Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Me crossing the Wabash at Vincennes, Indiana



I’m just kidding.

According to Wikipedia, this painting depicts Washington cruzando el rio Delaware. No, really, this time I'm not kidding. Wikipedia actually says it in several languages:

English: Washington Crossing the Delaware
Български: Джордж Вашингтон прекосява р. Делауеър.
Español: Washington cruzando el rio Delaware.
Deutsch: 1776: Washington überquert mit seinen Truppen den Delaware River
Slovenščina: Washington prečka Delaware

The German title includes the date, not of the painting, but of the crossing, and also the fact that Washington was not just Truppen den Delaware River but that he was überquert mit seinen Truppen it. The phrase “the devil is in the details” suddenly and inexplicably comes to mind.

I don’t know why the German title includes the date, but another interesting date is 1851. That’s the year Emanuel Leutze (1816-1868) created this famous work of art. The original hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

I wonder whether Джордж Вашингтон became the father of his country before or after прекосява р. Делауеър.

The way I see it, an international perspective is good and a little culture never hurt anybody.

[Editor’s note: On June 4, Anonymous left the following comment:

As an expat in Germany for the last three years, I can help a bit on the German. ‘Truppen’ is not crossing, but troops. ‘überqueren’ is crossing. Therefore, the German literally reads:

“Washington is crossing with his troops the Delaware River”

Maybe that helps a bit. The German is not saying something else about his crossing, rather that those in the boat are his troops.


Thanks for the correction. Point taken. So much for my feeble attempt to be humorous. I should have said, “...the fact that Washington did not just überquert den Delaware River, but that he überquert mit seinen Truppen it.” Much funnier.

I would just add that “Washington is crossing with his troops the Delaware River” sounds a lot like “Throw Mama from the train a kiss” to me. Doesn’t roll trippingly off the tongue. Placement of those darned prepositional phrases will get you every time. --RWP]

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As an expat in Germany for the last three years, I can help a bit on the German. 'Truppen' is not crossing, but troops. 'überqueren' is crossing. Therefore, the German literally reads:

"Washington is crossing with his troops the Delaware River"

Maybe that helps a bit. The German is not saying something else about his crossing, rather that those in the boat are his troops.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I can never see that painting without a spurt of annoyance. It was once used as an illustration in a textbook chapter I'd edited. But in the next printing it had to be replaced. Some dim bulb in a school district somewhere complained that he thought children would look at Washington's watch fob and think it was his male organ.

I kid you not.