Grimm tales

Posted on November 28, 2014 · Posted in Linguistics, Translation History

In the United States, children and adults alike are pretty accustomed to their fairy tales ending with the phrase “and they all lived happily ever after,” or at least a phrase very similar to that, but the Brothers Grimm fairy tales did not originally end on such happy notes. In many ways, the stories resembled something more out of a horror film than something parents would read to small children. Perhaps that is because the fairy tales were not originally meant for children. It was only later that the tales were adapted by the brothers to make them appropriate for children.

Now, thanks to the translation work of Jack Zipes, an emeritus professor of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota, the Brothers Grimm fairy tales can be enjoyed in English with their original plot lines. For readers who are unfamiliar with the original tales, there are a variety of plot changes which have made the stories they grew up with as a child very different from how Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm first wrote the stories. For example, Cinderella’s stepsisters cut off part of their feet in an attempt to fit their feet in the golden slipper. Rapunzel ends up pregnant after having a “merry time” with her prince in the tower. Plus, it was originally Snow White’s biological mother, not her stepmother, who ordered her to be killed.

The original collection of fairy tales included stories unfamiliar to most English-speaking fans of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. “The Kids Played at Slaughtering” is one such example. In this story, two brothers are pretending to be a pig and a butcher. The one brother cuts the other brother’s throat. Although some may feel the original stories are more suited for adults than for children, just having the original stories in English for the first time is important for English-speaking readers. Plus, Zipes disagrees about the appropriateness of the stories for children. He said:

It is time for parents and publishers to stop dumbing down the Grimms’ tales for children. If there is anything offensive, readers can decide what to read for themselves. We do not need puritanical censors to tell us what is good or bad for us.

Although Jack Zipes beat us to the translation of the original Brothers Grimm fairy tales, at Teck Language Solutions Inc., we are eager to help you with other needed translations. Whether you need your website translated, you need important business documents translated, or you need a translation for a completely different reason, contact us. Our translators are professionals in the field and are native speakers of the language for which they translate.