IpseDixit - German

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IpseDixit

IpseDixit - German

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-10-16, 17:32

Hello Leute. I finally feel like learning some German but I'm in no mood to spend time studying grammar books so I've decided to pick a novel, read it and try to understand it, and I'll study the rules (or try to infer them or ask for them here) as I go along. Of course any kind of help will be very appreciated (I'd also appreciate suggestions and corrections for the English part :P).

The novel I've choosen is Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Etwas sehr Schlimmes

Something very bad


-So, I already have a question. I've seen that the adjective is schlimm so I suppose -es is a suffix of some declension. Can anyone explain this to me?


Nachdem Bauer Flint aus dem Mitteltal gestorben war, blieb seine Witwe auf dem Hof wohnen

After the farmer Flint from the Middle Valley had died, his widow kept living* at the farm


*at least this is how I've interpreted blieb wohnen.

Ihr Sohn fuhr zur See, und ihre Tochter hatte einen Kaufmann aus Valmünde geheiratet, so dass sie allein auf dem Eichenhof lebte

Her son traveled the sea, and her daughter had married a merchant from Valmünde, therefore she lived alone at the farm*


*not sure what Eichenhof means, I couldn't find it on wordreference or even google.

I also wonder where Valmünde comes from, since I haven't found this word anywhere I suppose this must be a place name invented by the author or rather the German adaptation of an original English name but does it have any meaning or at least does it resemble some actual German word?

Die Leute erzählten sich, sie sei im Ausland,

People would tell her that she was in a foreign land,


wo sie herkam, irgendwie eine große Persönlichkeit gewesen,


Ok, I really have troubles with this. I think I understand more or less all of the words but I can't put them together to form a coherent meaning. I'm quite baffled by the fact that there is a past participle (gewesen) on its own without an auxiliary (or at least I don't see it), and I would also like to know what herkam is and how it works.

und tatsächlich kam der Magier Ogion sie gelegentlich auf dem Eichenhof besuchen. Doch das hatte nicht viel zu besagen, denn Ogion besuchte alle möglichen obskuren Existenzen.

and indeed the mage Ogion would occasionally come visit her at the farm. However that didn't mean much as Ogion would visit all the likely obscure existences.


Sie hatte einen fremdländischen Name, aber Flint hatte sie Goha genannt; so nennt man auf Gont eine kleine weiße Webspinner.

She had a foreign name, but Flint had called her Goha; which is what people in Gont called a small white spider.

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-16, 18:07

IpseDixit wrote:
Etwas sehr Schlimmes
Something very bad

So, I already have a question. I've seen that the adjective is schlimm so I suppose -es is a suffix of some declension. Can anyone explain this to me?

It's neuter singular nom/acc. Schlimm is actually substantivised here, which is why it's capitalised. The usage is somewhat similar to that of a Spanish adjective prefixed with the neuter article lo.

IpseDixit wrote:Ihr Sohn fuhr zur See, und ihre Tochter hatte einen Kaufmann aus Valmünde geheiratet, so dass sie allein auf dem Eichenhof lebte

Her son traveled the sea

I would say "went to sea", but that's more a question of English idiomaticity in translation. (The meaning is that he became a sailor by profession.)

IpseDixit wrote:and her daughter had married a merchant from Valmünde, therefore she lived alone at the farm*

*not sure what Eichenhof means

I'm assuming it's a proper name, from Eiche "oak" and Hof "courtyard; court; enclosed farm".

IpseDixit wrote:I also wonder where Valmünde comes from, since I haven't found this word anywhere I suppose this must be a place name invented by the author or rather the German adaptation of an original English name but does it have any meaning or at least does it resemble some actual German word?

Münde is cognate with "mouth" and appears in the name of estuaries, e.g. Swinemünde "the mouth of the River Swine". (A town in historical Pomerania, now called Świnoujście which is a direct Polish equivalent.) So presumably there is a River Val nearby and Valmünde is a town where it meets the sea.

IpseDixit wrote:Die Leute erzählten sich, sie sei im Ausland,
People would tell her that she was in a foreign land,

"People told themselves" i.e. "People said".

