Discussion about Mini-contest 2012: "Yogi Berra Quotes" in English to German

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Holger Laux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
Really? Nov 19, 2012

Granted, the winner tried to keep to the English text as closely as possible, but this made her loose some of the original puns. For instance: A German speaker would not have a clue what the connection between an encyclopedia and walking to school might be. Or, while it is possible to look cool in German, it is impossible to look hot (as in high temperature). Try "spicy" instead, but then you'd have to come away from the words and start being creative.

The contest did not state what the purpose of the translation was, but since Yogi Berra is hardly known in Germany, it could be assumed that his wit was meant to come across, leaving it open whether it was intended or unintended.

I am happy to admit that some of my attempts may have been too liberal and I probably deserve to come bottom of the list, but I would like to make the point that IMHO the least important aspect of this exercise was accuracy.


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:48
French to German
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I beg to differ Nov 20, 2012

Of course it is possible to look "hot" in German so there is absolutely nothing wrong with a fairly literal translation in this case. Just because you don't know that particular expression doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

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Carmen Grabs
Germany
Local time: 01:48
Member (2012)
English to German
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I agree Nov 20, 2012

Didn't think about it before, but now that I read it I see your point. Thanks for the comment.

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Holger Laux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
Dissecting the grammar Nov 20, 2012

OK, let's analyse this a bit further: The original Berra quote builds on the fact that the same set of expressions can have a full set of double meanings with the added twist that in one sense they are synonyms and in another they are antonyms.

1. - "hot" and "cool" are both synonyms for "fashionable", "trendy" - this is a paradox that can often be found
in colloquial or slang language

2. - "hot" and "cool" are obviously antonyms with regards to temperature

3. - To make matters even more confusing, both meanings can be expressed using the same sentence
structure "you look"


A straight German translation would only work if all three aspects were possible to include, but they are not. Let's try:

1. - "Du siehst cool aus." - possible
"Du siehst heiß aus." - debatable, I would have said "Du siehst scharf aus." (which also means hot), but
there are indeed Google entries providing reference to "heiß aussehen". So let's allow it.

3. - We have to deal with the grammar aspect first, before we can come to the temperature:

In German, you cannot use the same sentence structure to convey both meanings. If we say
"Du siehst ... aus.", then we strictly refer to an outer appearance.
If we want to draw a conclusion from such an appearance, then the structure is very limited.
Yes, we can say "Du siehst traurig aus.", but we cannot day "Du siehst warm aus."
This is why we have to use a cumbersome extension to the sentence: "Du siehst aus, als ob ..."
On the positive side, this makes our intention very clear and a misunderstanding as in the English
example is impossible.

2. - Now, finally to the perception of temperature:

In German, "cool" is only used to describe appearance and mood ("Nun bleib mal cool."), but never
in reference to temperature. Here, we use "kühl" and "kalt".
Also, we are more likely to use "warm" instead of "heiß", although both are possible.
And finally, there is a common advice to learners of the German language: Never-ever tell anyone
"Ich bin heiß." You may be done for harassment. The correct form to use is "Mir ist heiß/warm/kühl/kalt."


Taking all this into consideration, I still maintain that a straight translation cannot do the original justice.


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:48
French to German
+ ...
Well... Nov 20, 2012

we will just have to disagree then, I suppose.

I am convinced that (almost) every speaker of German would get the meaning of "cool aussehen" (look cool) vs. "heiß aussehen" (look hot) I have to confess that I myself didn't really get what you were trying to get at with your suggested translation. Sometimes it's just not a good idea to over-complicate matters.


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Holger Laux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Member (2011)
English to German
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Missed the point? Nov 20, 2012

Could it be that you missed the double meaning here? Yogi was trying to return the compliment by saying that Mrs. Lindsay was _NOT_ looking hot. - Why would he do that?

My suggested translation was an attempt to re-create this casual misunderstanding, as if he didn't really listen to what was being said to him.


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
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French to German
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Never mind Nov 20, 2012

Somehow I don't think we are going to find common ground here.

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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:48
English to German
+ ...
what Nov 20, 2012

was your suggested translation?


Holger Laux wrote:

Could it be that you missed the double meaning here? Yogi was trying to return the compliment by saying that Mrs. Lindsay was _NOT_ looking hot. - Why would he do that?

My suggested translation was an attempt to re-create this casual misunderstanding, as if he didn't really listen to what was being said to him.


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Holger Laux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Member (2011)
English to German
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Not a translation Nov 20, 2012

Mrs. Lindsay: "Du siehst ja abgefahren aus." Yogi Berra: "Na danke, hast wohl auch den Bus verpasst?"

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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:48
English to German
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a translation Nov 21, 2012

But that has nothing to do with the original quote and I don't think Mrs. Lindsay would say "abgefahren". She would use a nice word, and Yogi would in turn say something that would take both of their statements also into another additional realm.

If a person would really say to Yogi "Yogi, so viel Hitze und man merkt Ihnen das gar nicht an", I would Yogi expect to say: "Wenn ich Sie ansehe, Mrs. Lindsay, wird mir aber auch(überhaupt) nicht heiß." Granted, it's not as strong as his reply in English but well ...

Yogi, you are looking cool today." To which Yogi replied, "You don't look so hot yourself


Mrs. Lindsay meant that Yogi looked "comfortably" cool on a very hot day and he replied that she didn't look like she felt too hot either, meaning she didn't seem to be sweating like crazy. But he added the additional unintentional insult.
Only we look at it and understand the unintentional insult. Actually ,"not looking so hot" has a third meaning = you look like you're not feeling so good (- a bit pale).

