Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More Homophony

Last week I had a post about Mots d'Heures and other interesting examples of homophonic translation. Today in my poetry class, I was introduced to Christian Hawkey's book Ventrakl, which is in part an English homophonic translation of the work of Austrian poet Georg Trakl. This reminded me of a homophonic translation of Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal by David Cameron, titled Flowers of Bad. Here's a sample from the latter, courtesy of galatea resurrects #6:
Cowards! Chimpanzees each interview
Bluffing fell-out crash investigators
Over soups. Whores matching grasslands
With thuggery, lisp astride me as gulls pass!
This is from Baudelaire's poem "L’Irrémédiable" (which stanza, I'm still not sure.) These works are definitely bizarre, and they stand in interesting opposition to Mots d'Heures: they are homophonic translations of other languages into English, rather than English into another language, yet all of these are meant for an English-speaking audience. In the case of Ventrakl or Flowers of Bad, though, the goal is to show the beauty of something unfamiliar which is twisted into readability, rather than twist something familiar out of readability.

And just for fun, I have another "bilingual" pun (although it's really just bi-accentual.) An Englishman is walking in the New Zealand countryside and comes across a man cutting wool off a sheep with a large pair of scissors. The Englishman says, "Excuse me, are you shearing that sheep?" and the New Zealander replies "No, get your own!"

(This is reminiscent of the internet meme about the similarity between "beer can" with a British accent and "bacon" with a Jamaican accent. Or the Flight of the Conchords scene in which the New Zealanders keep repeating that Jemaine "may be dead," while their American friend Dave says "Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. What did he maybe do?")

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