Translating The Little Prince

November 3, 2007

As it turns out, translations of The Little Prince are a rather big deal, at least in German-speaking countries. While at the library yesterday, I found a copy of the book that brought this fact home to me: Der klane Prinz, Mit Büdln vom Verfosser, auf “Weanerisch”. In Berlin, I saw a copy in a bookstore in “Berlinisch”. It’s an interesting idea. I don’t know of any other books off the top of my head, but I’m now certain that they exist.

It harkens back to the days of the Grimm brothers, who recorded some of their fairy tales not in Hochdeutsch, but in the dialect in which they received the story (e.g. The Fisherman and his Wife, “Von den Fischer und siine Fru”). It’s a cool way to record the dialect of a region, though one has to question the authority of such a translation.

Anyway, for those interested, here is the dedication from Der klane Prinz.

Firn Léon Werth

Sads ma bitte net bes, Kinder, dass des Biachl a Widmung fir an Erwoxanan hot. I hob dafir a ehrliche Entschuidigung: Er is mei ollerbester Freind auf dera Wöt. I hob no an Grund: Der versteht afoch ois, sogoa Biacher für Kinder. I hob no an drittn Grund: Er wohnt in Fraunkreich, wo er hungert und friert. Es muaß eam afoch aner aufheitern. Waun des olles net gnua is, daun wüll i des Biachl dem Kind widma, wos der Erwoxane amoi gwesn is. Olle Großn san nämlich zerscht amoi Gschroppn gwesn – aa waun si heit kaum aner drau erinnert. Deswegn korrigier i mei Widmung und schreib:

Firn Léon Werth,

Wiar er no a klaner Bua woa


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