Tri-lingual Hobbit re-read: Chapter 6 (let’s finish this puppy up)

RIGHT THEN? When last we left our Burglar and his company, they’d been cornered up several trees by incoming Wargs! And the Lord of the Eagles was really rather curious about all the racket…

General notes:

In my ebook edition of The Hobbit, there’s no scene break at all between the Wargs running off and the Lord of the Eagles’ first line of dialogue. This is rather confusing–and, I just confirmed by looking in my old printed copy of the book that a break does in fact appear. So this is a fault of the ebook edition! (And before anybody tells me I should just read the print version, yeah well, my copy does date back to when I was in sixth grade and I don’t want it to fall apart!)

But ANYWAY, seeing the Eagles come on camera with actual dialogue does rather remind one that the Eagles–like the Wargs–are thinking, speaking creatures in this story. It will be interesting indeed to see whether the movie gives either species actual dialogue. I’m kinda not betting on it, but!

Also, mad giggles for the Eagles mostly not paying attention to goblins on the grounds of not actually being interested in eating them. Well… yeah.

And woo! The Fifteen Birds in Five Fir Trees song! Raise your hand if you can’t read this song without thinking of Rankin-Bass!

Yeah, me neither!

Ooh, this chapter has a nice bit of art in it in the ebook edition, too. This being another reason I’m reading this version, after all–the embedded goodies. Nice sketch of the Misty Mountains, from the Eyrie towards Goblin Gate.

And man, Dori really has been nominated Dwarf in Charge of Babysitting Bilbo, hasn’t he? Dori’s all about the having to carry or rescue or hang onto the poor hobbit. Dori should get a bonus! I mean, how can you go wrong with nuggets of Dori wisdom like “eagles aren’t forks”? Thank you, Dori. We never would have figured that out without you.

This nugget of wisdom, by Bilbo, makes rather more sense: “You ought not to be rude to an eagle, when you are only the size of a hobbit, and are up in his eyrie at night!”

Giggles again for the Lord of the Eagles, though:

“They would shoot at us with their great bows of yew,” he said, “for they would think we were after their sheep. And at other times they would be right.”

Mmmmmm tasty sheeeeeeeeep. And I must say that when I stop and think about it, it really has to be a bitch to be a sheepherder in the Misty Mountains–you have to be on the lookout not only for Wargs and goblins, but also for Eagles. You have to defend your sheep in all three dimensions. Hell, you might as well just stuff the herd in your house. Otherwise it’s all about EAGLE DIVEBOMB *nrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrow* *YOINK* WOO HOO SHEEEEEEEEEP! /

Which brings us to the end of Chapter Six!

French notes:

The Lord of the Eagles, in French, becomes le Seigneur des Aigles. I didn’t know the word ‘Seigneur’, which certainly seems a cousin of the Spanish ‘señor’ or the Italian ‘signor’!

And speaking of le Seigneur des Aigles, I was happy to understand this bit of sentence: “Il s’éleva dans les airs”–“he lifted himself into the air”. Bonus points for Dans les airs being the name of a Le Vent du Nord album! I take my vocabulary words where I can get ’em, oh my yes.

I understood almost this entire sentence: “Mais les aigles ont des yeux perçants, et ils sont capables de voir de petite choses à très grande distance.” The only word I had to look up was “perçants”, which means “keen” or “piercing”. In the original English, the sentence is “But eagles have keen eyes and can see small things at a great distance.” Looks like a good translation!

Ah, here’s a notable conjugation of a familiar verb, aimer: “Ils n’aimaient pas les gobelins” (“they did not like the goblins”). “Aimaient” is the third person, plural, imperfect tense according to handy verb conjugation charts. (Also, a damn fine candidate for a bingo in Lexulous if you’re using the French dictionary!)

And here’s another verb I’m seeing in my vocabulary lessons, used in the rest of the sentence mentioned above: “… mais ils ne les craignaient pas non plus”. “Craignaient” is again third person, plural imperfect, this time of craindre, “to fear”. And very difficult if not impossible to play on the Lexulous board!

Interesting though that the whole sentence reads “Ils n’aimaient pas les gobelins, mais ils ne les craignaient pas non plus.” The original English is “They did not love goblins, or fear them.” If I’m reading this right, the sentence in French more reads “They did not like goblins, but they also did not fear them.”

I’m seeing a lot of imperfect tense in this whole paragraph about Eagle/goblin relations, in fact. Interesting to note this in contrast with the passé simple.

I like this bit, since the French translator is showing a bit of a sense of the rhythm of Tolkien’s original words: “décrivant lentement de grand cercles, ils descenderent, descenderent toujours davantage vers le rond des loups et le lieu de rassemblement des gobelins”. (Talking about the eagles slowly flying down in circles to the wolves and gathering goblins.) Also, particularly noted “davantage”, since I thought it was supposed to be “d’avantage” when I saw it!

