Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Jakdan's Preface

The following is a rough translation of the preface to Jakdan's eight-fascicle work of translations and original compositions. I'm pretty sure I've gotten the general gist, but I will probably come back to it and fiddle with the details over the next week.

I suppose it may have been written by Haiyu, but it isn't clear.

irgebun uculen be ubaliyambuha bithei šutucin.

Preface to the book of translations of poetry and songs

sio feng ja halangga agu serengge, sede oho bime tacire de amuran, gala ci bithe hokoburakū, yala amgacibe getecibe manju bithe debi, omirelame jeterelame ubaliyambure babe gūnirengge secina.

The gentleman Xiufeng (秀峰) of the Ja (扎) clan, being of a certain age and loving to learn, whether asleep or awake he is at his Manchu books, a book never leaving his hands. I would say he is thinking about points of translation even while he is drinking and eating.

tere inenggi de agu-i ubaliyambuha irgebun uculen ucun gargangga ucun be gajifi fusihūn minde tuwabuha bime, geli šutucin arakini serede, fusihūn bi ini gūnin be jendu gaime, fisembume hendume ubaliyambumbi serengge, terei nikan hergen-i gūnin be sibkifi, manju gisun-i ubaliyamburengge kai.

One day he brought the poetry and songs that he had translated and allowed me to see them, and when he said that someone should write a preface to it, I understood his unspoken thought, and obliquely said, "Translation means examining the meanings of the Chinese characters and rendering that into the Manchu language.

nikan hergen be sibkiha, manju gisun-i ubaliyambume jabduha manggi, udu gisun ubaliyambure mudan acabure, sijirhūn ubaliyambure forgošome ubaliyambure lakcabure sirabure nemebure meiterei adali akū ba bicibe, unenggi anggai mudan fuhali yargiyan ome, gisun-i ici yala acaname muteci, tuwarala urse, esi šungkengge ocibe arsaringge ocibe, gemu ferguwebuci ome ofi, faitan be tuwara adali getuken, falanggū be jorire gese iletu ojorakūngge akū ombi

After you examined the Chinese characters and rendered them into the Manchu language, even though there may have been places where it did not seem possible to translate the words, to match the rhyme, to render the straightforward as well as the convoluted, to expand on what is terse and to reduce what is verbose, nonetheless you have created truly natural rhymes, and you have indeed been able to fit them correctly to the words, such that all who see them, whether they be people of refinement or ordinary folks, they might all wonder at it. Everything is as clear as looking at an eyebrow, as plain as pointing at the palm of the hand.

aika irgebun uculen ucun gargangga ucun be ubaliyamburengge oci, šu fiyelen be ubaliyambure ci uthai cingkai encu ohobi.

If this is what it means to translate verse, poetry, songs and lyrics, then it is something utterly different from the translation of essays.

aici šu fiyelen oci, golmin foholon-i gisun bimbime, mudan uran-i hergen baitalarakū.

With regard to the translation of essays, lines may be long or short, and one doesn't make use of rhymes and verses.

ubaliyambure de manggašarakū oci tetendere, fuhašahai gūninjara be baibure aibi.

In the case that there are difficulties with translation, one can just think it over carefully, can't one?

terei irgebun uculen-i jergi duin hacin oci, hergen-i ton-i memerebumbime, geli urangga-i wajima-i kemnebumbi.

[But] these four types of things, verse, poetry, songs and lyrics, one must be stubborn about the number of syllables, and parsimonious with the ends of verses.

ere yargiyan-i mangga ningge kai.

This is what is really difficult.
jaide oci banjibure niyalma, gūnin be gisun ci tulgiyen baktambuci tetendere, ubaliyambure niyalma, gisun-i dorgide mujilen dursukileme muterakū.

And then, while the original author can put up with the meaning that is outside of the words, the translator cannot tamper with the ideas that are within them.

urunakū fudarame forgošofi mudan acanara, kemuni jurcenjeme hiyaganjame gisun banjinabure ohode, faksikan-i gūnin teni bultahūn-i ofi, banjibure niyalmai gūnin be buruburakū ojoro be dahame, ere ele murin tarin-i acanaci mangga ningge.

It is all the more difficult to accommodate awkward cases, such as when the rhyme has been turned upside down and inside out, when contradictory and disorderly language has been used, or when the original author's intent has been obscured because only his witty ideas have come to the fore.

aikabade manju gisun-i kooli kemun waka seme wakašaci, toktofi amba deribun ci jurcehe da ci aliha.

If one disparages the Manchu language, saying it has neither rule nor measure, then certainly one undertakes the great beginning from a contradictory foundation.

ganio be algimbuha yobo be ilibuhangge be, ulebuci ojorakū seme hendumbidere.

I would say that it should not project strangeness and provoke humor.

tuttu seme tere duin hacin oci, sunjata nadata hergen bicibe, minggan tumen gūnin baktakabi.

