Posted in English

Buarque Life

Cover of the album "construção" by Chico Buarque
Cover of the album “Construção” by Chico Buarque

Continuing to fanboy about this song. Here’s a translation, highlighting the “Proparoxítono” words.

I’ve borrowed pretty heavily from some of the many versions on Lyricstranslate. They’re all by brazilians, I think, and they’ve done a great job, so I’ve cleaned up the english and made a few other changes but generally assumed they know more than I do about the point of the song. I found “flácido” really difficult to translate. It obviously means “flaccid” but that word just sounds so wrong in a song. I’ve gone for “sagging” since it fits in both the lines it’s used in. I think that’s the best I can do but this is the sort of thing that makes you realise how hard the job of the translator is.

A couple of interesting things to add:

Firstly, I didn’t notice when I heard it but the first two lines end in the same word. That’s a bit of a cheat, Chico, come on! It’s the only example of that though.

Secondly, he keeps the rest of the line unchanged almost all the time but there are a few other small changes, which I’ve highlighted in orange. The fact that portuguese doesn’t use many subject pronouns helps in this regard. In the first line, “fosse” goes from “it was” to “he was” with no need for other changes. You just get it from the context, because “única” changes gender, meaning it is now referring to the man, not to the (a) vez.

Amou daquela vez como se fosse a última
Beijou sua mulher como se fosse a última
E cada filho seu como se fosse o único
E atravessou a rua com seu passo tímido
Subiu a construção como se fosse máquina
Ergueu no patamar quatro paredes sólidas
Tijolo com tijolo num desenho mágico
Seus olhos embotados de cimento e lágrima
Sentou pra descansar como se fosse sábado
Comeu feijão com arroz como se fosse um príncipe
Bebeu e soluçou como se fosse um náufrago
Dançou e gargalhou como se ouvisse música
E tropeçou no céu como se fosse um bêbado
E flutuou no ar como se fosse um pássaro
E se acabou no chão feito um pacote flácido
Agonizou no meio do passeio público
Morreu na contramão atrapalhando o tráfego
He made love that time like it was the last time
He kissed his wife like she was the last woman
And kissed each child like they were the only one
And he crossed the street with his timid steps
He climbed the construction like he was a machine
He built up four solid walls at the next level
Brick after brick in a magical design
His eyes were crusted with cement and tears
He sat down to rest like it was Saturday
He ate rice and beans like he was a prince
He drank and sobbed like he’d been shipwrecked
He danced and laughed like he was listening to music
He tripped on the sky like he was a drunk
And he floated on the air like he was a bird
And he ended up on the ground like a sagging package
He agonized in the middle of the public pavement
He died on the wrong side of the road disrupting the traffic
Amou daquela vez como se fosse o último
Beijou sua mulher como se fosse a única
E cada filho seu como se fosse o pródigo
E atravessou a rua com seu passo bêbado
Subiu na construção como se fosse sólido
Ergueu no patamar quatro paredes mágicas
Tijolo com tijolo num desenho lógico
Seus olhos embotados de cimento e tráfego
Sentou pra descansar como se fosse um príncipe
Comeu feijão com arroz como se fosse o máximo
Bebeu e soluçou como se fosse máquina
Dançou e gargalhou como se fosse o próximo
E tropeçou no céu como se ouvisse música
E flutuou no ar como se fosse sábado
E se acabou no chão feito um pacote tímido
Agonizou no meio do passeio náufrago
Morreu na contramão atrapalhando o público
He made love that time like he was the greatest
He kissed his wife like she was the only one
And kissed each child like they were the prodigal son
And he crossed the street with his drunk steps
He climb the construction like it was a solid
He built up four magic walls at the next level
Brick after brick in logical design
His eyes were crusted with cement and traffic
He sat down to rest like he was a prince
He ate rice and beans like it was the greatest meal
He drank and sobbed like he was a machine
He danced and laughed like he was the next one
He tripped on the sky like he was listening to music
And he floated on the air like it was Saturday
And he ended up on the ground like a timid package
He agonized on the middle of the shipwrecked pavement
He died on the wrong side of the road distrupting the people
Amou daquela vez como se fosse máquina
Beijou sua mulher como se fosse lógico
Ergueu no patamar quatro paredes flácidas
Sentou pra descansar como se fosse um pássaro
E flutuou no ar como se fosse um príncipe
E se acabou no chão feito um pacote bêbado
Morreu na contramão atrapalhando o sábado
He made love that time like he was a machine
He kissed his wife like it was logical
He built up four sagging walls at the next level
He sat down to rest like he was a bird
And he floated on the air like he was a prince
And he ended up on the ground like a drunken package
He died on the wrong side of the road disrupting Saturday
Construção – Chico Buarque

The song was written in the seventies, during the dictatorship when Buarque was living in exile. There are a lot of theories about exactly wht he’s trying to do, but he hasn’t really spelled it out, preferring to let people speculate. There’s a definite shift between the three stages: the first one seems quite factual, the second sort of carefree, the third nightmarish. The social criticism is about the fact that, at the time, a lot of people were moving to the cities in search of a better life but finding that living conditions and working conditions were pretty terrible.

