote:

        > *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_.

        > In my eyes, _Das Ländle_ wouldn't have been too bad but that's
        > associated with Baden-Würtemberg in particular in Germany.

        Well, Baden-Würtemberg is rather though not quite flat (==not in Alps
        or Riesengebirge), as well as fertile and (like all Germany, excepting
        Ruhrgebiet) fairly rural ... so though a Bavarian association (considering
        what hobbits and Bavarians are like) would have been better, _das Ländle_
        or for that matter _'s Landerl_ would be beautiful - though it means
        something else than Shire.

        Would someone use my adress to inform me (who have not read VT)
        how _the Shire_ actually _was_ translated into German? Unless our
        moderator Ælfwine is gentle enough to put that into an editorial
        comment, of course!

        [Arden writes that "the Shire appears with the curious name _das
        Auenland_ (_passim_), which means something like ‘riverside land’
        or ‘meadow-land' (VT36:32). CFH]

        Hans Georg Lundahl

        Höstrusk och grå moln - köp en resa till solen på Yahoo! Resor

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • David Kiltz
        On Mittwoch, September 24, 2003, at 07:10 Uhr, Hans Georg Lundahl ... I don t think German editors are asking that *now*. Indeed, I don t think this has
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 25, 2003
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          On Mittwoch, September 24, 2003, at 07:10 Uhr, Hans Georg Lundahl
          wrote:

          >> *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
          'Gau'.

          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.
        • Hans Georg Lundahl
          ... What about the Shires of the Carolingian Empire encompassing both France and Germany (contemporary to the Shires in KIng Alfred s England)? That would be a
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 25, 2003
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            David Kiltz <dkiltz@...> wrote:

            > 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_).

            What about the Shires of the Carolingian Empire encompassing both
            France and Germany (contemporary to the Shires in KIng Alfred's
            England)? That would be a very close parallel to the Shire in
            Arthedain, as well as being the source for the Nazi use of _Gau_.

            > 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.

            The Shire was tranquil enough after the battle where Golfimbul was
            beheaded (by Bandobras Took?), but not when it got its name,
            which was a period of war with the Witchking Angmar.

            Hans Georg Lundahl

            Höstrusk och grå moln - köp en resa till solen på Yahoo! Resor


            [I have allowed this discussion on Lambengolmor because it grew out
            of a discussion that began in the pages of _Vinyar Tengwar_, and I
            want to encourage the use of this list as a forum for _VT_ readers to
            discuss its contents. However, I'm having second thoughts about this
            particular topic, as it is removed from issues of Tolkien's invented
            languages. It is unfortunately all too often the case that Internet
            discussion lists drift far off topic; and the only effective remedy for
            this has proven to be strict moderation to keep discussions on point.
            I am therefore going to draw this thread to a close, and formulate the
            policy that future discussion of Tolkien in translation on this list should
            focus on how the elements of Tolkien's invented languages are treated
            with in translation. That being said, I _strongly_ encourage someone
            to step forward to initiate and moderate a new discussion list devoted
            to the broader issues of translating Tolkien's works. CFH]
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