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The series of unfortunate events or Harry Potter (german translations and story depth) - pick?

How is the translation of the series of unfortunate events or Harry Potter in german (compared to english)?

If you were either to read the series of unfortunate events or Harry Potter which would you pick?

//There has been other suggestions of reading Michael Ende novels might be more worthwhile as German was his first language.//

-- The reason why I propose this was that after, or during completion of the German tree that following up on typographical and syntactical errors might be a good idea *. On other matters, if you want to learn English - J R R Tolken The hobbit book is amazing in English.

*Plus I haven't read either of these; but I have watched both.

Thank you; nein; danke. ppwinkle

April 8, 2015



Although I don't know German, FWIW here is a list of kids' books I'd like to read in German when the time comes, listed from shortest to longest as far as I remember them. They are all good stories, as I recall (although I have not read the 2nd book since I was in the 3rd grade), and maybe you'll find something you like. It seems to me that the first four should be fairly simple.

Emil und die Detektive, Erich Kästner
Aufruhr in Vogelsang, Margot Benary-Isbert
Die Höhlen der großen Jäger, Hans Baumann
Caïus ist ein Dummkopf, Henry Winterfeld
Die vergessene Insel, Wolfgang Hohlbein
Herr de Diebe, Cornelia Funke
Ich zog mit Hannibal, Hans Baumann
Krabat, Otfried Preußler
Winnetou (several volumes), Karl May
Die unendliche Geschichte, Michael Ende
Großer-Tiger und Christian, Mühlenweg

Defintely Kai Meyer would be worth trying in German. His books are very enjoyable in English, as pseudocreobotra says.

However, if you've never tried it, reading almost any book in a foreign language, even books no more difficult than those first listed above, is extremely difficult at the beginning (I speak from experience of learning to read French, Russian, and Latin). So don't get discouraged if it's really slow going for a while. Just keep steadily working at it: it's worth it .

When I learn enough German to try reading books from the list, I think #1 or #4 would be first choice--balancing simplicity and a good story.


Emil und die Detektive, Erich Kästner I read the synopsis (well actually the plot itself, up to the point of why the book is called detectives ) It appears simplistic, ... or that the person who wrote the plot simplified (rf. Hairy MacLarey had a bone, Lynley Dodd (extremely good book [English]; and it actually has its own series); gifted in Kindergarten), however the elements are enticing. But none of the less, this book should still be a good book to read, and that fact that you say 3rd grade, kind of impresses me.

Thank you for taking your time to write out this large list.


You're welcome. Emil and the Detective is very simple, as it was written for younger children. It's not as short as Dr. Suess-length books (of either variety) but is written for children who can read what teachers nowadays call "chapter books," or not much more--the first, shorter books with chapters. It and the next few are like that. But believe me, you probably don't want "long" at first, as I said! IMHO Harry Potter would be too difficult as the very first book to read in a foreign language. Choose a fairly short book, so that when things get tough you will have the end in sight.

The nice thing about reading even simpler children's books like these in a foreign language is that the ability to understand what you are reading kind of makes up for the simplicity of the stories. It's exciting that you can make progress, even if you are not reading The Magic Mountain. And all of the books listed are good reading, even if intended for children.

. . .Third grade. Yes, I read the Benary-Isbert story twice that year, I liked it so much. After learning enough German, one of these days, I'll hunt up a copy and see what I think so many years later.

. . . And thanks! for the lingots, o you lingot givers!



The books of Kai Meyer are also great if you happen to be interested in German authors. He has written many books aimed at young adults. Most of these books mix realistic or historical elements with mythology, often in pretty unconventional ways.

E.g. the "Wellenläufer -Trilogie" takes the age of pirates and mixes it with magic. After a magic outburst, children were born that could walk on water. Of course, that was an ability that attracted a lot of interest which led to many fights - few of the children survived. Jolly, a rather tomboyish pirate girl, thinks she's the last of them. Well... until she belongs to ends up in an ambush and she has to flee. She gets washed up on a remote island and slowly discovers that many things aren't as she thought they'd be. I don't want to spoiler too much but it covers a lot of topics as Jolly struggles to fulfill her destiny and matures in the process.

Another example would be the "Arkadien-Trilogie" that mixes the mafia syndicates of Sicily with shapeshifters. The protagonists are a bit older than in most books of Kai Meyer (about 18). I guess that's why there's a stronger focus on relationships. Think of mafia Romeo and Juliet as shapeshifters with some influences of Ancient Greek mythology. Sounds weird but is actually a lot of fun!

Of the books you named, I'd prefer "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (Eine Reihe betrüblicher Ereignisse) but mostly because I liked the humor. I don't really know about the translation. It didn't seem to weird to me but then again... I never read an untranslated version.

The translation of HP is quite decent too but they had to change a few things... The mirror of Erired became "der Spiegel Nerhegeb", Tom Marvolo Riddle became Tom Vorlost Riddle etc... Otherwise all these little spelling games wouldn't have worked. It could be a little confusing though so I wanted to mention it.


Kai Meyer - read a bibliography (Very interesting. Although I do not like to make references but... Alexander Dumas - Count of Monte Cristo.[another good read (English but possibly in a lot of other languages as well)] :).) Wellenläufer ---- ooooh, goodie that seems very different from his others. Arkadien. I love books about relationships!

If you can read it, and some how A Series of Unfortunate events find humour in it then... well it must be a decent translation or.... . Hahaha.

One last thing. You've done a pretty good job at writing up the synopsis. :)

Thank you


Most German translations are quite decent. They usually even try to translate puns so they lose as little meaning as possible. Obviously, it's just not always possible to translate without losing some meaning. Also, there is a discussion whether names should be translated - think of A Song of Ice and Fire that employs many speaking names such as King's Landing or Jon Snow. Some people would like to have those names translated too because it's a fantasy world where no one actually speaks English... And some are strongly opposed to translations like "Jon Schnee". It's just a matter of taste... But one that strengthened my preference for reading books in the original language.

So, even there is some controversy, German translations are usually good quality. The one thing they apparently struggle with is cursing! That was one point that really annoyed me when comparing English books with the German translations. It became really mild and lost a lot of emotions.

Of course, the best choice is always to read a book in its original language. (Well, I've also seen a few opinions that stated that the writing in 50SoG was actually a little improved in the translation... Which should speak for itself.)


I was also going to mention this to you personally but duolingo doesnt seem to have a personal message, but oh well... Are you suggesting to me that Juliet, a lab rat wants to make out with a zombie? Hehe. We should write a book together. That would be an amazing book.

That reminds me of a movie which i forgot - Simon blow snow (in two words; mandarin/Cantonese if you can translate.) Funny movie to watch. If someone knows it i am going to laugh with them.


I have only read Ende in translation, but from a storytelling PoV would highly recommend <3


You may also wish to consider reading Inkheart, or as I should say Tintenherz.


Inkheart "Each chapter begins with a quote from another children's book, both foreshadowing the chapter and giving pleasure to bibliophiles." Wow; I like this -- its hard to do it right

Thank you


I read the Harry Potter series in German and really liked it. You should give it a try!

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