Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Language Computeer
Fists of irony
dkg pointed me to Der Werwolf, which contains the following verse:
"Der Werwolf" - sprach der gute Mann,
"des Weswolfs, Genitiv sodann,
dem Wemwolf, Dativ, wie man's nennt,
den Wenwolf, - damit hat's ein End'."
and the same page contains a remarkable collection of "translations" of the poem; in English
"Well, 'Werewolf' is your plural past,
While 'Waswolf' is singularly cast:
There's 'Amwolf' too, the present tense,
And 'Iswolf,' 'Arewolf' in this same sense."
twice (this one's 'The Banshee'):
"The banSHEE, in the subject's place;
the banHERS, the possessive case.
The banHER, next, is what they call
objective case--and that is all."
In Spanish (El Hechicero)
"El hechiuno" le explica,
"el hechidós" después indica,
"el hechitrés" dice al fin,
"con eso basta ¡chiquitín!"
In French (Le loup-garou, of course)
" ... Loup-garoù ? mais avant
Il faut se dire : loup-garquand ?
Loup-garcomment ? et puis
Bien évidemment loup-garqui ? "
Swedish Varulven, which I don't claim to get, but I can spot the relevant verse:
"Jag var-ulv 1:a pers. i sing.,
du, han, hon, den, det var-ulv. Så
vi voro-ulv, I voren. På
de voro-ulv kom ingenting."
and of course Esperanto (La Lupfantomo)
De "lupfantomo", simpla, rekta,
tra "lupfintomo", plej perfekta,
plu "lupfontomo", iom rara,
ĝis "lupfuntomo", ho, koŝmara!

As I wrote to dkg:

linguistics (specifically, etymology) has this idea of a 'calque' -- when something is 'traced' (calque is french for 'trace') into a target language. There are 'phonetic calques' when a word is borrowed by sound (e.g. Korean 'kon-pyu-ta' for English 'computer'); morphological calques (e.g. Chinese 'dian-hua' ('electric'-'speak', 'telephone'), and even syntactic calques when phrases like 'attorneys-general' get traced in to English from French (I might call this a syntactic calque because the plural stays on the noun, at least sometimes).

The neat thing for me is that these poems are *not* translations of each other, except perhaps the German and English, and they're not syntactic or semantic or morphological calques, they're almost meta-syntactic calques -- they make the same grammatical jokes, but in different languages. clever!

Happy Thanksgiving! don't let the wolves eatcha!
1 comment or Leave a comment