Goodies from the Mailbox

July 3rd, 2006 | View Comments

When I left my house to make a quick run to the grocery store, I discovered a bunch of goodies waiting for me on my porch. First, there was a package from a friend who had been whooping it up, -style in Germany, as well as the giant cone of Zephyr I mentioned in my previous post.

The giant cone of Zephyr, plus a German knitting catalogue

The Zephyr is from eBay seller sarahsiegel and should go nicely with the aloha dress. If anyone else is looking for a giant cone of Zephyr, I highly recommend buying from Sarah. She shipped it super fast and also enclosed a bunch of samples for me to ooh and aah over.

The catalogue is titled Treffpunkt Wolle, which AltaVista helpfully translates as “meeting place wants”. Uh huh.

It came in a package with a souvenir World Cup T-shirt, which will surely be the envy of all grad students at our weekend World Cup final party, and the following note from my friend:

I do know that if I know anyone who needs a knitting catalogue in German, it's you.  Enjoy!

Ahh, friends who know you well.

I was flipping through the catalogue, alternating between “hmm…cute” and “ew, fug” when I hit upon this:

Girl in muppet outfit Say it with me: eeewwwww… awwwww.

That is green fur, people, on what would otherwise be an adorable sweater and a happy little girl.

They should use this picture on public service announcements. Just say no to clothing your children in bad knitwear.

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CogKnition posted this on July 3rd, 2006 @ 4:55pm in Knitting Goodies | Permalink to "Goodies from the Mailbox"


  1. Elenita says:

    Ah, the adventures in computerized translation…

    Treffpunkt Wolle, which AltaVista helpfully translates as “œmeeting place wants”

    I gave you the short version over IM, but again: the translation for Treffpunkt is actually halfway right. Or more precisely, it’s completely right but gives you no context, which makes it half wrong. Treffpunkte (plural) are usually meeting places–that is, the venues where meetings are actually held, like conference rooms–but can also mean something slightly different. The closest equivalent I can come up with is a rendezvous, although stripped of the subtextual and generally sentimental references present in the original French, thankyouverymuch.

    Oh, and forget what I told you about Treffpunkt also meaning the meeting itself–I had a brain fart. The Germans, inventively enough, just call those Meetings now.

    Anyway, on to the next point, which is what actually motivated me to post in the first place. Wolle is wool. Most of the time. (There’s a saying that uses the word and translates to “come hell or high water” which is totally impossible to translate literally.) It does not mean want, though there is the verb wollen which translates to “to want.”

    The thing is, if you turn your head sideways and squint some, it is theoretically possible to correctly translate the use of a -e German verb ending as English third person singular under regular German grammar rules. Barely. You’d have to switch moods, and it’s much easier to go from an English subjunctive to a German indicative than the reverse, so it doesn’t happen often. But it is possible.

    But again, this only applies to regular grammatical rules. Which really gets my goat about this whole thing is that there is no way that Altavista should have even contemplated changing moods before it considered that wollen is irregularly conjugated. In fact, given that it’s both modal and stem-changing, it could only come up with that if its software was deliberately written to emulate the “translating” skills of a couple of trained monkeys with keyboards. Or a keyboard, singular, which they share simultaneously.

    Blech. I feel a little better about this now after getting it all out, but my inner language geek is still crying with despair.

    Moral of the story? Be very, very glad that I never pursued a degree in languages and linguistics, as I planned a decade ago. Can you imagine how dense my lectures would be then?

  2. Yvonne says:

    Hehehe awesome. I knew I could count on you. :) Thanks!

  3. Charity says:

    The red yarn is great! Ewwww, green fur? Yikes.