Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Little Light Reading

My students had to read 120 pages for homework tonight. A sample from the prologue:

I could introduce myself properly, but it isn't really necessary. You know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away.

At that moment, you will be lying there (I rarely find people standing up). You will be caked in your own body. There might be a discovery; a scream will dribble down in the air. The only sound I'll hear after that will be my own breathing, and the sound of the smell, of my footsteps.

I think some of the prose may be lost in translation. Not to mention that Death is the narrator. Sigh. In the 120 pages, no less than half a dozen German curses are translated into English with helpful usage tips. Seriously. What I would give for books chosen by someone who actually reads. Can't wait for tomorrow's discussion. It should be lively and full of interesting insights. That or blank stares all around. One of the two.


Anonymous said...

Wikipedia says the book has originally been published in English in Australia in 2005 and that Alexandra Ernst translated it to German to be published in 2008, which sounds like the author never had a German manuscript. (I speak German btw.)

Naiseu beullogeu.

Jen said...

Oh, I meant lost in translation in the sense that English is not my students' first language. One student in particular in that class was probably up half the night with his electronic dictionary.

As far as I could tell, the German curses were just thrown in for flair . It's just a running joke how often I'm assigned books with language I don't care to explain to elementary and middle school students. The books are generally fine for native speakers, because they know the words already, so my school admin assumes they are fine for our students.

Glad you like the buh-log-uh. :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see.
A problem I've had with my Korean (university) students in my reading class was their apathy. Most were physically present and staring at the text or at me, and they never once had off-topic chats in Korean during the class. But most of them would be hard-pressed to participate. It was difficult to guess what they were thinking: whether they didn't say anything because everything was fine, or because they didn't get what was written or said, or because they got it but didn't care to react to the text or to me.
It must be very different and way more difficult to work with children, even without inappropriate books.