Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Jillaekott and the Difficulty of Translation

Ask A Korean! (with a festive exclamation mark) has written a wonderful post.

The song Jillaekott, by Jang Sa-ik, a wonderful Korean singer, and a wonderful Korean song, which I posted a little while ago, was taken by The Korean! (with a festive exclamation mark), and translated to English.

He gave the song and the singer a bit of extra attention, which it deserves, and he also uses it to demonstrate the difficulty of translating things from one language to the other, and what is always, inevitably, lost in the transition. He goes through, line by line, and describes the various difficulties of translating the different lines and phrases, and the ways that the nearest English approximations don't catch the same nuances...or bring in entirely different nuances that point the meanings in the wrong directions.

Here is the music clip,


here are the official lyrics, in Korean
찔레꽃

하얀 꽃 찔레꽃
순박한 꽃 찔레꽃

별처럼 슬픈 찔레꽃
달처럼 서러운 찔레꽃

찔레꽃 향기는
너무 슬퍼요

그래서 울었지
밤새워 울었지

찔레꽃 향기는
너무 슬퍼요

그래서 울었지
목놓아 울었지

아 찔레꽃처럼 울었지
찔레꽃처럼 춤췄지

찔레꽃처럼 날았지
찔레꽃처럼 울었지

찔레꽃처럼 춤췄지
당신은 찔레꽃

찔레꽃처럼 울었지
당신은


and here is The Korean's final translation,

Mountain Rose

White flower, Mountain Rose,
Simple flower, Mountain Rose.

Sad like a star, Mountain Rose,
Doleful like the moon, Mountain Rose.

Scent of the Rose is
Too sorrowful.

Therefore, cried.
All night, cried.

Scent of the Rose is
Too sorrowful.

Therefore, cried.
Wailed and cried.

Ah – cried like Mountain Rose
Danced like Mountain Rose

Flew like Mountain Rose
Cried like Mountain Rose

Danced like Mountain Rose
You are Mountain Rose

Cried like Mountain Rose
You did


When I have finished the poem that started brewing when I first listened to this song, I will post it on the blog, too.

And here is my final message to The Korean: thank you so much for doing this! You are hereby invited to my next birthday party, and the one after that, too.

(P.S.: Also covered by The Marmot)

1 comment:

vesperinlimbo said...

My students gave me a Korean name...Kim Eun-ji