German Garfield Book Comparison

Monday, October 12, 2009 at 6:05 PM | Filed under

Yesterday, I found a German Garfield book at Value Village. Now, being a huge Garfield fan (I have all of the first 36 Garfield books) and a student of the German language, I was excited to come across this. The book was bagged with a half dozen other German books that I really wasn't interested in, but the employees refused to sell just the one book, since they were all bagged together.

Obviously, that's the English version on the left, and the German version on the right. They are both book 14, and they contain the same strips. But the covers are wildly different! The English book is titled Garfield Swallows His Pride and the German version is called Garfield läßt nicht locker which translates to "Garfield Doesn't Give Up." These are very different titles!

I was surprised that I was able to understand the first strip in the book, posted above. Perhaps it helps that I'm familiar with the English material, though. The strips are almost entirely literal translations of the English versions.

According to Wolfram Alpha, a typical translation to German is 10% longer than the original English source, which means more letters. Accordingly, you can tell that the font size in the German Garfield strips is smaller, to accommodate more letters in the same amount of space.

Like in the English version of Garfield (and nearly every other comic), the German version of Garfield capitalizes every letter. This is worth noting because the German letter ß (eszett, or sharp s) exists only as a lower-case letter. If you want to capitalize "ß", you turn it into "SS". So words like "weiß" and "Spaß" become "WEISS" and "SPASS", as in the strip above.

I also noticed that the German Garfield strips remove Jim Davis's name, the copyright info, and the date from the strips. The playground strip above seems to be an exception, though—it looks like they forgot to remove the date.

And now, the fun part: ONOMATOPOEIAS!!!

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, onomatopoeias (or sound words) are different in different languages. German for "scratch" is "kratzen", so I can see where "KRIIIETSCH!" comes from. It's odd, though, that I imagine a different sound in my head when I read both comics.

Garfield's trademark SPLUT! sound becomes the even more comical FLATSCH! Something else they changed in this panel is the lettering on Garfield's bowl. It says the same thing, but the letters are different. (This is a lot easier to see if you scanned the books and were flipping through the images.) It's not a big change, so I wonder why they bothered redoing it.

Anyway, now I have to collect all the German Garfield books too.


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