The Dragon Year Approaches

Wait.  Didn’t I just write my post, “The Year of the Rabbit”? 

Granted, I have no sense of time, and I can’t even wear a watch since my electromagnetic field kills them all.   But really.   How did we so quickly go from:


Incredible or not, it is Jan 1, 2012.  (talk about sci-fi-ish sounding).  And we are now heading into the year of the dragon.  (Jan 23rd)

So, just like last year, I am continuing to work toward things.   I don’t like to make concrete goals.   Instead, I’m always seeking,  Always wanting to learn more.  Explore and expand my inner and outer worlds.

That said, in this- the year of the magestic dragon I shall continue to write every day (for the most part), continue studying that fascinating but infuriating language German, and being true to myself.

May everyone do what is best for them!

Here’s to the year of the dragon!

Published in: on January 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm  Comments (13)  
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Vampires in German

Whilst reading the horror-pulp novella, Friedhof der Vampire by John Sinclair, I was reminded how enjoyable vampiric tales are in German. There is something about the language- the strong consonants joining those elusive umlauts to produce a cool, aloof sensuality- that makes it perfect for tales of the macabre.

Here is some vocabulary you’ll often come across:
unheimlich: eerie, uncanny
das Blut: blood
übersinnlich: supernatural
der Geist- ghost
das Grauen- horror
der Totenschädel- skull
die Leiche: corpse
gruselig: creepy
der Schrecken: dread
die Hexe: witch
der Sarg: coffin

Published in: on June 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm  Comments (23)  
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The German Shakespeare Part Two: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

  Oberon and Titania by Sir Joseph Noel Paton

In honor of Shakespeare’s Aprilian birthday, and in continuation of last week’s post, I thought I’d take a peek at how the Bard fares in the German version of the fairytale play.

For some unknown reason (at least not any that I can fathom),   many of the characters’ names were changed.   I’m sure the Germans of the day could have handled the original, but ah well. 

So, Peaceblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed became Bohnenblüte, Spinnweb, Motte und Senfsamen.  Puck is now Droll.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream vs   Ein Sommernachtstraum 


Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.

Hippolyta. Vier Tage tauchen sich ja schnell in Naechte, Vier Naechte traeumen schnell die Zeit hinweg: Dann soll der Mond, gleich einem Silberbogen, Am Himmel neu gespannt, die Nacht beschaun Von unserm Fest.


If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.


Wenn wir Schatten euch beleidigt,
O so glaubt—und wohl verteidigt
Sind wir dann—: ihr alle schier
Habet nur geschlummert hier
Und geschaut in Nachtgesichten
Eures eignen Hirnes Dichten.
Wollt ihr diesen Kindertand,
Der wie leere Träume schwand,
Liebe Herrn, nicht gar verschmähn,
Sollt ihr bald was Beßres sehn.
Wenn wir bösem Schlangenzischen
Unverdienterweis entwischen,
So verheißt auf Ehre Droll
Bald euch unsres Dankes Zoll;
Ist ein Schelm zu heißen willig,
Wenn dies nicht geschieht, wie billig.
Nun gute Nacht! Das Spiel zu enden,
Begrüßt uns mit gewognen Händen!

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm  Comments (5)  
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The German Shakespeare Part One

 “Sein oder nicht sein.  Das ist hier die Frage.”- from Shakespeare’s Hamlet

  Founded 1864 in Weimar, Germany,  die Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, is the oldest Shakespearean society in the world.

Shakespeare invaded Germany in the 1700s when English actors traveled across the Channel to perform his works.  According to the  website, to this day, Shakespearean plays are showcased, and attended,  more in Germany than in Great Britian.  Neuss, Germany even boasts a replica of the Globe Theatre.

And so how does the Bard compare in the two languages?

From MacBeth:

First Witch

When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Second Witch

When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.

Third Witch

That will be ere the set of sun.

First Witch

Where the place?

Second Witch

Upon the heath.

Third Witch

There to meet with Macbeth.

First Witch

I come, Graymalkin!

Second Witch

Paddock calls.

Third Witch



Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.


First Witch 1. Hexe.
Wenn kommen wir drey uns wieder entgegen,
In Donner, Blizen oder Regen?

2. Hexe.
Wenn das Mordgetuemmel schweigt,
Und der Sieg den Aufruhr beugt

When the hurly-burly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and Won.}

3. Hexe.
Also, eh der Tag sich neigt.

1. Hexe.
Nennt den Ort!

2. Hexe.
Die Heide dort.

3. Hexe.
Dort gehn wir Macbeths wegen hin.

1. Hexe.
Ich komm, ich komme, Grimalkin–

2. Hexe.
Padok ruft–wir kommen schon.

Auf, und durch die Nebel-Luft davon!

and this siloquey from Lady Macbeth: 

O, never  
  Shall sun that morrow see!  
  Your face, my thane, is as a book where men  
  May read strange matters. To beguile the time,  
  Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,  
  Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower,  
  But be the serpent under’t. He that’s coming  75
  Must be provided for: and you shall put
This night’s great business into my dispatch;
  Which shall to all our nights and days to come  
  Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.


