I WAS LEAFING through my German Grimms' Fairytales when I suddenly came across this one: The Fisherman And His Wife, in an odd Low German dialect.
So I looked it up, and here's the start of the tale in English...
You can clickonit to get the full text...
The Fisherman and his Wife
There was once a fisherman who lived with his wife in a pigsty, close by the seaside. The fisherman used to go out all day long a-fishing; and one day, as he sat on the shore with his rod, looking at the sparkling waves and watching his line, all on a sudden his float was dragged away deep into the water: and in drawing it up he pulled out a great fish. But the fish said, 'Pray let me live! I am not a real fish; I am an enchanted prince: put me in the water again, and let me go!' 'Oh, ho!' said the man, 'you need not make so many words about the matter; I will have nothing to do with a fish that can talk: so swim away, sir, as soon as you please!' Then he put him back into the water, and the fish darted straight down to the bottom, and left a long streak of blood behind him on the wave.
When the fisherman went home to his wife in the pigsty, he told her how he had caught a great fish, and how it had told him it was an enchanted prince, and how, on hearing it speak, he had let it go again. 'Did not you ask it for anything?' said the wife, 'we live very wretchedly here, in this nasty dirty pigsty; do go back and tell the fish we want a snug little cottage.'
And it goes on and on... You can read the rest of this text here.
Here's a kiddies' TV version starring Rick Mayall:
Now for some comparative linguistics: here are the opening words in English, Dutch, the Low German original and standard High German which is the official language of Germany today... Apart from English of course, these languages form a dialect-continuum from town-to-town across Northern Europe. At no point does the spoken language suddenly change just because a national frontier has been passed...
Low German is sometimes referred to as Low Saxon and if you look closely you will see how familiar the vocabulary is: Fischer (fisherman) angeld (fished) blanke Water (clear water) deep (deep)... and so on.
Incidentally, the original does not appear to say they lived in a pigsty or a hovel but a PISSPOT!!
The Fisherman and His Wife
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Kidoons quaint online turnypage storybook version...
Once upon a time there were a fisherman and his wife who lived together in a filthy shack near the sea. Every day the fisherman went out fishing, and he fished, and he fished.
Once he was sitting there fishing and looking into the clear water, and he sat, and he sat.
Then his hook went to the bottom, deep down, and when he pulled it out, he had caught a large flounder.
Van de visser en zijn vrouw
Grimm 019 - Van de visser en zijn vrouw, Piggelmee
Er was eens een visser en z’n vrouw, die zo arm waren, dat ze alleen maar in een pot konden wonen, vlak aan zee. De visser ging elke dag hengelen; en dan hengelde hij en hengelde hij maar.
Zo zat hij ook eens bij zijn hengel en keek steeds in ‘t blanke water, en hij keek en keek.
Daar dook de dobber diep onder, en toen hij ‘m ophaalde, had hij een grote bot.
LOW GERMAN (ORIGINAL TEXT)
Von dem Fischer un syner Fru
Dar wöör maal eens en Fischer un syne Fru, de waanden tosamen in'n Pißputt, dicht an der See, un de Fischer güng alle Dage hen un angeld: un he angeld un angeld.
So seet he ook eens by de Angel und seeg jümmer in das blanke Water henin: un he seet un seet.
Do güng de Angel to Grund, deep ünner, un as he se heruphaald, so haald he enen grooten Butt heruut.
STANDARD (HIGH) GERMAN
Von dem Fischer und seiner Frau
Es war einmal ein Fischer und seine Frau, die wohnten zusammen in einem alten Pott dicht an der See, und der Fischer ging alle Tage hin und angelte, und er angelte und angelte.
So saß er auch einmal mit seiner Angel und schaute immer in das klare Wasser hinein, und er saß und saß.
Da ging die Angel auf den Grund, tief, tief hinab, und wie er sie heraufholte, da zog er einen großen Butt heraus.
VOM FISCHER UND SEINER FRAU
Radio performance in German
PS I've finally found a university course where you can study BA German and translation for the entire length of a 3-year course in Germany, at Gutenberg University, Mainz (which is a beautiful town on the Rhine)...
PPS: news from Germany ~ OAP plunges 15ft down lift shaft in wheelchair x
HERE is Plattdeutsch/Low German being spoken...
Notice how similar it sounds to Dutch and Afrikaans...
I did German for years and years and I can't understand a bloody word of this.
Learn Plattdeutsch online at plattmaster.de ~ lessons in English
HERE's something really hilarious I found ~ and yes it is for real ~ it's the Scottish Parliament's website in the "Scots language" (which looks like dreadfully spelt English to me)... Scots would be the nearest thing we have to Plattdeutsch here in the UK
Scottish Parliament's website in PROPER Scottish ~ ie Gaelic
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