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Old 06-27-2017, 06:03 AM   #1
AlexBell
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Long translations please

The passage I would like translated please comes from Christine, by Elizabeth von Arnim. The words are said by a Prussian soldier about the Russians just before the start of World War 1. He is part of a wildly excited crowd demonstrating in Berlin. It's the second sentence I find hardest to understand.

'Werden lernen was es heisst, frech sein gegen uns. Wollen sie blau und schwartz dreschen.'
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Old 06-27-2017, 06:16 AM   #2
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Bear in mind that I am not a native speaker. (Grade 2 CSE German, 1980)

Literally: "You want to be thrashed black and blue!"

It almost works in English just like that, although using want in the sense of "being in need of" as a verb is archaic or possibly wrong in English.

Perhaps simply "You need to be beaten black and blue" or even "You should be beaten black and blue".

(Interesting that "black and blue" means the same in English and German.)
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Old 06-27-2017, 06:54 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexBell View Post
The passage I would like translated please comes from Christine, by Elizabeth von Arnim. The words are said by a Prussian soldier about the Russians just before the start of World War 1. He is part of a wildly excited crowd demonstrating in Berlin. It's the second sentence I find hardest to understand.

'Werden lernen was es heisst, frech sein gegen uns. Wollen sie blau und schwartz dreschen.'

the second sentence means "(we) will beat them black and blue".
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Old 06-27-2017, 07:10 AM   #4
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Parsifal was faster.

Please note that the uniform colors of the Prussian military are black and blue, but with the period between both sentences it's unlikely that those sentences mean something like "they'll learn what it means to be insulting against us [if/as] they want to beat [up] black and blue", instead it seems to be a statement about what colors their bodies will have after they've been beaten up by the Prussian soldiers.

Please also note that the text at gutenberg.org contains digitalization errors. I'm investigating if a correction is possible.

Last edited by skreutzer; 06-27-2017 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 06-27-2017, 07:20 AM   #5
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(Interesting that "black and blue" means the same in English and German.)
It doesn't, actually. The German equivalent is "grün und blau", i.e. green and blue. Which leads me to believe that either the idiomatic phrase has changed (or is different in different areas in Germany), or the idea here really was to allude to the colors of the Prussian uniforms.
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Old 06-27-2017, 07:35 AM   #6
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Maybe it's deliberately "blau und schwarz" instead of "grün und blau" to help out the English reader.
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Old 06-27-2017, 07:36 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gudy View Post
It doesn't, actually. The German equivalent is "grün und blau", i.e. green and blue. Which leads me to believe that either the idiomatic phrase has changed (or is different in different areas in Germany), or the idea here really was to allude to the colors of the Prussian uniforms.
Oh, that's interesting. Thanks!
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Old 06-27-2017, 07:44 AM   #8
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Maybe it's deliberately "blau und schwarz" instead of "grün und blau" to help out the English reader.
Or perhaps I was wrong, and it does refer to the uniforms.

"You want to thrash the 'Blue & Blacks'".

The perils of translation!
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Old 06-27-2017, 08:26 AM   #9
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Or perhaps I was wrong, and it does refer to the uniforms.

"You want to thrash the 'Blue & Blacks'".

The perils of translation!
Indeed. The ungrammatical and highly idiomatic lack of pronouns (among other problems) in both sentences doesn't help the matter at all.

"(They) Will learn what it means, (to) be insolent to us. (We) Will thresh them black and blue."
and
"(They) Will learn what it means, (to) be insolent to us. They want to thresh the black and blue."
are both possible translations.
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Old 06-27-2017, 08:06 PM   #10
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Many thanks to you all. I really appreciate the unstinting help you've given

I think Gudy's first translation (#9) fits the context best, and that's what I'll use, though I'll use 'thrash' rather than 'thresh'.
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