German expressions in recent Trek novels

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Cut, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, "handy" is an English word, but it isn't used to mean a mobile phone. It means "convenient, useful, in easy reach," which I guess could describe a mobile phone, though.
     
  2. Cut

    Cut Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Yes, you are right. I shouldn't have said that handy isn't an english word. That was not what I meant. I was going for the descripancy in meaning here.

    By the way, I looked up 'kaput' and it means the same in english as in german (than written with another T). So Graylock seems to be speaking english in that instant.

    I feel like I am being given a free brush up on my english vocabulary here from a published writer.

    Thanks for that :)
     
  3. SPCTRE

    SPCTRE Badass Admiral

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    You're kidding, right :wtf:
     
  4. Ayelbourne

    Ayelbourne Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Nope, he isn't.
    It was especially funny, when the name was used together with the english article "the".
    Two articles for one noun was a bit much, even for my Marvel-German-tortured self. :lol:

    Still a great book, though.
     
  5. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I think you might find that English popular literature tends to portray many foreign characters as speaking mostly English and mixing in words from their native tongue to create the impression of foreign-ness.

    It's sorta like how the Klingon characters' dialogue is in English most of the time, except for random things like them mentioning how many kellicams away something is.
     
  6. Baerbel Haddrell

    Baerbel Haddrell Commodore Commodore

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    I don`t mind the trick when writers insert alien swear words into books because it is more acceptable to readers, especially those who are more sensitive to so-called bad language. I find it amusing and Klingons being Klingons, I know they have a colourful language in that regard.

    But I still don`t see the point why things like distances, time etc. are often left in the alien language. That is worse than incomprehensible technobabble. If that happens occasionally, I don`t mind it but when it happens again and again, my irritation grows.
     
  7. captcalhoun

    captcalhoun Admiral Admiral

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    god you musta hated Classic BSG with all the talk of 'Centons' then, and you'd've hated Bob Budiansky's US Transformers comics with their use of Breems and Vorns...

    i just want some Polish swearwords for my book...
     
  8. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    My German is minimal at best, does it mean "sun's exit"? As in "sunrise"?

    On the same note, I usually like when writers instill some Italian in the speech (like the recent Doctor Who's usual "Molto bene"). Star Trek have done it especially with surnames: in the end the characters turn out to be Italian-American instead of Italian, but it's nice nonetheless.
    I remember in the first movie when Shatner's wife played a character named Chief Di Falco, an Italian last name. Funnily, the Italian dub translated literally it as "Capo Di Falco", which also means "Falcon's Head", so I was convinced for years that she was Native American or something like that. :lol:
     
  9. Cut

    Cut Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I might help out here :)

    'Sonnenaufgang' is the german word for 'sunrise'.

    My italian is far worse than your german I presume. I have been venturing to Lago di Gardo for years now (a lovely place!) and I still have to pick up more of the language than the most basic expressions. I am a bit ashamed of that fact, as I always plan to learn some italien each year, and somberly fail... :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2008
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, what's wrong with that? A kellicam is a distinct unit of measurement, no doubt different in length from a kilometer. 500 kellicams would be a different distance from 500 km, just as 500 km would be different from 500 miles. It's not just an arbitrary substitution of a foreign term for the same thing; it's the correct name for the specific unit of measurement being used.

    I mean, if I say that I'm reading 500 roentgens of radiation, that's not a gratuitous insertion of a German word, because that's the correct and only name for that particular unit of measurement.


    Actually the word "setting" only refers to the sun going down at night. It's related to "sit" or "settle."
     
  11. Cut

    Cut Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I think it is a matter of style that appeals to some readers and not to others. I can tolerate this, as it colours up the narrative. It is in my eyes not a matter of measurement as such.

    Another tool-of-the-trade is to include comparisons with fictional events, landscapes, animals and fruits (those are examples I can recall off the top of my head) and the like to make stories set in different settings more setting typical. For example (this is not a literal quote) comparing the heat in engineering to that of the Delora desert.

    Sometimes it makes sense, when there is reference to something that has been shown on screen and is know to (most) fans (at least). Even if it is done every now and then it might spice things up.

    But if overdone, it tends to bother me. Big time.

    As it boils down, it is simply a matter of the author's writing style and the personal preferences of the reader.

    This whole thread wasn't meant as a criticism. I simply had the feeling some more german (influenced) words came up in recent works. I get the feeling that somehow you feel that you have to justify that or make clear that nothing the like was intended. Why is that so?

    I corrected that above.
     
  12. Marie1

    Marie1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I liked seeing some German (and not just expletives), not just because my brother is studying it to keep in touch with some long lost family we found, but its also nice to know that everything isn't English, that all other languages haven't died...
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Huh? No, I was just using "roentgens" as an illustration of my point with regard to the kellicam issue. It's just coincidence that it was German. I didn't even know Karl Roentgen was German until I looked it up. I figured he was Dutch or something.
     
  14. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What's wrong with it is that a roentgen is a real thing that I can look up. Not even Memory Alpha is sure what a kellicam actually is.

    That said, one of my favorite (bad) sf devices is the fictional space measurement-- I love it when characters start measuring distance in "spatials", or time in "spans", or what have you
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    We don't know what size it is, but we can assume from context that it's a Klingon unit of measurement. It stands to reason that Klingon sensors would be calibrated to give distances in those units and that Klingon officers would therefore report a ship's distance in those units even when speaking English. The point is, it's not just a different word for the same thing; it's a different thing, a unit of different size. So using that term isn't arbitrary.
     
  16. Cut

    Cut Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    That's fine then. I just don't want to go on anybodies nerves here, being a member for a mere day :)
     
  17. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    No, but it is fairly arbitrary that the narrative would translate Klingonese and Klingonese idoms into English and English idioms the vast majority of time, but not in spacial measurements or in insults or wishes of success.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But that's just my point, it's not arbitrary when it comes to measurements, because they're different things. A kellicam is different from a kilometer is different from a mile. I mean, is it arbitrary to translate references to cubits in the Bible rather than converting them to feet or meters? Of course not, because it's a distinct unit. It has a different length than a foot or a meter.

    Besides, one could argue that "kellicam" is the English word for the unit that's known as qelI'qam in Klingonese. In fact, that's exactly what Marc Okrand says in The Klingon Dictionary. Look up qelI'qam and it gives the English equivalent as "kellicam." However you spell or pronounce it, it's a distinct unit of a specific size. Substituting "kilometers" for "kellicams" would make as much sense as substituting "purple" for "blue."
     
  19. MMCL

    MMCL Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I thought a Kellicam was 2 kilometers?

    And from that my brain (probably incorrectly) assumes that a 'cam' must be 1km.
     
  20. Dimesdan

    Dimesdan "Down with this sort of thing!" Premium Member

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    My sentiments exactly, although I did not entirely enjoy it, I studied Deutsch at Secondary school and it's nice to read something in another language in a Trek book that I can understand.

    Now if you writing folk could put the U in color the World in my eyes would be a brighter place :hugegrin:
     

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