Thursday, July 31, 2014

Translating Poetry - harder than it looks

K has been experimenting with translation recently.

I taught her the old rhyme: "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!" We were on the way to get ice cream at the time. Once she had memorized it, she said, "I know what it is in Czech. Já křičím, ty křičíš, my všichni křičíme na zmrzlinu. (pause) It doesn't rhyme that way. But I said it right..."

I told her even though she said the words right, they won't rhyme in another language necessarily. She's still wrapping her head around that.

That wasn't the first rhyme she's tried to translate - I've heard her sometimes trying out Czech nursery rhymes or schoolyard chants in English, repeating them over and over trying to get them to flow or rhyme the way they do in Czech. Some efforts are more successful than others.

She's a braver girl than I - I won't touch poetry or song translation with a ten-foot pole!

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