The art of erasing queer subtext
German translations of Sherlock Holmes
first came to tumblr for reading all the fantastic analysis of the
Sherrlock Holmes stories and adaptations, I was quite confused. Of
course I read the Holmes stories before, well, most of them, but a
lot of the quotes I read here didn’t sound familiar at all. I
thought, well, I must have forgotten that or didn’t read properly.
That doesn’t sound like me, but I never picked up my (german) copy
and looked it up. One evenening, I sat over a glass of wine with my
friend and she denied the gay subtext of the Holmes stories so
vigorously, that I felt like proving my point and so I took her copy
and wanted to show her some of the evidence. To my suprise, i could
not find it. Starting with the „Quick. Hide if you love me“ part
in „the dying detective“ wich was translated to „Hide if you
want me to be thankfull forever“ (Verstecken Sie sich, wenn Sie
sich meines ewigen Dankes gewiss sein wollen). That made me curious
and I bought a copy of the original english ACD stories.
now start to read along with you, in german and in english to see
what had been changed and why.
we have to note, that the most common german translation is the one
by Adolf Gleiner, Margarete Jacobi, Louis Ottmann and Rudolf
Lautenbach. It is an early translation (the first in some stories)
and is used until today. I had a look at five different copys of the
translated canon, modern ones and old ones, but they all had that
translation. There is one other common translation by Gisbert Haefs,
but I don’t have it, so I can’t say anything about that. Maybe
someone has read those.
have to note some general problems with translating from english to
german, wich is not only true for Holmes but also for many other
stories. There is, for example the „Sie“ and „Du“ problem.
„Sie“ is the formal, polite way of saying „You“ wich one
would use to adress strangers or respected people or people you don’t
now well, „Du“ is the more intimate way of saying „You“ which
one would use if you are adressing friends or family or people of
your own age if you are younger than 25. Of course, it is always hard
to get the point in a movie, book or series when people stop to use
„Sie“ and start using „Du“, for it requires a permission or
invitation in the spirit of: „Please, you can say „Du““ which
is a big deal. In the Holmes stories, Watson and Holmes always talk
to each other using „Sie“ and it is hard to create this natural
intimacy between two people who do that. In translated english
stories, it became quite normal that two people use „Sie“ even
when they know each other quite well, especially in stories written
before the 1950s. Even children adress their parents as „Sie“.
Maybe it was just a way of showing how posh the English are.
have the trouble of words with a slightly different meaning in both
languages. But we will see that when I point out some examples.
read through the first three stories (TheGloria Scott, The Musgrave
Ritual and The Spraceled Band) I recognized
some parts that were translated pretty wrong and had to come to the
conclusion, that it was done on purpose. By the third story I knew
which part would have been changed before I even looked at the
„certain quiet primness of dress“ that a lot of people refere to
by pointing out a queer reading of the canon was changed to „In his
appearance he showed a certain accuracy and punktuality“ which is
not the same and they could have used many german expressions wich
would have been closer two the point. (German: Was sein Auftreten
betraf trug er eine gewisse Genauigkeit und Pünktlichkeit zur
Schau). But I see, that it is not easy to catch that exact meaning
for the word „quiet“ is not really used in german in that manor.
„mischivious eyes“ were changed to „smart smile“.
(Musgrave) was a dandy“ was changed to „He emphasised his suit“.
Wich is understandable because the term „dandy“ hadn’t been used
fact: The term „woman“ refering to Rachel Howells was changed to
„Weib“ (a deprecative term for woman) or to „Mädchen“ (girl)
on various occations.
story, Holmes speaks to Victor Trevor using „Du“. That might be
because of their age.
they left out were Holmes was going the day the dog bit him, („I
went down to chapel“).
the end of the term we were close friends“ was changed to „before
I recovered, we had formed a friendship“ (German: Ehe ich wieder
auf den Beinen war, hatten wir Freundschaft geschlossen.). And there
is a term for „close friends“ in german (enge Freunde). There is
no reason to change that.
these two stories aren’t the interesting part. Let’s move on to „The
starts with minor changes in the description of Holmes (They changed
„love of his art“ to „Love of his work“) and in the way
Holkmes adresses Watson („my dear fellow“ was translated to „My
dear boy“) but they mix up the boy/fellow thing in every way, all
when Holmes wakes up Watson, Watson accompanys Holmes down to the
sitting room in the english version, while in the german translation,
Watson follows Holmes to the sitting room. They could as well have
translated the sentence word by word. But they didn’t.
intruduction of Watson („This is my intimite friend and associate
Doctor Watson before whom you can speak as freely as before myself“)
stayed the same. I wanted to point that out.
