B2 | Step 10: Written Translation (1/3)

Translation Techniques Overview

Translation is a very potent but also quite difficult learning technique. Every German learner translates automatically from German into their mother tongue (or another well known to them language). Even if the teacher is only speaking German to them, in their heads they try to make sense of what they hear. That is perfectly normal for adult learners.

As you already translate things into your native language, this step will help you train your translation skill in the other direction: native language > German. There are three kinds of translations:

A | 1x Written translation and
B | 2 x Oral translation

Let's start with the calmest one, the written translation. In the next couple of lessons I'll introduce the other types to you and in the future you can choose between them but for now focus on this type please.

Written translation has the advantage that you can compare your work with an original German text and deepen your understanding of the German sentence structures and vocabulary.

Oral translation will help you formulate your thoughts in German. You will hear many people say that translation is bad and that one should start to think in German as soon as possible. That advice is pure nonsense.

Translation is a powerful tool and like good spice, if applied in decent measures, it brings out the good flavor of an already lovely dish. You also can't or let's say shouldn't force yourself to think in German. It will come to you as you proceed with your training. Let it happen. Like the fox in the book The Little Prince by Exupery, German will come to you if you are patient, kind to yourself and persistent. Now let's take a look at how to work on your translation skills.


How to do a written translation

1 | Translate the EN text below into DE. It is the EN translation of the text that you already have been working on in this lesson. So you are already pretty familiar with it and should be able to come close to the original.

2 | After translating compare your DE text with the original DE text which I've added for your convenience below.

3 | Reflect on the differences between your translation and the original text.


Here's the text to work with

Hospitability

When Germany hosted the Football World Cup in 2006,
the country hummed with activity.
Various security measures were taken
and numerous construction sites erected.
Existing stadiums were rebuilt and made safer.
New stadiums were built in Munich, Leipzig, Cologne and Hamburg.
The infrastructure around the stadiums was improved.
Because the Germans love
to be thought of as being particularly organized.
The plan was to liberate the facades of entire cities from their old grey and,
similar to friendly Italy,
to paint everything in warm pastel tones.
The licensing restrictions for cafes and pubs were eased,
such that even in the gloomiest corners of some cities
a peculiar bustle could be found in the early evening.
Yes, Germany finally had the chance to pretend
as though it were almost as relaxed as its southern neighbours.
And when the World Cup ran its course,
not only did the hearts beat faster with the goals scored,
but also because a friendly, new feeling was noticeable:
It felt good!
And better still: everyone seemed to feel good!
When autumn came and
people put their flags away, somewhat embarrassed, into their drawers,
the host country almost became as it had been before:
calm, sober and assiduous.
But something remained:
Now, whenever the Germans see a helpless tourist on the street,
they address them courageously in English
and ask whether they need help.
If they then describe, with German precision,
the shortest way to the nearest public toilet or to the television tower
they leave with a beating heart.
They smile and say blissfully to themselves:
Because we can
be friendly to our guests.

Original text for comparison

Gastfreundschaft

Als Deutschland 2006 das Gastgeberland der Weltmeisterschaft war,
herrschte ein reges Treiben.
Es wurden diverse Sicherheitsvorkehrungen getroffen
und zahlreiche Bauarbeiten getätigt.
Bestehende Stadien wurden umgebaut und sicherer gemacht.
In München, Leipzig, Köln und Hamburg wurden neue Stadien gebaut.
Die Infrastruktur im Umkreis der Stadien wurde verbessert.
Denn die Deutschen lieben es,
als besonders organisiert bejubelt zu werden.
Man plante die Fassaden ganzer Städte von ihrem alten Grau zu befreien und,
ähnlich wie im freundlichen Italien,
alles in warmen Pastelltönen zu streichen.
Man lockerte die Auflagen für Cafés und Kneipen,
so dass auch in trüben Ecken mancher Städte
in den frühen Abendstunden ein lustiges Treiben zu sehen war.
Ja, Deutschland hatte endlich einmal die Chance so zu tun,
als ob es fast so entspannt wäre wie seine südlichen Nachbarn.
Und als dann die WM ihren Lauf nahm,
schlugen die Herzen nicht nur wegen der geschossenen Tore höher,
sondern auch, weil sich ein freundliches, neues Gefühl bemerkbar machte:
Man fühlte sich wohl!
Und noch schöner: Alle schienen sich wohl zu fühlen!
Als dann der Herbst kam und
man die Fahnen peinlich berührt in irgendwelchen Schubladen verstaute,
da wurde das Gastgeberland fast wieder so wie vorher:
ruhig, nüchtern und strebsam.
Aber etwas blieb:
Sieht der Deutsche nun ratlose Touristen an Straßenecken stehen,
spricht er sie mutig auf Englisch an
und fragt, ob sie Hilfe brauchen.
Wenn er dann in deutscher Präzision
den kürzesten Weg zur nächsten öffentlichen Toilette
oder zum Fernsehturm beschrieben hat,
entfernt er sich mit klopfendem Herzen.
Er lächelt und sagt sich selig:
Weil wir es können.
Freundlich zu unseren Gästen sein.

English Audio for oral translation


Share your Thoughts

Also try to explain in your own words what you have learned in this lesson.

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