In which case, as for those four types of things, if they are five or seven syllables each, then they can encompass ten million ideas.

aika fe durun-i songkoi memereme ubaliyambuci, terei muru urunakū ubaliyambume tucibuhengge moco laju, hergen gisun sijihūn memereku ofi, oilorgingge gaifi yargiyangga be waliyahabi seme basuburakū oci, toktofi gisun nemebufi gūnin be dalibuhabi seme deribumbime, irgebure jorin ci ambula calabure de isinambi.

If one translates slavishly according to the old forms, then what one produces from translating their shapes will certainly be awkward and clumsy. Because the syllables and words will be stiff and inflexible, if people don't mock you for grasping the surface meaning and missing the deeper truth, then they will certainly start to say you have increased the words and obscured the meaning, and you will have greatly departed from the aims of poetry.

tuttu urunakū hergen-i oilo be dulemšeme dorgideri fuhašame, gisun-i giyangna be waliyafi bakcilame ubaliyambume memere waka hokotai waka.

Thus to take no care for the surface meaning of the words and be fastidious about the inner meanings, to discard the commentary and translate in opposition to it, is neither slavish nor divergent.

fetereku akū gakarashūn akū ome, fulu nonggire ba akū bime, lak sere ferguwecuke eṇ jeṇ-i, banjibure niyalma-i anggai ici gisun-i mudan be, hoošan-i deleri iletusaka, hūlaci fatar sere de isibure ohode, amala teni ganio be algimbuhakū bime esi ganio ombi. yobo be ilibuhakū bime esi yobo ombime, deribun da ci umai jurcehekū nikai seme ferguwembikai sehebe arafi, sio feng siyan šeng de alibufi tuwabuhade, siyan šeng fuhali uru sehe turgunde, erebe šutucin araha.

Being neither overly critical nor overly detached, without any case of excess, with marvelous and exact completeness, you take the correct rhythm of the original authors' words and make it clear on paper. When one reads it, if one does so diligently, then what is strange about it is that it does not project strangeness, and what is amusing is that it does not become a joke. One wonders at the fact that it has not deviated from its fundamental origin." I wrote this down, and when I presented it to Mr. Xiufeng, the gentleman said it seemed to be correct, so I made it into this preface.

julge te-i gebungge saisai uculen ucun be sonjofi ubaliyambuha bithe.

A book of translations of selected poetry and songs of famous intellectuals from ancient times to the present.

gulu fulgiyan-i manju gūsai ubaliyambure dosikasi jakdan ubaliyambuha.

Translated by Jakdan, metropolitan graduate translator, of the plain red Manchu banner.

gulu fulgiyan-i manju gūsai ubaliyambure tukiyesi hainioi acabuha.

Collated by Haiyu (海玉), provincial graduate translator, of the plain red Manchu banner.

Poetic departures

Manchu grammar is usually fairly structured and predictable. In poetry, many departures from the usual rules appear to be permissible.

In my last post I translated an anonymous Lament on the State of the Times, and here I want to look at two of the cases of poetic usage I had to deal with.

Missing genitive marker

It is not normally permissible to drop the genitive marker in Manchu, except under specific circumstances. In Old Manchu, for example, it was permissible to drop the genitive marker -i after words ending in -i, but not in other cases.

In the Lament, there are at least three clear cases where the genitive appears to have been dropped after a word ending in -n, and some other cases that could be read that way. This was probably metrically motivated, since the genitive marker would have added an extra syllable after a word ending in -n.

The clearest cases are the following phrases:

taifin fon, "season of peace", for taifin-i fon
irgen ergen, "the spirit of the people", for irgen-i ergen
irgen banin, "the state of the people", for irgen-i banin

Wistful ya

The word ya can be found in ordinary literary Manchu, where it has the meaning of “which? what?”. However, this reading is often awkward in poetry, where the word ya occurs much more frequently.

The Lament uses it twice, and based on this usage I am inclined to understand it as a wistful or despondent exclamation.

1) dasarangge weke ya

Norman defines weke as “hey you! (word used for calling people whose name is unknown or forgotten)”. Presumably this is somehow related to the word we, “who?”. I suppose we could read dasarangge weke as “Hey you, repairer!” But then what do we do with the ya?

The line occurs in a context describing how the country is in disorder, and the feeling of the poem suggests that the speaker longs for a repairer who is not there. A despondent exclamation would fit the feeling of this line.

2) mergen jiyanggiyūn ya waci

The heart of this phrase is mergen jiyanggiyūn waci, “if the heroes and generals kill’, but normally that expression cannot stand on its own in Manchu because the conditional -ci is a converb, not a finite form.

