On Wed, 21 Apr 1999, Douglas Koller wrote:

> Si' cho" stebso"v mno" toufi'bo"v no"i.
> I-nom. the spring-loc. thirteenth-loc. be
> (The normal expression for age is "I'm in my nth year". "I'm in my nth
> spring" will probably register with Ge'arthnuns speakers as an "exotic"
> way to express the same concept -- as "many moons ago" has a (at least
> Hollywood) Native American feel in American English.)

It is poetical - in one of the later couplets the idiom for 13 years old
occurs, see my separate posting with the whole song.

> Since who "I" is is unspecified by name (in fact, as Boudewijn wrote it
> [and I missed the "ghost of a young girl" in the original post], I first
> assumed a male. Okay, so men don't normally use flower and fruit imagery
> to describe themselves and wouldn't often pitch their hair as a selling
> point [although, Samson-like, I took it as a sign of virility]. The deal
> with who "sister" was got a little weird -- but I assumed, a la Chinese
> mountain folk songs, that [prospective or current] lovers could address
> one another as "brother" and "sister". So "sister" said the singer is
> beautiful, but for some reason is not his actual lover. Oh, unrequited
> love! Why won't someone court me?! Amazing how one can keep blazing down
> the wrong trail based on one little misassumption. Today, it was "Oh,
> it's a woman! D'oh!<smack forehead>"), the Ge'arthnuns adjective has to
> default. Modern Ge'arthnuns technically has no genders, but the -n
> ending on the nominative adjective (and a woman's singing voice) will be
> interpreted by most speakers as an unnamed female in this instance.

Such confusion often happened to me when I was studying classical Chinese.
I would try for hours to fit some drunken revel in a sober piece about
the iniquities of a Han empress... The reasoning is specious, perhaps
even logical. And, yes, the Charyan culture has an imagery of brother
and sister as lovers, derived from the a pair of gods, the Kirimandir,
the Brother and Sister of the Kirimanya. They are the children
of the god of fire and the goddess of excessive water, whose union
was blessed by the god of fertility and water. The brother personifies
water, the sister fire. They are the deities of agriculture, marriage,
love and courtship.

The curious thing is that some years after I wrote down the above song,
I ran into Antoinet Schimmelpenninck's Chinese Folk Songs and Folk Singers,
which describes a tradition absolutely not dissimilar to the northern
folk song tradition.

> Now such a translation would hardly set a Ge'arthnuns speaker's toes
> a-tappin'. It's up for grabs, not knowing what Boudewijn's melody might
> sound like, but something song-like in Ge'arthnuns *might* look like
> this:

In a separate post I've put a transcription of the melody made by Irina.

> Ave'zhesheseksu"p chu"k,
> Plums the,
> But, vurwazalo"ku"p rhu"k.
> Plop, falling they.
> Si' stebso"v mno" toufi'bo"v cho".
> I in-spring thirteenth the.
> Cha i'ansat si'nat nsko"methalo"th, cheths li' ho"?
> The heart my asking-for, who will (there/it be)?
> Cho" ze'du"ks si'b
> The hair my
> La hab zho" e'fu"b.
> Pres. thick and black.
> Si' la c,e'men,
> I pres. pretty,
> Hengevec,o" ngamathalo"n, cha kfains si'ten.
> Thus saying, the sister my.
> Shaho"ceths la si't hi'so"lde'n!
> Someone pres. me court(hortative)!
> Vac,te si' techetneken,
> Because I beautiful,
> Chauk mferau-ursaud sfen.
> The cherry-blossoms like.

Beatiful! Very close to the meaning of the original.
Do the accents indicate tone, or a modification of the
place of articulation of the vowel?

> Obviously, a lot of poetic license here. A little too reliant on
> participles to get us to the rhyme for my taste, but it'll have to do
> for now. "Si'b" and "e'fu"b" are near-rhymes, but I believe German
> allows this. Nor does "hi"leso"lde'n" technically rhyme with
> "techetneken" and "sfen", but hey, we're singing.

That's entirely in keeping with the tradition - when singing you
can get away with a lot you wouldn't date to put down in formal,
poetry. I was impressed by the rest of the reasoning behind the translation,

Boudewijn Rempt  |