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25-05-2015 5.21

German English translators don’t always have the hardest of jobs when translating text from German books and literature into English or vice versa. In fact, the two languages share a common ancestry, so there are many words that, even if they don’t seem at first sight to be similar, are in fact derived from the same root words.

However, German does have key differences between itself as a language and any other, including English. It has a very interesting feature which is the ability to produce compound nouns which are made up of several individual words all rolled in together.

If you are looking for a Good German translator in Brisbane or any other part of Australia, you would expect him or her to be familiar with most of these words that add colour and richness to a German text.

The reality is that every language has its own vocabulary that is unique and distinctive and when a piece of poetry or prose is translated into another language it is hard to retain the nuances in the original language.

If you were a German translator who had been given the job of translating a German food and dieting text into English what would you make of the word “kummerspeck”? In German this means something quite specific. When you constantly eat food to relieve tension, i.e. eat comfort food, there are negative consequences. You may feel quite uncomfortable physically, in addition to the fact that you are not really confronting the problem. Hence, we have the word, “kummerspeck”, a word that encapsulates that feeling of discomfort. Pretty hard to find an equivalent English word, don’t you think?

Imagine you were describing what is actually quite a common experience and something that should be included in any guidebook for German speaking tourists in somewhere like Australia or New Zealand where the rule of the road is to drive on the left. You may explain to German tourists that there is a danger of them having an accident if they become “geisterfahrers”. This compound noun appears to be made up of the German words for “ghost” and “traveller”, but put together has a unique meaning in contemporary German as a person who drives accidentally on the wrong side of the road.

Of course, every language is replete with rich and unique vocabulary like these German words and it is a sign of a good translator that they have a well founded knowledge of this sort of unique words and sayings.