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Some years ago, I wrote a poem entitled "Berlin ist die Hauptstadt Deutschlands," to the tune of "Kalkutta Liegt am Ganges" using a technique called "parallel construction." (That is, I was probably "ok" because I closely followed the original German template.)

But I didn't do this when I got to the "bridge," meaning that I have trouble understanding BOTH the original German version, and my own. First, the original:

Die schwarzen Kulleraugen
Das ganze Dum und Dran.
Das schau ich an und sage dann

The first line seems to refer to "black eyes," and the third line to "looking and saying." But what is meant by "Das Ganze Dum und Dran?" (That appears to be an "idiomatic" expression, perhaps with some abbreviations and "understood" words.)

Now for my version:

Die Hauptstadt bei der Grundung,
Bleibt Haupstadt immer mehr.
Das ist fur ander' Stadtchen so schwer.

The intended translation is something like the following:

The capital at founding,
Stays the capital for all time,
That is for other cities, [Boon] so tough.

Is the above correct German? If not, what would be a correct version (preferably singable to the tune of Kalkutta Liegt Am Ganges).

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How do you fit the words to the music? Your version has a lot more syllables and does not have the stresses where the musical beat is. –  teylyn Mar 21 '13 at 5:08
    
@teylyn: I think you're referring to the fact that "Das schau ich an und sage dann" has eight syllables while "Das ist fur ander' Stadtchen so schwer." has nine. But it has "nine" in the (American) original, which also matches my stresses better. The other two lines match (seven for the first line, six for the second). My "takeoff" was as much on the original as it was on the German. –  Tom Au Mar 22 '13 at 12:44

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You probably mean “das ganze Drum und Dran”. It is colloquial and means “mit allem, was dazugehört” (english “with everything belonging to sth.” (literal)). You probably know one of these idioms from dict.cc (Drum und Dran):

  • with all the bells and whistles
  • lock, stock and barrel
  • with all the frills
  • with all the trimmings
  • the whole shebang

The lyrics states

Die schwarzen Kulleraugen
das ganze Drum und Dran
Das schau’ ich an und sag’ mir dann

It means that the singer not only likes her eyes but also the other things belonging to the eyes or even the whole girl. Maybe her smile or face?!

Your suggested translation is good, however you should be aware of the German umlauts. The corrected version would be:

Die Hauptstadt bei der Gründung
Bleibt Hauptstadt immer mehr
Das ist für andere Städtchen so schwer

You could also skip the first e in “andere” to better fit to the rhythm. The word would be “and’re” after that modification. That decreases the number of syllables if needed. The apostrophy somehow “replaces” the letter.

However, “immer mehr” does not really fit here. For a even better translation of the fact, that the city remains capital you can use the synonym “always” or “all the while”. Translate it with “schon immer”. “Schon” in this context means “from the very first” / “since the very beginnning”.

Inappropriate “immer mehr” in a proper context:

immer mehr Besucher kamen zum Konzert
more and more visitors attended the concert

Here are some other alternatives you can choose from. Among them some older/archaic words suitable to the old song. Almost all of them apart from the last one consist of three syllables making them very suitable in the song.

  • immerzu
  • nach wie vor
  • immerfort
  • allezeit/allzeit (archaic)
  • seit jeher
  • jederzeit
  • immerdar (elevated)
  • permanent
  • (ununterbrochen)

All of the phrases above can be replaced by your “immer mehr”. Except for “ununterbrochen”. It should be placed before “Hauptstadt” (“bleibt ununterbrochen Hauptstadt”). But that does not fit very well in the songs’ lyrics.

But I think – as a German native speaker – the phrases “immerzu” and “nach wie vor” fits most.

Unfortunately, it does not rhyme. If this is important just choose “seit jeher” or this translation:

Bleibt Hauptstadt jederzeit
das ist für andere Städtchen (überhaupt) nicht leicht

Use “überhaupt” to better sing it if needed.

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I think I meant "immerzu." I often have the right idea, and bungle some detail. –  Tom Au Apr 6 at 21:47

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