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KudoZ home » German to English » Poetry & Literature

unbewegt durchschneiden

English translation: (you understood unbewegt correctly)

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15:24 Sep 14, 2007
German to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature / fantasy novel
German term or phrase: unbewegt durchschneiden
I really want to check whether I've understood this sentence correctly, though that's the bit that's causing me trouble.

"Es war ein sehr guter Dolch. Stabil, mit einer scharfen Klinge, die eine herabfallende Feder unbewegt ohne Weiteres durchschnitt."

So far I've got: " It was a very good dagger. Sturdy and with a blade so sharp that were a feather to fall on it, it would be instantly sliced in two."

Does this seem like a reasonable translation?
Rachel Ward
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:03
English translation:(you understood unbewegt correctly)
Explanation:
So how about this for a *completely* ambiguous but nonetheless elegant translation to cover any eventuality.

>
It was a very good dagger. Sturdy and with a blade sharp enough to slice through a falling feather.
<

Grammatically speaking my sentence doesn't determine whether it happened or not!! It also doesn't strictly capture the 'unbewegt', because it is also ambiguous as to whether the dagger was moved to slice the feather. BUT, this is OK, because the image is conveyed anyway.

And even if you do swipe at a falling feather with a dagger, it has to be sharp, otherwise it just pushes the feather without cutting. (Don't try that one at home on your own, children!)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 44 mins (2007-09-14 16:09:32 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Maybe removing the 'through' reduces the sense of movement, making it a little more 'unbewegt':

>
It was a very good dagger. Sturdy and with a blade sharp enough to slice a falling feather.
<
Selected response from:

Craig Meulen
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:03
Grading comment
I like the ambiguous version too!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +3(you understood unbewegt correctly)
Craig Meulen
2 +3either yours is correct or it happened
Henry Schroeder
3without moving a finger
Vito Smolej


Discussion entries: 5





  

Answers


8 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5 peer agreement (net): +3
either yours is correct or it happened


Explanation:
It's open to interpretation in my non-native opinion.

Either yours is correct or it really happened:

It was a very good dagger. Sturdy and with a blade so sharp that it sliced a falling feather right in two.



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 9 mins (2007-09-14 15:34:30 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The "past tense" does incline me to think that the event did happen, a feather did fall on the dagger.

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Note added at 11 mins (2007-09-14 15:35:58 GMT)
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Wouldn't the German also use a conditional (durchschneiden würde) if it didn't happen, if it were hypothetical?

Henry Schroeder
United States
Local time: 13:03
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 88

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Dr. Fred Thomson: Appears to have already happened
2 mins
  -> Yeah, you think so too. I'm increasingly leaning toward that as well.

agree  Bernhard Sulzer: the correct subjunct. form would be durchschnitte/durchschneiden würde; I take it as - ...was a dagger of the kind that cut through a falling feather without even moving (the dagger). But ...see my note to asker
8 hrs

agree  Sonali Hegde: Yes, I also think that the author or whoever said it saw the feather slice into two
11 hrs
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37 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
(you understood unbewegt correctly)


Explanation:
So how about this for a *completely* ambiguous but nonetheless elegant translation to cover any eventuality.

>
It was a very good dagger. Sturdy and with a blade sharp enough to slice through a falling feather.
<

Grammatically speaking my sentence doesn't determine whether it happened or not!! It also doesn't strictly capture the 'unbewegt', because it is also ambiguous as to whether the dagger was moved to slice the feather. BUT, this is OK, because the image is conveyed anyway.

And even if you do swipe at a falling feather with a dagger, it has to be sharp, otherwise it just pushes the feather without cutting. (Don't try that one at home on your own, children!)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 44 mins (2007-09-14 16:09:32 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Maybe removing the 'through' reduces the sense of movement, making it a little more 'unbewegt':

>
It was a very good dagger. Sturdy and with a blade sharp enough to slice a falling feather.
<

Craig Meulen
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:03
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8
Grading comment
I like the ambiguous version too!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  mill2
4 hrs
  -> thanks

agree  Ken Cox: my take as well. The idea of a falling feather being sliced in two by its own weight strikes me as highly unlikely, no matter how sharp the blade, but a blade sharp enough to cut through a falling feather without disturbing its motion is plausible.
4 hrs
  -> "...highly unlikely" - Ken, it's a FANTASY novel ;-))

agree  Hilary Davies Shelby: i really like your second attempt (without "through") - extremely elegant, even if you do say so yourself! ;-)))
21 hrs
  -> Thanks, Hilary. Yes, false modesty is soo English, I'm trying out the opposite character traits for a while ... ;-)
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13 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
without moving a finger


Explanation:
The original sentence is worth an entry in the bulwer-lytton ("...it was a dark and stormy night ...) contest. I am just adding my expert touch - h'll I could even write it myself.

Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 19:03
Native speaker of: Native in SlovenianSlovenian
PRO pts in category: 4
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