Friday, September 07, 2007

Goethe (and Google) on Old Age

Goethe thought for the day, from Underbelly’s Teutonic bureau:

Hat einer dreißig Jahr vorüber,

So ist er schon so gut wie tot,

Am besten wär's, euch zeitig totzuschlagen.

From Faust II. Or, as Google translates:

Year has thirty past,
Like that it is already so well dead,
Best wär's to dead-slam you shut timely.

“Boy,” harrumphs the TB “that’s awful.” The TB offers:

Once you reach 30,

You are as good as dead,

It would be best if you were timely killed.

Must be a good teaching exercise: TB notes that he uses three different forms of address:

Once one has passed thirty years, (einer is equivalent to “one” as in the type of saying “One needn’t go there.”)

So is he as good as dead, (third person – used in some old forms as a form of address for a social inferior – such as prospective son-in-laws and other invisible people)

Best it would be to timely kill you (second person plural, informal form of address).

The combined ages of Goethe (at death), Underbelly and TB average out to about 75. Shows what we know.

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