[DWJ] Hohlbein

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) Philip.Belben at eon-uk.com
Tue Jan 8 10:24:43 EST 2008


Tina and I are drifting gently off topic:

> > (Digression:  Is there a German book like Fowler's Modern English
> > Usage?  Fowler is such a useful tool, and I'd really like to have
> > such a book for German too, if only to stop my tutor trying to force
> > on me a style to which I object!)
>
> I'm not sure, as I don't know Fowler's Modern English Usage. However
> from how you describe it, I'd recommend two books/authors concerning
> style and usage. One is "Stilfibel" by Ludwig Reiners. The slight
> drawback of this book is that it is 40 years old. But on the other
> hand it is a classic, and many of the recommendations can be
> considered timeless.

Sounds great!  Fowler is just such a classic.  It was originally published in 1926; and it had a thorough revision by Sir Ernest Gowers in 1965, so it too is about 40 years old.  There was a more recent revision, about 8 or 10 years ago, I think, but this was never popular.  Unlike Fowler and Gowers, who explained quite difficult grammatical ideas in accessible language, the latest editor managed to use highly technical language even when explaining simple points, and came up with a book that's hard to use.

Fowler is a book of short articles, arranged alphabetically.  Most are just articles on a particular word, and may range from a line recommending a particular pronunciation or spelling, to three or four pages on a word like "the" or "of".  Interspersed with these, in the same alphabet, are articles on particular aspects of language, with titles like "object shuffling" or "collectives".  The latter articles are not always easy to find if you don't know the title, but the book has good cross-references.

It is not necessary to agree with Fowler on every point, but the articles themselves are always well-written and frequently very funny.

> The other author I'd recommend is Wolf Schneider (e.g. Deutsch
> fürs Leben or the longer Deutsch für Profis). Schneider is apparently
> mandatory reading in many editiorial departments.  I found both books
> helpful to work on my writing style for my dissertation, which had
> really suffered after studying law.

I can imagine!  Engineering is bad enough....

I'll have to look out for these when I'm next in Germany.

The only writer of this sort I've encountered is Bastian Sick.  His articles are good, but not very easy to look things up in!

> Now that I read that, you're right: The book I had in mind wasn't
> Märchenmond, it was Elfentanz. Which has Timo as Hero, a boy from a
> race of small people living in the woods. The other "good" races are

Right down to the first name ending in O.  Hmmm!

> Humans, Elben (which is how Tolkien's Elves are called in the German
> translation of LoTR) and Elfen (elves, wich is an original touch in
> relation to the Elben, who are a lot like Tolkien's elves).

Clever!  I wonder how that would translate, though - elves and Sidhe, perhaps?

> And there different kinds of
> evil beings, too, with names I forgot, but basically Orcs, Trolls and
> Wargs etc. And a Dark Lord, of course. Timo, who's always dreamed of
> seeing the High Stronghold of the Elben, acquires a powerful amulet
> and has to decide wether to use its terrible power for destruction to
> help the good side or not.

OK, I get the message!

> The book is ok, actually. If I had to recommend
> Hohlbein, it would be the earlier childrens/ya books I mentioned,
> because they were really better than the few adult books I read by
> him.

OK, I'll review my wish list.  For Hohlbein at the moment it's got some Märchenmond sequels and something with a dragon in the title.  I'll probably add Elfentanz, but not much else.

> Thinking about Hohlbein made me realize again that many of the books I
> read as a kid were translations of English books (ObDWJ :-) And today

The English-speaking world is so big that we seldom look outside for books, so we have far fewer translations on our shelves than you do.  I'm not sure whether this is good or bad.

> I read mostly English books and therefore haven't managed to read
> anything by Cornelia Funke yet...

Oh, you must!

Last Autumn, when I had nearly finished a German book that I'd been struggling with for six months, I happened to take down "Drachenreiter" from my shelf - I think to look up a character's name.  I almost lost myself in it again, at it took quite an effort to lay it aside until I'd finished the other book.  Not many books, even by DWJ, do that for me!

Philip.

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