The Most Difficult-to-translate Sentence of All Time
The following simple German quip must be one of the most difficult-to-translate sentences of all time: Wenn Einstein albert, krümmt sich der Raum vor Lachen.
The literal translation is of course trivial: if Einstein does a joke, all the people (in a room) are weak from laughter.
But the real ingenuity (and beauty) of this sentence is hidden in two interconnected double meanings:
- albert (as in “er albert”) is:
- German word for to joke (as in “he jokes”)
- but it also doubles as Einstein's first name, of course
That alone would be clever enough. But the guy who invented that sentence (sadly, I don't know his or her name) could do one better:
- krümmt sich der Raum vor Lachen ingeniously combines two phrases:
- “krümmt sich der Raum” means on the one hand space, curved in the Einsteinian sense
- “sich krümmen vor Lachen”, on the other hand, is the German idiom for to be weak from laughter
But never fear, here is an English sentence that's equally impossible to translate: Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. (Then again, this sort of grouchy Marxist dialectic was and will always remain untranslatable.)
$updated from: The Most Difficult-to-translate Sentence of All Time.htxt Sat 18 Jan 2014 13:12:48 thomasl (By Thomas Lauer)$