Student work: Homophonic translation

Conceptual poetry, not so good maybe at the lugubrious emotions, sundry melancholies, but sure good at giddy, it digs gid. I mean not a disease of sheep but the happy slippiness of speech.

To wit (to whit, to woo), early in the compost course, an exercise in homophonic translation, the full of which you can read here.

And bold preconceptionless forays by a new brave company (I like them! very much!) from which a few excerpts, and thoughts on them, forthwith.


This one drifts, as a number here do, some way from the sounds of its source. The title e.g.

La dulce boca

becomes

La Dual, Say Broke Up

A strength of this approach is that, as fidelity yields to association, some inspired phrases come to be.

Okay, a Jupiter minister elder zone dead

No turquoise sea quietly vetoes

Those are gems that could find a setting somewhere. A cost is, the limbo bar’s been raised to let the dancer get under. I laugh but also feel let down when I see aljofaradas y olorosas rendered as “hiatus seen multiple-sclerosis.”

To stay closer to the sound source, spurn the edges tween words. Com, that is, post them. A puritanical homophonic translation of

La dulce boca

might be

Lad duel, Ché book, ah


One chose German, a grievous challenge. Fünfundzwanzig? OMG. Again a considerable drift from the sounds of the source – so that

Die Sonne ging um fünf 

becomes

Season going on foot

rather than say the more rigid or rigorous “Die, son. Gingham? Pff!” But here I’ll touch on my other major notion about making a homophonic translation that will win fiends and influence poppies.

If one is, ignore and abuse the bounds between words in the source, the other is, imagine and impose all sorts of phrase articulations in your destination.

Here the student arrived at

Season going on foot or soon funds van zig off, also why men ought to through her all some dean stack …

and it feels, undifferentiated, an impenetrable thicket. A thing strong translations of this sort have in common, Zukofsky’s Catullus, Melnick’s Men in Aida, is very short sharp telegraphic phrasing. My own efforts have come pretty quick to the same strategery.

I could dilate why but I’d rather lay out more student work. Here it seems to me a little phrasal articulation would do a lot

Season going on foot. Or soon funds van zig off. Also, why men ought to through her all? Some Dean Stack …


This one made similar calls, and arrived at a nice refrain, from

Et il m’aime encore, et moi je t’aime un peu plus fort
Mais il m’aime encore, et moi je t’aime un peu plus fort

getting to

Ay eel lemon core aim-wash tem unpopular for
May eel lemon core aim-wash tem unpopular for

Again I was curious what a more puritanical adherence to sound – a recklesser disregard for word bounds in the source – and a fiercer phrase articulation in the target – might have got. From

Alors tu vois, comme tout se mêle

from which the student derived

Ah lore too voila come to so well

another possibility might have been

Ah, lore. Tuvak, om. Too, some ell.


Moving a bit quicklier or I’ll be here all night! This one feels caught in a between-world, somewhere on the way from its faux-Latin source to a mock-English target.

Dues Israel epp say true dare it virtue tem et

might for instance develop into

Dues? Israel up. Say true, dare it, virtue Tom et.


This one made v. bold w/ its source, bossed it, nor let it boss her, round. Never mind the author worked with’s Cervantes.

En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre

becomes

A noon Lou guard – day lemon.
“Shah Day cool, yo.”

Gnome bray Nokia …

Another fave moment from this one:

“Did your, uh, low stomach go consume Ian?”

Lost Stress Parties Day; halcyon.
Duh.

This brings to the fore a core diff. Respect your source text wholly and let it shove you round not at all. From hacienda, “halcyon. / Duh.” Okay she added an ‘l’ sound. It’s still pretty tight.


Here’s one with loads of good language substrate, just in need of some of that phrase articulatin’, and maybe shiftin’ a few vowels accordin’

Layin’ trouble masquerade a ponder we a soup-up a gamier shoe heir Adele guy in square tone “lay, double add-in trough.”

might become

Lay in trouble. Masquerade? Oh, ponder we a sou, poop. A gamier shoe heir, Adele, guy in square tone, lay double odd in trough.