Holmes says that „(The gun) and a toothbrush are all we need“,
the translator went through some trouble because he obviously was
concerened about the singular. Instead of just changing it to plural,
he invented a comb, so you can read the german sentences as plural or
singular. Its hard to explain… („Wenn wir Kamm und Zahnbürste
mitnehmen, haben wir alles was wir brauchen“).
Holmes and Watson go to „the Crown“, they engage „a bedroom and
a sitting room“ in the original version, while in the german
version, they get „two rooms“. Well, I guess that is not exactly
wrong, but it is not the whole truth either.
are not the big ones, those will come later on, when we read more
stories. But you can find this sort of changes in every Holmes story,
while the rest of the story (For example the Cases) are translated
with a certain accuracy.
they do that? Well, I think they realised how strong the subtext is
and didn’t want that to come out. I don’t think they said:“Oh my
god, this is so gay, let’s not write that“, I think they thought:
„Well, if I translate it word by word it sounds wrong in german, to
intimate. I have to look for less strong words or discriptions.“.
Maybe it was because of differences in german and british culture at
that time. But they clearly changed most of the parts which one could
read as „to intimate for friends“.
to @handl0ck for talking to me about this and to @astudyincanon for
encouraging me to write it down… and sorry for the mistakes. I am
jasamdominik #tbt zum shooting mit @thelastshadowpuppets im soho house berlin. die fotos von alex und miles - geschossen von @peterkaaden - und die geschichte dazu - geschrieben von mir - gibt es ab nächsten donnerstag in der neuen ausgabe des @musikexpress_magazin
(Translated from German):
“#tbt to the shooting with @thelastshadowpuppets in soho house berlin. pics of alex and miles - shot by @peterkaaden - and the story included - written by me - will be available next thursday on the new issue of @musikexpress_magazin"
I think German has some really cool phrases and idioms to offer, so I thought I could make a list of some of my favourites! I’ll give you the German expression, the literal translation, the meaning, and an example sentence in both German and English.
note: an *asterisk indicates that the phrase is rather colloquial, **two indicate that it’s vulgar.
*jdm. auf den Keks gehen (lit. to go on someone’s cookie) - to annoy someone Das schlechte Wetter geht mir langsam auf den Keks. - The bad weather is starting to annoy me. (I use this all the time! It’s very common.)
*sich etw. abschminken können(lit. to take off make-up) - having to abandon a plan/an idea Es regnet, da kann ich mir die Gartenarbeit wohl abschminken. - It’s raining, so I probably can’t work in the garden.
Torschlusspanik(lit. panic before the gates close) - the fear that you’ll miss something, or not get to do something in time. Er ist fast vierzig - hoffentlich heiratet er sie nicht aus Torschlusspanik. He’s almost fourty - hopefully he won’t marry her just because he’s scared he’ll never get to marry anyone else otherwise.
*die Kirche im Dorf lassen(lit. to leave the church in the village) - not overdoing it/overreacting Du willst das Haus verkaufen? Da wollen wir mal die Kirche im Dorf lassen! - You want to sell your house? I think you didn’t think this through, and you shouldn’t do it.
*Perlen vor die Säue(lit. pearls to the pigs) - wasted (time or money) Den neuen Geschirrspüler zu kaufen war Perlen vor die Säue - in der neuen Wohnung gibt es schon einen. - Buying a new dishwasher was unnecessary and wasted money, because there already is one in the new flat.
wie bestellt und nicht abgeholt(lit. like ordered and not received/picked up) - waiting and thus being out of place Du warst viel zu spät! Ich stand da eine halbe Stunde wie bestellt und nicht abgeholt. - You were much too late! I stood there for half an hour feeling utterly stupid and out of place.
