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Poll: Have you ever translated a song?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 03:43
Jan 8, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever translated a song?".

This poll was originally submitted by Andrzej Niewiarowski

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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:43
Member (2008)
French to English
No, but I have tried Jan 8, 2009

Periodically I take a shot at "Ça plane pour moi" but usually give up. Any else ever tried this one? The original lyrics and one translation can be found here:


elodienelson (X)
Local time: 12:43
English to French
Song translation Jan 8, 2009

before I set up as a freelancer, I used to translate songs from bands I like, such as Joy Division (one shouldn't be already depressed when understanding the meaning of Ian Curtis' songs...), or April March, Tom Waits, etc.. It's not an easy thing to do, it can often sound a bit stupid (take the Beatles for instance, singing "elle t'aime, ouais ouais ouais" is boring). I also translated bits (author rights issues) of British magazine articles/interviews about artists I like and I put theses in my Myspace, which was nice, for some people thanked me for that.


Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:43
French to Spanish
+ ...
Quite a lot. Jan 8, 2009

In translation for subtitling, I often must translate songs, depending if they are substantial to the movie.

For example, Burnin' and lootin', from Bob Marley, in "La Haine" (1995), and all other songs in that picture.

Great picture, BTW.


Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:43
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
Yes Jan 8, 2009

I once translated a song in a professional context. One company had a kind of "motto-song" and they wanted it translated for their employees.

Unfortunately, the lyrics were quite stupid, as Élodie just stressed, so we were lucky to be working in a team, cause that was a real challenge to make it sound at least a little sensible!


Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:43
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
yes, for own amusement and as paid job. Jan 8, 2009

I have translated from Russian several songs which interest me - more of Vladimir Vysotsky's than anyone else's.
Last year I was also asked by a young Russian songwriter and member of a music group to translate song lyrics he had written. This was an enjoyable job, and I did it at a low rate because it was as much pleasure as work.
I know some of the songs have been publicly performed, and recordings have been made of them, but I don't know if they were a commercial success.


Catherine Winzer  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:43
German to English
+ ...
Yes, I've tried... Jan 8, 2009

...would have been my preferred answer (but I went for "yes" as that option wasn't available!). I've never done it professionally, mostly just for my own amusement.


Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:43
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, I was paid. Jan 8, 2009

It was 8 years ago: a romantic song from Spanish into Italian.


jacana54 (X)  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
I tried... (for homework) Jan 8, 2009

Don McLean's Starry, Starry Night

Love that.

Back to work.


[Edited at 2009-01-08 17:51 GMT]


Lindsay Sabadosa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:43
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Subtitles Jan 8, 2009

Yes, for a TV special on Italian music but the client and I both agreed it was pretty pointless. Who wants their music translated? Although... I have to admit, I like have surtitles at the opera, but I'm not sure it's the same thing.
On another note...
Whoever does the translations for Disney songs should get a prize!! They are often great and there are one or two in Italian that I think are even better than the original English versions.


Αlban SHPΑTΑ  Identity Verified
Member (2008)
English to Albanian
+ ...
White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane Jan 8, 2009

Yes, for fun. I did it for some of my friends that wanted to play it in Albanian. I did it only because it was one of my favorite songs. I also have a tambourine autographed by Balinicon_razz.gif


Ma.Elena Carrión de Medina  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:43
English to Spanish
+ ...
Many times... Jan 8, 2009

I´m a Praise and Worship minister (key vocalist) in our local Christian church, so I´m supposed to sing twice a week in our services and this involves coming up with the songs for every service.

So, as the repertoire of church songs in Spanish was not entirely of my particular taste and style, I decided to start translating songs from English, specially from a P&W band called Hillsong, which is one of my favorites! -This was not for commercial reasons obviously- and I can say that I absolutely enjoy translating songs since I combine both my language and music skills at once while I see myself challenged to make the lyrics fit into the melody and maintaining the same form as in the original!

I was able to play the songs I translated in church long before these were actually translated and performed in Spanish among the Christian community. Once the commercial version came out I introduced it to the congregation as the "original" version, but they prefered "my" version -and I´m happy for that!icon_smile.gif .. so, as long as I keep singing in church, I´ll keep translating song lyrics -it´s almost like a hobby for me now!



Amy Duncan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:43
Portuguese to English
+ ...
I would do it exclusively, if I could! Jan 8, 2009

As a lyricist myself, I LOVE translating songs. To me, there are two types of song translations. One, where all is really needed is the meaning of the lyrics (for films and DVDs, etc.), and the other, where you have to copy the exact phrasing and sometimes even maintain the rhyming.

I have done both kinds, and enjoy them both. Recently I did the subtitles for a Brazilian DVD that included a lot of well-known and not-so-well-known songs, and it was great fun. Earlier on I was writing lead sheets for an all-woman rock band in Rio, and they asked me to translate a few of their songs into English. That time, everything had to fit perfectly and rhyme, too. It was really challenging but I had an excellent time doing it. MORE, please!!!


Rita Goncalves
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Oh.... yes!!! Jan 8, 2009

Dear friends,

I loved this topic... it took me a few years back...

I have translated 2 important songs!!

They were performed by very well known Brazilian singers: Alcione and Ney Matogrosso. It was such a pleasure!!!!

I have done it other times, but these two songs were really special...

I have worked with both of them and I am realy proud of it!!!!

[Edited at 2009-01-08 20:09 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-01-09 02:47 GMT]


Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Yes Jan 8, 2009

In the last months, I have translated so far about 20 neapolitan songsicon_smile.gif

Of course, I pointed out immediately that I would translate only the meaning and not the rhyme - hard enough! I understand neapolitan, but not everything, of course, and that meant sometimes long researches in Google or questionings of neapolitan friends and colleagues.

I loved it and admire the people that have had translated these songs in order to understand what they are supposed to sing (don't know them, the jobs came through a German agency).

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