and welcome to the third episode of
Reading Your Stories
For those of you who are new here – in each episode of this series, I take one short text that one of you has sent me, and I correct it and comment on why I made the corrections that I made, so you can learn from the mistakes.
And I also read out the corrected version and give you a line by line translation to English as well.
So you can use this to practice listening, reading and if you want to you can also try to find the mistakes yourself, and practice some grammar that way :).
Today’s story, called “Dankbarkeit” comes from Parul and not only does it contain a bunch of interesting mistakes and sentences, it also has a really beautiful and inspiring message, and I am really happy to share it with you all.
So are you ready to jump in?
Then let’s go!
As usual, we’ll start with the corrected version. I’ll read it out and you can follow along with the transcription below.
If you want to go to the corrections first, just scroll down to that part :)
Correct Version with Translations
Here’s the audio:
(click here, to download the mp3)
Dass sie mich nicht sehen konnte, bemerkte ich sofort und starrte sie von Kopf bis Fuß an, als sie die Rolltreppe hochkam.
I immediately recognized that she couldn’t see me and stared at her from head to toe as she came up the escalator.
Ihre langen glänzenden Haare, ihre schöne Figur und ihr Selbstbewusstsein fielen mir ins Auge, und ich bemerkte, wie schön sie war.
Her long shining hair, her beautiful physique and her confidence caught my eye, and I noticed how beautiful she was.
Aber so wie der Mond mit einer Narbe gestaltet ist, so war sie.
But like the moon is created with a scar, so she was.
Es war kaum zu fassen, dass sie blind war. Vermutlich war sie in ihren Zwanzigern. Ich hatte in diesem Moment eine Art Mitleid mit ihr und fühlte mich ein bisschen unglücklich in meinen Gedanken.
It was hard to believe that she was blind. She was probably in her twenties. For a moment, I had a kind of pity for her and I felt a little sad with my thoughts.
Nur ein paar Minuten, und das hübsche Mädchen mit dem weißen Stock war an mir vorbeigegangen und dann aus meinem Blick in das Gedränge der U-Bahn-Station in Fürth verschwunden.
Only a few minutes and the beautiful girl with the white stick has passed me by and then disappeared from my view in the crowd of the metro station in Fürth.
Aber sie ist mir bis heute in Erinnerung geblieben.
But she stayed in my memory.
Deshalb erzähle ich euch heute von ihr. Kein Wunder, dass es Menschen mit verschiedenen Behinderungen um uns herum gibt, die, auch wenn es nicht immer leicht für sie ist, das Leben umarmen und weitergehen.
That’s why I am telling you about her today. No wonder that there are people with different disabilities around us, who embrace life and keep going, even if it’s not always easy for them.
Seitdem ich nach Deutschland gekommen bin, bin ich für all das achtsam geworden, was ich habe oder nicht, sowohl für die Menschen, die Beziehungen in meinem Leben und auch für meine gute körperliche Verfassung.
Since I came to Germany, I became mindful for all that I have or don’t have, also for the people, the relationships in my life and my good physical condition/my healthy body.
Und ich finde wirklich keinen Grund, warum Dankbarkeit nicht mein Motiv sein sollte. Ich bedanke mich bei dem Universum für diesen Moment, für alles.
And I really can’t find a reason, why gratefulness shouldn’t be my guiding motif. I thank the universe for this moment, for everything.
Thank you, Universe.
And now time for the original.
Original with Corrections and Comments
Now, we’ll go through the original text bit by bit.
As usual, I’ll give an indication of how many “things” there are in each section, divided by “mistakes” (actual mistakes) and “notes”, which are things that are changed, but that are not really wrong wrong.
So you can read the original section, and then try to find the issues yourself first before you check my commentary :).
Da sie mich nicht sehen konnte, gemerkte ich sofort und starrte sie vom Kopf bis zum Fuß an als sie die Rolltreppe hoch kam.
- “da” should be “dass”
- “gemerkte” can be “merkte” or “bemerkte”. “bemerkte” is better here because the context here is a quick instant noticing.
- “vom Kopf bis zum Fuß” is not wrong, but the idiomatic phrasing is “von Kopf bis Fuß”
- “hochkam” is one word
Ihre lange glänzende Haare, schöne Figur, und ihr selbstbewusstsein fiel mir auf ins Auge und ich bemerkte, wie hübsch sie aussah.
- “ihre langen glänzenden Haare” the adjective endings were wrong. This is plural, so there needs to be an “n” at the end.
- “ihre” should be repeated before “schöne Figur”. The first “ihre” is for a plural, so it’s a tiny bit weird to have it also introduce a singular noun like “Figur”. It’s better style to repeat it, because it’s two different pronouns even though they look the same.
- “Selbstbewusstsein” is a noun, so it needs to be capitalized.
- “fielen mir…” – we’re talking about multiple features here, so the verb needs to be plural
- “hübsch aussehen” is not wrong, but sounds mundane and not very “epic”. To me, “schön sein” is the better fit for the tone of the story, but ultimately that is for the author to decide, of course.