Armutszeugnis (lit. poverty certificate) - proof that someone is incapable of something, thus embarrassing them because they’re expected to be better So viele Verspätungen sind ein Armutszeugnis für die Bahn. - So many delays are embarrassing for the train company.
**Arsch auf Grundeis(lit. ass to bottom ice) - to get really scared Als er dachte, er hätte das Auto seines Freundes beschädigt, ist ihm der Arsch auf Grundeis gegangen. - When he thought he damaged his friend’s car, he got scared shitless.
böhmische Dörfer (lit. Bohemian villages) - something unknown you don’t understand Ich kann kein Chemie - diese Symbole sind böhmische Dörfer für mich. I’m not good at chemistry - I don’t understand any of those symbols.
Gewehr bei Fuß(lit. shotgun at foot) - ready to go, alert Seine Frau konnte jederzeit das Kind bekommen, also stand er Tag und Nacht Gewehr bei Fuß. - His wife could be going into labour at any point, so he was prepared and ready to go to the hospital 24/7.
*Asche auf mein Haupt(lit. ashes to my head) - to admit that you are to blame for something bad and regret it, or to accuse somebody else. sometimes ironically. Ich habe schon wieder vergessen, dir die Unterlagen mitzubringen. Asche auf mein Haupt! - I forgot to bring you the paperwork again. I’m sorry, that’s my fault.
*weg vom Fenster(lit. away from the window) - gone and not coming back (at least not soon) Ich bin krank, also bin ich erst mal weg vom Fenster. - I’m sick, so I won’t be there for a while.
Worte auf die Goldwaage legen(lit. to put words on a golden scale) - to take someone’s words very literally and with the exact meaning. Sei vorsichtig, was du zu ihm sagst - er legt jedes Wort auf die Goldwaage. Be careful what you say to him - he takes everything literally.
I think part two will be coming very soon because I had a lot of fun with this :D It was really difficult to find suitable translations sometimes, but I hope I did all right. If any fellow Germans want me to include a certain idiom or phrase in the next part, hmu with an ask or message! :)
other German masterposts: German in Usage 1, 2, 3, resources
February 9, 1917 - Henry Ford Offers to Produce War Material at No Interest for American Government
Pictured - A photograph of the “Peace Ship” ocean liner sponsored by Henry Ford (inset right) in 1915. The liner carried an amateur peace mission to Europe, including Mr. Ford.
America’s foremost peace advocate in 1917 was the industrialist Henry Ford, producer of the Model T. A strong isolationist who refused to finance or produce for any foreign military, Ford wrote in his autobiography that “I have never been able to discover any honourable [sic] reason
for the beginning of the World War. It seems to have grown out of a
very complicated situation created largely by those who thought they
could profit by war.” He went so far as to finance his own “Peace Ship” full of amateur diplomats to go to Europe and meet with leaders of the warring powers. This won him few friends among American financiers, who mocked him and his mission.
In February 1917, however, when American ships were sunk by German submarines, Ford expressed his willingness to produce goods for the American military for no profit. “Ford offers his fortune to U.S. without interest,” read the Buffalo News. During the war the Ford company made cars, trucks, boats, cannons, and researched new armor technologies. After World War One, Ford returned to his isolationist view, tempered increasingly with anti-Semitism and admiration for the Nazis as another world war drew closer.
German passports are issued to German nationals for international travel. Besides serving as proof of identity and presumption of German nationality, they facilitate the assistance from German consular officials abroad (or other EU-members in the case that a German consular facility is absent). German passports are valid for 10 years (for those older than 24) or 6 years (for those under 24) and share the standardized layout and burgundy red design with other EU passports, though with a hard cover that is unique to Germany. Every German citizen is also a citizen of the European Union. The passport, along with the national ID card, allows for free movement and residence in any EU country. Getting a passport issued costs €59 (24+) and €37.50 (under 24). Processing time is 4-6 weeks, but it can be issued in 3 days via the Express service.
Okay so I take German in school and I've had like 7 different teachers over 3 years and they've all sucked Could you make a list with important words that are frequently used and different phrases? Ilu
Of course I can! I don’t know which kind of phrases you really need for your lessons but I’ll just list some which are always quite helpful. (both formal and colloquial)
talking with someone:
How are you? - Wie geht es dir?
