Could Someone Please Check My English Translation of a German Nursery Rhyme?

I received the German nursery rhyme below without an English translation in 2001. I just came across it on my computer. It seemed like such a nice one that I decided to try to translate it. I would greatly appreciate it if a German English speaker could check my English translation below to make sure it’s correct. (I’m particularly questioning the two middle lines.) Then it can be added to my collection of traditional German songs and nursery rhymes!

Hans Hat Hosen An
(German)

Hans hat Hosen an und die sind rund.
Gretchen hat ein Huetchen auf und das ist bunt.
Das ist nichts muss anders kommen,
Das ist nichts muss ander kommen.
Hans hat Hosen an und die sind bunt.
Gretchen hat ein Huetchen auf und das ist rund.

Hans Wears Pants
(English)

Hans wears pants and they are round.
Gretchen wears a hat and that is colorful.
That is nothing must appear differently,
That is nothing must appear otherwise.
Hans wears pants and they are colorful.
Gretchen wears a hat and that is round.

Please comment below or email me if you can help.

Thanks in advance!

Lisa

This article was posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2007 at 11:01 am and is filed under Countries & Cultures, German, German Nursery Rhymes, Germany, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Readers Questions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Could Someone Please Check My English Translation of a German Nursery Rhyme?”

  1. Ruediger Says:

    Dear Lisa,

    I was just searching for american nursery rhymes when I saw that you needed help. German is my foreign language and I’ve studied english for about 8 years on a german secondary school. I hope I may help you as far as it is possible.

    First of all I’d like to send you the correct version of this poem:

    Hans hat Hosen an und die sind bunt.
    Die Gret’l hat ein Hüterl auf und das ist rund.
    Könnte es wohl anders sein, würden sich gar beide freu’n,
    Hans hat Hosen an und die sind bunt

    Your translation couldn’t be more perfect, but the third line should be translated as:
    If it would be another situation, both of them would be glad

    I hope I could help you

  2. Lisa Says:

    Thanks so much! That makes more sense.

    Would it end with the line “Gretchen hat ein Huetchen auf und das ist rund.” Or should I take this line out?

    I appreciate your help!

    -Lisa

  3. Rudolf Says:

    I would change a few minor things in your first version
    Mainly, “that” to “it” in several places, which is a more natural way of speaking in English.
    Gretchen wears a hat and it is colorful (same for last line)
    Also in the middle lines it looks as if anders should be the same in both line (did you miss the “s” in line 4, German version?)
    Also, I think that the name Gretel works better in English because English speakers have difficulty saying “ch”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hansel_and_Gretel

    A book on German idioms, p. 515 seems to imply that the meaning of muss anders kommen might mean “inevitable” or “obvious” (4 from the bottom: das/etw. musste ja kommen)
    German-English dictionary of idioms By Hans Schemann, Paul Knight:
    http://books.google.ca/books?id=3DgTJ-yVpe8C&pg=RA1-PA514&lpg=RA1-PA514&dq=muss+anders+kommen&source=bl&ots=hH0bORI7pr&sig=witlreKhPO4sB5tvzjWn-yXC6_s&hl=en&ei=aaIaSo2ADJ-yMM6euZ4P&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2#PRA1-PA515,M1

    If that is the meaning of the original, I would translate the middle lines as:
    “That could not be otherwise”

    It sounds to me that there could be several versions of the old rhyme. I guess each would be translated differently.

  4. Ashima Dhingra Says:

    I agree with you Rudolf..

    Lisa, if you are looking for such translations, can contact me, as I’m a german to english translator by profession. I’ve been translating german pedagogics, documents like financial/technical ones and others too for years.

    Can’t disclose the names over here as its against policy.

    Can contact me at ashima.dhingra@gmail.com.

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