IpseDixit wrote:
wo sie herkam, irgendwie eine große Persönlichkeit gewesen,

Ok, I really have troubles with this. I think I understand more or less all of the words but I can't put them together to form a coherent meaning. I'm quite baffled by the fact that there is a past participle (gewesen) on its own without an auxiliary (or at least I don't see it), and I would also like to know what herkam is and how it works.

It's because you're splitting the predicate in the wrong place. Wo sie herkam is a relative clause modifying Ausland ("abroad, where she came from"). Take this out and the clause you're left with is:

sie sei im Ausland irgendwie eine große Persönlichkeit gewesen

sei gewesen is the equivalent to ist gewesen in indirect speech (because this is what people say about her). Does the sentence make sense to you now?

IpseDixit wrote:
und tatsächlich kam der Magier Ogion sie gelegentlich auf dem Eichenhof besuchen. Doch das hatte nicht viel zu besagen, denn Ogion besuchte alle möglichen obskuren Existenzen.

and indeed the mage Ogion would occasionally come visit her at the farm. However that didn't mean much as Ogion would visit all the likely obscure existences.

"alle möglichen" = "all sorts of"
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-16, 18:12

I just checked an English-language summary of the novel and the original versions of Eichenhof and Valmünde are "Oak Farm" and "Valmouth", respectively.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

IpseDixit

Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-10-16, 18:22

linguoboy wrote:It's neuter singular nom/acc. Schlimm is actually substantivised here, which is why it's capitalised. The usage is somewhat similar to that of a Spanish adjective prefixed with the neuter article lo.


Oh, I thought it was simply because it was the title.

It's because you're splitting the predicate in the wrong place. Wo sie herkam is a relative clause modifying Ausland ("abroad, where she came from"). Take this out and the clause you're left with is:


Oh ok, so it's "people said she had been somehow a great personality in the foreign land where she came from"?

But I still don't know what kind of grammatical construction herkam is.

linguoboy wrote:I just checked an English-language summary of the novel and the original versions of Eichenhof and Valmünde are "Oak Farm" and "Valmouth", respectively.


I see, thanks!

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby Antea » 2018-10-16, 18:32

Hi, I am just interrupting your thread to recommend you this German serie that is called "Berlin Babylon". I am watching it myself in VO with subtitles.

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-16, 18:34

IpseDixit wrote:But I still don't know what kind of grammatical construction herkam is.

It's pretty much the same as the English. Her is an adverbial particle equivalent to English "hither"; herkommen is the equivalent of an English phrasal verb "to come (over) from". It's just that, when the clause is verb-final, it's written attached to the verb.

Further examples:

"Komm her!" "Come here!"
Er geht wieder dorthin, wo er hergekommen ist. He's going back where he came from.
Ich habe beim Herkommen ein paarmal angehalten. I made a couple stops on the way here.

The antonym is hingehen "to go (over) there".

"Wo zum Teufel bist du hingegangen?" "Where the hell did you run away to?"
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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby Car » 2018-10-16, 19:52

IpseDixit wrote:
linguoboy wrote:It's neuter singular nom/acc. Schlimm is actually substantivised here, which is why it's capitalised. The usage is somewhat similar to that of a Spanish adjective prefixed with the neuter article lo.


Oh, I thought it was simply because it was the title.

Titles follow normal capitalisation rules.
Please correct my mistakes!

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-16, 20:31

Car wrote:Titles follow normal capitalisation rules.

Of course, this begs the question: what are the normal capitalisation rules?

This seems like a fairly decent introduction: https://online-lernen.levrai.de/deutsch-uebungen/rechtschreibung_5_7/39_deutsch_ueben_gross_kleinschreibung/1_a_regeln_grossschreibung_kleinschreibung.htm.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

IpseDixit

Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-10-17, 12:06

Der Name passte recht gut zu ihr, denn sie war weißhäutig und klein und verstand sich gut auf das Spinnen von Ziegen- und Schafwolle.

The name befitted her since she was white-skinned and small and was skilled in the ??? of goat and sheep wool.


No idea what Spinnen means here.

