Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Homophonic writing

coconuttree.jpgTake an untranslated poem you can't read but whose letters you can pronounce and translate the sound of the words into English. The spelling may block your ears from hearing the sounds so try closing your eyes and saying any words you get stuck on out loud. You'll need to stretch some a bit. You can, of course, turn single words into two or more words and turn phrases into single words. Don't be afraid to play with it :-)

If you don't happen to have untranslated foreign poetry lying around the house ;-), here's three of them. (There are more nursery rhymes from around the world at Mama Lisa's World.

First a children's song in Swahili:
Ukuti

Ukuti, Ukuti
Wa mnazi, Wa mnazi
Ukipata Upepo
Watete.. Watete.. Watetemeka..
Second, a lullaby in Polish.
A-a-a, kotki dwa

A-a-a, a-a-a,
byly sobie kotki dwa.
A-a-a, kotki dwa,
szarobure, szarobure obydwa.

Ach, śpij, kochanie,
jesli gwiazdke z nieba chcesz - dostaniesz.
Wszystkie dzieci, nawet źle,
pogrążone są we śnie,
a ty jedna tylko nie.

A-a-a, a-a-a,
byly sobie kotki dwa.
A-a-a, kotki dwa,
szarobure, szarobure obydwa.

Ach, śpij, bo wlaśnie
księżyc ziewa i za chwilę zaśnie.
A gdy rano przyjdzie świt
księzycowi będzie wstyd,
ze on zasnąl, a nie ty.
And, third, the beginning of a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. (The Germans capitalize their nouns so those aren't proper names sprinkled through the poem -- though feel free to treat them as such if you wish.) If you need more of the poem, the rest is at About: German - Goethe-Gedichte but note: the translation is right next to it!
Der Zauberlehrling

Hat der alte Hexenmeister
sich doch einmal wegbegeben!
Und nun sollen seine Geister
auch nach meinem Willen leben!
Seine Wort' und Werke
merkt' ich, und den Brauch,
und mit Geistesstärke
tu ich Wunder auch.

Walle, walle,
manche Strecke,
dass zum Zwecke
Wasser fliesse,
und mit reichem, vollem Schwalle
zu dem Bade sich ergiesse!

Und nun komm, du alter Besen!
Nimm die schlechten Lumpenhüllen
Bist schon lange Knecht gewesen:
nun erfülle meinen Willen!
Auf zwei Beinen stehe,
oben sei der Kopf,
eile nun, und gehe
mit dem Wassertopf!
The point is not to translate the poem, of course, but if, after you're done, you're curious what the poems mean, click on the comments. (The last is actually a story you're all familiar with.)

From 66 Experiments by Charles Bernstein.
Post a Comment