https://www.duolingo.com/bastianbalthazar

Translating songs to learn more German

Hi,

So I thought I'd have a little fun in translating some of my favorite songs. I started with Futile Devices by Sufjan Stevens. I picked it because it is short with very simple words. Here's my translation (updated based on feedback from others):

Sinnlose Mittel

Es ist ewig her, seitdem ich dein Gesicht memoriert habe. Es ist schon vier Stunden her, seitdem ich durch deine Wohnung gelaufen bin. Und wenn ich auf deiner Couch schlafe, fühle ich mich ganz sicher. Und wenn du die Decken bringst, verstecke ich mein Gesicht.

Doch liebe ich dich. Doch liebe ich dich. Und wenn du die Gitarre spielst, höre ich die schwirrende Saiten an. Das Metall unter deinen Fingern vibriert. Und wenn du häkelst, davon bin ich fasziniert und auf dich stolz.

Und ich würde 'ich liebe dich' sagen aber es laut zu sagen finde ich schwer. Aber du bist das Leben, dass ich schon immer gebraucht habe. Du bist für mich wie ein Bruder, obwohl das dumm klingt. Und Worte sind sinnlose Mittel.

...

Maybe I should have written, "Ich sehe dich als meinen Bruder an" or "Ich betrachte dich als meinen Bruder" instead?

If any advanced learners or native speakers have any tips on how to make this sound more natural, do let me know!

Here's the rest of the song in English:

Futile Devices

It's been a long, long time since I've memorized your face. It's been four hours now since I've wandered through your place. And when I sleep on your couch I feel very safe. And when you bring the blankets I cover up my face.

I do love you. I do love you. And when you play guitar I listen to the strings buzz. The metal vibrates underneath your fingers. And when you crochet I feel mesmerized and proud.

And I would say I love you, but saying it out loud is hard. So I won't say it at all. And I won't stay very long. But you are life I needed all along. I think of you as my brother, although that sounds dumb. And words are futile devices.

May 16, 2017

8 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Portofan
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Just a short comment on the title, it's "Ein Lied übersetzen" (if you add "zu" then you must add something, like ... ist schwierig, to make it complete).

May 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/bastianbalthazar

Updated it. I was wondering about that. Cheers!

May 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MortiBiRD

You will encounter statements like "Es ist ein Lied zu übersetzen". If the headline was, ein Lied zu übersetzen, then this would be as good as Ein Lied übersetzen (neither of them is enough to form a proper sentence without addtional words).

May 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/bastianbalthazar

I think in English it's easier to get away with vague, open-ended titles. I realize in German it's a bit trickier. Or perhaps I should also work to clarify my English too.

May 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MortiBiRD

Es ist ewig her, seitdem ich dein Gesicht memoriert habe. Its a song, so your sentence was OK, Yet I'd change it to "seitdem ich mich an dein Gesicht erinnert habe" or "seitdem ich mich an dein Gesicht erinnern konnte". Your sentence is grammatical, but its a very unusual verb.

Es ist schon vier Stunden her, seitdem ich durch deine Wohnung gelaufen bin. Either durch deine Wohnung gelaufen or in deiner Wohnung herumgelaufen. Up to you how to interpret it, english through can be both.

Und wenn ich auf deiner Couch schlafe, fühle ich mich ganz sicher. good translation.

Und wenn du die Bettdecken bringst, verberge ich mein Gesicht. I'd just say "Decken". Both is valid, but Bettdecken are a special kind of Decken and well someone might offer you Bettdecken when you sleep on the couch, but Im brining my guests just normal Decken. Verbegen is also valid, yet I'd say verstecke.

About the Name "futile devices". Im not sure if your translation fits. Device (as something similar to a gadget) usually gets translated as Gerät, but from that part of the lyrics, it is not about devices. According to this https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/device device can have several meanings, and maybe something else fits more (and then you would not say Gerät).

May 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/bastianbalthazar

Very helpful. I will look up this use of "seitdem, nachdem, etc" because that is a grammatical detail I haven't fully grasped yet.

I updated everything with your suggestions except the "memorized your face" part. I originally wrote what you suggested, but then I realized it changed the meaning. I get the sense in the song that he has watched someone while they were sleeping (a bit creepy, but in a weirdly sweet way) and actively worked to memorize the face as opposed to remembering or recalling someone's face.

I appreciate your feedback. Thank you!

May 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/pont
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Your sentence is grammatical, but its a very unusual verb.

But this is also the case in English. Nobody would normally talk about "memorizing" a face, so the song is clearly trying to create an unusual effect here, and the word should probably be translated to something equally unusual in German.

Device (as something similar to a gadget) usually gets translated as Gerät, but from that part of the lyrics, it is not about devices.

I agree; "sinnlose Geräte" makes me think of faulty household appliances. In combination with "futile", I'd tend to interpret "device" in the second sense given here: "A plan, method, or trick with a particular aim". I think "Mittel" might work here.

dqxxmvyvoedn

May 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/bastianbalthazar

thanks!

May 16, 2017
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