Translating dialect, German to English
Thread poster: Rachel Ward

Rachel Ward  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:16
German to English
+ ...
Jun 2, 2005

How would people approach translating Schwarzwäldisch dialect into English? Are there any regional variations (British) that might come close, or can you suggest a non-geographical way of writing non-standard English?

 

Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
I think Scottish would do, or any highlands dialect Jun 2, 2005

Analogies:
- hilly environment
- strong dialect
- traditional
- although the Schwarzwald is in Baden-Württemberg and not in Bayern (sometimes called "Königreich Bayern"), this does make much difference in the eyes (or ears) of someone from northern Germany..


 

davidgreen
German to English
English friend suggests Somerset Jun 2, 2005

Also Scottish Highland, but she says highland might be too easy to understand. I'd definitely try to recreate the dialect/accent somehow. Even in film subtitles, but it shouldn't be too difficult to read.

 

Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:16
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
What is the purpose of the original text? Jun 3, 2005

If it's literature - I probably wouldn't try to translate one dialect into another, and with other genres, I would be extremely cautious doing that.

The problem is that, more often than not, dialects evoke certain connotations and stereotypes which - if you choose any English dialect - have nothing to do with Germany and the character in question and the respective connotations.

It could also backfire and create a rather ridiculous effect. If I would read a book taking place in Germany and one of the characters - with a German name, no doubt - would speak in Scots - I'd be rolling on the floor!


Are there any regional variations (British) that might come close, or can you suggest a non-geographical way of writing non-standard English


Therefore, you need to tell us what the function of the dialect is in the source. Is it supposed to convey a more countryside/farming background or a particular social class? Any other information you could provide?

Apart from dialects, you could use types of sociolects, jargon, slang...

One other thing: How good is your knowledge of the dialect you might want to use? If you're not a fluent speaker of this dialect, you might end up creating a flat stereotype of a speaker of that particular dialect. This might or might not be acceptable, depending on the overall purpose of the text. Worse, even a single dialect often comes in different flavors, so you might end up with a language version that nobody speaks in reality.


 

GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 13:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Some thoughts on the reverse problem Jun 3, 2005

There is a very interesting paper called Translating African-American Vernacular English into German: The problem of 'Jim' in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn which discusses (as the title indicates) a somewhat analogous problem in the other direction. The ideas and strategies discussed in the article might help inspire solutions to the problem you pose. Unfortunately the paper doesn't seem to be available free on-line anymore. The citing article mentioned at the bottom (Robin Queen. (2004) 'Du hast jar keene Ahnung': African American English dubbed into German. Journal of Sociolinguistics 8:4, 515-537) is available on-line, though.

[Edited at 2005-06-03 01:19]


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 21:16
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Agree with Heike Jun 3, 2005

Do not use actual dialects. But I have seen successful use of artificial "dialects" in various famous novels, at first comes to mind the German version of "Huckleberry Finn" I read as a school boy.
So a Bavarian tends to pronounce vocals in a special way (also when speaking foreign languages). One could use this feature and make up a style of speaking English that indicates, where the person comes from.
By the way, why, oh why, do they never use native speakers for foreign characters in movies? If its an English movie all these Nazis and Russian spys speak with horrible English accents when talking to each others in their "native" language.


 

Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:16
German to English
+ ...
Schwarzwäldisch? Jun 3, 2005

No such word (even in German).

It would either be Schwäbisch or Alemannisch, depending on the location. If it were a dubbed film, any broad rural accent would do.

Without wanting to frighten you off, here's a sample for you (Alemannisch):

Sing e Lied, wenns dir ums Hüüle,
lit e schweri Last dir uf,
tuet bös s Lebe mit der spile:
Sing e Lied un lueg duruf !

Chunnsch mit diinre Chunst nit witer,
isch dii Herz vu Sorge schwer,
über Nacht verschwindet s Bitter
un s würd hell im Handumchehr.

Bisch wit obe, chasch tief falle,
doch ei Weg duruf gits all,
gits im Lebe Dümpf un Dalle,
chas sich wider glätte bal.

Sing e Lied, no schwinde d Sorge,
liichter würd, was Chummer macht,
bisch in Gottes Allmacht borge
un e Tag folgt jedre Nacht.

More at:http://www.alemannisch.de/

Good luck with what sounds like a daunting taskicon_smile.gif


 

Rachel Ward  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:16
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Schwarzwäldisch Jun 3, 2005

Textklick wrote:

No such word (even in German).

It would either be Schwäbisch or Alemannisch, depending on the location. If it were a dubbed film, any broad rural accent would do.

Without wanting to frighten you off, here's a sample for you (Alemannisch):

Sing e Lied, wenns dir ums Hüüle,
lit e schweri Last dir uf,
tuet bös s Lebe mit der spile:
Sing e Lied un lueg duruf !




Sorry for inventing a word! I think it's Schwäbisch rather than Alemannisch looking at what you've reproduced here, and remembering the speech of a Schwab I met... I think a broad generic rural accent might be the best solution, in terms of class and function as mentioned by Heike, but I don't know how well I could pull it off!

[Edited at 2005-06-03 08:07]


 


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Translating dialect, German to English

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