Translating “YOU” into German – a challenge!
Probably the biggest language barrier is the translation of the pronoun you (in English you) from German to English. In modern German literature, “you” is most often identified with du and Sie, but also with ihr, as the plural of du. In older texts, Ihr is found as a singular pronoun that means at the same time you (you, 2nd person sg.) but also he/she/it, i.e. 3rd person sg.
The way the pronoun “you” is used in German today reflects one person’s status in relation to another, thus social distance. For example, a child will most likely address his parents with du, and school teachers or neighbors with Sie.
A possible solution is to translate du with “thou” and “you” with Sie, but there is no certainty that this strategy would reflect a real and valid linguistic situation in English. Perhaps for medieval texts such a correlation might have seemed acceptable, but how do we translate in 2023?
Specialists have not yet found an infallible solution, perfectly applicable to any translation, but they do what they have always done – they analyze the context to establish the type of relationship between the interlocutors. More or less, it analyzes the degree of formality and tries to render this fact, without forcing the naturalness of the language in the language it is being translated into.
At Valley Center translation offices, we have over 10 years of experience in translating standardized or complex documents into/from German.
certified or legalized translations into/from German for standardized documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, diplomas, records, etc.
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