Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Three text finalists

Over the spring break, I did a lot of research on different literature types from different cultures...again, but this time I expand beyond poem and words.

Previous quarter I attempted the three following text constructing approaches...

1. Created a meshed world poem by using different words from different languages.
2. Used the source text pronunciations to provoke an emotion while the content itself may not be as important to the non-native listeners.
3. Created 4 translation poems by combining source text, literal/google translation text, target/polished translation text in a lyrical order.

All these approaches have its own advantages and weaknesses in this translation art I'm attempting. It is extremely difficult to keep a perfect balance between native text source and target translation. I want to look for a text that has a strong meaning and also sound interesting that doesn't sound like a ordinary sentence.

After endless head banging in the middle of the night, I was inspired by an ancient Chinese proverb:

世上无难事,只怕有心人 (pinyin: shì shàng wú nán shì, zhǐ pà yǒu xīn rén) (world+on+without+difficult+circumstances, only+fear+have+heart+people)

* Literally: You must persevere to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks.
* Moral: Everything can be done with enough perseverance.
* Compare: Where there's a will, there's a way.

And I came to realize this is exactly the text type I'm seeking for, proverbs/sayings from different cultures.

According to Wikipedia,

A proverb, (from the Latin proverbium), is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim. If a proverb is distinguished by particularly good phrasing, it may be known as an aphorism.

Proverbs are often borrowed from similar languages and cultures, and sometimes come down to the present through more than one language. Both the Bible (Book of Proverbs) and medieval Latin have played a considerable role in distributing proverbs across Europe, although almost every culture has examples of its own.


Proverb has the short, precise, flexible text element I seek but yet always contains interesting literal meanings when translated.



* 肉(ròu)包(bāo)子(zi)打(dǎ)狗(gǒu) (meat+bun(2nd and 3rd)+hit+dog)
o Literally: To hit a dog with a meat-bun.
o Interpretation: Punishment with a reward never works.
o Moral: Don't use the wrong method to approach a problem.



* Nō aru taka wa tsume wo kakusu.
* Literally: The talented hawk hides its claws
o A wise man keeps some of his talents in reserve


* Avec des si, on mettrait Paris en bouteille.
o Literal translation: With ifs, Paris could be put in a bottle.
o Idiomatic translation: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.


* A perro flaco todo son pulgas.
o Translation: To a skinny dog, all are fleas.
o Interpretations:
+ If/when you are weak, it will seem that only problems surround you.
+ To the weak of character, all responsibilities are irritating.
+ To misers, all are parasites.



Currently I'm finishing up three final texts and will be done by the end of this week.

1. 4 different language poems under a same theme (like the ones I presented at the final critique last quarter), attempt to explore inner thoughts of similar poets through translation. More of a content oriented approach.

2. 4 different language poems with 4 different emotional provoking, but translations would potentially take out the language aesthetic. More of a sound oriented approach.

3. Proverb, using close to 100 proverbs from the 4 languages (25 proverbs/each language) to create a giant meshed language sound art that speaks "truth" through repeating and echoing. (Just thought of this method over the last weekend, so I need to finish a draft for this approach FAST.)

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