As Christmas approaches, or at least the shops start selling Lebkuchen in larger quantities (the Lebkuchen season actually starts with a little procession towards the end of August), thoughts of translators drift to how to say Merry Christmas in several hundred languages (Google will reveal all, and so will Youtube), or how not to say Merry Christmas at all for fear of giving offence, or perhaps how best to translate Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer (that’s caribou to those of you in the USA) into Latin, or German. Laura Gibbs presents five versions.

Rufe, nasute cerve,
nasus tuus ruber stat.
Immo, si vera dicam,
nasus tuus conflagrat.

Three German versions can be found here.

Rudolph, das kleine Rentier,
Jeder bei den Lappen kennt,
Denn seine rote Nase
Weit und breit wie Feuer brennt.

Original English text by Robert L. May and Johnny Marks, melody by Johnny Marks (no relation)

Listen to many English versions at Songza.

LATER NOTE: see the Google video of the manual version referred to in the comments. I can’t seem to manage that myself.

Thanks to kalebeul.

3 thoughts on “Rudolphus

  1. Actually, only *wild* Rangifers are called ‘caribou’ in North America. Rudolph, being domesticated, is called a reindeer.

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