See:
http://www.psacard.com/articles/article_view.chtml?artid=7446&type=1
"My favorite anecdote involved Yogi and New York City Mayor John Lindsay's wife Mary at a Yogi Berra Day event in the 1960s. It was a sultry day with high temperatures and humidity. Mrs. Lindsay commented, "Yogi, you are looking cool today." To which Yogi replied, "You don't look so hot yourself."

As far as the translation is concerned which was the objective, I would indeed try not to stray too far from the actual quote.
Although you've got a point saying that "Du siehst auch nicht so heiß aus" means foremost that the woman is not a "looker" and isn't usually used to express that you're sweating - that would be the personal dative -mir/dir ist heiß", it seems what got lost in the translation is the sweating and not sweating part, not so much the cool- vs. hot-looking part. The latter can be understood fairly well by using the "German cool" and the word "heiß". (I wouldn't use 'scharf" at all - it would get away from the original even more and won't allow for the unintentional misunderstanding).

Bernhard

Holger Laux wrote:

Mrs. Lindsay: "Du siehst ja abgefahren aus." Yogi Berra: "Na danke, hast wohl auch den Bus verpasst?"


[Edited at 2012-11-21 06:21 GMT]


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Holger Laux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Member (2011)
English to German
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What for Nov 21, 2012

Ah, you see, Yogi Berra is apparently part of American folklore, but nobody knows his name over here (Well, perhaps apart from a few baseball buffs, but it is considered a niche sport in Europe.)

As such NONE of the translations provided makes any sense to any German reader. We have all failed.

If this was a serious translation assignment, you would first have to explain who he was and then put each quote into context. But I did not think this was expected and, frankly, I would not have gone through the trouble of researching the details without the prospect of payment.

I did not know and did not care who Mrs. Lindsay was. Sorry.


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Roland Nienerza  Identity Verified

Local time: 01:48
English to German
+ ...
Mein lieber Schwan! Nov 23, 2012

Holger Laux wrote:

OK, let's analyse this a bit further: The original Berra quote builds on the fact that the same set of expressions can have a full set of double meanings with the added twist that in one sense they are synonyms and in another they are antonyms.


usw.

Zunächst meine Verwunderung, warum diese Debatte in En geführt wird, wo es doch eindeutig und ausschliesslich um die Zielsprache De geht.

Ich kann mich nur Bernhard anschliessen und bin absolut der Meinung, dass ein Übersetzer auch eines solchen Spasstextes bestrebt sein muss, gleiche oder doch weitgehend ähnliche Effekte mit dem Material des ATs zu erreichen.

Das ist mit der Situation eines Kochwettbewerbs zu vergleichen, bei dem alle Teilnehmer exakt die gleichen Zutaten zugewiesen bekommen und damit ein bestimmtes Rezept erstellen sollen - wobei dann aber einer oder einige irgenetwas mit völlig anderen Zutaten zusammenbasteln wollen.

Für mich sind die Zutaten des Puns mit dem "nicht aussehen wie" in De durchaus verwendbar, und ich sehe keinen Grund, das nicht ziemlich analog so hinzuschreiben.

_______________________


Allerdings muss ich zugeben, dass ich erst jetzt, durch Holgers Hinweis, bemerke, dass der Witz bei der "encyclopedia" in dem Bezug zu "cycling" liegt. Und das ist dann tatsächlich etwas, das man wohl so nicht wirklich in De übertragen kann.


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Roland Nienerza  Identity Verified

Local time: 01:48
English to German
+ ...
Dissecting the grammar Nov 26, 2012

Holger Laux wrote:

And finally, there is a common advice to learners of the German language: Never-ever tell anyone
"Ich bin heiß." You may be done for harassment. The correct form to use is "Mir ist heiß/warm/kühl/kalt."


Taking all this into consideration, I still maintain that a straight translation cannot do the original justice.


I have not yet heard anyone saying in English "I am hot" in place of "I feel hot" either.

My "shot" on this is that regardless of all the substructural nuances between the two languages the play of words can be transferred into German with the same linguistic "material".

It is correct that the En = ND/Neudeutsch term "cool" is used in De = OG/Old German only in the figurative sense and not for denoting temperature sensation. But hardly anybody in the younger generation which is currently using ND "cool" ignores the literal meaning of the word. -

To practice and to perceive the swinging between the proper and the figurative senses of "cool" will be quite natural also for anyone younger than sixty in JL nowadays.

On a different note I have some trouble to draw a line between the ND word "cool" in OG and "abgefahren". All the less as the latter has two meanings in itself - "smart, cool" and "donwtrodden, shoddy". - To imagine that someone similar to a Mrs Lindsay, whoever she may be or have been, would say to someone else "Du siehst aber abfefahren aus." - said in 2nd pers sing and written without exclamation mark - looks to me like a "translation joke", i.e. completely off the mark and nothing short of a howler. - The fact that Mrs Lindsay is referred to in a formal way and not just on Christian name terms implies a certain degree of formality that a sensitive translator would transfer into German automatically with polite 3rd pers pl. - It is interesting that the great majority of the entries that I looked at have been aware of this subtlety and avoided the rude, if not brutal, "Du" in this quip.

[Edited at 2012-11-26 12:08 GMT]


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