Friday, December 29, 2017

Transcription of Yesterday's Diary Entry

Here's transcription from the diary entry that I posted yesterday.

27. M. Des Margs wol 18 grad warm. Des Tages so 24 grad wa: war ich in Nicopol auf den Markt
war ich auch in Apoteck waren das al vor 11 Tage reife Arbusen und Milonen gewesen.
Da hat es viele Stelen geregnet, auch in Rosefelt, und vor ├╝ber 3 Wochen al Gurcke.

And now for a literal translation:

27. Monday. In the morning will 18 degrees warm. In the day about 24 degrees warm. Was I in Nikopol' on the fair.
Was I also in pharmacy. Was the for 11 days ripe watermelons and muskmelons was.
Also had is many places rained, also in Rosenfeld. And for over 3 weeks had cucumber.

And now for the polished translation:

27. Mon. Morning 18 degrees [72° F.], day 24 degrees [86° F.]. I was in Nikopol’ for the fair [Markt]. I also went to the pharmacy. Have had ripe watermelons and muskmelons for eleven days. Rained in many places, including in Rosenfeld. And had cucumbers for more than three weeks. 

Here are some comments on the translation:

a) He doesn't spell out morning and also spells it like it would be pronounced in Low German - at least the way I have heard my parents pronounce it - "maryens."
 b) To me wol seems like he's saying wollen, i.e. the temperature will be 18 degrees, but that doesn't make sense, so I dropped that word in the polished translation.
c) He abbreviates warm as wa:. He shortens lots of words.
d) I chose to translate Markt as "fair" instead of "market" because I don't think he would go to Nikopol' just for the daily or weekly market.  Most likely it was the annual fair, but I don't know for sure, so I put the original German word "Markt" in brackets so that readers could judge for themselves.
e) Apotheke is misspelled.
f) Arbus is a Low German word borrowed from Russian and not in standard German dictionaries.
g) Melone is misspelled. I chose to translate it "muskmelon" instead of "canteloupe" because Wikipedia says that muskmelon is the more general word in English, and I understood the German word Melone also to be general.
h) Stelle is misspelled, but he always spells it Stele, so I've gotten used to it.
i) The village of Rosenfeld is misspelled.
j) He frequently uses the particle or abbreviation al, and I can't figure out what that means.
k) I'm not sure who has had cucumbers for three weeks - the sellers in the fair in Nikopol', the people of Rosenfeld, or in his own garden, so I tried to leave it ambiguous.

My German, especially grammar, is at a fairly basic level; so feel free to comment if you see mistakes.


  1. Thank you, I appreciate it. Well, your transcription skills surpass mine, although I was able to make the words out once you pointed them out to me. I think that it just takes lots of practice to learn to read the handwriting.

    1. Yes - practice is key. I started working on this diary a month or two ago, and I was much slower at the beginning. You have to start practicing and not quit practicing.

  2. Regarding your handling of the unknown word "al": several times during reading of a birth/marriage/death record I have come across the same illegible word, but from the context I finally figured out the meaning. Although I have no idea what the letters say or how to pronounce it, I know what it means when I see it. :)