Monday, January 10, 2011

day ten - I translate the Tao Te Ching into Spanish

Ok, I need to calm down. Yesterday I learned a huge amount by learning the most important Spanish curse words. Some commenters were very helpful in providing some additional uses and also correcting my use of “joder”. I’ve also probably listened to that BeeGees video of “Staying Alive” about 30 times. I think Claudia’s lying unconscious in the other room after hearing the BeeGees so much. But "I'm a woman's man, no time to talk".

So today I’m taking a more serious route. I’m leaving the gutter for one day and one day only and going a different direction. Now that I’ve been learning Spanish for an entire ten days I figured I’m qualified to translate the ancient spiritual work, The Tao Te Ching, written by Lao Tzu in the 5th century BC. I feel its what he would’ve wanted.

First off, though, I think he was a bit wordy. His intended audience was a king, or emperor, or warlord, or whatever they called them back then. He was trying to impart spiritual wisdom that could also be interpreted as political wisdom. I think what he would do in each chapter (and each chapter was one poem) was come up with a concept and think of as many ways as possible to say it to get his point across. Because I suspect he believed he was writing for idiots.

So first I’m going to translate from English to English to take out all of the “extra” words. Then the result I’m going to translate into Spanish. Its good for me because I’d like to know these weighty concepts in Spanish. Like if I’m in a tough situation in Spain (bandits chasing me or whatever) and I need to use the concepts of the Tao Te Ching to save my life, I’ll be able to do it in Spanish.

I’m starting with the text from this site: http://www.sacred-texts.com/tao/taote.htm simply because its the first thing that showed up on Google when I googled “tao te ching”. So it must be accurate.

Lets start with the first two stanzas, which contained about 50 ways of saying the same thing:

The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and
unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and
unchanging name.

(Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven
and earth; (conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all
things.


I don’t even understand that second paragraph so its out. But the first paragraph is basically the same as saying: “if you can name it, its not God.

“No es dios” = “its not god”.

I’m refusing to use google translate on this (Claudia stays its worthless anyway).

So basically I want to translate “if I can give it a name, its not God”

If = “Si”

“I am giving” == “Yo Doy” (learning the conjugations for “Dar” = To give: “Doy”, “Das”, “da”, “damos”, “dan” – simple. Its like the conjugations of “ir” – “to go”)

“nombre” = “name”

So how is

“Si le doy un nombre, no es dios”

Correcto?

So now the next two stanzas of chapter 1:

“Always without desire we must be found,
If its deep mystery we would sound;
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.

Under these two aspects, it is really the same; but as development
takes place, it receives the different names. Together we call them
the Mystery. Where the Mystery is the deepest is the gate of all that
is subtle and wonderful.

Upon looking at these two paragraphs with fresh eyes I can see its excellent advice for relationships. But that’s another story.

Basically, this says “if we want to find god (or a higher power or The Force, etc,) have no desire”

So, to make it easy on my transation: “if you have no desire, you find god”

Of the above. I don’t know “desire” or “to find”.

Desire = “deseo”

“To find” = “entrontrar”

Conjugate:

  • Yo encuentro
  • Tu encuentras
  • El encuentra
  • Nos encuentramos
  • Ellos encuentran

So:

si tu no tienes deseos, encuentras dios

So there you have it. Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching:


Si le doy un nombre, no es dios

si tu no tienes deseos, encuentras dios

As they say in English, “I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it” OR (thank you Google Translate): Yo soy un poeta y yo ni siquiera lo saben

9 comments:

  1. Correction: “if I can give it a name, it's not God” = "si puedo nombrarlo, no es Dios" or "si puedo darle un nombre, no es Dios".
    "Si doy se un nombre" makes no sense.

    Then: "si no tienes deseos, encuentras a Dios".
    You were missing the "a".
    The "tú" in that sentence, is optional.

    Also in the conjugation of "encontrar" you must say "nosotros encontramos".

    Good progress!

    Caromusa

    ReplyDelete
  2. @La Boluda, thanks. Before I saw your comment I updated it to say
    "si le doy un nombre."

    Do you think thats fine also?

    And thanks for the correction on "a Dios"
    Also, how come we need "nosotros" for the conjugation. If I say "encontramos" won't it be clear that I mean "we find"?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, "si le doy un nombre" could be fine for the meaning, but the thing is you have "if I CAN give". Can = poder (as in: being able to). So to translate literally, you must include the verb "poder", as in "si PUEDO darle un nombre". Otherwise, it would be like "if I give it a name".
    See the difference?

    Regarding "encontramos", yes with that word you are already implying "we". You don't need to add "nosotros" in a sentence.
    I was just correcting where you said "nosotros encuentramos" (it's "encontramos").

    You are going very well. Right now I am trying to learn italian myself, and it's hard, as all the languages with latin roots. Even for a spanish speaker like me. Same story with french.
    You can easily learn some words, but then you don't know how to connect them on a sentence, or use the plural, or conjugate the verbs, etc.
    So well done!
    Bien hecho amigo!

    @caromusa

    ReplyDelete
  4. Unfortunately, this translation of a translation has caused huge drift from the original meaning. As a speaker of both Spanish and Chinese (and clearly English :P), I submit the following as a Spanish translation more accurately conveying the nuances of the original text (though with much poetic mystique understandably lost):

    Raro es que el camino que estamos sigue tomado.
    Raro es que el nombre que llamamos sigue usado.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Justification (so you know I'm not whack):

    Slowly from Chinese to Spanish:

    (Original in pinyin)
    Dao ke dao fei chang dao.
    Ming ge ming fei chang ming.

    (Hard verbatim translation to nonsensical Spanish)
    Camino estar camino no siempre camino.
    Nombre llamar nombre no siempre nombre.

    (Reordering for more logical Spanish syntax plus articles and helpers)
    No siempre el camino que estamos camino sigue.
    No siempre el nombre que llamamos nombre sigue.

    (Reintegrating original meaning and making it more natural)
    Raro es que el camino que estamos sigue tomado.
    Raro es que el nombre que llamamos sigue usado.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yo soy un poeta y yo ni siquiera lo saben

    should say:

    Soy peota y ni lo sabía.

    ¿Que dicen uds?
    @robinmelina

    ReplyDelete
  7. Knowing some foreign languages has become one of the prerequisite in today’s world however people don’t get that much time to learn foreign language and moreover even if they learn without continuous practise they forget the language. Keeping this in mind and to help the people professionally spintra.com was launched which helps in translating >English to Spanish.

    Spintra.com was launched in 1980 and since then they have covered a long path. They try to help the people in the best way possible and for this they provide dictionaries. Moreover they have dictionaries in both the formats i.e. >English Spanish dictionary online and even >Spanish English dictionary online.
    There is also a customer care set up which helps the customers in a better way however they have given everything in their website which one needs to translate. There are >English to Spanish translation online which is available due to the >word translator English to Spanish. The translations provided by spintra.com are very professional because of the well-made >translate English to Spanish dictionary and are being used in drug and medical databases, packaging materials, training materials and many other publications. Spintra.com never compromises in quality and that is the main reason it has set up such a huge network and gives the best translation.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Rocket Spanish provides noteworthy, conversational type of instruction immerses you within your new vocabulary and helps make learning actually quite easy.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Instead of trying to do a direct translation of “I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it” a real translator would try to use a phrase that is common in the target language, for instance: "Me salió en verso, y sin mucho esfuerzo", which pretty much captures the essence of the message as well as giving it a light touch of humor, something a machine is not capable of "sensing". Translating machines/software are still very unreliable, unless you want to sound like a dictionary :)

    ReplyDelete