lördag, april 02, 2005

Just a Dane

Today is the birthday of Hans Christian Anderson. Not a Swede, but a Dane.

A stranger from Denmark will not hesitate to tell me that they think the people from Sweden are, well, um, boring.

A Swede will smile in absolute satisfaction over the news that Swedish men have a higher sperm count than Danish men, even if he has no intention of putting the statistics to the test.

The Norwegians bristle at the thought of being under the heavy Swedish yoke for a couple of decades. One can only imagine the brutality of it all.

Imagine a native of Mobile Alabama, one from New York City, and another from Portland Oregon forced to hang out together. A couple of common denominators, yes, but I would not recommend that any one of them leave the table if he or she is concerned about people talking behind his or her back.

So I was not surprised in an NPR broadcast this morning, to hear a Dane Diana Crone Frank blame a faulty misperception of the author on the fact that one of the first translators was done by a woman better versed in Swedish then Danish, and that has made all the difference.

What misperception? His stories are miserable and unkind even when translated by someone other than someone speaking Swedish. Read the original Little Mermaid. If you think Disney is scary, wait.


Blogger Bill said...

In your hypothetical Alabamian, Oregonian and New Yorker situation, which one has the sense of humor? Now let's consider the Scandanavians: Danes will tell you that they are the happy-go-lucky ones, but consider that Hans Christian Anderson is full of mermaids who feel like they are walking on razors, and ugly ducklings that turn into mean swans, and poor little match girls-- this stuff is plain gruesome. The Swedish children's stuff I am familiar with is just dull, not cruel. I imagine the Norwegians just sit glumly, and don't read anything to their kids.

And what of the merry Finns?

10:56 fm  
Blogger Bebe said...

The Finns are not technically Scandinavian, although Swedish is a recognized national language. I get this odd sense that they are, in a way, protected or, when not, viewed more as a second cousin. But all this becomes dangerous, generalization. What I do know firsthand is that when I told a Swede about the the inept Swedish translator who mistook "bird" for "butterfly", he laughed and replied, "And no one has translated HC since?"

As for the sense of humor, I'd put my money first on the Alabamian, second on the New Yorker, and never on the serious soul from the sunny Northwest.

7:36 fm  

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