The Little Things: Translation

-Max Gouchian

Boom goes the dynamite, I mean the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the world. Maybe the old saying should be changed to boom goes the MOAB. Ok so there has been a lot of controversy regarding the dropping of the MOAB on what is said to be underground ISIS passages, between the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. With the added hatred I’ve been showing against our lord and savior, President Monkey, some would assume I disagree with his actions, but credit is due.

Seriously this past week has been one of the most successful in the fight against ISIS. Of course there are those who criticize his bold moves in the middle East, but considering that the previous administration dropped about 27,000 bombs in seven different countries, I think Monkey’s efforts are justifiable. In fact these actions could spark fear in some more Trumpish leaders like the short guy with a weird haircut in that one country that exports nuclear weapons (sarcasm, get with the times).

Ok it’s time to return to reality. Making, buying, and dropping large rockets on land in which you have no right to do so, does not exactly make you Mother Teresa.

I’ve been into translations recently, specifically for Armenian rock songs. There is a strong movement of these sort of indie-rock and alternative rock bands that perform in smoke filled dark pubs. Their contagious music hits hard and the relatable nature of the lyrics just adds to the listening experience. I think that as a small voice in the world, Armenia is largely ignored for their artistic abilities, what’s worse is the experimental rock bands get very little recognition and are highly under-rated. I find that this undiscovered talent remains hidden to a great extent especially when it’s in Armenian. So with that, and my new found state of happiness (again sarcasm), I decided to try my hand at translating these songs.

I think my version of Kavich’s “Moxraman” was successful but this time I tried “Sev Hakust” by the band Khndzori Sok. My friend Harut said that when you translate you should approach the work with a cold heart and do not attempt to create anything new, it should be a exact word for word translation. In reality, this technique works for him but I find that putting my own interpretation and emotional state into translating music works much better.

Այսօր ես տանն եմ արթնացել քնից,
Շատ վաղուց էի դուրս եկել տանից,
Ինձ հարկավորա շատ արագ փախուստ,
Ես չունեմ փող, փոխարենը,
Կոշիկ ու սև հագուստ․

Անջատված եմ, լռիվ,
Գիշեր, շշեր ու կռիվ,
Աչքերս ցավում են ու կարմիր են դարձել,
Երևի հոգիս ընդհատակ եմ հանձնել,
Ու ես ձեռք եմ բերել գիտակցության կորուստ,
Բայց հոգ չե, քանի դեռ ունեմ, Սև Հագուստ․

Դրսում ինձ այրումա արևը,
Տխուր եմ ցերեկը,
Ծխում եմ ու լսում քամին․
Դիմադրում եմ թերևս,
Ինձ ատումա նա ևս
Ու ջանում ,որ հագուստս հալի․
Բայց ես չեմ կարող մաքրել սրտիս սև փոշին,
Ակնոցներ սև, բաց մազեր ու Սև-Կո-շիկ․

I woke up in my bed;

its been a while.

I need an escape.

ain’t got no money,

instead —

I got my boots and my black shirt.

 

Disconnected;

the nights are full —

bottles and fights,

eyes; red, full of pain.

Maybe,

my spirit has surrendered itself underground,

my unconscious conscious, consciously unconscious

its lost,

but

ain’t got no worry, I got my black shirt.

 

Outside the sun burns,

the day is sad,

The wind smokes in my ear,

still —

she, hates me again,

yearns for the day my clothes melt,

The black dust burdens my heart,

glasses, black; hair, transparent — my boots,

black.

I allowed myself to be fully immersified into the context of the narrative in accordance to my own interpretation of the music and the lyric. For instance I used the word “ain’t” throughout the poem because the guitar gives a strong western cowboy vibe. In some instances I went a little overboard, like the original “Ու ես ձեռք եմ բերել գիտակցության կորուստ” I translated to “my unconscious conscious, consciously unconscious”. I know its way to… ‘shiny’ in a way but I wanted to capture the that he is aware of not being aware. There are examples of smaller differences like “Այսօր ես տանն եմ արթնացել քնից,
Շատ վաղուց էի դուրս եկել տանից,” became “I woke up in my bed; its been a while.” This kind of modernist writing approach with minimal effort, ads a lot of context and leaves much to the reader. My favorite line is “The wind smokes in my ear” from the original “Ծխում եմ ու լսում քամին”. I can’t really put into words how this song makes me feel, thats one line of translation I can’t do, my emotions into words.

This is what I’ve become, I don’t like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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