I am trying to translate a sentence from English into German and I'm not sure whether one of the clauses calls for the subjunctive or not. I know the basic guidelines of the subjunctive (that it is generally used for reported speech and hypotheticals), but this one clause seems slightly different from cases that I've encountered before. Here is the relevant part of the sentence:
"... each word obliterated, before it had time to make sense, by the word that came next..."
What I am confused about is the clause, "before it had time to make sense". The words described in the sentence did not in fact have time to make sense and therefore the clause describes a hypothetical situation -- so the straightforward past seems inappropriate. Subjunctive II also seems inappropriate here because I generally read this as implying a conditional "would... if" or "would... but" structure. My only remaining guess is Subjunctive I, but I can't remember ever seeing this in the past tense, and wonder if there even is such a form, or whether it's still in use if there is.