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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!
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