Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week 3: Homophonic Translation: Goethe's "Gefunden"


This is the last semester I am taking of my four year odyssey of four courses of German: Elementary I and II and Intermediate I and II. As I come down to the last week of German class, I consider whether or not I've come to understand it at all. In English 111 we take a yellow or white notebad and pass it along, writing things as we please, a kind of silent gossip line. Once I wrote, "Why is it that when I come out of German class I always think in German but when I'm in German class I only think in English?" German has been particularly tough for me. It's not like it's an ultra hard language to learn, but it isn't a walk in the park, either. I decided to take it because I wanted to learn Yiddish, but I had no background in any of the major languages that feed into it, so I took German. I turned my back on six years of French through the AP level because the day the test was given in orientation I went with my orientation team to an ice cream parlor. Sometimes I regret it, sometimes I don't.

In any case, that is off point. Here is this week's constraint:

§ Homophonic translation: Take a poem in a foreign language that you can pronounce but not necessarily understand and translate the sound of the poem into English (i.e., French "blanc" to blank or "toute" to toot).
I took (Johann Wolfgang Von) Goethe's "Gefunden" and homophonic translated it.

My comments from the time:

"I found this particularly challenging. I wonder if that is because so many words in English sound like German words, even if they have completely different meanings. For example, sein (to be) sounds like sign; mein Sinn (my intention) sounds exactly like "my sin."" I'm not very happy with it because it veers towards incoherency, and I'd rather have something make some kind of sense than read words that are just strung together by chance.

Here's what it look likes. Note that I had a ton of trouble getting this to format right on Blogspot. Very silly, very curious as I've put posts like this up a lot.
Gefunden (Found)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Translation: Hyde Flippo (translation in red)

Ich ging im Walde (I was walking in the woods)

 Und nichts zu suchen, (And seeking nothing,)
 Das war mein Sinn. (That was my intention).
Im Schatten sah ich (In the shade I saw)
Ein Blümchen stehn, (A little flower standing) 
Wie Sterne leuchtend (Like stars glittering)
Wie Äuglein schön. (Like beautiful little eyes).    
Ich wollt es brechen, (I wanted to pick it) 
Da sagt' es fein: (When it said delicately)  
Soll ich zum Welken, (Should I just to wilt)
Gebrochen sein? ( Be picked?)
Ich grubs mit allen (I dug it out with all)
Den Würzeln aus, (Its little roots).
Zum Garten trug ichs (To the garden I carried it)
Am hübschen Haus. (By the lovely house)
Und pflanzt es wieder (And replanted it)
Am stillen Ort; (In this quiet spot;)
Nun zweigt es immer (Now it keeps branching out)
Und blüht so fort. (And blossoms ever forth).
So für mich hin, (Just on a whim of mine,)

(with my translation in purple)

Ich ging im Walde (Eeking involved)
So für mich hin, (So furry meek hen)
Und nichts zu suchen, (Eunuchs zoo sulking)
Das war mein Sinn. (Mine sin)    
Im Schatten sah ich (Him shut saw eek)
Ein Blümchen stehn, (My blooming stain)
Wie Sterne leuchtend (V (very). stern leek tend)
Wie Äuglein schön. (V. ugly shown)
Ich wollt es brechen, (Eek volts breaking)
Da sagt' es fein: (Sacks fine)
Soll ich zum Welken, (So eek zoom Vell king)
Gebrochen sein? (Broken sign?)
Ich grubs mit allen (Eek grubs mitt Alan)
Den Würzeln aus, (Ten warts, ouch!) 
Zum Garten trug ichs (Zoom garden truck eeks)
Am hübschen Haus. (Ham hoops ten house)
Und pflanzt es wieder (Under plants leader)
Am stillen Ort; (Still wart)
Nun zweigt es immer (None spy shimmer)
Und blüht so fort. (And blossoms ever forth).

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