06 sierpnia 2011

Translation Challenge

Zuzia Buszewicz (Desperate Polish Housewife in Exile) has challenged me to do a little poetry translation. I have to admit that I'm not usually big on translation but I decided I would give it a go. I have just now finished a quick and dirty translation, using only a dictionary - no Googling or Google translating.

Here is the original Polish (find the song on Youtube here):

W pięciu smakach - Monika Brodka

Jadę miastem szybciej niż się da
Dynda głową sztuczny pies
Świateł, znaków udaję, że nie widzę
GPS-em mały bies

Tuż za rzeką drugi, trzeci most
Rzędy skaryszewskich drzew
Las żurawi poharatał niebo
Słyszę Twój anielski śpiew

W pięciu smakach kaczka tapla się
Mija soję, tofu, ryż
Uduszona latająca ryba
Ćwiczy w piwie skoki wzwyż

Słodko-kwaśnych słów rozumiem kilka
Kiedy do mnie mówisz - drżę
Śpiewasz pięknie wtedy gdy gotujesz
Chciałam byś nauczył mni

I'm a little embarrassed about the quality of the translation that is to follow. . . but I am trying to be fearless so here is my rudimentary translation as best I can understand it:

The Fifth Taste - Monika Brodka

I go through the city faster than possible
The artificial dog's head dangles
The light gives a signal that I don't see
Using a GPS, the little devil

Right behind the river, the second, third bridge
A line of trees in Skaryszewski Park
A forest of cranes cuts up the sky
I hear your angel's song

The fifth taste of duck sloshes about in the pot
It's missing soybeans, tofu, and rice
Choking on a flying fish
Training with beer, long and high jumping

I understand some sweet and sour words
When you speak to me I shudder
You sing beautifully when you cook
I wanted you to teach me

Now I'll look to see what Google translate says, and see if there are other English translations around.

How did I do? Enter your comments below!

Note: after reading your feedback and checking a couple existing translations on the web, (here and here) I have tweaked my translation a bit. A few lines that sounded just right have been copied directly from these sources. Here it is one more time in what is I hope a more faithful version.

Five Spice - Monika Brodka

I drive through the city faster than allowed
The artificial dog's head dangles
I pretend not to see the lights, the signs
Using a GPS, the little devil

Right behind the river, the second, third bridge
A line of trees in Skaryszewski
A forest of cranes cuts the sky
I hear your angelic voice

The duck sloshes about in five spices
Passing soybeans, tofu, and rice
The flying fish is high jumping
In a beer stew

I understand some sweet and sour words
When you speak to me I shudder
You sing beautifully when you cook
I'd like you to teach me

I now have a much greater respect for all translators. What a challenge!

10 komentarzy:

  1. Wow, the last stanza really touched me! Nice work :)

  2. Ha - TEFL Agent you're right - It's a hard sell getting students to write a little poetry. What I like about it is the grammar rules fly out the window. I think I'll try to write more Polish poems for fun. Since I can justify them as a language exercise, I'm not too worried about being exposed as a bad poet!

    As regards my translation, I'd like to have another go at it. I missed the title's significance and I mucked up the third stanza. Better translations can be found elsewhere online, but I might have another go at this one anyway to improve it a bit. No idea how real poetry translators manage to rhyme (or not?) their translations. What a challenge!

  3. Is it 'In Five Tastes' cause it refers to a Chinese soup but here it's a metaphor, maybe for the 5 pillars of Kaczńyski's PiS? And the last line is the conditional, I think - "I'd like (for) you to teach me". And maybe the duck 'splashes' or 'paddles', i don't see any reference to a pot (garnik). Uduszony may be better translated as stewed in this context, although it can also be translated as strangled? Well done, very interesting work:-))

  4. great!! congratulations :) even I sometimes have problems with understanding what some lines in her songs are exactly about...
    two things:
    "Świateł, znaków udaję, że nie widzę" there is a coma between lights and signes, so I think it's road signes and traffic lights that she pretendes to not see.
    "słyszę twój anielski głos" it's about voice, not song, so maybe "I hear your angel's voice"
    and last thing: "mija soję, tofu, ryż" - "mija" not necessary means that it's missing it, more like passing by :)
    but I know that some things might be changed to make translation sounds better :)

  5. Pekin w 5 smakach:

  6. Wow, thanks for all the useful feedback. Yes, after I posted my original verstion, I checked online for other ideas and saw how much I had missed. I feel too lazy to put it all together and make a better version but I probably shoulg . . .

  7. I apologize for taking so long to make a proper web comment. Kolin I am most impressed and glad to see how well you did. I would probably fail miserably if you gave me a language challenge back- so please be kind and spear me;-)
    I'm looking forward to your next posts!

  8. Wiem, wiem, I'll post something soon!!

  9. Nice stuff! Thanks for sharing this post recently. I'm looking forward to reading more.


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