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  • Subject

    verkalkter Sack

    Am Anfang...hat man jede Menge von Verbündeten. Je mehr der Strom aber anschwillt, je selbstverständlicher, je närrischer, je diktatorischer er sich gebärdet, um so mehr fallen um und hinein, und ich stehe belämmert am Ufer, und das Letzte was sie mir zubrüllen, im Chor, sind die Worte: "Nur wer sich ändert, bleibt sich treu!", und unsereins steht als verkalkter Sack am Ufer.
    Here's what I have, supplying a 'sie'[= die Verbündeten] (which I think was mistakenly omitted from the published text) as subject of 'um-/hineinfallen'.

    NB: The speaker is haranguing against the Zeitgeist.

    In the beginning, yes, in the beginning you have any number of allies. But the more the stream rises––and the more self-assured, hare-brained, and dictatorial it behaves––the more they topple over and fall into it, and while I stand dumbfounded on the shore, the last words they bellow out to me in chorus are: 'Only those who change remain true!' and people like me stand like calcified sacks on the shore.

    1. I don't really get the image of a verkalkter Sack. Plus the clause it's in seems a lame repetition of "ich stehe belämmert am Ufer." What is this calcified sack? Any English equivalent come to mind?

    2. Can 'unsereins' mean 'people like me' rather than people like us? I don't see who the 'us' would be, since the speak in the novel associates the person he's delivering the harangue to as someone who justifies the Zeitgeist.

    Thanks for the help. I'm realizing all the time how little I really understand the nuances of German.
    Authorpalamabron (682270) 22 Jan 11, 17:31
    It's a word play with Alter Sack and the fact that old people often have a soft brain.
    Dictionary: verkalkt.

    "unsereins" means both of your translations, and it does not matter which version you use.
    #1AuthorWerner (236488) 22 Jan 11, 17:37
    Werner, thanks! So something like "a fossilized geezer"?
    #2Authorpalamabron (682270) 22 Jan 11, 17:46
    We need confirmation from native speakers if that is possible. Basically an old geezer is a fossile per se, and I am hoping that a native speaker has a better word for "verkalkt". Hint: senile is not an option, it needs to be a word with tongue in cheek.
    #3AuthorWerner (236488) 22 Jan 11, 17:49
    old fart

    seems perfect, only 'old' doesn't have quite the same connotations 'old-fashioned, left behind, doesn't get it anymore' as verkalked has here.
    #4AuthorGibson (418762) 22 Jan 11, 17:51
    Suggestionossified sod
    #5AuthorMiMo (236780) 22 Jan 11, 17:55
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