Magic the Gathering

German Card Translations

German card translations are a sad affair. They are riddled with clumsy translations, especially in the card names. It’s not such a great idea to translate english card names 1:1. The rules texts are translated sanely, i.e. using special German templates, although some of the template choices are a bit strange and more verbose than needed. For example, “target” is translates as “deiner Wahl” (“of your choice”), while “of your choice” is translated with “die du bestimmst” (“that you choose”).

In Planar Chaos Ovinize was translated as “Verhammelung”. First of all this sounds strange. The noun “Hammel” was turned in the verb “verhammeln”, which was turned back into the noun “Verhammelung”. But it’s also not good templating. Ovinize is an Instant, and Instants and Sorceries usually get a verb as name. Ovinize is a verb. The German translation “Verhammelung” on the other hand is a noun. This shows a lack of understanding of magic card naming on the part of the translator. “Verhammeln” or “Schafen” had been a much better name.

But what’s worse are wrong translations. For example the German version of Necrotic Sliver has the following ability: “All Slivers have ‘3, Sacrifice this creature: Sacrifice target permanent.'” (You can only sacrifice your own permanents.) Since Wizards decided not to publish Oracle texts until Monday after the prerelease, I could not confirm that the card was actually a mistranslation and had to rule it by its German text. Unfortunately the mistranslations (in the rules text) average around one per expansion.

Finally, cards that have obvious templating problems in the original are not corrected in the German version. For example the flip side of Saviours of Kamigawa’s Erayo, Soratami Ascendant reads “Counter the first spell played by each opponent each turn”, a rather obvious templating error. This was unfortunately not corrected in the German translation. In my opinion a good translator should catch errors like this.

Magic the Gathering

German Translation of Auras

I played in the 9th Edition Release Event last weekend. I finished 5th in an event that paid special prices to the top 4. Of course if we had have 17 players instead of 16 it would have paid the to the top 9. But I’m not bitter, no …

Apart from that I noticed a possible problem with the German templating of the Aura cards. “Enchant foo” is translated with “Fooverzauberung”. Now this is consistent to how Enchant cards were translated. But while this translation worked well when you had rather simple fragements like “Enchant Permanent”, “Enchant Swamp”, or even “Enchant Artifact Creature” I fear that it will not work well with the flexibility of the Enchant keyword.

Here is why: The literal translation of “Verzauberung” is “Enchantment”, so the word is a noun. “Fooverzauberung” then becomes “Foo Enchantment”. So far so good. But imagine more complex Enchant keyword like “Enchant black or greeen creature”. This can’t be translated like this. The English equivalent of the German translation would be “Black or green creature enchantment”. Now the words “black or green” refer to the “enchantment” part instead of the “creature” part, which is just wrong. This is not a black or green enchantment after all.

I am not sure how to solve this problem, except by changing the translation template to match the English template; use the word “verzaubern” and everything is fine: “Verzaubere schwarze oder grüne Kreatur” works and means exactly the same as “Enchant black or green creature”.