The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #6920   Message #1357144
Posted By: GUEST,K. O'Brien
14-Dec-04 - 09:38 PM
Thread Name: Lyrics Versions: Brahms' Lullaby
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brahms' Lullaby
I disagree with the translation of "Mit Rosen bedacht" as "given roses" and that "bedight" (Eng.) and "bedacht" (Ger.) may come from the same root.

"Bedight" (now obsolete) means to prepare or set in order and comes from the Anglo-Saxon "dihtan" (to compose, write, arrange). I don't have a German dictionary with word origins, but "bedenken" is probably related to the A-S root "thencan" (to think). If a translator changed "bedacht" to "bedight", they were probably translating phoenetically--that's how we ended up with "cole slaw" instead of "Kohlsalat" (cabbage salad).

"Mit rosen bedacht" might best be translated as "with roses in mind". "Bedacht" is the past participle of the irregular verb "bedenken" (think of English irregular verbs like "go" [went, gone]; "drive" [drove, driven], etc.). "Bedenken" means to consider, think over, reflect on, keep in mind ("denken" is to think). So the writer seems to be telling the child to think about roses while falling asleep.

"Nägelchen" is the German word for clove (or cloves). In German, "chen" or "lein" can be added to other words to make them diminuitive..."Frau" (woman) + lein = "Fräulein" (girl); "Brot" (bread) + "chen" = "Brötchen" (roll); "Nagel" (nail) + chen = "Nägelchen" (tack, brad). "Nägelchen" is a dialectical word for "clove" (maybe since a clove looks like a little nail or tack), and Brahms may have used the "lein" instead of the "chen" ending when forming the diminuitive. The endings aren't really interchangable, but we can grant him poetic license. Therefore, the "clove" translation seems to make more sense than the "little nails" or "carnations" theories espoused above (even moreso if it's true what the writer above says about cloves in the bed to ward off bugs). The "nails" translation just doesn't make any sense and the "carnations" seem to be a stretch from "Nelke" to "Nägelchen." And why would the author say "covered with carnations" when he's just said "with roses kept in mind"? The German-to-English translator(s) may have thought "clove" wouldn't make sense outside of the German culture, so "clover", "carnation", "lilies", etc., may have been substituted with poetic license.

Just my two cents worth, from a 2nd-year (adult) German student.