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New ProZ.com translation contest: "Poetry with a tune: Translation of Lyrics," submissions open
Thread poster: Jared Tabor

Jared Tabor
Local time: 03:35
SITE STAFF
Nov 15, 2013

Hello all,

A new translation contest is ready to begin: "Poetry with a tune: Translation of Lyrics." The source text is in English. Submissions are open from now until January 14th. If you translate from English, or just feel up to the challenge, please consider taking a break and having some fun with this one.

See: http://www.proz.com/translation-contests



"What about a source text in other languages?" ProZ.com translation contests depend on the collaboration of participants in many aspects-- voting, commenting, submitting entries, and also in finding suitable source texts in various languages (especially languages in which no member of the site team is native). You can help ensure source texts in a variety of languages for future contests by proposing a text in your native language. A feature has been created to allow the community to propose and comment on potential source texts for contests. Criteria for suitable contest source texts are also outlined.

To propose a source text, or to discuss other proposed texts, just go to http://www.proz.com/translation-contests/propose_source_text


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:35
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What's the goal, Jared? Nov 15, 2013

I'm just wondering what translators should be aiming for here.

One possibility would be to treat it as a literary translation, providing a perfectly natural translation, but probably not one that would fit the music.

Another would be to treat it like the translation of a poem, with stanzas that conform to the same pattern as the original, rhyming in the same places etc. But whereas the source is a set of lyrics designed to be sung to a particular melody, this would only need to conform as a poem.

Yet a third possibility would be to actually produce song lyrics in the target language. These would have to fit the metre and melody; they would have to be appropriate song lyrics, rather than words. Not all poems can be set to music - sometimes an appropriate translation would be perfectly readable but totally impossible to sing. This is one of the many reasons why lyrics are very often interpreted in an extremely loose fashion: to end up with the very best combination of words and music.

If translators are aiming for the third goal, who will be qualified to judge? Surely only an experienced singer/songwriter or at least someone with musical abilities.

The "translation" of the French "Comme d'Habitude" by Claude François is an ideal example. It became "My Way" and both are well-known songs. Here are the original French lyrics together with an Italian set and two different versions in English. http://www.lexilogos.com/claude_francois/my_way.htm I'm sure all EN/FR speakers will agree that they don't really resemble translations as such, although I can't speak for the Italian.

It's an interesting challenge, but I wonder what will come out of it.


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Alexandra Schneeuhr  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 09:35
Member (2012)
English to Russian
+ ...
Whatever may come out of it... Nov 15, 2013

... I am truly thrilled! Translating (transcreating?) this lovely ballad would make a welcome change in my recently-turned-quite-boring work routine. I feel also really grateful for the contest's idea as I've got some sort of a writer's block at the moment and hope that this might be just the right remedy ))

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Jared Tabor
Local time: 03:35
SITE STAFF
TOPIC STARTER
First goal should be to have fun with it Nov 15, 2013

I hadn't thought of it quite that way, Sheila. The first goal should be to have fun with it, of course. I imagine there are different ways to translate it that keep the spirit and ideas of the original, and if it turns out it's "singable" too, super. I'm guessing it will be easier to concentrate on the words first (as opposed to your third option), but that's just a guess. I think it will be interesting to leave that up to each translator, though, and see what happens.

Alexandra, I'm happy to hear you're enthusiastic about it, hope it helps!

Jared


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
The goal Nov 15, 2013

Jared Tabor wrote:
I imagine there are different ways to translate it that keep the spirit and ideas of the original, and if it turns out it's "singable" too, super.


Well, it's a good thing we asked, because I would have thought that singability would be the most important aspect, with keeping to the spirit and ideas of the original being secondary. If you hadn't said what you had said, then I would have thought that the ideal translation would be the one that can be sung while accompanied by a backtrack of the original song. A song is not poetry, and songs often make for lousy poetry anyway (and the test text is no exception -- it's a great song, but the only reason it is "poetry" and not "prose" is the presence of those line breaks).

Sheila Wilson wrote:
If translators are aiming for the third goal, who will be qualified to judge? Surely only an experienced singer/songwriter or at least someone with musical abilities.


Well, at least someone (the translator?) will have to sing it and upload the singing version of it.

[Edited at 2013-11-15 22:38 GMT]


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Jared Tabor
Local time: 03:35
SITE STAFF
TOPIC STARTER
The goal, take two Nov 15, 2013

Hi Samuel,

Samuel Murray wrote:

Jared Tabor wrote:
I imagine there are different ways to translate it that keep the spirit and ideas of the original, and if it turns out it's "singable" too, super.


