33 October
Thread poster: arwam

arwam  Identity Verified
Egypt
Member (2014)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Sep 25, 2014

I'm not so sure this is the right place for this, but Kudoz seemed... less right. Moderators?

So, I'm translating the English subtitles of a German film to Arabic with ridiculously poor knowledge of German and I encounter this:

"Will you, house of cards,
distress me with the 33rd of your images...
...or is it naïve,
when the border collapses on me,
to risk the utmost, the medium, the heart,
for the more beautiful coin?"

The German translator isn't so sure but tells me that 'house of cards' is a reference to Stasi or the GDR and that 'the 33rd of your images' might be a reference to the '33rd of October' which is some notion that has to do with the Russian government at the time.

A long search didn't get me anywhere. I'm still exactly as clueless as when I start.

Anybody has any idea? I might be able to get her to transcribe the poem in German, if that helps.


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Petitavoine  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:24
Member (2012)
German to French
+ ...
3rd October Sep 25, 2014

- If it's a reference to the GDR, it would be 3rd October:
"The Volkskammer decides on the accession of the GDR to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany according to Article 23 of the Basic Laws effective as of 3 October 1990. In the matter Nr. 201 there have been 363 votes. There were no invalid votes. 294 deputies have voted 'yes.' (Strong applause from CDU/DA, DSU, FDP, partly SPD and the deputies standing up in their seats.)

"62 deputies have voted 'no', and 7 people abstained. This is a historic event. Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that we have not made an easy decision, but today we have acted within our responsibilities of the voting rights of the citizens of the GDR. I thank everybody that this result was made possible by a consensus across party lines."

Gregor Gysi, Chairman of the SED-PDS, was visibly moved and made a personal statement: "Madame President! The Parliament has no more and no less decided on the downfall of the German Democratic Republic as of 3 October 1990".[1] (Jubilant cheers from the CDU/DA, DSU and SPD.

- House of cards: in German you do say that the GDR/Stasi/ideals/communism tumbled down like a house of cards.
Cards could also refer to index-cards (Stasi archives).

But it would be nice to have the original German script.


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arwam  Identity Verified
Egypt
Member (2014)
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
33rd Army Sep 25, 2014

Thank you for the comprehensive response, Petitavoine! I'm still, however, having a bit of a hard time cracking this: If it is the 3rd of October, why is he asking the house of cards to 'distress him with' that image? Is it possible the translation is just too literal?

Also, as she seemed very sure it's 33 not 3, could it mean the 33rd Soviet army? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/33rd_Army_(Soviet_Union)

I'll ask for the German transcription, anyway.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:24
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
A wild guess Sep 25, 2014

This is just a wild guess, but a pack of cards for some of the most common German card games consists of 32 playing cards. So the "33rd image" could be some kind of figure of speech.

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Astrid_H  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:24
German to English
+ ...
Speculative interpretation Sep 25, 2014

Erik Freitag wrote:

This is just a wild guess, but a pack of cards for some of the most common German card games consists of 32 playing cards. So the "33rd image" could be some kind of figure of speech.


This was my first thought, too.

Some speculation here:

"Will you, house of cards,
distress me with the 33rd of your images..."

So, purely from the text provided, the "house of cards", whatever it may be, reveals a part of itself the protagonist did not yet know existed. He is distressed because his world views and convictions are being destroyed or at least unsettled.

"...or is it naïve,
when the border collapses on me,
to risk the utmost, the medium, the heart,
for the more beautiful coin?"

Well, this might be a reference to the wall coming down, if this poem is indeed referring to the GDR. The protagonist may be pondering whether he should risk his habits, convictions (heart) and old way of life in the GDR and turn away from the old worthless aluminium coins in favour of the Deutsche Mark, which was so much stronger and stable than the DDR-Mark.

I think some more context might be useful, and possibly the transcription as well. And of corse, this is pure speculation on my part.


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 22:24
German to English
+ ...
Please get the original German Sep 25, 2014

My guess is in line with the 32 cards theory, but I'd need to see the German. You say it's a poem but to begin with you said it was from a film. I'm a bit confused.

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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:24
German to English
original poem cited in the film Sep 25, 2014

Here's the German (Google sei Dank):

Wirst Du, Kartenhaus, mich mit dem dreiunddreißigsten
Deiner Bilder betrüben, oder ist es naiv
Wenn die Grenze mir einstürzt, das Äußerste, zu wagen
das Medium, das Herz, für die noch schönere Münze

Sascha Anderson, Herbstzerreissen, (year?)

I hope that this project does not really involve releasing a subtitled film version based on a translation of translated subtitles.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:24
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Playing cards Sep 25, 2014

Michael Wetzel wrote:

Here's the German (Google sei Dank):

Wirst Du, Kartenhaus, mich mit dem dreiunddreißigsten
Deiner Bilder betrüben, .


That supports my suspicion: The front or face of a playing card is called a "Bild" (plural: Bilder) in German. Not sure if "image" isn't a mistranslation.


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arwam  Identity Verified
Egypt
Member (2014)
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Sep 25, 2014

David, it's a poem but someone is reciting it in a film.

Michael, thank you for finding the German version. It is indeed the film Anderson and I just received word from the colleague who proofread it confirming this is the poem.
I'm ashamed to say this, but it actually is based on a translation of a translation. Hopefully, I'll convince my client to have someone who translates from the original language proofread it.

Erik, Astrid, David, I'm guessing this means your theory is right. I want to say that I'm impressed by how you got that from what I posted but then I'll sound silly for obvious reasons.

Thank you so much, everyone! This was very helpful.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:24
German to English
relay translations and subtitles Sep 26, 2014

I accept that relay translations are sometimes necessary, but ...

... it can't be that hard to find good German > Arabic translators.
... subtitles generally involve substantial changes to a film's dialogue in order to fit them into the available space, fit them into the available amount of time, make them easily readable, etc. (In addition to all of the shifts that any translation always involves.)

I am not criticizing you, but the end client (and particularly an agency, if an agency is involved) really ought to have at least the most rudimentary grasp of what is involved in subtitling and in translating in general.

I just took a look at a description of the film and it sounds absolutely fascinating. I guess that I would really tend to place the blame on the end client here: This is a quality film and it is hard to believe that they don't know what they are doing.
Authors, scriptwriters and the companies that hold rights to their works really ought to behave a little more responsibly. If adequate funding is not available, then they should work on finding it or they should concentrate on more important projects than translating their films into as many languages as possible - but they shouldn't use a lack of funds as an excuse for shoddy work.

I wish you the best of luck, because obviously failure is not guaranteed and you seem to be giving this project everything you've got, but everyone else involved seems to have done their best to make your work as difficult as possible.


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arwam  Identity Verified
Egypt
Member (2014)
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Funding Sep 26, 2014

Your solidarity is really heartwarming, Michael, after a horrible week I spent working on this film. And you're right about it. It's a great film and it deserves decent subtitles.

I have, however, to clarify that the filmmakers/writers aren't the ones who charged me with this task. It's doubtful that they are directly related to anything further than selling screening rights to my client. Yet, I don't think anyone but them is to blame for the terrible English subtitles.

For the Arabic subtitles, it is indeed a funding problem. You can imagine, these kinds of films don't always get big bucks.

All we can do now is hope my best was enough and I didn't distort the story very badly.

[Edited at 2014-09-26 08:06 GMT]


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33 October

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