Posted in English

Come+A’s you are

Closely related to the post about vir and chegar: what’s the difference between “vir a saber” and “vir saber”? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Vir a saber, as you’ll know if you read “The Spy Who Chegged Me” is a way of saying that you came to know something, perhaps in a slightly roundabout way, by chance, but the light dawned and then you knew.

Vir Saber is more like “I came to find out”.

This is good because I had been wondering how to interpret a line in one of the poems (it’s a song, actually) that I learned a week or two back. the people in the next room either “finally got to know about us” or “came to find out about us”. Well, now I know so here we go with a translation of the whole thing

PortugueseEnglish
Bem te avisei, meu amor
Que não podia dar certo
Que era coisa de evitar
I gave you fair warning, my love
That this wasn’t going to turn out well
And it was something best avoided
Como eu, devias supor
Que, com gente ali tão perto
Alguém fosse reparar
Like me, you have to suppose
That with people so nearby
Someone was going to notice
Mas não
Fizeste beicinho
E como numa promessa
Ficaste nua para mim
But no
You made a pouty face
And as if in a promise
Got naked for me
Pedaço de mau caminho
Onde é que eu tinha a cabeça
Quando te disse que sim
Bit of a wrong turn
Where was my head at
When I said yes to you
Embora tenhas jurado
Discreta permanecer
Já que não estávamos sós
Although you had sworn
To remain discreet
Since we weren’t alone
Ouvindo na sala ao lado
Teus gemidos de prazer
Vieram saber de nós
Hearing in the room next door
Your moans of pleasure
They came to find out about us
Nem dei pelo que aconteceu
Mas mais veloz e mais esperta
Só te viram de raspão
I didn’t even know what had happened
But being faster and smarter
They only caught a brief glimpse of you
A vergonha passei-a eu
Diante da porta aberta
Estava de calças na mão
I went through the shame
In front of the open door
With my trousers in my hand

It’s great isn’t it! Lots of really good stuff in there. The one line that I really had trouble understanding was the first line of the last stanza “A vergonha passei-a eu” which seems like he’s saying “I passed her the shame” as if he were trying to blame it all on the girl, but that doesn’t make sense for all sorts of reasons. The “-a” on the end of passei is actually referring to “a vergonha”. So it’s like “The shame, I passed through it”. Normally in conversation you’d say “passei pela vergonha” but poetic license applies. Here’s the full thing. I’ve probably posted it on here before but I just love it so much it’s worth repeating.

Posted in English, Portuguese

Segue o Teu Destino

Translating one of the poems I’ve been learning. It’s by Ricardo Reis, one of Pessoa’s Hetronyms. I found it a bit inspiration-postery at first but it’s really grown on me, especially the last two lines of the first verse and the last two lines of the last:

Portuguese versionTranslation
Segue o teu destino.
Rega as tuas plantas.
Ama as tuas rosas.
O resto é a sombra
De Arvores alheias.
Follow your destiny
Water your plants
Love your roses
The rest is just the shadow
Of other people’s trees
A realidade
Sempre é mais ou menos
Do que nós queremos.
Só nós somos sempre
Iguais a nós próprios.
Reality
Is always more or less
Than we want
We alone are always
Equal to ourselves
Suave é viver.
Grande e nobre é sempre
Viver simplesmente.
Deixa a dor nas aras
Como ex-voto aos deuses.
It’s easy to live
It’s great and noble always
To live simply
Leave pain on the altar
Like a votive offering to the gods
Vê de longe a vida.
Nunca interrogues.
Ela nada podes
Dizer-te. A resposta
Está além dos deuses.
Look at life from afar
Never question it
It can’t tell you
Anything. The answer
Is beyond the gods
Mas serenamente
Imito o Olimpo
No teu coração.
Os deuses são deuses
Porque não se pensam.
But serenely
Imitate Olympus
In your heart
The gods are gods
Because they never think of themselves
Posted in English

The Perils of Google Translate

Delighted by portuguese people mocking news organisations who use Google Translate for their headlines and end up translating names literally as if they were words. This is about Carlos Moedas becoming Mayor of Lisboa, which plays into people’s criticisms of him as being too business-friendly.