Well, it's a good thing we asked, because I would have thought that singability would be the most important aspect, with keeping to the spirit and ideas of the original being secondary. If you hadn't said what you had said, then I would have thought that the ideal translation would be the one that can be sung while accompanied by a backtrack of the original song. A song is not poetry, and songs often make for lousy poetry anyway (and the test text is no exception -- it's a great song, but the only reason it is "poetry" and not "prose" is the presence of those line breaks).


Forget I said anything. I was serious about the fun part, the rest is supposition from someone who is not a professional translator! It is an interesting discussion to have, though.

Jared


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:35
Italian to English
Disappointed Nov 15, 2013

that this is the second competition in a row that is not open to Members or Users who translate into English.

I wouldn't go so far as to call it racial discrimination - but it hurts!


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Jared Tabor
Local time: 03:35
SITE STAFF
TOPIC STARTER
Other source texts are possible Nov 15, 2013

Hi Russell,

Russell Jones wrote:

that this is the second competition in a row that is not open to Members or Users who translate into English.

I wouldn't go so far as to call it racial discrimination - but it hurts!


Were there a staff member native in Italian, you'd have an Italian source text to work with. I'm afraid that help is needed from members when it comes to covering most languages in contests, though. There's no reason a contest can't be run where the only source text is Italian, if that's the only source text available, for example.

Potential source texts for contests in any language can be proposed and commented on here: http://www.proz.com/translation-contests/propose_source_text


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Ali Bayraktar  Identity Verified
Turkey
Member (2007)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Good approach Nov 15, 2013

Thanks site staff for your approach orienting in the artistic side of the translation.
Because artistic side is the most of it.

Thanks again.

M. Ali


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:35
English to Polish
+ ...
Wikipedia articles? Nov 16, 2013

Jared Tabor wrote:

Hi Russell,

Russell Jones wrote:

that this is the second competition in a row that is not open to Members or Users who translate into English.

I wouldn't go so far as to call it racial discrimination - but it hurts!


Were there a staff member native in Italian, you'd have an Italian source text to work with. I'm afraid that help is needed from members when it comes to covering most languages in contests, though. There's no reason a contest can't be run where the only source text is Italian, if that's the only source text available, for example.

Potential source texts for contests in any language can be proposed and commented on here: http://www.proz.com/translation-contests/propose_source_text


Wikipedia articles fit those criterias perfectly, Jared. Perhaps it would be possible for someone from Proz.com staff to get in touch with someone from Wiki staff to locate articles that haven't been translated yet and don't have close counterparts in other languages, then Wikipedia could get the winning text and publish it with a short note to commemorate the contest? We could potentially do more with Wiki than translating medical articles for TWB, especially those of us who don't translate medicine.

Also, will I automatically become the winner if I translate the thing into Latin and nobody else does?

[Edited at 2013-11-16 04:49 GMT]


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TargamaT  Identity Verified
Syria
Local time: 09:35
Member (2010)
English to Arabic
+ ...
To have fun with it... Nov 16, 2013

To have fun I spent 2 min to find the available translations of this mighty piece of art in the internet...

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
For fun... Nov 16, 2013

Jared Tabor wrote:
I was serious about the fun part...


I must be a very poor translator, because I can't translate poetry "for fun". If "for fun" means "we will accept anything that anyone has done", then it means that my translation efforts will not be stacked up against the effort of someone else, but against their likability or some other aspect of their entry that I have no control over or possibility to beat. I would be interested in participating in a serious poetry translation contest, though, even though I'm not a poet, because then it means that my blood, sweat and tears will be worth something at least.

But hey, I hope you have lots of fun with it. (-:


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Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:35
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
*** Nov 16, 2013

TargamaT wrote:

To have fun I spent 2 min to find the available translations of this mighty piece of art in the internet...


I suppose there are none. In any case it is prohibited to use any existing translations when making an entry for the contest.


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Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:35
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
no Nov 16, 2013

Russell Jones wrote:

that this is the second competition in a row that is not open to Members or Users who translate into English.

I wouldn't go so far as to call it racial discrimination - but it hurts!


Hi, Russell!

What you say is not true. The sequence is as follows:

Mini-contest 2012: "Yogi Berra Quotes" > not open to Members or Users who translate into English.

11th ProZ.com translation contest: "Contemporary society" > open to Members or Users who translate into English.

the current one > not open

Therefore these two are not in a row.


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Hannah Geiger  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:35
Member (2009)
English to Czech
+ ...
Original version is slightly different Nov 16, 2013

I note that the original words by Kris Kristofferson are different from the Johnny Cash version

Kris sings 'shaved' my face, not 'washed' my face

and smoked my 'brain', not smoked my 'mind'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbqGWTxwZEA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED5s1-Fe9FA

Interesting, though


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