Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Fully conjugated and declined

A long time ago, I was trying to decide if I was going to put the Jaeckels on a real boat that came to Australia on a real voyage, a real boat on a voyage at a time more convenient to my narrative or a totally fictitious ship and voyage. I’ve decided to go for the latter as it just makes things simpler all around. And no-one can accuse me of historical inaccuracies regarding the ship and voyage which has to be a plus given my current grumpiness.

In a gloomy, dank-feeling but rainless dawn I was pouring over my German dictionary trying to work out a name for the ship. I generally try to stay away from early morning decision-making owing to lack of decisiveness at that hour but the Jaeckels were hanging around on the dock looking at the ship so I had to come up with a name. I decided on whatever the German version of “Swift Voyager” would be and looked it up in the dictionary. I came up with “Schnelle Reisender.”

Dropping the children at school, I noticed that the LOTE teacher (Languages Other Than English, in this case, German), was in the classroom so I ran the name past him. He’s been really helpful with translating various bits and pieces for me. I have no idea what he thinks I am doing, but he always answers my questions, no matter how peculiar, with equanimity. He told me that “Schnelle Reise” is more correct because, and I quote, “German is a fully conjugated and declined language unlike English.” Sadly this isn’t as much fun as it might sound.

So I have a ship and a name and the Jaeckels can stop hanging around on the jetty and get on board as soon as the Schnelle Reise is loaded and provisioned.

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