09 August 2014

rue Tortueuse

Here's a post that has nothing whatsoever to do with translating technical journalism.
Instead, it's just for fun.

The name rue Tortueuse, in Moissac, France, brings many a smile to many a face.
The street is indeed tortuous, winding, crooked.





(Incidentally, I can personally recommend the Portuguese restaurant O Sol da Lusitania and the cooking of 
Marie-Hélène Goncalves. The back entrance is immediately to the right of the people in the photo while the main one is at 53 boulevard Alsace-Lorraine. The restaurantis open for midday meals on Saturdays and Sundays and at other times if booked in advance.)

The other day, a colleague stumbled on a translator's curiosity that amused and intrigued, and, for me, as one familiar with Moissac's rue Tortueuse, a strong association.

The curiosity is a nice attempt to translate a purported untranslatable poem.

The poem, by Brazilian Cassiano Ricardo is entitled Serenata sintética.
Here it is:
     Rua
           torta
                  Lua
                       morta
                                 Tua
                                       porta.


The patly-named Futility Closet blog has this to say about it and -- according to Spanish philologist and translator Valentín García in his 1983 book En Torno a la Traducción -- it's supposed untranslatability.

Fortunately a translator has risen to the challenge.
On her Mount Orégano page, blogger Sue Burke has matched the original's extraordinarily close rhyme and rhythm. (My colleague in Toulouse comments that she may have "started with 'moon' and worked out from there". And he may be right.)

Sue Burke's translation reads:
    Blue
          tune
                 New
                        moon
                                 You
                                        soon.


It works well.
Still, I can't help thinking how nice it would have been to include a hint of a twisting, winding, crooked street.

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