I’m fine, thanks. - Mir geht es gut, danke.
You’re welcome. - Gern geschehen.
See you later. - Bis später.
What’s new? - Was gibt’s (short form for gibt es) Neues?
What do you do for a living? - Was bist du von Beruf?/Was ist dein Beruf?
Nice to meet you. - Nett, dich kennen zu lernen.
Where are you from? - Wo kommst du her?
Do you speak…? - Sprichst du…?
phrases for writing an essay, having a discussion, etc.
In my opinion - Meiner Meinung nach
On the one hand, on the other hand - Einerseits, andererseits
You’re right. - Du hast recht.
I don’t think so. - So denke ich nicht.
May I interrupt you? - Darf ich dich unterbrechen?
I agree with you./I don’t agree with you. - Ich stimme dir (nicht) zu.
Do you really think so? - Denkst du das wirklich?
I see where you are coming from. - Ich kann deine Meinung nachvollziehen, aber…
asking for help, giving advice, ect.:
Where is the…? - Wo ist der/die/das…?
I’m lost. - Ich habe mich verlaufen.
Can I help you? Can you help me? - Kann ich dir/Ihnen helfen? Kannst du/Können Sie mir helfen?
I’m looking for… - Ich suche…
One moment please! - Einen Moment, bitte.
Excuse me,… - Entschuldigen Sie,…
other German expressions:
Cheers! - Prost.
Here you go! (when giving something to someone) - Bitte schön.
Don’t worry. - Keine Sorge.
Hurry up! - Beeile dich.
What time is it? - Wie spät ist es?
Why didn’t I think of that? - Wieso ist mir das nicht eingefallen?
Enjoy the meal. - Guten Appetit.
Get lost! - Verschwinde!/ Hau ab (informal)
Leave me alone. - Lass mich in Ruhe.
teenage words/phrases/insults (I’m sure you’ll need them when you travel to Germany, some guys here are just UGH) ((they are all very informal so maybe don’t use them when talking to your teacher lmao))
Fuck off. - Verpiss dich.
Are you kidding me? - Willst du mich verarschen?
Dear lord/Oh my god - Oh mein Gott, Himmelherrgott…or what you can also say: Ach du Scheiße.
(I don’t know the fitting English translation for the following words but you use them when you are surprised, don’t believe what’s going on, etc… but also when you think something’s really cool) - Abgefahren!, Krass!, Mega!
asshole - Arschloch
motherfucker - Wichser
to beat around the bush - um den heißen Brei herumreden
You can bet your life on that. - Da kannst du Gift drauf nehmen.
to make a fool of oneself - sich zum Affen machen
to kill two birds with one stone - zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen
to move heaven and earth - Himmel und Hölle in Bewegung setzen
to be oblivious to what is going around you - Tomaten auf den Augen haben
It’s all Greek to me. (I LOVE this English idiom!) - Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof.
to butter someone up - jemanden Honig um den Mund schmieren
to cross your fingers - Daumen drücken
My goodness! - Mein lieber Herr Gesangsverein. (This German idiom is A+)
I think I’m going crazy. - Ich glaube, ich spinne.
I hope this helps you!!! Good luck with learning German, you can always come to me if you have any questions! ✨
Among the myths of the postwar period was that of the apolitical woman. […] Female fascists – in Nazi Party headquarters in Kiev, in military and SS and police headquarters in Minsk, and in gated villas in Lublin – were not simply doing “women’s work.” As long as German women are consigned to another sphere or their political influence is minimized, half the population of a genocidal society is […] “endowed with innocence of the crimes of the modern state,” and they are placed “outside of history itself.” […]
A third of the female population, thirteen million women, were actively engaged in a Nazi Party organization, and female membership in the Nazi Party increased steadily until the end of the war. Just as the agency of women in history is underappreciated, here too […] the agency of women in the Third Reich has not been fully elaborated and explained. Vast numbers of ordinary German women were not victims, and routine forms of female participation in the Holocaust have not yet been disclosed. […]
The consensus in Holocaust and genocide studies is that the systems that make mass murder possible would not function without the broad participation of society, and yet nearly all histories of the Holocaust leave out half of those who populated that society, as if women’s history happens somewhere else. It is an illogical approach and puzzling omission.