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Is a poem translatable?
Thread poster: Komeil Zamani Babgohari

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 22:26
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
UNESCO project Aug 24, 2010

When I was a little child, I read a book. It was an English translation of famous Thai poems, published by UNESCO for conservation of ethnic culture. The translator was a prominent person who had been the Thai Ambassador to USA, a Oxford University Graduate, and a Thai Prime Minister on later days. I hoped I could be able to do the same, but I cannot. In fact, I am very bad even to write a plain Thai lyrics.

Best regards,

Soonthon Lupkitaro

[Edited at 2010-08-24 00:10
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When I was a little child, I read a book. It was an English translation of famous Thai poems, published by UNESCO for conservation of ethnic culture. The translator was a prominent person who had been the Thai Ambassador to USA, a Oxford University Graduate, and a Thai Prime Minister on later days. I hoped I could be able to do the same, but I cannot. In fact, I am very bad even to write a plain Thai lyrics.

Best regards,

Soonthon Lupkitaro

[Edited at 2010-08-24 00:10 GMT]
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George Hopkins
Local time: 16:26
Swedish to English
Better than the original? Aug 24, 2010

One Nobel laureate is reported to have said that the award was because of the translator!

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:26
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Three, not two, aspects to a poem Aug 24, 2010

komeil zamani babgohari wrote:
Supposed we could render meaning, what is happened to the form? Form makes a text a poem.


What makes a poem a poem is not only the form, and not only the meaning, but the meaning, the form and a third thing... the sound. The form may be difficult to retain but sound is easier (indeed, perhaps the easiest) to retain, I think. You can bluff your way out of not retaining the form if you retain the sound (alliteration, assonance, etc).

Two things (among others) that affect sound are rhythm and rhyme. It is always a struggle to retain both, and the ignorant may think that rhyme is more important, but if you can retain rhythm, the reader will be more likely forgive you for not having retained the rhyme.


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:26
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Yes Oct 2, 2010

A poem consists of words, the rhyme, the sound and, most important of all, an emotion.
A translator needs to feel this emotion - aside from knowing the words - and then translate this feeling into the target language.

This is a challenging task when translating from, let's say, Spanish into German since both languages are on different wave lengths. Spanish being more melodic due to the Arabian influence on it, while German is a more "down to the facts" language. And yet - it c
... See more
A poem consists of words, the rhyme, the sound and, most important of all, an emotion.
A translator needs to feel this emotion - aside from knowing the words - and then translate this feeling into the target language.

This is a challenging task when translating from, let's say, Spanish into German since both languages are on different wave lengths. Spanish being more melodic due to the Arabian influence on it, while German is a more "down to the facts" language. And yet - it can be done without losing neither its meaning nor its flow.
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Is a poem translatable?

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