14 March 2015 § 2 Comments
My practice of translating poetry is more than just a decoding of what someone wrote in a tongue not my own. It’s the unlocking of thoughts, the unveiling of sights, and the unmuting of sounds that I would otherwise never imagine. These discoveries facilitate word-play and poetic insight as I interact with my Anglophone world.
This week yielded a classic example. We took my daughter north for spring break to Québec QC so we could revisit it without the crush of summer crowds. While there, I read Robert Macfarlane’s essay at The Guardian about his book LANDMARKS. Of all the words he highlighted in his essay, the one that stuck with me was ungive from Northamptonshire /East Anglia and its peculiar definition “to thaw.”
On the same trip, I began researching Québécois snow-poems to translate. One of the books I picked up was Claude Beausoleil’s MÉMOIRE DE NEIGE. As everyone else slept-in after our long drive home, I started reading the book’s first poem “Tempête.” And there it was on the second page: l’effet de givre submergé. I’d never seen the word givre before. Wary from past experience with false cognates, I did a quick search in my French dictionary app. Et voilà: frost — the effect of flooded frost.
Frost/givre. Ungive/thaw. Robert Macfarlane’s thoughts on the derivation of ungive for thaw are poetic, but I wonder if the Norman conquest and its effects on the English language also play a part.
I don’t really want a definitive answer because the fun is in wondering; I only have this kind of fun because I translate. And now, because of translation, I’ll wonder all the more every time the givre on my window ungives at sunrise.
3 November 2011 § 1 Comment
It’s a day of all things French today. Picked up a tap-n-go bus card that works a lot like the Metro passes. Ate brunch at a creperie run by French-speaking Algerians. Picked up petit pain et pain au chocolat at a French bakery (not run by French speakers). The sky was even in a melancholic mood, turning from blue to grey in the blink of an eye.
And tonight? I’m off to an international film festival that promises to disturb and provoke thought, as well as entertain. But not even the darkest film will bring me down tonight BECAUSE I HAVE INTERNET ACCESS AGAIN. Not in an Alvarado Street eatery, but in my rented living room. Ah, luxury:-)
P.S. If you want today’s Coastal Meditation, here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrpFSDJnE6g