In the place of another large project to take care of, I thought we'd take a look at some of Andersen's lesser known works and how they have been treated in translation.

Hans Christian Andersen's shorter tale, Klods Hans ("Hans with the Clogs" named so due to wearing træsko, "clogs" and being a klods, "clumsy/foolish person", lit. "block/brick"), features three brothers of landed-gentry stock, all wanting to impress and marry the Princess of the local kingdom, whose single wish to hear something fascinating - which Hans' two elder brothers aspire to do by way of showing their grandstanding erudition by quoting law and Latin, two thing which they ultimately and detrimentally fail and all the more to increase the luck of their eccentric little brother. Hans does in the end win the respect of the Princess by manner of his goat, a dead crow-turned-dinner and a wooden shoe-turned-cooking pot and finally the seasoning of pocket-mud - all which impress the Princess more than Hans' two pompous poseur brothers.

So, the framing narrative is rather straight-forward, as are the central characters: Two pompous elder brothers, an eccentric if rustic young brother, named Hans, and the Princess.

Personality wise we would expect to see Hans' eccentric and rustic personality reflected in the translation as to communicate that which is shown in the original story - and how they contrast his personality to that of his learned brothers.

We shall be looking at translations from two people, Mitaku Fusako and Kusuyama Suekichi, both of whom are not unknown faces to this blog in terms of translations Hans Christian Andersen's fairy-tales. Mitaku's work is from 1920, and Kusuyama's is from 1945, thus the two translations are relatively close, only twenty-five years apart.

The Elder Brothers:

Mitaku gives the brother's proclamation of their intent and impressing Her Royal Highness:


"Boku-tachi wa korekara ousama no goten e itte, oujosama ni oai surunda. Oujosamano omukosan ni naritai to omou mono wa dare dem o itte, oujosama ni omenikakaru koto ga dekiru tou ofure ga detakoto wo, omae wa shiranai no ka"

"We intend to go to His Majesty's palace and visit the Royal Princess. Did you not know that Her Highness made an official notice that She granted an audience with those who wish to become her suitor?"

This being their reply to Hans' asking why their are wearing such fine clothes. The brothers use boku-tachi (僕たち, "we, young men"), essentially an informal pronoun that does give off an aura of learnédness. Hans, however, also uses boku and polite language when talking to his father and the Princess.

The brothers also use quite a few honorifics when referring to the Princess, namely: Oujosama (Lady Royal Princess), whereof sama is a more decorous version of san; omukosan (lit. "honourable mister suitor"), where o- and -san turn the common noun muko into an honorific noun, the kanji used for muko ("husband"), 聟, is relatively uncommon and literally means "son-in-law," but in Japanese muko covers the meanings of "groom; son-in-law; husband." The more common variant is 婿. The most polite verb in this vocabulary is omenikakaru ("to humbly cast one's eyes upon"), which is used as a humble term for the verb au ("to meet"), here translated as "grant an audience with," in context of the Princess permitting a potential suitor to present himself. Lasty there is ofure ("honourable official notice"), which is literally the regular term for an official notice or proclamation with the honorific o- added.

Quoth Kusuyama:

"Ousama no ohimesama wa, ore ga morau yo"
"I should like the Royal Daughter of the King."

Less decorous than Mitaku's version and very much just stating the brother's intending to court Her Royal Highness with morau ("to want; to need"), which is essentially crude and completely varnished of politeness as compared to oaisuru ("to honourably meet"), which was used in Mitaku's.

No wonder the Princess declined the brothers' request in this version.

Hans the Clog-head:

Hans' way of speaking in Mitaku's translation is relatively unlike his rustic self in the original and instead he speaks akin to a polite youth both to his family and to the royals, using boku (僕) as his pronoun, whereas Kusuyama has him use ora (おら), a dialectal informal pronoun that is stereotypically used in media as the go-to pronoun when portraying bumpkins. Ultimately the pronoun is derived from onorera (己等), an archaic plural pronoun, whereof onore is also the source of the modern masculine ore.

Without a further ado, let us take some concrete examples from the two translators, taking the scene where Hans tells his father of his plans of betrothing the Princess:

"Boku mo oujo-sama no o-muko-san ni narou to omoun desu."
"I am considering taking the hand of the Royal Princess in marriage."

"Ora mo, ohimseama hoshikute naranai noda. Ohimesama ga, ora, moraitahi ieba, morawashite yaru. Sorekara, ora, morawanai to ittemo, yappari ohimesama moracchimau."
"I too fancy m'self the Lady Princess. Either amma gonna get her or I ain't gonna get Her Highness. Therefore, I'll or I ain't gonna get no Princess, at all!"

Hans is far more concise and polite in Mitaku's version, using the adequate honorifics, o-muko-san, and also applies -desu, the polite copula to his speech. All in all, there is not much separating his diction from that of his educated elder brethren - poignantly illustrated by the elevated boku (僕, "I, the young man").

Kusuyama however goes nearly all out with rendering Hans' speech in that of a rural bumpkin, replete with ora as his personal pronoun and the colloquial chimatta versus that of shimatta, "to do something wholly." He does address the Princess with ohimesama, which is the proper honorific term for daughter of nobility or royalty. Mitaku's, conversely, uses oujo-sama, whereof oujo is technically the correct way to refer to a royal daughter.

However, Kusuyama not just gives Hans ora, but also oira (おいら) an even more colloquial version of ora, that gives him an aura of eccentricity.

When Hans then finally meets Her Highness after his two brothers' failed attempts at impressing her, we get these two different versions of Her Highness giving an audience to Hans. Hans here presents His Highness with a dead crow in the hopes of getting it roasted since the Princess remarked that they are cooking food:

"Soitsu wa arigatai. Ja kono karasu mo yakeru de shou ne"
"Well, that's welcome! Do you suppose, that I can roast this grow then?"

"Jaa ora mo, karasu wo yaite moraimashou ya."
"Well, y'see, I's also got a crow that I wanna roast!"

Both versions of Hans use polite language whereas  Kusuyama's continues to use the informal ora and Mitaku's is thorough in using boku, a far more polite if still informal first person pronoun, but still more fitting when meeting a royal. Hans, however, as proven throughout the story is quite something of his own, and Kusuyama even adds ya, a dialectal emphatic particle at the end, to add the colloquial nature of Hans' speech even when attempting at being polite. Furthermore, he uses moraimashou ("I'd like to have"), where the proper humble form would be itadakimashou ("I humbly would like to have), when requesting to have the crow roasted.

Nevertheless, the Princess, who uses decorous if imperious language in both versions, grants him her hand in marriage after he impresses her with not just a crow casserole, but also his manner of serving it in a clog (his namesake) and spiced with a generous sprinkle of dirt. So wholly unlike Hans' two rigid brothers that the Princess prefer him over them.