This one stayed close to source sounds, so that

Tú para mi

became

Too paw raw me

but wanted perhaps again bolder rearticulations, so that for instance

A kay in may pray sent oh con me, sir

might have been remastered as

Okay. In May, pray send, oh con me, sir.

Or half a dozen other possibles. The thing is just to make it wholly your own.


This student hit on a tellingly brutal translation of love, one face of it, from

amo

to

Awe mow

and a bit more articulation would have drawn all the potential in it out. From the source text,

Te amo mujer
amo tu historia,
amo tu vida,
y amo tu paz

she got to

Tea ah mow moo hair
Awe mow to history ah
Awe mow to feed duh
He awe mow to pass,

And it strikes me that the insight in amo —> awe mow is not quite fully realized here. With a few tweaks you might get to

Day awe mow moo hair.
Awe mow to history. Awe,
awe mow to feed. Awe,
he awe mow to pass.

One of course of just a dozen ways it could go, a dozen dozen. (The change from “tea” to “day” seems slight to me, by the by, cuz it’s from unvoiced to voiced of the same mouth shape.)


The image by the way is a text I’ve yet to explore, I, purples, spat blood, laugh of beautiful lips by Aaron Cassidy, who describes it as a product of Rimbaud’s “Voyelles,” Bök’s Eunioia, and a tangle of semantic and homophonic derivations of those. Look forward to getting to know it better.

purples
Click on me for some mathematical sublime

Okay a few more. This student from

Si la vida es amor, bendita sea!

got

Seal feed a, is armor. Bend it as me.

And from

Donde la mano

got

Don day, lamb an oh!


This one played fast and loose with phonemes but was also willing to compost words and impose word bounds the source author n’er had thought of, so that

Cordoba
Lejana y sola

becomes

Kurt, oh baa.
Leia, Han, huh? Pee Cola.

– laying the complicity between Lucas Studios and Coca Cola Corp. bare for once & all. Later the poet turns luna to tuna, fudging grapheme more than phoneme, but okay, hells, y not.

Here too though a bit more articulation? Exercise, where’s a good spot to put a period in this line? I can see at least four. Five if you strike an ‘l’ from “Llama.”

Llama ate a neigh is tough mirror and dough.


This student took on no less than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which en francais reads, article 26.3,

Les parents on, par priorité, le droit de choisir le genre d’éducation à donne à leurs enfants.

And perhaps as a comment on how much good it’s done, it becomes in translation, and I’ve articulated it just a little more,

Less parents on, pair parrots, Lee. Do it day chaser, Lee. Genre? Day education at diner allures infants.


Homophonic translation tends to draw out the unconscious of language, its polymorphic perversity, if you’ll let it. “Perversity” in a not bad sense, just etymologically, as in turnings off the straight and narrow path. This one makes bold to find such gists in an ordinary Spanish-language newspaper article –

Yo, no karaoke Margarita! Clod, dickhole! These interest, dear, scatter my pain. Yo, karaoke Lo Mein tie, never! OH! Penis? Okay. Meaty? Okay, sir. Arrow lad, a cone, laps are a toy. Lace: track her. EEK! You an asset, ran, sit. Oh? See affect area.

That seems to be about, whatever else also, its own activity, the queering of language this exercise seems ineluctably to go to.


This last one departs far from the sounds of its source text, and also comes to compelling lines in English, and I can only make out traces of Spanish, but have some feeling that the author has fell into Zukofsky’s own practice, of mingling homophonic and semantic translation at will. I’ll just give ya the first line –

Cuerpo de mujer, blancas colinas, muslos blancos

Aquarius day, new hair, blanket colonies – new blankets,

– and the last –

como una flecha en mi arco, como una piedra en mi honda.

Come oh one a fellatio in me on top.

And that there’s the unconscious of language, right there, remembering for us we’re in bodies, prideful, all.

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headComposter

I write draw teach blog in and from the Pacific Northwest of America.

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