Friday, July 17, 2009

German Translation

In the days when Bismarck was the greatest man in Europe, an American visitor to Berlin, anxious to hear the Chancellor speak, procured two tickets to the visitors' gallery of the Reichstag and hired an interpreter to accompany her there. They were fortunate enough to arrive just before Bismarck intervened in a debate on a matter of social legislation, and the American pressed close to her interpreter's side so as to miss nothing of the translation. But although Bismarck spoke with considerable force and at some length, the interpreter's lips remained closed, and he was unresponsive to his employer's nudges. Unable to contain herself, she finally blurted, "What is he saying?" "Patience, madam," the interpreter answered. "I am waiting for the verb!"

- Gordon A. Craig, The Germans

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