The Danske Tekster, part two

by Oliver

After writing my last post featuring the text in Dansk to be translated, I found that Danish: An Elementary Grammar Reader is available on Google Books. I hope nobody cheated.

Here’s the original text followed by the translation.

Nu vil vi begynde. Vi vil lære dansk. Mange danske ord er i familie med (‘med’, with) engelske ord.

Vi er i et rum i et hus i England. her er en dør, og (‘og’, and) der er to vinduer. Vi kan se ud i en park, hvor der er mange børn. Solen skinner; det er en varm dag. Det er mandag den første september. I parken sidder en ung mand på (‘på’, on) en bænk og drømmer. På hans knæ er en åben bog. Et lille barn går i det grønne græs. Det lille barn har en ny spade i hånden; barnet vil grave et dybt hul. I et bed, hvor der er friske røde og hvide roser, går en høne og en tam ravn. En stork flyver over græsset. På græsset står en fed mand med en rød næse; han sægler iskrem. Alle børnene bil have is. Det er en varm eftersommerdag.

Now will we begin. We will learn Danish. Many Danish words are in family with (i.e. are related to) English words.

We are in a room in a house in England. Here is a door, and there are two windows. We can see out in (i.e. into) a park, where there are many children (cf. Scotch ‘bairn’). The sun (cf. Latin and French and the English word solstice) shines; it is a warm day. It is Monday and the first (of) September. In the park sits a young man on a bench and dreams. On his knees is an open book. A little child goes (i.e. is walking) in the green grass. the little child has a new spade in the hand (i.e. in his hand); the child will (i.e. wants to) dig (cf. the English noun grave) a deep hole. In a bed (i.e. flower-bed), where there are fresh red and white roses, go a hen and a tame raven. A stork flies over the grass. On the grass stands a fat man with a red nose; he sells ice-cream. All the children will have (i.e. want) ices. It is a warm after-summer-day (i.e. late summer day).

Reading the translated text, it may be rather obvious that the translation is a literal one. The interesting thing about translation is that there is often a philosophical divide regarding how to proceed with a translation (especially if a translator is working with fiction). A translator can proceed with a literal translation or choose to reshape the text to convey the original author’s meaning, but not necessarily the syntax. The second option, to reshape the text, is pretty appealing from a linguistic standpoint, if only because a literal translation often produces an exit text similar to the one above: one that conveys the meaning of the original author but with a syntax that shows it was first written in another language. Reshaping a sentence according to meaning is certainly a more hands-on task for a translator, but if the exit text is to be devoid of awkward constructions (e.g., “In the park sits a young man on a bench and dreams.”; “All the children will want ices.”), it is important to think of the exit text’s audience and not simply the author’s meaning.