Re: Interpreting dead people's creative works (was: Riddles ...)

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Mon Jan 08 2001 - 15:25:33 MST

From: Spike Jones <>, Sat, 06 Jan 2001

>> >Hofstadter's _Le Ton Beau de Marot_ is about interpretation and
>> Amara Graps wrote: OK, I'm convinced. Now this is a future book for me to
>> read.
>Le Ton is tough going, unless you are a specialist in translation
>of course. There was too much there about which I havent a clue,
>being strictly mono.

I think I would enjoy this book. You see, even though I'm lousy at
languages, I'm still fascinated by them. (My library of language books
has doubled in volume during the last few years)

It has also become obvious to me, now, from this discussion, that in my
literature world, I'm only scratching the surface of the meaning of
the words I'm reading from foreign authors, because I'm not reading the
words in their original language, or else it's translated,
and possibly translated poorly. So I have more motivation to
become more proficient in languages.

Here is another wierdly-translated text. You would think it would
translate easily, because it's a children's rhyme, right? Wrong.
Here the translator sacrificed the meaning(?) of the poem for
keeping the *rhyme intact*.

Alice's Adventures n Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass
by Lewis Carroll

(Annotated version by Martin Gardner. BTW: this is the
best version of Alice in Wonderland, EVER)

(If you are looking for this poem, Spike, you should find it
easily, because it is next to the chess set in the beginning of
Through the Looking Glass)

Child of the pure unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
Though time be fleet, and I and thou
Are half a life asunder
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love-gift of a fairy-tale


Latvian (*)
Alise Aizspogulija un Ko Vina Redzeja
by Luiss Kerols

Latvian translation: Elfrida Melbarzde
(*)leaving out the diacriacritical marks

Mans berns tik skaidru skatu nak
Un brinumpilnam acim,
Kaut apkart sen viss savadak,
Laiks mainijies, ta sacit.
Kaut gadiem neesi man klat,
Taps tevim davinats sis stasts.

What is this? Even though my Latvian is pretty bad, I know
enough from my Latvian dictionaries and grammar books that the
translator transposed two of the lines. Her version goes
sort of like this:

Child of mine with pure sight
and eyes full of wonder [what happend to dreaming?]
Partly around(?) it was all different long ago
Time changes quickly, to say to me [where's thou?]
For years something(?) close to me
(?Taps not in dict) dearly presents this story

I know my version is baaaaaad too, but I hope that you get the point


For fun, if you wish to see more of how the Latvian language looks
(without the diacritical marks)

Jabberwocky, first verse

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Rifkarilis, pirmo pantu

Kreslojas. Slipigie napsli
Stirinajas pa zali
Un pedigi skita citari
Ka zali tupuci tale.


>Amara! One woold think ewe woold know better. If I ram-
>ember correctly, such details seldom slip pasture notice.
>I hope your Estonian cousin was gentle and did not lamb-
>ast you too severely, or cause you to be shorn of your

me thinks that you have been smoking some of that stuff that
Ross has, Spike!

Since you've run the gaMUTT ON this topic, I'll forfeit the
punfest, and instead, offer you this:

(A Larson cartoon about sheep striving to be more than sheep. I
am using this cartoon (last 5 years) on the front page of my
work web site .... great huh?


Amara Graps email:
Computational Physics vita: finger
Multiplex Answers URL:
"Sometimes I think I understand everything. Then I regain
consciousness." --Ashleigh Brilliant

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:17 MDT