My only complaint about the replies is that someone has translated Pedro Passos Coelho as “Peter Steps Rabbit”. I prefer to think of him as Peter Bunny-Hops.

Posted in English, Portuguese

Rústica – Florbela Espanca.

I mentioned a few days ago that I was trying to memorise poems in both English and Portuguese. Well, today’s is a Portuguese one: Rústica by Florbela Espanca. As with so many of these poems, reading it through once a couple of years ago, I was my usual poetry-reading self: “Yes yes, very poetic. Next!” But now that I’m immersing myself in them, I’m starting to get the point of poetry. Here is the original:

Rústica

Ser a moça mais linda do povoado.
Pisar, sempre contente, o mesmo trilho,
Ver descer sobre o ninho aconchegado
A bênção do Senhor em cada filho.

Um vestido de chita bem lavado,
Cheirando a alfazema e a tomilho…
– Com o luar matar a sede ao gado,
Dar às pombas o sol num grão de milho…

Ser pura como a água da cisterna,
Ter confiança numa vida eterna
Quando descer à “terra da verdade”…

Deus, dai-me esta calma, esta pobreza!
Dou por elas meu trono de Princesa,
E todos os meus Reinos de Ansiedade.

Rústica, Florbela Espanca, from Charneca Em Flor

Florbela Espanca

There are a few unfamiliar words in it so I’ll have a go at translating it:

Rustic

To be the prettiest girl in the village
To walk contentedly on the same trail
To see descending on the cosy home*
The blessings of the Lord on every child 

A calico** dress, well-washed
Smelling of lavender*** and thyme 
With the moonshine quenching the thirst of the cattle****
Giving the doves the sun in a grain of corn

To be pure as the water in the cistern
To believe in a life eternal 
When I go down to the land of truth*****

God, give me this calm, the poverty
I’ll give them my princess throne
And all my kingdoms of anxiety

*=The word used in the original is “ninho” which means nest, but I think in this context its just a folksy way of saying home.

**=my paper dictionary says chintz, but I think chintz is made of calico (?) and that calico goes more with the vibe of the poem. But I’m not an expert in cloth, so I could easily be wrong.

***=I’ve been saying “lavandas” for lavender but I think that might be a brazilism because according to the wiki this is the word used in Portugal.

****=matar a sede means kill the thirst, literally, but quench seems better. And it’s not “a sede do gado” (the thirst of the cattle) but ao gado (to the cattle) , another example of Portuguese speakers using prepositions in a way that are just a little different to what an english speaker would expect.

*****=Descer in this sentence is the future subjunctive, not the infinitive, and I believe its “when I go down” not “when he/she/it goes down” but I can only get that from context since there no way of telling grammatically! I’m not sure what the land of truth means here either. If it’s heaven, why is she descending and not ascending? I’ve read the bible and spent a lot of time in church but this makes no sense to me I’m afraid.

Here’s an analysis I wrote of the poem, in Portuguese, for today’s writing challenge (thanks to Dani Morgenstern for the help)

O Poema de hoje é Rústica de Florbela Espanca. O poema fala do anseio da poeta por uma vida mais bucólica, numa aldeia onde ela seja “a moça mais linda” e o ar seja perfumado de ervas e flores.
Este desejo, esta saudade duma vida sem ansiedade e sem problemas é, no entanto, pouco realista porque a vida numa aldeia tem as suas próprias ansiedades e nem todas as moças podem ser a mais linda. Mas isso não contraria a mensagem do poema nem a vontade que todos nós temos de afastar-nos da vida moderna.
O poema tem quatro versos: dois de quatro linhas e dois de três, e tanto quanto sei, este padrão é muito comum na obra desta poeta. Usa imagens da natureza (o que é pouco surpreendente neste caso!) e temas religiosos. Aliás, a religião não é apenas um tema: a saudade da religião faz parte da saudade da vida simples. É como se Deus não tivesse poder nenhum na cidade e só soubesse tocar o coração de quem vive nalguma quinta.

Posted in English

Latest Musical Obsession

I’ve got obsessed with this song by Márcia (she’s the one in the video I posted a couple of weeks back). I don’t like this one as much, but it has a hidden secret: it has a Spanish pronoun (“Usted”) in it for no reason I can fathom. It isn’t needed for a rhyme, and no other Spanish words appear in it. She uses a more conventional “você” in a different verse. It’s well random. It’s as if an anglophone singer just decided to say… Oh I don’t know – “Though I put you on a pedastal, they put vous on the pill”

Anyway I made a translation (not a good one, I think) to try and get to grips with it to understand why, but I’m none the wiser.

