German Studies with Agatha Christie

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted on my German studies, so I thought I’d share a little bit of the latest novel (der Roman) that I’m reading:  Agatha Christie’s Blausäure (prussic acid).

This is one of the few Christie’s that I’ve never read before in the original (Sparkling Cyanide).  So it’s truly a first adventure.

The backcover reads:  “Es sollte eine gelungene Geburtstagsfeier für die junge Erbin werden.  Doch nicht nur die Errinerung an den Selbstmord der Schwester trübt die Gesellschaft, auch der Zweifel, ob nicht doch einer der Anwesenden das Zyankali in den Champagner mischte…”

general translation:  “It should have been a harmonious birthday celebration for the young heiress.  But not only the memory of the suicide of her sister dims the party, also the doubts, whether or not anyone present mixed cyanide into the campagne.”

The novel begins:

Iris Marle dachte über ihre Schwester Rosemary nach.

Fast ein Jahr lang hatte sie versucht, Rosemary aus ihrem Gedächtnis zu verbannen.  Sie hatte sich nicht erinnern wollen.

Es war zu schmerzlich- zu grauenvoll!

Rosemarys blau angelaufenes Gesicht, die gekrümmten Finger, die nach ihr gegriffen hatten…”

General translation:  “Iris Marle thought more about her sister Rosemary.

For almost a year long, she had tried to banish Rosemary from her memory.

It was too grievous- too gruesome.

Rosemary’s turned, blue face,  the crooked finger, that she had gripped towards…”

Here’s a word-for-word translation to give one an idea of the German sentence structure:

“Iris Marle thought about her sister Rosemary on. 

Almost a year long had she tried, Rosemary from her memory to banish.  She had self not remember wanted.

It was too grievous- too gruseome!

Rosemary’s blue turned face, the crooked finger, that on her gripped had…”

If anyone notes any errors in my translation…feel free to kindly correct.

For those studying  foreign languages, how are you doing?

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Published in: on December 5, 2010 at 5:48 pm  Comments (15)  
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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Why did Rosemary committed suicide?

    It was nice reading your translation. I am even learning a few new words:) Plus the story you are reading sound interesting.

    I am studying Deutsch and has you know it is not so easy. Not everything can be translated into English word by word. People tell me to think Germany. But what does that mean really if I am not German?

  2. 🙂 If I thought someone had spiked the champagne with cyanide, I too should have my enthusiasm dimmed. 🙂

    I was late for an outing today and splurged on a cab ride. The guy had a Russian radio station on… Oh, Russian. I miss it so! Your studies remind me how much I love immersing myself in a beloved language… 🙂 Keep at it! And keep sharing the madness 🙂

  3. That’s awesome, not knowing the story will really make it a challenge for you. I’m still trying to source some books in Norwegian, there’s a Scandinavian import shop not far from me that might be able to get some. Or maybe I’ll impose on my cousin to send me some 😉 Mostly I’m just reading stuff on Facebook (the local newspaper where my cousin lives, the town library’s page, my cousin’s posts) to pick up new words. It helps but I should be doing more. I’ve also ‘followed’ some Norwegians on Twitter and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I can understand without running for the dictionary.

  4. Tasha, that’s an awesome challenge. :)And so much more fun, leaning a language through a favorite author! I think I’d have gotten a lot farther in Russian if I’d been allowed to do that with, say Bulgakov.

  5. Hey Starting Over,

    For me, it’s not so much thinking in German, so much as changing how I think in general. For example, instead of, “I am cold”, thinking, “it is cold to me.” (mir ist kalt)

    It’s percieving things a bit differently.

    Well, that’s been helping me at least. 🙂

  6. Sput,

    harhar! I know! Nothing like poisoned champagne to ruin a party. 🙂

  7. Hey DD,

    I’m actually quite pleased with how I’m doing with this one. The last book I read (a non-Christie) was much more difficult. This is a breath of fresh air in comparison. 🙂

    Norwegian seems incredibly difficult. Plus, I imagine it’s harder to find source material. Very cool that there is a store near you. Please let me know if you are able to buy some books. I’m really interested in how you progress.

  8. Hey Amy,

    It is a fun way to learn. By the time I have somewhat of a handle on German, I’m going to have the largest frigging Christie collection. 🙂

    Regarding Bulgarov- The Master and Margarita sounds like such a fascinating story.

  9. Thank you so much with the phrase “it is cold to me.” (mir ist kalt). I automatically thought ich bin kalt. But when you explained it I said oh reflexive sentence. The cold weather is doing something to me to use “mir” instead of ich. I just learn a new phrase thanks to you! Keep reading and translating so that I can learn a little with you:)
    P.S. Great work with the translation…I mention you to my husband and he is impress…no integration school, willing to learn, and is your doing good translating.

  10. Oh, thank you! And I’m so glad I was able to help a bit! 🙂

    Yeah, those are tricky.

    Ich bin kalt= I am a cold (personality) person

    Ich bin warm= I am horny. (so you probably don’t want to use that one out in public) 😉

    I will definitely continue doing such posts. 🙂

  11. LOL, this is good to know about “Ich bin warm.” lol. I thought geil was the only word for horny, lol. I will say this around a few friends to raise an eyebrow or two, lol. I love Deutsch..it is too funny in the translation.

  12. Oops! Sorry. Have to make a quick correction. This is why I should never post when I need caffeine.

    Ich bin heiß means you’re feelling all hot and spicy. 😉 NOT “Ich bin warm”.

    And *giggles*, I adore your brand of humor. 🙂

  13. lol, okay now I am in trouble. I have been saying that all summer and my husband never corrected me. I let him have it on the weekend when I am not too tired, lol.and thanks!

  14. Interesting how meanings suffuse languages and how they change (or don’t) as the case may be. Simple word choice can shift a narrative in a massive way.

  15. Heya Ralfast,

    Indeed. And sometimes in pretty funny ways! 🙂


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