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  • Betrifft

    Da liegt der Hund begraben

    "That's the heart of the matter"

    I have the following problem: I am translating a script, or rather only the titles and the dialog for the subtitles, into English. (I am a native English speaker). I would love it if I could translate "Da liegt der Hund begraben" with "That is where the dog is buried", but I know full well that I would not have understood that if I read it somewhere. On the Internet I have found some sentences with this phrase, but mostly with an explanation following it or in texts illustrating the difficulty of translating idioms!! Indeed it seems to be a favourite example for this problem, which strengthens my believe that it is not correct English...

    The problem is: This phrase is first of all the title of the movie. It is also used as the final sentence, concluding a long conversation between 4 characters in which they realize what their problems in life are and they find a common factor, "the heart of the matter". All OK so far, one needn't stick with dogs if that was all, but the problem is that this whole conversation takes place while (!!!) they bury a dog in a wood after it was run over. This is basically the only action in the film, the rest is basically "just" people talking about themselves while smoking grass. (Sounds terrible summarized like that, but actually the script is quite good). Now how on earth do I link this thought of " the heart of the matter" with the dog that is actually being buried, the way it is done in the German??? Any ideas, anybody?? (I would also be thankful for loads of messages proving me wrong that most native speakers would not understand "where the dog is buried"...)I am currently living in Germany, so I can't test it, but maybe some of you in America, Britain etc. can ask some friends who do not have any German knowledge whether they know the phrase "That is where the dog is buried?" ? (Luckily the film will only be subtitled, if I had to find a solution that had to fit the movements of the actor's mouth as well, I would go nuts!)
    VerfasserEkke27 Nov. 01, 03:01
    As it is the doom of all english-spoken movies synchronized into German that many gags of that kind (Wortspiele= word play?) are lost and the titles are utterly changed, I don't see why it should not be so the other way round ;-).
    Read a Douglas Adams Book original, then try to enjoy the German version and not to put it in the corner after the first page...
    After all if that one is so important for this movie I suppose you leave "that's where the dog is buried" and hope that there are some smart watchers who consider that it's a German movie and figure out what is meant and explain it to the others. I can't think of another solution that wouldn't spoil the whole idea...
    #1VerfasserK.S.27 Nov. 01, 08:57
    We like it nice and tricky, Ekke. Unfortunately I can't help you yet. But I'm pretty positive that "that's where the dog is buried" will not be understood by English native speakers with no knowledge of German. I found an intersting site that says the same. Interestingly, the phrase in its original meaning had nothing to do with Hund as in the animal. What is meant is the "Spardose"...
    I'll get back to you when I can come up with a constructive idea.
    #2Verfasserhttp://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa040599.… 27 Nov. 01, 09:27
    Wahrlich a tricky assignment. No, the phrase has no idiomatic meaning to the man on the (English) street. Your whole film is really a play on words -- burying a dog and using that expression. The question is, what alternative? Sorry I can't help any more than that
    #3VerfasserGhol27 Nov. 01, 11:00
    What is meant is the "Spardose"??? That's far too tricky.
    Hund ist nicht gleich Hund.
    1) 'Auf den Hund gekommen' ist jemand mit leerer Sparkassa (denn dort wird der Hund sichtbar, der als Wächter auf den Boden gemalt ist); hier habe ich schon einmal gelesen 'we went to the dogs'.
    2) 'Da liegt der Hund begraben' sagt hingegen jemand, der endlich die Ursache irgendwelcher Schwierigkeiten entdeckt hat; gleiche Bedeutung wie 'da liegt der Hase im Pfeffer'; ein dazu passendes englisches Wortspiel mit Hund habe ich noch nie gehört.
    #4VerfasserJulius27 Nov. 01, 11:47
    Ein etwas gewagter Vorschlag (bitte nicht lachen ...) Wie wäre es mit einer Kombination aus beidem, z. B. 'The heart of the matter is, where the dog is buried'oder 'Right where the dog is buried - that's the heart of the matter'? Oder wird's dann ganz und gar unverständlich?
    #5VerfasserUli27 Nov. 01, 12:48
    I am glad so many people have joined this conversation. Thank you! I will discuss the options with the scriptwriter, but will be happy for any other suggestions as well...
    #6VerfasserEkke27 Nov. 01, 13:15
    Maybe we should approach the problem from another sideand try and find a nice English idiom with "dog" (see http://home.t-online.de/home/toni.goeller/idi...). It won't have the same meaning but you might be able to work your way around it. Good luck anyway
    #7VerfasserDoris L27 Nov. 01, 13:54
    Depending on when the characters speak (it would have to be after they dug the grave): "Now, after what seems a dog's age, we have finally arrived at the bottom of the problem."

    #8VerfasserDoris L27 Nov. 01, 16:15
    idiomatic term meaning: there's the fly in the
    ointment, there's the rub
    #9Verfasser27 Nov. 01, 18:12
    Let us know how you solved that problem!!!
    #10VerfasserUli27 Nov. 01, 19:03
    This is why we should all just stick to one language ;) It reminds me of this time when I was in Germany and was in an audience full of American students and this German guy was giving a speech in English and finished with the phrase "like a pike in a fish pond". Needless to we all looked at each other very confused. I'm familiar with the phrase "der Hecht im Karpfenteich", but I still don't really know what it means. Hey, I'll start a new topic so it can be explained...
    #11VerfasserRoy27 Nov. 01, 21:21
    I also saw a few English kids stare once when a German guy told them "You don't have all your cups in the cupboard...".

    Thanks for all the suggestions, I got a mail from the director today that we could take some liberty, especially with the title, as long as the content of the film and the meaning of the individual sentences remains true to the original. I send him a mail about this forum so he can read the suggestions. I'll keep you up to date! (I am hoping against hope that there is a little wooden cross or such on the grave, then I could get away with the crux of the matter..., but I haven't gotten backfeed on that yet...)

    I have another of these problems, but I'll start a new Query on that...Check out the new entries for "Auf den Schlips getreten", I would really appreciate some help there too...
    #12VerfasserEkke27 Nov. 01, 23:49
    I just had an idea! (Inspired by seeing the word "dig" while scrolling down to "dog" in the link which Doris mentioned...Thanks!) Maybe I should indeed leave the dog to rest in peace and focus on the grave. Then the guy can say something like "At last we've dug to the bottom of the problem/heart of the matter" (The grave has been dug at this stage, and filled, actually, but I am not trying to be that "genau"). Then the film title can play with the word "Dig" as well, I have thought about "Soul digging", but I find that it highlights the play on words too much, I would like it to be a little more subtle. (Although, on second thought, naming a movie where a dog is buried "Da liegt der Hund begraben" is also not so very subtle...) Think it could work? Does anyone have any other suggestions along this line of thought?
    #13VerfasserEkke28 Nov. 01, 01:03
    Play on words on "Grave matters"?
    #14VerfasserGhol28 Nov. 01, 09:55
    How about "Let sleeping dogs lie"
    Which basically means that the problem has been recognised, but shouldn't be further discussed or that it's better to leave things the way they are
    #15VerfasserEvelyn28 Nov. 01, 10:16
    Why don't you try combining some standard translation of the phrase with that somewhat musty but still serviceable euphism "dog-gone it" as an emphatic? So, as they pile the last spadeful of dirt on the canines: "And that's the heart of the matter, dog-gone it!"
    #16VerfasserPeter13 Dez. 01, 02:07
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