Not Lost in Translation
Translation is a difficult dance. It’s the epitome of doing everything a person writing in their native tongue does, but backward, in high heels. That’s why I enjoyed Maria Dahvana Headley’s contemporary rendering of the ancient tale of Beowulf.
I love a good translator’s note, and I’ve read Headley’s three times. Here is the perspective this particular woman brings to this manly tale:
“This translation, for example, was completed during the first months of my son’s life. Parenting a baby is listening to someone use a language in which certain sounds mean a slew of things, and one must rely heavily on context to gain clarity; a language in which there is no way to translate accurately the ancient sound which means ‘hungry,’ because, to the preverbal speaker, the sound means and is used to signal a compendium of things, something more like ‘belly hurt—longing—breast—empty mouth—bottle—swallow—milk—help.’”
Read more at Tweetspeak Poetry