The History of the Gnome Males


With “By Hand & Eye” at the printer, our sights are set on completing the first volume of the A.J. Roubo translation.

All I can say is thank goodness for Jeff Burks. If it weren’t for his regular stream of research, I wouldn’t have much to post here except: “Day 630, still editing Roubo and looking stuff up in the original French.”

During this admittedly drawn-out process, several readers have said something like: “Come on. Just run the text through a translation program. Look up the weird words the translation program doesn’t recognize and be done with it.”

To demonstrate what that piece of rotten sausage that idea is, here is a simple exercise in that process. Jeff Burks sent me a cool Dutch children’s book called “De historie van de kaboutermannetjes” from 1873. The kaboutermannetjes are like gremlins and get into all sorts of mischief. I extracted the text and ran it through Google’s translate program.

And here’s what comes out. Reading it out loud is hilarious, particularly after two beers.

Download the original book in the Dutch here.


— Christopher Schwarz

The History of the Gnome Males

Oh, what a golden age was that,
When m ‘in every home in country and city
Gnome Mannekes had,
That was a maid ‘journey lazy and slow?
Or deemed d ‘labor acid plague,
Pst! came at night,
If mice so soft,
And scoured and performing ablutions,
And washed and splashed,
And auctioned,
And mopped,
And wormden and saddled,
And scrubbed and scrubbed,
So that was the hour to stand by on
The maid àl ‘t homework was done.
The metslaarsknechts and carpenters
Also had hard work of the effervescent,
There, they thought it was small-menfolk
And d ‘labor over for them.
‘t handle hammer and ax,
Drill, truffle and file,
The addict and trotted,
The drilled and scraped,
It added,
The toiled,
As it withers and food
Gladweg was forgotten,
Until very ‘t chore was dismissed
And the people could go. Pub or bed
The baker and his white servant
Deen but also what their well thought only,
Because, if it’s small people saw them luiren,
Came it from the chimney for the day.
They took the flour
From attic or part,
They sifted and kneaded it,
They weighed and did it,
they moved
‘t In d’ oven,
Stoking the coals on
And fit well on
Until, at the crowing of the cock,
The boss’ t diff baking was done standing.
it went to the butcher just so far:
Had that night to a pig or cow,
But he and his servant often,
‘t Leprechaun People helped with entertainment.
Keelden that the animal,
Which made ​​it nigh,
Who went to ‘t heels,
Getting it down and snap,
That flushing,
Which churned,
Who smeared and spilled,
Who stopped the sausages,
And, dear broke tomorrow,
‘t Meat was only to save. upon the hook
The kastlein tasted sweet in inward peace
But up to his guests;
Because it was all his work which he drank,
There until he sank down on.
So he lay at rest,
Then it was a delight,
How it small people are repelled,
‘t In’ t chalk standing noted,
How it pondered,
How it appropriate,
To room and buffetkas
Weather was just pure and
And where they looked but around,
Every thing was good in the place again.
Sat once a tailor in pain,
Because a suit had to be ready soon
He slate but it drape down with him
And went to ‘t snore like a bear.
Went with a seesaw
‘t Kleine-folk to the cut;
She tucked and stung,
They zoomed and suffocated,
Watt migrants,
And pierced and sewed,
And squeezed and twisted
At night through – if the tailor stood on,
Had the Sinjeur ‘t new suit already.


Oh dear, now done that time;
‘t Leprechaun People is to the moon!
One can not loafing more,
It should present themselves busy;
Currently some will,
Not to sit still,
Who keep themselves awake dough,
That stir themselves …. the wretch!
That gape,
That her lie,
Clean it long hour of rest there,
Is not ready for his work. –
So, boys, girls! keeps you well,
And do your duty with courage frischen.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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38 Responses to The History of the Gnome Males

  1. Kevin Wilkinson says:

    OK, OK! We get it!

  2. David Pickett says:

    Enter that for every Modern Literature prize going. You’ll sweep the board.

  3. ron howes says:

    Interesting. The Germans have a similar tale called, “Die HeinzelMannchen von Koln.”

  4. burbidge says:

    Once again, it’s all about the hats.

    I think I’m off to engage in some of the “hard work of the effervescent”! Cheers!

  5. ron howes says:

    btw, does anyone know what happened to Follansbee’s website? Hacked?

  6. Mike Krogh says:

    Chris, when are you and PW coming out with your 8 part video series on super tuning your truffle?

  7. Mark says:

    Google Translate is useful for short phrases (that are *not* idioms) and individual words and such.

    Even then, you may have to pass it back and forth through the translation to get the right sense and conjugation and so forth.

  8. Dude, can I stop by and get some of that soft which you be drinkin’?

  9. Wilbur Pan says:

    The evils of Google Translate, as applied to theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air:

  10. Bernard Naish says:

    Where can I get gnomes to sharpen my tools
    Flatten my walnut and saw up the oak.
    I’ll pay them well in knowledge and skils
    Bring back the prentice I need them as well.

  11. Bruce says:

    Looks like Lewis Carroll used Google Translate when he wrote Alice in Wonderland. Mimsy where the borogroves indeed.

  12. Mark Poulsen says:

    Having had seven exchange students over the years I use Google Translate a lot. It is not the best but it is light years better than Bing. Bing will translate cities. Give it a sentence with “Malmo” in it and it will “translate” it to “Seattle”.

  13. Martin says:

    ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves”….

  14. GregM says:

    Poetry and verse are expecially hard to translate, even manually (and often don’t make much sense in the original language either). Hey, Jeff Burks – do you have a day job? Thanks for keeping us entertained.

  15. Rocky says:

    I love these guys!

    After a hard night of work they party

  16. Jonas Jensen says:

    In Denmark there is a creature called Klabautermanden. That looks and sounds similar. The only problem is, Klabautermanden will rise up from the sea at night and drag you into the abyss..
    So I think I prefer the Dutch kind.

  17. Michael says:

    Is there a new projected timeline on Roubo? I’m good for as long as it takes, just curious about the process and where it stands.

    Thanks for the Gnome story, these false translations should take the place of karaoke!
    I’d go everytime! No singing required

  18. Ron says:

    Sometimes when I drink too much I see these same little people in my workshop

  19. Dan Miller says:

    Living proof there are aliens among us. That is a classic example of Vogon Poetry! If Douglas Adams were still alive you could verify that!

  20. Maarten De Clerck says:

    Being a belgian Dutch-speaker: the Dutch used is pretty archaic, and Google translate barely copes with the modern stuff. I would translate, but it would only spoil the fun.

  21. David Randall says:

    Like the translator in Mars Attacks …

  22. Patrick says:

    Will the next LAP children’s book be an accurate tranlastion of archaic dutch?

  23. Michael says:

    So are the ‘t and d’s in this poem spoken as a hard or soft consonant?

  24. Jason Weaver says:


    Thanks to this amazing source of inspiration, I’m starting a new acid ska band, D‘labor Acid Plague.

    I’ve also named our first three albums: Who Stopped the Sausages?, Tasted Sweet in Inward Peace, and Tucked & Stung.

    Full disclosure: Leprechaun People helped with entertainment.

    Do your duty with courage,

    • rwyoung says:

      And next up on KC Kasem’s top 40 from beyond the grave, a fishy request from Denmark, the hit single, “Imagine Whirled Peas” from D’labor Acid Plague’s latest release, “Tasted Sweet in Inward Peace”.

      (And you know you just re-read that in KC Kasem’s voice.)

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