Sonntag, 5. April 2009

Some translations

(I should be writing my comprehensive exam -- I have one last section to finish -- but meanwhile I thought I would post a few random translations from my notebook.)

Climax for a Ghost Story - I. A. Ireland

"How eerie!" said the girl, advancing cautiously. "--And what a heavy door!" She touched it as she spoke and it suddenly swung to with a click.
"Good Lord!" said the man. "I don't believe there's a handle inside. Why, you've locked us both in!"
"Not both of us. Only one of us," said the girl, and before his eyes she passed straight through the door, and vanished.

ἀκμὴ τοῦ περὶ τῶν φασμάτων λόγου
Ὥς γε καινόν - ἔφε εὐλαβῶς προσβαίνουσα ἡ γυνή - καὶ τόση ἐστὶ βαρεῖα ἡ θυρά. τῆσδε ἅμα εἰποῦσα ἔψαυσεν· ἧδε ἄφνω ἑαυτὴν τῇ ὀξείᾳ φωνῇ ἔκλεισεν. Μὰ Δία · ἔφη ὁ ἀνήρ. οὔ μοι δοκεῖ κώπην τινὰ ἐντος εἶναι. σὺ δὲ ἡμᾶς ἀμφοτέροις συγκέκλεκας ὧδε. Οὐδ' ὀτιοῦν ἀμφοτέρος · μόνος γε. ἔφη αὕτη καί, αὐτοῦ θεώμενου, θύραζε ᾔει καὶ ὴφάνισεν.

This was one of my first attempts at Greek composition -- I probably should revisit it at some point and see if I can do better now that I've read a lot more Greek. The passage was appealing because it's such a fun story, but also because it's short and has relatively simple language.

Extracts from Ingeborg Bachmann, "Jugend in einer österreichischen Stadt"

Die Kinder! (Sie wissen zur Not, wie sie heißen, aber sie horchen nur auf, wenn man sie "Kinder" ruft.)
Дети-то! (Они знают в крайнем случае, как их зовут, а только обращают внимание, когда 'Дети' кричут.)

Man weiß dann, daß alles war, wie es war, daß alles ist, wie es ist, und verzichtet, einen Grund zu suchen für alles.
Тогда знаешь, что было всё так, как было, что всё сейчас так, как быбает, и отказываешься искать причины для всего.

In these snippets I was primarily interested in lexical problems: the fact that Russian neither uses the article nor the verb 'to be' in the present tense. The tone in the first sentence is largely dependent on the half-affectionate use of the article in the exclamation. The parallelism suffers a bit in the second excerpt, but the contrast in meaning, I hope, is preserved.
I'm not sure what possessed me to translate pieces of this particular text into Russian, except that I think we were reading this in another class at about the time I was taking a very intensive Russian course.

Extracts from Emine Sevgi Özdamar, "Mutterzunge"

In meiner Sprache heißt Zunge: Sprache.
Zunge hat keine Knochen, wohin man sie dreht, dreht sie sich dorthin.

На моём языке, то, чем мы говорим, и то, на чём мы говорим - это то же самое слово: язык.
В языке косточек нет, куда язык вертишь, вертется он туда.

Russian, like Turkish, Özdamar's native language, uses the same word for tongue and language. Because she is playing with the distinction here, I was interested in trying to figure out how to express it in a language which doesn't make the distinction.
My Russian isn't good enough to get a sense of how well I succeeded in capturing the feel of the passage.
The chiastic construction of the last sentence is a result of the rules of German word order, but it appealed to me and I tried to reproduce it in the Russian. I might have been better off using parallelism, however.

Catullus 8
nec quae fugit sectare, nec miser vive, sed obstinata mente perfer, obdura.
"Laufe nicht nach, was flieht, nicht traurig lebe, sondern festen Willens sei, und dulde."

From Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again
He, too, was "out" who was a stranger to her land, and yet who had never been a stranger in it. He, too, was "out" of that great country whose image had been engraved upon his spirit in childhood and youth, before he had ever seen it. It had been a geography of heart's desire, an unfathomed domain of unknown inheritance. The haunting beauty of that magic land had been his soul's dark wonder. He had known the language of its spirit before he ever came to it, had understood the language of its tongue the moment he had heard it spoken. He had framed the accents of its speech most brokenly from that first hour, yet never with a moment's trouble, strangeness, or lack of comprehension. He had been at home in it, and it in him. It seemed that he had been born with this knowledge.

Er hat das Land verlassen, er der ein Fremder war, dem aber es niemals fremd gewesen war. Er hat jenes herrliches Land verlassen, mit dessen Bild seinen Geist in der Kindheit und Jugend eingeprägt wurde, ehe er es je gesehen hatte. Es war eine Landschaft inbrünstiger Sehnsucht, ein unergründeter Bereich unbekanntes Erbes. Die verzaubernde Schönheit des Landes war das dunkle Wunder seiner Seele. Er hatte die Sprache seines Geistes gekannt, ehe er je angekommen war, die Sprache seiner Zunge augenblicklich verstanden, als er sie zum ersten Mal hörte. Er hatte nach der ersten Stunde die Töne gebrochen ausgesprochen, doch nie Schwierigkeit, Fremdheit oder Verständnislosigkeit empfunden. Er fühlte sich in ihr zuhause, und sie in ihm. Es war, als ob er mit dieser Kenntnis auf die Welt gekommen war.

A couple of spontaneous translations after I came back from Germany last summer. (I always seem to be reading Thomas Wolfe when I come back from Germany for some reason.)
I took a little liberty with the Catullus lines, as "quae" refers to his girlfriend and should properly have a feminine antecedent.
The second passage suffers a little from being taken out of context. The "land" that the narrator is referring to is of course a Germany on the brink of WWII, so there's a certain appropriateness to translating it into German.

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