Lost In Translation
I was doing some translation works lately.A short Amharic text that a client asked me to translate into English.Not an easy task.The text was filled with words that defy easy translation.Like this word ‘adjirit‘.So how do you you say it in English?
Capturing the context and its Amharic sense would be of some help.The text was referring to a young woman who was a little smart in a playful and flirtaceous way.
Thus, it was the word ‘naughty‘ that came to my mind first but …you know…it sort of fail to carry the flattering sense the Amharic has.With a help of a dictionary, I came across this funny sounding word ‘minx‘ which is defined as a girl who is playful or cunning and doesnot show proper respect.So I settled for it.Was it closer?
And there was another word, rather a phrase, ‘bet yaferaw‘.You know when the good old folks say ‘Come and let’ share bet yaferawn‘.This time the English equivalent didn’t come easy.Don’t they say good translation is not easy?
I gave the whole thing and I turned the TV on and I started wathing MBC 4 on Arab Sat.Rachal Ray was on and she was preparing her usual ‘delicious’ meal and on that day she was readying her ‘Pot Luck ‘ meal.Wanting to know what it mean,I looked it up in the dictionary and, to my amazement, it was the word that I was looking for, Bet Yaferaw. Rachal was the last person to come to my rescue but she did. Should I say bless her !
Take a look at this Amharic folk poetry translation.It is not mine.It is some one else’s.But it has a healthy dose of creativity that I wish to emulate.
‘Abayin Teshagro Abay Alewey?
Motina meleyet anid aidelem wey?
motina meleyet min anidaderegew?
mot yishalal enji kurtu yetawekew.”
‘After you cross Abay
Is there another Abay?
And separation and death
Are they not the same ?
Separation and death
Who says they are the same ?
‘Tis sure and done
For the heart does not languish
In the agony of prolonged hope.’
Wow.I am smitten.