Umlaut häppy November 1, 2005Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
You’ve got to get your fun where you can, boyz and galz, and when you’re a translating type, this sometimes doesn’t leave you with a lot of options. Language is the be-all-and-end-all. It’s the money in your pocket. It’s your green fingers, your золотые руки, your trade. But it’s not very sexy. The German who found himself writing the text I am currently translating was so bored that he thought he’d stick in a few more umlauts for the sake of decoration. I think Ümsetzung looks quite twee, but a word it ain’t, and there’s no way I could get that decoration into my English rendition. Alas. Äläß. Alàç.
Over dinner recently, a German friend – not a translator, but still looking for umlaut kicks – bemoaned the paucity of diacritics in German when he saw something written in Czech. (I’m just trying to remember what it was. An Iva Bittová CD cover, I hope, and not the eurotastic, multilingual instructions for a screwdriver (or was that a Kreuzschlitzschraubendreher?).) I said he should count himself lucky with his ös and his äs and his üs and his ßes, but he felt bereft, clearly. I was heartless, obviously, in my total lack of sympathy, but having discovered the visual joy that Czech is, I have to admit he’s got a point. I have been linked to by a Czech site [now defunct], and, as I know to my peril, I dare not not link back in return. And I’m happy to, and want to, as it’s all about Belarus, but my comprehension of Czech is weak, it must be said. But look at this headline: “Minsk krásnější než Paříž, běloruské Křemíkové údolí.” If that ain’t a diacritic fest, I dunno what is. (And for you language nerds out there, apparently, that Czech ř is just about the sound that develops latest in the natives in all the world’s languages. The person who can tell me that Czech tonguetwister full of them first covers themselves in glory…)