I'd like to give someone a gift (who speaks German, and is also a fountain pen user) and include a quote from S.B.R.E. Brown (podcast here) written down with my own calligraphy. The problem is that I'm just starting to learn the language, and I'd like some help in making it more fluent and original. Here's the quote, the only rule said by the fictional Saint Nibious:

Use a fountain pen and all is well.
Use a ballpoint pen and thou shalt go to hell.

— Saint Nibious

And here's what I've got so far:

Verwenden Sie einen Füller und alles ist gut.
Verwenden Sie einen Kugelschreiber und du sollst in die Hölle gehen.

— Saint ?

As you can see, the rhyme is gone. Not sure if it can be adapted to contain one again, anyway, that's not the big problem. What I'd like to have in this is the old/archaic style, given by "shalt" and "thou" in the original. I'm not sure also if Füller is enough or should I use Füllfederhalter.

The last thing is the Saint's name. Any ideas?


After these constructive comments, I would certainly remove Du and yes, the Imperativ might be better suited. So it becomes:

Verwende einen Füller und alles ist gut.
Verwende einen Kugelschreiber und Sie sollst in die Hölle gehen.

— Saint ?

As for the rhyme, I was thinking about modifying the first part to end with a verb to, in the sense of "you'll do well", "well/good you do". Here's a probably incorrect guess, but maybe a starting point:

Verwende einen Füller und Sie werde machen.
Verwende einen Kugelschreiber und Sie sollst in die Hölle gehen.

— Saint ?

  • Why do you switch between "Sie" and "Du"? I don't know how old "thou" is, but for "Du": Ahd. thū (8. Jh.), mhd. dū. And sollen: ahd. scolan, sculan (8. Jh.), mhd. scholn, schuln. (Source DWDS). For the rhyme... try OK instead of gut and you're a bit closer. (I'm not sure about standard pronunciation, but at least in my region we would say "okee"; if you know drop the 2nd e in gehen, i.e. geh'n, you're very very close)
    – Em1
    Sep 26, 2012 at 20:50
  • I would use the Imperativ and leave out the pronouns like this: Verwende einen Füller und [...], Verwende einen Kügelschreiber und [...]. Besides that, indeed a rhyme would be much better.
    – Ahmad
    Sep 26, 2012 at 23:42
  • @Em1 Thanks for your help. Regarding Du, well I was trying to match the original but yes, it might be too informal. Thanks for the rhyme tips and please consider placing an answer with this information. I've updated the question with the latest ideas.
    – sidyll
    Sep 27, 2012 at 3:07
  • @Ahmad Thank you, I think I'll stick with it. I updated the question.
    – sidyll
    Sep 27, 2012 at 3:08
  • @sidyll No, no... Keep "Du", but consistently. And follow the suggestion made by Ahmad, then you have a nice German sentence. However, you don't have any old-style any more. For the rhyme, I think Takkat's idea is quite nice, though I would revise both parts a bit.
    – Em1
    Sep 27, 2012 at 6:53

5 Answers 5


Here my suggestion to keep rhyme, sense and old-style diction:

Mit dem Füller in der Hand kannst Du Gutes Dir bewahren,
mit Kugelschreiberschrift sollst Du gleich zur Hölle fahren
St. Nibius


Schreib mit der Feder und alles wird gut. Nimm einen Kuli und selbst der Teufel kriegt Wut.

  • Thanks for your answer! Interesting idea, I see I have a bunch of choices now…
    – sidyll
    Sep 28, 2012 at 2:12

My suggestions:

Ein Füllfederhalter bringt Segen und Glück,

Einen Kugelschreiber gib lieber ganz schnell zurück.

St. Tintifacius


Ein Kugelschreiber ist doch des Teufels im Kern

Nur Füller finden Gnade in den Augen des Herrn.

St. Tintifacius

Old-style diction is hard to fulfill because the German translation of the Bible gets its "feel" from longer idioms, not from special grammatical forms.

  • Thanks for your answer and notes on old style German. I'm just beginning to learn this language and these fine answers are teaching me a lot!
    – sidyll
    Sep 28, 2012 at 2:15

Here my suggestions... I tried to keep it catchy:

Nimmst du 'nen Füller, so ist alles schön,

Nimmst du 'nen Kuli, sollst zur Hölle du gehen.


Schreibst du mit Feder, ist alles gut.

Schreibst du mit Kuli, die Höll' sich auftut.

  • Even though it seems to change the meaning a bit (or maybe I just didn't get it right) this presents no problem, and I really like your second sentence. While I up voted, I wish selecting more than one answer as correct was possible. Out of virtual life, I didn't yet decide which version to use! :-)
    – sidyll
    Sep 28, 2012 at 2:10
Verwend einen Füller und alles wird gut,
nimm einen Kuli - schmor in Satans Glut.

Skt. Nibious

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