on 25 May 2010
Many years ago I studied German and French and then went and forgot it all again as I got on with my life. Now, in an attempt to pick up where I left off, I have been trying to read familiar books in those languages. Something like this Harry Potter is ideal:- I'm ashamed to say I know them inside out in English, so I usually know what's happening before I have deciphered the meaning of every word and as they are basically children's books they are written in fairly 'easy' German. You do need a certain level of German or else it will become to slow and frustrating, luckily I remember most of the basic grammar, and enough vocabulary to get by.
That said, I find the German harder than the French. Many irregular verbs change vowel so they can take a bit of guess-work to find in the dictionary. Worse still are the many compound words, often made up on the spot. Words like 'Vertrauensschulerabzeichen' can leave all but the bravest non-German-speaker a quivering wreck. This long word, which wasn't in either of my dictionaries, is the translation for Percy's 'prefect badge' and the literal translation would be something like 'trusted-student badge'.
I'm not really qualified to judge how good the translation is, it seemed fine to me; it made sense and matched the character of the speaker etc without changing too much. However I was surprised to read Lockhart exclaiming "Grosser Scott" - the exact translation of "Great Scott" - I don't know what a non English-speaker would make of that.
Although this isn't the best of the Harry Potter series, it is quite short and has plenty of action and comedy; it would be useful reading practice for someone with about Leaving Cert/A Level German who is familiar with these books.
on 13 July 2010
I bought this mostly for the purpose of improving my rather mediocre German, but have been pleasantly surprised to find I have really enjoyed it. Rufus Beck's voice is very easy to listen to, and I find this audio version easier to understand than reading the book, because the sentence structure (always a bit of a handful in German!) is clearer when spoken.
I have also sampled the French Audio version (of the 3rd book) which I found a bit over-the-top, but this is read in a straight-forward, grown-up manner - not unlike Stephen Fry's English version, though I suspect it is not as 'posh'. Beck does different voices for the different characters, some more comical than others; the only one that grated was the unfortunate echo that is used to represent the Weasley twins speaking in unison. Lockhart's rich, confident voice is particularly well done, and overall the different personalities are well captured.
This version is 'mp3', which means the book is covered in just 2 discs, but needs to be played on a computer, or mp3-compatible CD player - I believe there is also an ordinary CD version available.
on 18 September 2000
Mit einem Alter jenseits der 30 gehöre ich vermutlich nicht zu den typischen Kinderbuch-Lesern. Angesichts des auch unter meinen (gleichaltrigen) Kollegen grassierenden "Harry Potter"-Fiebers wurde ich neugierig und habe mich schliesslich dazu entschlossen, die "Kammer des Schreckens" (auf Englisch) zu lesen. Mein Eindruck war: ganz nett, aber nach all dem Hype irgendwie enttäuschend. Ich habe weitaus bessere Kinderbücher gelesen, "Krabat" von Otfried Preussler etwa (lange her), oder unlängst "Die Reise ans Ende der Welt" von Henning Mankell. Zwar beeindruckt die fiktive Kraft der Erzählung, aber davon, dass ich das Buch - einmal damit angefangen - nicht mehr aus der Hand legen konnte, kann keine Rede sein. Die Figuren bleiben seltsam blass, und die ganze Geschichte ist zu sehr Schwarz/Weiss-Malerei.