Aber, wie der Mond mit einer Narbe gestaltet ist, war sie.
- The original is not wrong (apart from the initial comma), but adding two “so” makes it way more fluid and idiomatic. “So wie der Mond , so war sie. “
Es war mir das kaum zu fassen, dass sie blind war. Vermütlich war sie in ihren zwanzigern.
- The “mir” in the first sentence has to go.
- “vermutlich” without umlaut.
- “Zwanziger” is a noun, so it needs to be capitalized.
Ich hatte in diesem Moment eine Art Mitleid mit ihr und fühlte mich ein bisschen unglücklich in meinem Gedanken.
In ein paar minuten war mir das hübsche Mädchen mit dem weißen Stock vorbeigegangen und dann aus dem sicht in das Gedränge der U-Bahn Station in Fürth verschwunden.
- “in ein paar Minuten” sounds a bit like “in a few minutes from now”. The more clear options for this context would be “innerhalb von” or simply “nach”, but the first one is too technical sounding and the second one feels like too much time. So I decided to go with an elliptical “Nur ein paar Minuten, und…. “. It fits the slightly poetic tone of the story best
- “minuten” is a noun and needs to be capitalized
- “vorbeigehen” takes its object with “an+Dative”, so it’s “an mir vorbeigegangen”
- the “location” (an mir) has to come close to the verb “vorbeigehen” because it’s the most defining
- “aus meinem Blick” is the idiomatic choice for the idea that something leaves your field of vision. “Sicht” can also refer to your angle, your perspective, so it’s misleading here. Also, “Blick” sounds a bit more poetic.
Aber sie ist bis heute in meinen Erinerrungen geblieben.
Deshalb erzähle ich es euch heute.
- Typo for “Erinnerungen”
- The first sentence is not wrong and works fine, but “mir in Erinnerung bleiben” is by far the more common way to phrase this
- The second sentence is not wrong, but “es” doesn’t really connect to anything. I changed it to “erzählte von ihr”, which also sounds more poetic.
Kein Wunder, dass es Menschen mit verschiedenen Behinderungen um uns existerieren, die auch wenn es nicht immer leicht für sie ist, umarmen das Leben und gehen weiter.
- I am not sure what the author was going for with “Kein Wunder”, so I left it as is, but it doesn’t really make sense to me in the context of the sentence.
- “dass es Menschen  existieren” seems to be a mix of “existieren” and “es gibt”. I find “geben” to be the better option, because “existieren” sounds a bit technical. Maybe “um uns herum leben” would be even better.
- I changed “um uns” to “um uns herum” because “um uns” alone is ambiguous and could be a zu-construct. With “herum” it’s clear and more idiomatic.
- “das Leben umarmen” is the right word order, because we’re in a relative sentence (verb at the end)
- “weitergehen” is the correct order (see above).
Seitdem ich in Deutschland gekommen bin, bin ich auf alles achtsam geworden, was ich verfüge oder nicht und sowohl auf die Menschen, die Beziehungen in meinem Leben als auch auf meine gute körperliche Kondition.
- “nach Deutschland”, not “in Deutschland”
- “achtsam” goes with “für”, not “auf”
- “verfügen” would need an “über”, so it should be “über das ich verfüge”, but that sounds rather technical and also “possessive”, so I changed it to “haben”.
- the “und” before “sowohl” sounds weird and out of place.
- “körperliche Kondition” is not wrong, but sounds too “sporty”. “körperliche Verfassung” is the more idiomatic term in a context like this.
Und ich finde wirklich keinen Gründ, warum Dankbarkeit nicht mein Motiv sein sollte. Ich bedanke mich bei dem Universum, für diesem Moment, für alles.
Danke Universum, danke Emanuel.
- “Grund” without umlaut.
- I took out “Emanuel” because I don’t have anything to do with this story and it feels wrong as the very end of it, but I left it in here because I also wanted to respect the original text as it was sent in. Quite the conundrum :D.
And that’s it for today :).
Let me know in the comments, if you have any questions about any of the corrections and how you liked the story.
Oh, and if you’d like to be featured in this series, just send a story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It doesn’t have to perfect or super slick. The goal here is not to impress but to learn together and also get to know you (the readers) a little bit.
Write from the heart, not from the dictionary :).
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this, have a great week and I’ll see you next time.
How appropriate that my first article that I read since joining today is called “Gratitude!” Through the kindness of those who have paid a little more to help those such as myself, I am able to enjoy this vast, comprehensive, and FUNNY learning website that Emanuel has designed! Thanks all!
This one was a lot of fun for me, perhaps because most of the actual *corrections* were about at my level. The more idiomatic stuff was –totally unsurprisingly– pretty much out of reach to me until reading your reasoning underneath, but I think it’s a promising sign that a lot of those sections didn’t actually sound particularly smooth/*right* in the original. So maybe there’s a smidgen of Sprachgefühl beginning to take up residency somewhere in this addled brain of mine, even if it’s manifesting itself as little more than the occasional flinch so far!
