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 Translation differences? 
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Registriert: Mo Jun 01, 2009 6:04 am
Beiträge: 2
Beitrag Translation differences?
Greetings, and my apologies for writing in English.

Has anyone here read both the English and German (or other translations) of the Tripod novels? I'd like to find out how the translators dealt with specific problems of translation. Unfortunately I do not have access to anything but the original English works.

Some examples I'm wondering about:
  • Have all the characters' names been retained? Is Jean-Paul's name still jokingly anglicized to "Beanpole"? And if so, is any explanation given for readers not familiar with the sense of that word?
  • In The White Mountains, Will occasionally sees old and/or damaged signs and inscriptions in English or French, e.g., "DANGER 6,000 VOLTS ... ELECT CITY" or "Anti-magnetique". Are these inscriptions translated? If not, how are misunderstandings like "electricity"/"elect city" explained?
  • Do characters from outside England (e.g. Jean-Paul, Fritz) speak with an "accent" or give any indication that they're not native speakers of the language spoken by Will?

Any help you can provide would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Di Jun 02, 2009 1:10 am
Beitrag Re: Translation differences?
Hello hoss and welcome aboard! Nice to meet you here! :lol:

I'm sorry, but i don't read the english version of Tripods, but so I know there are a few things between the english and germon books:

Jean-Paul is in german "Bohnenstange" thats means the same as "Beanpole"

The old damaged sign reads: "Gefahr - 6600 Volt LEKT..ZITÄT" so these things are good translated! That means the same as in the english book!

And no, the characters has no accent or so, they only say, from where they are!

I hope i can help you and you understand my average english, if not, so you can come in the chat:


See you later! :mrgreen:

Di Jun 02, 2009 7:44 pm

Registriert: Mo Jun 01, 2009 6:04 am
Beiträge: 2
Beitrag Re: Translation differences?
Hello MMFan, and thanks so much for your help!

Yes, I had heard that the German translation is very good; apparently it is very faithful to the original text. Here are some specific excerpts from the English that I'm wondering about:

From "My Name is Ozymandias", where Will is being told to go to Rumney to find captain Curtis:
..."You will find fishing boats in the harbor. The Orion is owned by one of us. A tall man, very swarthy, with a long nose and thin lips. His name is Curtis, Captain Curtis. Go to him. He will get you across the sea. That is where the hard part begins. They speak a different language there, You must keep from being seen or spoken to, and learn to steal your food as you go."

"I can do that. Do you speak their language?"

It and others such as your own. It was for that reason I was given this mission. He smiled. "I can be a madman in four tongues."

In the translation, is the part about different languages translated literally, or has it been modified?

It's interesting that the translated name of Beanpole has kept the same meaning as the original, because the name is also a form of wordplay based on the sound of "Jean-Paul". Here's an excerpt from the end of the chapter titled "Beanpole":

"Can you come as you are?" I asked him. "Going back would be risky."

"I am ready now." He put a hand out, first to me and then to Henry. "My name--I am Zhan-Pole."

He looked odd and solemn standing there, tall and thin, with that strange metal-and-glass thing on his face. Henry laughed.

"More like Beanpole!"

He stared at Henry inquiringly for a moment. Then he laughed too.

In English, "Jean-Paul" ("Zhan-pole") rhymes with "Beanpole". Since "Bohnenstange" doesn't preserve this rhyme, I'm wondering if the translator had to change this dialogue.

As to the "LEKT..ZITÄT" translation, here's what the original has:

...No one knew what these buildings had once been, and I think one of the things that attracted us was a sign, printed on a chipped and rusted metal plate:

6,600 VOLTS

We had no idea what Volts had been, but the notion of danger, however far away and long ago, was exciting. There was more lettering, but for the most part the rust had destroyed it:


We wondered if that was the city it had come from.

So again we have a word game, where the last part of "electricity" in English is coincidentally a word for a place: "city". My understanding of German is very poor, but it seems that "zität" means something like "capacity"... is that right? How does the translator incorporate that into the observation by Will: "We wondered if that was the city it had come from."?


So Jun 07, 2009 6:33 pm
Beitrag Re: Translation differences?
Hello hoss, I'm sorry that I wasn't answering.

Yes you're right, "zität" means the same as in capacity. The german word for "City" is "Stadt". City mean a very big of it, town a little.

I hope I could help you!

Do Jul 23, 2009 7:11 pm
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