Friday, December 01, 2006

Lingua constraintica

Sitting here all by my lonesome in the wee hours of the morning is one of my favorite moments, as some of you know. Everything's still; the silence is conducive to working. (Yes, HB, I'm working! At least I was, now I'm taking a break, haha!) We have a typhoon roaring through the Philippines, but it isn't passing through Metro Manila (where I am), thank goodness. So here I am: it's been raining, the wind has been blowing, the air is cooler than usual, and I'm listening to some good music.

Music is one of life's greatest gifts. We hear it almost everywhere, not just in songs: in the wind sighing through the trees, in the uninhibited laughter of children, in the tinkling of chimes as they sway with the breeze, in the drumbeat that the rain makes on the roof, in the crescendo of moans and ragged breathing in the heat of...well, never mind.

[note to self: keep this a wholesome blog]

Thank God for musically gifted people. I know there can be some question as to who can be called "musically gifted." After all, taste is relative. What is music to my ears may be to another like the sound of nails scratching across a chalkboard.

Instrumentation is important, and the rhythm that you can dance or at least sway to, but it's lyrics I'm thinking about right now. Hell, even the topic of lyrics is subjective. What comes across as banal to some people would tug at another person's heartstrings. Lyrics can be sappy (not that I have anything against sappy) or incomprehensible (at least to me) even if they're in English! However, there are many, many English-language songs that a lot of us find meaningful; I've come across several that just stopped me cold in my tracks because something about them reached deep inside of me and captivated my heart and soul. Conversely, there are others that just made my ears bleed; I regret ever hearing them.

One thing that I also regret is my inability to share some wonderful Filipino songs with you guys who don't speak my language. Sure, there are English translations, but I feel that something falls through the cracks in the translation process--and the secondary audience misses out on something that's vital in the song's essence. I think this holds true for any song that's been rendered in another language: something gets lost in translation. No matter how poorly or how well it's done (heck, sometimes the lyrics of the translated version are better than the original!) there will always be something missing. I find that to be ineffably sad somehow.

It's like you have something you really, really want to say...but you can't, simply because no words exist that can convey the depth and magnitude of your feelings. And approximation just doesn't cut it.


Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

I've got over 5 hours to go, but for you Happy December!

Enlightning post. I think I mean I understand what I probably couldn't. OK, I will try to make more sense manana.

it's the little things said...

Hooray for musicians. I'm not one of them, and can never get over how they do what they do!

houseband00 said...

I couldn't have said it any better, Liz. =)

Thanks for pointing those things out.

INAMINI said...

As usual, very well articulated. I think I think these things also, but I can't get it out. Thank goodness for musicians, but also for you!

lastlifeinmyuniverse said...

its like watchin a foreign film and while your reading the subtitles and understanding the gist of their lines, you also helplessly wonder if anything is getting lost in translation.

for me anyway.

kyels said...

Very enlightening. I do agree, translated versions will not be the as the original ones ... The depth isn't there.


mist1 said...

I don't speak your language? Then how am I reading this blog?

Am kidding, of course.

Lizza said...

Bud: Thanks! Don't sweat it. :-)

Marlayna: I couldn't agree more. :-)

HB: Thanks. Hope you're having a nice, cool day!

Inamini: Did I ever mention how sweet you are? Thank you very much!

Deb: Yep, although some subtitles (especially those in bootleg DVDs) are hilarious!

Kyels: Or they're totally inaccurate. :-)

Mist1: Hahahaha! Well, thank goodness for this common language that we speak.

zeroimpact said...

I totally agree... it sounds different too
I wish I could understand all languages as I find music and lyrics means so much...
Even if I could only understand lyrics would be enough for me
The wonder of music

terra shield said...

The same goes for jokes... translate them and you lose the essence.

Seems like you're in a reflective mood :)

iz said...

Let me translate a hindi song to illustrate your point.
"Spread I have
A scarf
of your name."
This is probably one of the most romantic things you could say to a man in my language.

ShadowFalcon said...

Thank goodness for music, make the world a better place.

I used to have a roomate who listen to Cantonese songs all day, at first I hated them but after a while they really grew on me...

Lizza said...

ZI: I understand. Learning other languages is one of my interests, has been for a long time.

Terra: Well, just a little bit. Damn, it's that obvious? ;-D

iz: Yes! I'm sure that phrase sounds beautiful and right in English it just doesn't quite look right. Thanks for dropping in.

Shadowfalcon: Haha! That must've been tough for you at first. Glad the songs won you over eventually. I love listening to foreign-language songs, even if I don't fully understand the lyrics.

Odat said...

I'm sitting here in my office at work (don't tell anyone i'm reading blogs ok?) but because of your wonderful descriptions of the stillness of morning and the music of life, I'm there!!!!

it's the little things said...

I love Iz's comment.

Matt-Man said...

Fortunately the modes of communication such as a look, a smile, a touch, or a kiss can convey strong messages tht transcend the spoken or written word. Cheers

Dan said...

Really nice post Sweetie. As you say, music is everywhere. One can even consider the honking of cars stuck in traffic, with the idling engines, and the cussing drivers, as music. It's just one way of looking at the world, of interpreting events, in a positive light. (Gosh, you post made me serious!)

Thanks for the reminder!

Mimi Lenox said...

This is a post after my own musician's heart. AWESOME thoughts. My belief is that music should move us to unspeakable moments. Am glad to hear you are safe and sound, my friend.

Morgen said...

Happy December -- I heard about the typhoon on the radio this morning, and immediately said a prayer for you & your loved ones.
Glad to hear the brunt of the storm missed you!
Love your post.
Just like you.


Wendz in France said...

Yeah thank God for the musically gifted..imagine having to rely on people like me..tone deaf!

Great post always.


Bond said...

LIZZA: What a great post. You are right though, songs very often lose their essence when translated. Love the illustration..fits the post...

Kiyotoe said...

You make me want to go straight home, turn out the lights, and turn up the music.

Nobody, ESPECIALLY the Counselor enjoys the music I listen to. Lost of instrumentals and "mood" music that inspires and motivates me to write.

Lizza said...

Odat: Glad to have you feeling that way. And I won't tell that you're blogging at work. ;-)

Marlyana: Yes, I like it too!

Matt: You're right. Non-verbal communication can be just as effective. Cheers!

Dan: Thanks! You seem to be one of the "glass-is-half-full" people; that's great. And I won't tell your readers that you have a serious side, don't worry. ;-)

Mimi: Thanks, you lovely woman. I hope that someday you'll let us hear you sing opera!

Morgen: You are SO nice. Thank you very much! :-)

Wendz: Thanks! High-five from a fellow tone deaf person.

Bond: Thank you very much! Glad you liked it.

Kiyotoe: Turn up that music and write! And make up for it to the Counselor later. ;-)

H said...

Liz, I so agree with you. sometimes, however fluent or not-fluent you are at a language, if you are multi-lingual there are just some times that words in one cannot translate the emotions that another language is able to evoke. I feel the same about a lot of things in hindi.
Hug for saying this so well.

Lizza said...

Thank you, H. Your comments always leave a warm glow. Maybe because we're so much alike? :-)

H said...

I think so too. ditto. grin.