Posted in English

Tradução – The Skin that’s on Me

I had a go at translating the song I mentioned the other day. It’s very hard to translate, even if you know the words because it’s written in quite a poetic, allusive way, so I hope it’s not too awful…

When the day was ending
And your body touched
A part of mine
A dance awakened
And the sun appeared,
became enormous
And in an instant wiped out
The calm of the sky

And the calm that was waiting inside me
The desire unaccounted following the end
Was in a look it gave you
And your singing changed
And your body on mine
A braid caught
And the blood cooled
And my foot touched the earth
My voice whispered
My dream died

Give me the sea, my river, my path.
Give me the empty bedroom of my house
I’ll leave you in the snare of your talk
About the skin that’s on me
You don’t know anything

When the love ended
And my body forgot
The road it was going on
In the depths of yours
And the moon went out
And the night fell silent
The cold depth of the sky
Came down and stayed.

But the pain no longer lives in me
It’s passed, I used it up
Beyond the end
It’s time to go
It’s the price of love
To go back to living
I dont feel the taste,
The sweat, the dread
Of the heat of your embrace
Of your blood blooming
I don’t want to know

Give me the sea, my river, my road
My empty boat in the morning
I’ll leave you in the cold of your speech
In the shock fall of the voice
When the talking finally stops

Posted in Portuguese

Segredos da Língua Portuguesa (Marco Neves) #1

O primeiro capítulo do livro “Doze Segredos Da Língua Portuguesa” de Marco Neves é a sua tentativa lidar com a problema difícil de “saudade” e, mais geralmente, de palavras não traduzíveis.

O seu argumento é que esta questão nunca se trata de palavras literalmente intraduzíveis. Para elucidar este ponto de vista, há duas linhas de pensamento*. Por um lado, é sempre possível, traduzir qualquer palavra mas pode-se precisar de uma frase, ou pelo menos precisar que acrescente um adjectivo. Por outro lado, há muitas palavras aparentemente fáceis que se tornam, quando pensarmos nelas, mais complicadas. Quando um alemão diz “pão” em vez de “brot”, achamos que o entendemos, mas a imagem na sua mente é de uma comida escura e pesada, feita de centeio. Não é a mesma coisa do que o que está na cabeça dum ouvinte inglês ou português, e por isso, podemos dizer que é um tradução fiel?

Eu não tenho paciência para isso, mas afinal, chegou à conclusão certa. O que estas palavras nos dizem é: quais são os conceitos específicos que a gente se sente o suficiente que valha a pena inventar uma palavra especifica para não ser prolixo.  No final do capítulo, o autor dá muitos exemplos bonitos de tais palavras intraduzíveis de várias línguas.

 

*=originally “ataque” but apparently portuguese arguments don’t have lines of attack, the reasonable, fair-minded bastards!

Posted in Portuguese

Contos de “Laços de Família” (Clarice Lispector)

36436062Lusófonos, desculpem-me. Cometi um crime muito grave. Li um livro de Clarice Lispector…. traduzido em inglês! Ai que vergonha! Eu sei, eu sei, não mereço misericórdia.
É um livrinho de quarenta e nove paginas que contém três contos. Comprei-o porque tinha um cartão de oferta de dez libras, mas o livro que queria custava nove libras. Restava uma, e por acaso, havia uma estante com livrinhos que custavam exactamente uma libra. Pumba! Comprei.
Os contos parecem muito bom. Contam histórias de mulheres que se encontram a fazer uma descoberta de algo importante – ou seja uma epifania – sobre elas próprias. Lembram-me de livros de existencialismo, tal como “O Estrangeiro” de Camus. Infelizmente, a tradução é completamente horrível. Havia muitas palavras esquisitas que não se encaixam nas frases em que se encontram. Às vezes, tornou-se ridículo. Por exemplo a frase “Junto dela havia uma senhora de azul, com um rosto” é traduzido literalmente. Fiz uma pergunta sobre isso porque fez me soltar uma gargalhada, e um brasileiro simpático explicou que provavelmente é uma expressão idiomática que significa “resoluta” ou “com bravura” (equivalente de “com peito feito” em português europeu, acho eu). Mas existem muitos exemplos de frases menos ridículas que dão a impressão, sobretudo, de ter sido escrito por alguém que não fala inglês como nativo. Claro, isso não é um crime – todos nós tem os nossos próprios desafios com as nossas línguas escolhidas, mas não é normal para uma tradutora literária.
Pesquisei a tradutora: É americana e ensina literatura comparativa Ganhou prémios. Hum… Ora bem, talvez o mundo discorda comigo mas… Não vou comprar mais livros traduzido pela mesma pessoa!