O nimmer soll die Sonne diesen Morgen sehn!  Euer Gesicht, mein
Than, ist wie ein Buch, worinn man gefaehrliche Dinge lesen koennte.
Heisst euer Gesicht aussehen, wie es die Zeit erfordert; traget
freundlichen Willkomm in euern Augen, auf eurer Zunge, in eurer
Hand; seht wie die unschuldige Blume, aber seyd die Schlange unter
ihr.  Geht, und sorget fuer die Aufnahme dessen der kommen soll, und
ueberlasset meiner Sorge das grosse Geschaefte dieser Nacht, welches
allen unsern kuenftigen Tagen und Naechten die ungetheilte und
unumschraenkte Herrschaft geben soll.

 Lady MacBeth by John Singer Sargent

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm  Comments (13)  
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A Gypsy’s Plans for the New Year

First, Happy New Year to everyone!

I was just checking last year’s post:, in which my goals were to read 12 German novels, keep up my daily writing, and find Sput a new hobby so she would stop regaling me nonstop about her city.

Let’s see how I fared.

I did indeed read 12 novels in German.

I wrote almost everyday, and in doing so revised PORTRAITS several times, and completed a few rough drafts.

And I did find Sput some new hobbies!   She’ll thank me one day. 

So, onto this year’s plans

1.  Rewrite, revise, edit, etc one of my rough drafts into a lovely, polished piece ready for submission

2.  Continue my German studies.  But while I’ll still be reading German, this year, I intend to concentrate on improving my listening skills.  (my weakest point, I fear).  So I shall intensely listen to German for at least one hour a day.  No eating, or writing, or knitting, or anything else but paying close heed to the sounds of Deutsch for that hour.  Let’s see if 365 hours of intense German listening has helped by the end of the year.

3.  Read at least one novel in French.  Yes,  the bug known as Francophilia has overtaken me.  Goodness, help me!

So, what shall you be working on this year?

– Ishtar’s Gate inside the Pergamon Museum

Published in: on January 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm  Comments (23)  
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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?

Published in: on December 5, 2010 at 5:48 pm  Comments (15)  
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Ingeborg Bachmann’s Stay (a poem)


Ingeborg Bachmann (Austrian poet) 25 June 1926 – 17 October 1973


by Ingeborg Bachmann

“Now the journey is ending,
the wind is losing heart.
Into your hands it’s falling,
a rickety house of cards.

The cards are backed with pictures
displaying all the world.
You’ve stacked up all the images
and shuffled them with words.

And how profound the playing
that once again begins!
Stay, the card you’re drawing
is the only world you’ll win.”

I came across this poem by the renowned female poet last night and it struck a chord with me.

Play with whatever hand you are dealt in this life.  It is yours alone.   The good cards are your strength and talents.  The bad cards symbolize where your weaknesses reside.  You can use them all  foolishly or wisely.   You can waste talents.  You can overcome difficulties.

The choice is yours.

Play the game!

What does the poem mean to you?

And the original:  Bleib

“Die Fahrten gehn zu Ende,

der Fahrtenwind bleibt aus.

Es fällt dir in die Hände

ein leichtes Kartenhaus.

Die Karten sind bebildert

und zeigen jeden Ort.

Du hast die Welt geschildert

und mischst sie mit dem Wort.

Profundum der Partien,

die dann im Gange sind!

Bleib, um das Blatt zu ziehen,

mit dem man sie gewinnt.”

Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm  Comments (11)  
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Back From The Dead- Come In and Enjoy Some Tea

Well, that month went by quickly!

First, I want to thank everyone for your super sweet and encouraging comments you left me.   I read them all, and they meant a lot to me.  Thank you!!

During my time away from the blogsphere, I’ve:

1. Doing lots of writing.  Begun working on a revision of PORTRAITS OF THE LIVING: A GHOST STORY, after a great suggestion by an agent

2. continuing my neverending German studies- oh the joys and horrors of that!

3. begun practicing Zhan Zhuang

4. have mentally jotted down new things to blog about which I hope you shall find interesting

5. and well, lots more stuff!  🙂

Anyhow, I’ve missed all of you.  So gather a chair, sip some tea, enjoy a scone…and tell me- what have you been up to?

Published in: on September 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm  Comments (13)  
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update: Wuthering Heights in German

Ah,  Die Sturmhöhe.

First, I must admit I haven’t finished reading WH in Deutsch.   Upon finishing chapter thirteen,  my brain needed a rest.  One day I shall, but for now I need to read a lighter work.