Here’s another bit of nice rhythm: “tandis que d’autres encore se précipitaient alentour pour piétiner et battre, battre et piétiner jusqu’à ce que presque toutes les flammes fussent éteintes”. Google Translate says, pretty much: “while others rushed around to trample and beat, beat and trample until nearly all the flames were extinguished”, which is a decent enough translation of what Tolkien actually wrote: “Others rushed round and stamped and beat, and beat and stamped, until nearly all the flames were put out…”

Ooh, here’s an interesting translated bit: “comme les participants à un feu de la Saint-Jean”, in contrast to Tolkien’s “like people round a midsummer bonfire”. This is as near as I can tell tying into St. John’s Eve and the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, which is also of course La Fête Nationale in Quebec!

And now we’re getting into the bird song, in French! Same treatment here as with earlier songs in the narrative–a straight translation without worrying about making it rhyme. Giggles, though, for the goblins getting dialogue like “Chantez, chantez, petits oiseaux! Pourquoi ne chantez-vous pas?” (Wherein French continues to make goblins sound way, way classier!)

I’m noting with interest that this song, unlike any of the ones that have appeared so far, does a new thing with wrapping lines that are too long to fit across the page. It winds up looking like this:

Les rôtir vives, ou les cuire en ragoût dans une
                                              [marmite,

So, French typographical convention, I guess?

And here’s a bit that I was pretty sure was not in fact talking about food: “L’éclat soudain s’échappa comme un éclair de sa baguette”. What Tolkien actually wrote was “The sudden splendour flashed from his wand like lightning”. But now I’m going to have a hard time not thinking of the eclairs of Gandalf’s baguette.

“Hurlement”: a word I noted because of its similarity to “hurly”, an English word I learned not too long ago! It means “howl”.

Bilbo’s reply to Dori, regarding eagles not being forks, does inversion with first person–something I hadn’t seen before: “Oh ! non, ce ne sont pas du tout des fauvettes — des fourchettes, veux-je, dire.” Or in English: “O no! Not a bit like storks–forks, I mean.”

German notes:

Meanwhile, over in the German edition, the Lord of the Eagles becomes “der Fürst der Adler”. Which of course makes one think of Irene Adler, at least if one is me! And it’s important here to note that Fürst is “prince/leader/ruler”, not “first”, even though that would also kind of make sense. Mostly, I’m just grinning about Adler meaning “eagle”, both singular and plural.

First awesome long German word in this reading: “Hinundherrennen”! Which doesn’t seem to directly translate, but if I google for it, I find it broken down into its constituent words: “hin und her rennen”, roughly “to run to and fro”. So this seems to more or less mean “commotion”, in the context of “the commotion of the wolves”.

And an unexpectedly short German note that also unexpectedly ends in z–but I should not be surprised by this, since I know I’ve learned words before in this language that end in that letter: Notiz. Which means roughly “notice”. The fun thing with terminating z’s in German is to remember to pronounce them like “tz”, not like “z”.

This word sounds way more fearsome than its definition actually warrants: “Farnkräuter”. It sounds like it should be eaten with sauerkraut, but what it actually means is “ferns”.

As with earlier songs the German translator is trying to go for something that actually rhymes in German. While this goal is achieved, I nonetheless have a hard time figuring out how these lines would scan, especially given the aforementioned Rankin-Bass version of this song emblazoned into my brain:

Fünfzehn Vögel in fünf hohen Föhren,
singt und lasst euch vom Feuer nicht stören!

I’m sure there is a way to fit these syllables into a cohesive melody, but it’d probably take a better ear for German than mine, right now. Mine’s calibrated too hard for French!

This is another bit that I’m pretty damned sure is not talking about food: “Das dunkle Sausen”. DUNKLE SAUCE! Isn’t that what you dunk your French fries in? If it’s not, it should be! What it actually means, though, is “the dark rush”. As in, of the beating wings of the Eagles.

It is deeply confusing to keep seeing “Dori’s” rendered as “Doris”. I keep wondering when the hell somebody named Doris came into this narrative!

Ha, apparently the German translator couldn’t find a way to get in Bilbo’s tired verbal stumble about the Eagles being nothing like storks OR forks. Maybe there wasn’t a proper word to rhyme with Gabeln? The translator just opts to have Bilbo burbling about the Eagles being nothing like forks. Which by itself IS still pretty damned silly, it must be said.

Ah, here’s at least one occurrence of the translator taking the shortcut of saying “der Adlerfürst”, rather than the longer version of the title. This is a good word.

Die Nebelbergen: the Fog Mountains! I like this rendering, too.

And that’s that for this post! Next time: Chapter 7, and Beorn!

2 Replies to “Tri-lingual Hobbit re-read: Chapter 6 (let’s finish this puppy up)”

  1. Seigneur might be a cousin, but the brother is sieur–i.e. monsieur, which is exactly the same as Senor.
    German, unlike English, differentiates between a prince who rules (Furst) and a prince who is just related to a ruling family (Prinz). More generally, a Furst is the first, I.e. head, of a ruling house

    1. Ah, yes, ‘monsieur’ as the equivalent of ‘señor’ makes a lot more sense. :)

      And ah, I didn’t know that difference in German!

      Thanks for the clarifications!

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