Kraftwerk in Translation

For me and I suspect many others, the right way to listen to Kraftwerk is in German. I don’t think I learned about the German versions until fairly late on, but they are definitely much more rewarding. It probably helps if you speak German, but the “Sekt / Korrrrrrrekt” line in Das Modell is definitely unparalleled by anything in the English version. But then I came across this hilarious performance the other day. Apart from seeing Karl Bartos corpsing and the late great Florian Schneider giving the hosts bunny rabbit ears at the very end, it also features a version of Pocket Calculator in Italian, which I had never come across before:

That got me thinking – which tracks actually got translated, and into which languages? So here’s a handy cut-out and keep guide!

GermanEnglishOther Languages
RadioaktivitätRadioactivity [1]放射能 / Houshanou (Japanese) [2]
Europa EndlosEurope Endless
SpiegelsaalThe Hall of Mirrors
SchaufensterpuppenShowroom DummiesManeken (Croatian) [2]
Les Mannequins
(French)
Manichini (Italian) [2]
Os Manequins (Portuguese) [2]
Manechine (Romanian) [2]
Trans Europa ExpressTrans Europe Express
Die RoboterThe Robots
Das Modell [3]The Model
NeonlichtNeon Lights
Die Mensch MaschineThe Man Machine
Computerwelt [3]Computer World
TaschenrechnerPocket CalculatorMini Calculateur (French)
Mini Calcolatore (Italian) [4]
Dentaku (Japanese)
Minikalkulator (Polish) [2]
Калькулятор (Russian) [2]
Computer LiebeComputer Love
HeimcomputerHome Computer
Tour de France (German)Tour de France (French)
Techno PopTechno Pop
Musique Non StopMusique Non Stop
Der Telefon AnrufThe Telephone Call
Techno Pop (German)Techno Pop (English)Techno Pop (Spanish)
Sex ObjektSex Object (English)Sex Object (Spanish) [5]

Footnotes:

  1. Original album version was bilingual (in both German and English), but single versions and the version on The Mix were separate.
  2. These are not available as studio recordings, but have been played live according to this site, and some appear on bootlegs.
  3. The Model and Computer World have significant differences in vocal delivery between the English and German versions.
  4. Sadly, it appears the Italian version of Pocket Calculator was never officially released, although the version used for the television performance above appears to be a studio recording. This site lists some live versions as Piccolo Calcolatore instead.
  5. This seems to sometimes be listed as Objecto Sexual, but the original sleeve shows Sex Object.

Unless I’ve missed a few, hopefully everything that isn’t listed there is bilingual, an instrumental, or just generally the same in all languages.

If you haven’t come across these before, I hope you might find this list an interesting diversion – if you have only ever experienced Kraftwerk in English, you have a lot still to learn!

Thanks to the websites linked above for their help with my research!

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