In any case, going back over the story in a couple of weeks will be a great follow-up exercise, to see whether the errors/infelicities are a little more prominent. That’s the dream!
Not sure if it’s a transcription typo (ie, in typing in the original) or a genuine error that was silently corrected, but “für diesem Moment” in the final chunk has been corrected to “für diesen Moment”, as it should be ;-)
Happy to hear that you enjoyed it. And congrats to the budding German language vibe taste buds!!
And not sure about the typo anymore. I’d have to check the original mail, but it’s water under the bridge anyway :)
Thank you for this exercise. I really enjoyed it . In the story I thought the writer meant “no wonder “ ( Kein Wunder ) which is an English idiom for “ It is no surprise that … “.
Ah, that makes more sense. Thank you :)
“Kein Wunder” sounds like a translation of the English phrase “It’s no wonder”, which is not used to mean anying on the level of a miracle, but a less emphatic “It’s no surprise”.
No typos in the text and our friend coleussanctus already created an idiomatic version of the translation :)
Beautiful story, thanks to Parul!
As for the sentence you find a little bit off “Ich hatte in diesem Moment eine Art Mitleid mit ihr und fühlte mich ein bisschen unglücklich in meinem Gedanken“, what would be an idiomatic phrasing based on coleussanctus’ version of the translation – “For a moment, I felt sorry for her, and a little unhappy”?
That would be:
– Für einen Moment hatte ich Mitleid mit ihr und fühlte mich ein wenig traurig.
What I’m not sure about in the original is whether the author is sad “in their thoughts” or sad “about having the thoughts”.
I would hazard a guess and say he felt a bit sad out of compassion for the girl, but that’s the beauty of stories, they’re subjective and that’s why translation is sooo hard… I’m a translator myself but I only do technical stuff, hats off to people who can do literary (I can’t) :)
Have you ever given it a shot?
I did one literary translation of a short story once and I had so many questions I needed to ask the author.
Like… “listen, this doesn’t translate. It can go this way or that way and you have to chose.”
I can only imagine making these kinds of decisions for a dead author. Almost like a musician interpreting a piece.
She couldn’t see me. I noticed that right away, and gazed at her from head to toe as she came up the escalator.
Her long, shiny hair, her lovely figure, and her confidence caught my attention, and I realized how beautiful she was.
But just like the moon has a scar, so did she.
I could hardly believe that she was blind. She must have been in her twenties. For a moment, I felt sorry for her, and a little unhappy.
A few minutes later, the pretty girl with the white cane had walked by me and disappeared out of sight into the crowd at the metro station in Fürth.
But I still remember her to this day. That’s why I wanted to tell you about her today.
It’s not surprising that there are people everywhere with different disabilities who embrace life and keep going, even when it isn’t always easy.
Since I came to Germany, I’ve become more mindful of everything: what I have and don’t have, the people and relationships in my life, and also my health.
And I don’t see any reason why gratefulness shouldn’t be my motto. I’m thankful to the universe for the moment with the girl in the metro station, and for everything.
Great idiomatic translation! Thanks, coleussanctus!
Really well done. You completely captured that vibe that I felt in the German version. Also I think you had a couple of moments where you had to decide what to “lose” of the original, or where to focus.
I find this fascinating about translation work, that there are these moments where you just can’t capture all the nuances and have to let go of some or maybe even introduce new ones, just to translate it.
Thanks for adding and sharing this here!
Yeah, absolutely. There were a few places where I would have liked to ask what Parul meant. Since I couldn’t, I just went “I hope that’s not too wrong” and went for it.
But even apart from that, I think there are times when it’s just not possible to capture 100% of the original in the translation. I’m reading Letters Back to Ancient China (Briefe in die chinesische Vergangenheit) right now and it’s really interesting to see how it was translated.
You have the problem of a main character who only speaks Chinese and is slowly learning a few German words that are colored by his Chinese pronunciation. Plus flowery language and colorful verbs. How do you settle on a translation for “durcheilen” in the context of a letter that time travels through a thousand years? He went with “survive the journey of a thousand years.”
Some of the small details are different here and there, but the translator managed to keep the same feel as the original. It’s fascinating. Definitely an art, not a science.
Wow, that sounds like an interesting read!!
Just about the way, it played in my head.
Snapshots of someone else’s life. Those are always fascinating to me.
I like to translate these stories just for fun. Having two versions in German and one in English gives me a lot of ideas. I usually keep the result to myself, but I thought this story is a nice one to read end to end in English.
It’s not word for word. I took the poetic vibe and ran with it.
Hallo lieber Emmanuel,
Wao! Welche schicksalhafte Geschichte ! Ich bin noch überschattet davon.
Und es gefällt mir das Theme der Dankbarkeit . Es ist irgendwie , eben eine Art der Weisheit .
Guten Wochenende und bis Bald .