Behind the Scenes of Walking the Walk


Doing a translation of a French cantata libretto for a chorus’ December concert, for program insert and possible supertitles.

What they see:

After a conversation in which I try convince them that a more complex (read: not as literal) translation is preferable, citing poetic flow and the like, I offer to do a sample of the well-known lullaby-like section to prove my point, that the rhyme scheme can kept intact without sounding forced.

They receive the sample shortly thereafter, and see that yes, indeed, the rhyme scheme makes it easier to read, without sounding disjointed.

What actually happens between the two events:

Oh FRACK rhyming is hard, I mean I knew this already but it’s still hard, where’s that rhyming dictionary gone to, oh FINE now which of these rhyming websites works best, WHY isn’t there a rhyme for “angel” besides “archangel” because that just defeats the purpose, this doesn’t make any sense anymore, I’ve completely lost the original meaning, well crap, start over, okay, now here’s a list of all the words that could possibly be at the end of this line so do ANY of them match up with ANY other words that could possible be at the end of the NEXT line? no? okay, square one, right then, time to MAKE UP WORDS, English is stupid anyway, it’s so freaking hard to rhyme in English, I mean, mother and father are fine feminine rhymes but that sounds so WEAK and the original libretto is so simple here so why is it so HARD in another language? oh right. translation. hard. fun, yes? fun? I guess, sometimes, maybe, so wait, can you make “lowly” rhyme with “woe” and “grow,” maybe if it’s at the end of the first line which runs into the second so you can fudge a bit and say that the second syllable really belongs to the second line not the first because that obviously makes TOTAL SENSE (sarcasm) (but maybe not, because Shakespeare did that, or did he only do that with different words of the same sentence, not different syllables of the same word) oooooh, hey, “abhorred” is a good word, but maybe it doesn’t work in context, maybe it’s too complex of a word, but WHY is it too complex? the “b” next to the “h” is unusual? it doesn’t look English? or just that no one uses it ever, even though it’s only two syllables, so maybe it’s not that complex after all…hmm, I wish I knew more about linguistics, because there must be a way to quantify if a word is complex or not, and I wonder how many variables there would be, and if they take its usage in common speech into account — STOPIT. you’re rhyming, not leading a research on word complexity, you chose THIS field, not computational linguistics. okay. translation. ooooh, “Lord” rhymes with “sword,” and “abhorred” actually DOES work in context, this could be kinda cool………

That happens.

On a loop.

For three days straight.

I love my job. 🙂


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