Tri-lingual Hobbit re-read: Chapter 7 (second post)

And now, picking up again with Chapter 7 of The Hobbit, in which Mr. Baggins and his party are safe again for the time being in the house of Beorn!

General notes:

has proposed to me that some of the more fantastic elements of Beorn’s chapter–i.e., the bits where his dogs and horses and sheep, etc., are doing things like bringing chairs to the party and such–are possibly things you could assume to be Bilbo taking liberties with the story he’s telling. Since this story is, after all, supposedly written by Bilbo in the Red Book of Westmarch, you could easily make an argument that he’s playing up the more fantastic elements of his adventures. It’ll be fun to see if this theory holds true since it’d be difficult to do the horses and dogs behaving like this in a manner that comes across as consistent with the Lord of the Rings movies.

Here we have another song as well. I’ll be on the lookout for whether we get this song in the movie, given that we do know Beorn has been cast. I really like the last bit of this song, though: “The moon set sail upon the gale / and stars were fanned to leaping light.”

We get more of the dwarves collectively answering Bilbo in dialogue here, after the hobbit wakes up the next morning. This’ll be another thing to look for in the movies–how the various bits of dialogue will be scattered between the various dwarf characters.

And we get Gandalf having a “finest weed in the Southfarthing” moment as he whips out the pipe and makes with some smoke rings. Gotta have the smoke rings!

French notes:

English sheep say “baa”. French sheep apparently say “bê”!

Grasseyante is a cool word that I had to poke at a bit. It appears in the description of Beorn’s voice as he’s telling tales to his visitors: “Beorn raconta de sa voix profonde et grasseyante…” I’m not a hundred percent sure of what the word means, since Tolkien originally wrote “Beorn in his deep rolling voice told tales…” And the French translates roughly to “Beorn told in his voice deep and (something)…” Google Translate does not know “grasseyante”, but if I knock off the e on the end, it tells me “grasseyant” is “guttural/lisping/thick”. So it’s an open question for me as to what the translator was aiming for here.

Ooh cool, the word for “mead” is hydromel!

The “leaping light” bit of the song comes through here as la lumière jaillissante. If Google Translate is to be believed, jaillissante is more like “gushing/bubbling/welling up” than it is “leaping”, and I rather like that–you don’t normally think of light behaving like liquid, but this word choice certainly implies that.

Éclaboussure is a nice word: “splash”, as in “a splash of white on the floor came from the high moon”. In French, that came through as “une éclaboussure blanche tombait à la verticale de la lune”.

Par-dessus stands out to me since I know dessus as a vocabulary word, “above/over”. I’m not sure what the difference is between them quite yet, though. Here’s the bit where this appears: Un des nains avait basculé par-dessus lui dans l’ombre où il se trouvait.

Gandalf, in addition to making with the smoke rings, totally chugs back the mead, too. Although in the French edition, he apparently takes out a litre of mead rather than a quart! Amusingly, though, Google Translate provides “quart” as the immediate translation of “litre”, and the unit conversion is pretty close anyway.

The crack levied at Bilbo, “lazybones”, renders as flemmard in French–“slacker”.

German notes:

I like the word langgliedrige, “rangy”, to describe Beorn’s dogs. (Tolkien wrote “long-bodied”, which is about the same thing.) Vorderpfoten, “forepaws”, is another fun word used about the creatures.

German sheep, apparently, say “bäh”!

And here’s another word to add to German tea-related vocabulary: Teebretter, “tea trays”.

This is a nice big crunchy word: binsengeflochtenen, referring to the wide rush-bottomed seats that the animals are bringing to Gandalf and Thorin: “Ein Pony schob zwei niedrige Bänke mit breiten binsengeflochtenen Sitzflächen…”

Another big crunchy word: gegenüberliegende, “opposite/facing”.

Yet another big word–this section is full of them!–Bienenwachskerzen, “beeswax candles”.

Herrschaftsbereich is “territory”, used in connection with Smaug: “ehe sie in den Herrschaftsbereich des Drachen gelangten”, “before they came into the jurisdiction/territory of the dragon”.

Oh, and this is a new thing–in the German edition, the song the dwarves sing in Beorn’s hall is left out completely! In the original English, the lead-in to the song reads as follows:

The great door had creaked and slammed. Beorn was gone. The dwarves were sitting cross-legged on the floor round the fire, and presently they began to sing. Some of the verses were like this, but there were many more, and their singing went on for a long while:…”

In German, however, this is what we get. Here’s the bit of the previous paragraph that correlates with what Tolkien actually wrote:

Die große Tür krachte und wurde ins Schloss geworfen. Beorn war gegangen. Die Zwerge saßen mit gekreuzten Beinen um das Feuer und gerade jetzt fingen sie an zu singen.

And here’s the bit where the translator summarizes the song:

Die Verse erzählten vom Wind, der über die dürre Heide hinwegbrauste, Rauchschwaden über dem Drachenlager im Einsamen Berg zerfetzte, dann unter dem Mond, der sein altes, vergilbtes Segel setzte, die Welt verließ und in der sterntiefen Nacht die riesigen Seen der Finsternis aufwühlte.

Since this is of course a summary, just about all of the imagery of the song is lost. But that said, I do quite like the last bit, und in der sterntiefen Nacht die riesigen Seen der Finsternis aufwuhlte, “and in the star-deep night stirred up the giant lakes of darkness”.

“Lazybones” is Faulpelz in German, ha!

And that’ll be a good place to stop!