As for my impressions thus far:

The first thing I noted were the changes.   Translators have a difficult job because often the languages they are working with do not have words with identical meanings.    Things are inevitably lost in translation.

What does annoy me (and I’ve noticed this in other novels and films), is when there is a direct translation and the translator will take it upon themselves to use the term they feel is more proper.

Some examples from Sturmhöhe:

1.  In the original, after Isabella accuses Cathy of, “… and desire no one to be loved but yourself!”

Cathy retorts with, “You are an impertinent little monkey!”

The translator changed that line to: ” Du bit ein unverschamtes kleines Balg!”  (You are an imperinent little brat)

This may not seem like a major thing, but writers painstakingly choose their words.  Every word, not only possesses a specific meaning, but conveys a different feeling.

2. In another case, Nelly visits young Hareton.    After hearing him sputter colorful language, she asks,  “Who has taught you those fine words, my barn?”

The translator changed the endearment to, “mein Kind”.  (my child)

Obviously they thought that “my barn” is a rather strange term to be used for affection.  And it is.  But Emily Bronte chose it.  Thus, I can only assume that it was an endearment used in the Yorkshires. 

The novel is rife with unnecessary changes such as the above that affect its flavor.

But most notably, I’ve come across the realization that Wuthering Heights can never be as good in German, or in any other language, as it is in English.  To backtrack for a moment,  I have read many of Agatha Christie’s novels in German.  Even with some changes (some necessary, some not), I never felt anything lacking.    It hardly matters if some vocabulary or syntax of hers is changed.  This is no slight to Agatha.  She admitted in her autobiography that she was no prose artist, no wordsmith.   Her talent lay in her spellbinding plots. 

However, when you consider someone like Emily Bronte, who held such mastery over the English language, a sense of magic is lost.

Consider the famous ending:

“I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth.”


“Ich verweilte ein wenig bei ihnen unter diesem sanften Himmel, sah die Nachtfalter zwischen Heidekraut und  Glockenblumen umherfliegen, lauschte, wie der Wind leicht durch das Gras stirch, und wunderte mich darüber, daß jemand sich einbilden könne, es gäbe etwas in der Welt, was den letzen Schlummer deer Schläfer in diesem stillen Stückchen Erde stören könnte.”

literal translation:  “I lingered a little by them under that gentle sky, saw the moths between heath and bell flower flying around, eavesdropped, as the wind lightly through the grass crossed, and wondered me about it, that anybody self imagine could, there were something in the world, what the last slumber the sleepers in this silent bit earth disturb could.”

Due to the rules of the German language, after the first verb (which is placed in the second spot of the sentence), all remaining verbs must be placed at the end.  Which is why this piece ends as it does.   And closing the novel with “in this silent bit earth disturb could” is hardly as beautiful and poetic as, “for the sleepers in that quiet earth.”

None of this means that the translation is horrible, and that one shouldn’t read it in German.  But to experience it in its full glory, one must read it in its original language.

On a similar note, I’m glad I’m waiting to read Goethe in German.

Published in: on August 9, 2010 at 8:06 am  Comments (14)  
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Wuthering Heights in German

English is crisp, elegant, and terse.

I once said to a friend, “English is like a bonsai tree.  German is like…a wild overgrown forest.”   So I could only nod and smile when I came across this piece in The Germans by Gordon A. Craig: “…the most frequent cause of foreign misunderstanding is not the sometimes clumsy form assumed by written and spoken German but rather the difficulty of determining what is actually being said.  The non-German reader has the impression of trying to cut his way through the jungle of words, many of which have no precise meaning, a good percentage of which are clearly redundant, and some of which appear to be superfluous.”

German will never be known for its succinctness.

German’s worth lies in its strength, its passion.

Due to the inherent differences in the languages they evoke quite different feelings in the listener or reader.  And  some things just naturally sound better in one rather than the other.   There is a reason why Germany is not known for its comedies.  But drama!  The German language was made for drama- and the more dramatic the better.

So what better book to try reading next than my beloved Wuthering Heights?  How will it fare?

Entitled Die Sturmhöhe in German, here is a piece that you will probably be able to recognize:

“Mein Liebe zu Linton ist wie das Laub im Walde: die Zeit wird sie änderen, ich bin mir dessen bewußt, wie der Winter die Bäume verändert.  Meine Liebe zu Heathcliffe gleicht den ewigen Felsen dort unten; sie ist eine Quelle kaum wahrnehmbarer Freuden, aber sie ist notwendig.  Nelly, ich bin Heathcliffe!  Ich habe ihn immer, immer im Sinn, nicht zum Vergnügen, genausowenig, wie ich mir selbst stets ein Vergnügen bin, sondern als mein eigenes Sein.”

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 9:11 pm  Comments (23)  
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