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby kevin » 2018-10-17, 12:17

IpseDixit wrote:No idea what Spinnen means here.

It seems to be almost the same in English: spinning.

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-10-17, 12:27

Yep, you could also just translate it into English as 'was skilled at spinning goat and sheep wool' (or '...the wool of goats and sheep'). :)

IpseDixit

Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-10-17, 12:29

kevin wrote:
IpseDixit wrote:No idea what Spinnen means here.

It seems to be almost the same in English: spinning.


I imagined that but couldn't find anything to corroborate my guess. :P So Spinnen is a "substantivized verb" (if that's a thing)? 'Cause it's capitalized...

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-10-17, 12:31

Yep! (In English, I would normally say 'nominalized').

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-10-17, 12:32

vijayjohn wrote:Yep! (In English, I would normally say 'nominalized').


Thanks :)

IpseDixit

Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-10-17, 13:34

Nun also, als Flints Witwe, war Goha die Herrin über eine Herde Schafe und das zugehörige Weideland, vier Felder, einen Pfirsichgarten, zwei Pächterhäuser, das steinerne alte Bauernhaus unter den Eichen und den Familienfriedhof hinter dem Hügel, wo Flint lag, Erde in seiner Erde.

As Flint's widow, Goha was the owner (?) administrator (?) of a sheep herd and the related pasture, four fields, a peach orchard, two tenant houses, and the stony farmerhouse beneath the oaks and the family cemetery behind the hill, where Flint laid, earth in his earth.


-Not sure how to render nun also.

-I understand what zugehörig means but I'm not sure what the best English translation would be in this context (same with Herrin).

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby kevin » 2018-10-17, 14:01

IpseDixit wrote:-Not sure how to render nun also.

I'd suggest "so now".

I'll leave the other questions to our native English speakers because you seem to understand the German, but are looking for the best English words for it.

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-17, 14:16

IpseDixit wrote:-I understand what zugehörig means but I'm not sure what the best English translation would be in this context (same with Herrin).

"associated" probably works best here. More informally you might say "that went along with it".

It's hard to find a good equivalent for Herrin. The masculine equivalent, Herr, can be translated with "lord" or "master" but "lady" and "mistress" have quite different connotations.

I'm not sure why you're concerned with finding fitting English translations in any case. The point of the exercise is to learn German, right? If you understand what a Herrin is and what it means to say fields are zugehörig, what difference does it make what we might call them in English? If you want to know what we'd use, why not just look at the original text?
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-10-17, 15:59

linguoboy wrote:I'm not sure why you're concerned with finding fitting English translations in any case. The point of the exercise is to learn German, right? If you understand what a Herrin is and what it means to say fields are zugehörig, what difference does it make what we might call them in English? If you want to know what we'd use, why not just look at the original text?


Well yeah, the focus is German but if it happens to be an occasion to learn something new in English too, why not?

If you want to know what we'd use, why not just look at the original text?


Because I didn't have the original text and didn't bother to check whether I could find it on the net. Well, now I have and have found it (and she uses the word "mistress" btw. Also, Pfirsichgarten is actually an orchard of pears in the original… :hmm:).

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Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-17, 16:13

IpseDixit wrote:Also, Pfirsichgarten is actually an orchard of pears in the original… :hmm:).

Curious. I'm not sure if this is a simple translation error or some conscious choice to make the islands seem more "exotic". From what I remember of Earthsea's geography, I would've thought it was too cold to grow peaches on Gont.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

IpseDixit

Re: IpseDixit - German

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-10-17, 16:34

linguoboy wrote:
IpseDixit wrote:Also, Pfirsichgarten is actually an orchard of pears in the original… :hmm:).

Curious. I'm not sure if this is a simple translation error or some conscious choice to make the islands seem more "exotic". From what I remember of Earthsea's geography, I would've thought it was too cold to grow peaches on Gont.


Pear and Pfirsich don't sound too close but not too different either to really dismiss the hypothesis that it was an error. Deliberately changing the fruit because you want the island to look more exotic seems unethical to me, especially since - as you say - Gont is not supposed to have an exotic appearance at all.


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