Stories in related languages

The Fisherman and His Wife

Here are multiple versions of the familiar (or if isn't familiar, read it!) Grimm's fairy tale in different closely related languages. You can probably find more if you try.

More translations can be found starting at this English version (follow the links at the top). There's also a Russian translation in verse by Pushkin, no less!  Search on that page for "СКАЗКА О РЫБАКЕ И РЫБКЕ", about two-thirds of the way down.

Between all of those one ought to be able to make out what's going on. For extra thrills, try reading one of the languages you don't know.

For lagniappe, here's the four-line verse the fisherman uses to invoke the fish (the Standard German translation does not translate it):

Mandje! Mandje! Timpe Te!
Mandje! Mandje! Timpe Te!
Mannie, mannie, Timpee Tee,
Mannetje, mannetje, Timpe Te,
Flynder lille, flynder god,
Fishy, fishy, in the creek

Buttje! Buttje in de See!
Flounder, flounder, in the sea!
Fleukie, fleukie in the sea,
Botje, botje in de zee,
stig op til mig af havets flod,
My wife's been nagging at me all week

Mine Fru, de Ilsebill,
My wife, her name is Ilsebill,
Ma lief wife the Iseabail
mijn vrouwtje die heet Ilsebil,
for min hustru Isabil
She says she doesn't want a lot

Will nich so, as ick wol will.
Wants not, wants not, what I will
Winna dae as A her tell.
ze wil niet zoals ik wil.
vil meget mere end jeg vil.
But she's not happy with what we got. 


Johann Peter Hebel's classic 1809 tale "Kannitverstan" is about the moral reflections that mutual incomprehension can arouse in a young German from Württemberg who is in Amsterdam for the first time (based on a true story dating from 1757) :

Update: Links refreshed, Dutch and Russian added.
Another update: fixed formatting, added Danish


Anonymous said...

There's also a Russian version of the story by Pushkin, but I don't have a link to it.

Here is a collection of poems and fairy tales by Pushkin. The one you refer to is titled СКАЗКА О РЫБАКЕ И РЫБКЕ and can be found about two thirds down the text.

Udge said...

Delurking to say: Thank you! thank you!! I read "Kannitverstan" in German several years ago, and could neither remember where I'd read it nor find it again by chance.

I am amused and fascinated alternatively, sometimes simultaneously, by these packets of erudition. Well done!

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