I think the poet is using ellipsis here, and leaving the remainder of the phrase unspoken. “If the heroes and generals would kill [them, then we wouldn't have so much trouble].” We do the same thing in English when we say “If only the heroes and generals would kill them!” I think the ya in this phrase serves a similar adverbial function to the “only” in the English phrase, expressing a wish that the proposition of the sentence were true.

Friday, September 22, 2017

A lament on the state of the times

This is an anonymous poem included in Staatsbibliothek 34981 Fascicle 4. The title, Doo cing cy ninggun meyen (道情詞), seems like it might be an allusion to another work, but the only other Dao qing ci that I have found is a reference in chapter 44 of 西遊記:
Hand striking the bamboo fish, mouth singing the Dao qing ci, he entered the city gates and met the two Daoist priests. 
From context, it looks like the original may have been a Daoist hymn, but the Manchu poem is clearly a different creation, being a mournful lament on the affairs of the day (erin-i baita de nasarangge).

The poem consists of six stanzas of three quatrains each. The metrical scheme of each stanza is 3/3/3/3 7/7/7/7 3/4/3/4, and the rhyme scheme is AAxA AxAA xxxA. The only inconsistency in this scheme is that the last line of the fifth stanza (ai mohon) should be the first line of the sixth stanza in terms of meter, but belongs with the fifth stanza in terms of rhyme.

agu tuwa,Look, brother
ainara,what should we do?
faijuma,This is serious.

jobocuka ambula,Very worrisome,
gurun forgon icakū,the nation and the times are tense,
niyalmai gūnin gūwaliyaka,the people's minds have changed.
dasarangge weke ya?Who can fix it?

ai teišun,Whatever bronze
jiha eden,and cash is gone.
on kafi,When you go on an errand
bele aba?where is the rice?

agu suwe,Brothers, you
jai bodo,reckon again.
facuhūn,Where does
ai dube,the trouble end?

jalan baita ehe,Worldly affairs are wicked,
menggun seci ekiyehun,and the silver? Gone.
caliyan dembei oyonggo,Provisions are important!
aini cooha ujire,How can we maintain the army?

gurun ejen,are the rulers and nations.
hūlha holo,the robbers and thieves.

agu si,Brother, you
taifin fon,When has there been
atanggi,a season of peace?

yala yala akambi,So we grieve on.
irgen ergen gukuhei,The vitality of the people is extinguished,
hūlhai songko jalupi,the tracks of the bandits proliferate.
mergen jiyangjiyūn ya waci,If only the heroes and generals would kill them.

oyonggoWe value
menggun jiha,silver and cash,
weihuken,and count for little
ejen kesi.the grace of our rulers.

ai agu,Oh, brother,
ambasa officials
baitakū,are useless.

yasa tuwahai hūi uttu,Look now with your eyes,
gurun baitalan eden,the government is empty of useful people,
booi baitalan fulu,households are full of useful people,
tucibure jai akū,no one is appointed anymore.

gūnin tondo,correct thinking
bireteiis exclusively
beyei cisu.for personal benefit.

g'alab ton,The reckoning of ages
esi giyan,of course is proper,
ergenggeand living things
jilakan,are pitiful.

gūnihakū jobolon,Mindless suffering.
cooha ai uttu niyere,Why is the army weak like this?
bata ai tuttu kiyangkiyan,Why are the enemies powerful like that?
jiyangiyūn data ai bodon?What plan do the generals and leaders have?

bi jeke,I have eaten.
caliyan fulun bi waliya,Let me abandon provisions and salary.
golo hoton,The district and town,
ai mohon.such depletion.

ai jempiHow can one bear
mujilenthese thoughts?

wei ondoho facuhūn,Foolishness brings disaster,
irgen banin kokima,the state of the people is poor,
gurun ulin ekiyehun,the coffers of the state are empty,
yala jobocuka suffering is extreme.

ban akū,Without troops
coohai jiyangiyūn,are the army generals,
sui akū,without guilt
niyalmai ergen.the people's spirits.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Jakdan's Wordplay

I've been thinking about how Jakdan translated 自去自來 in Du Fu's poem. He could have translated it literally, cihai genere cihai jiderengge, but instead he wrote cihai deyenere cihai donjirengge.

What has he done here, and why?

Most obviously, Jakdan has told us that the swallows are flying (deyene-). Du Fu, in his elegant concision, did not say that they were flying. But then he didn't need to, because everyone knows that swallows fly. Indeed, the constraints of regulated verse may have made it difficult or impossible Du Fu to say "freely flying to and fro" (*自飛去來).

Jakdan, however, was not working under the same constraints as Du Fu. He imposed on himself the restriction that each line of his translation should have seven Manchu words, but was able to make use of the fact that Manchu can combine the meaning of "flying" (deye-) and "going" (-ne-) into a single word to embellish the translation without breaking the poetic form.

Perhaps more interesting, though less obvious, is what at first appears to be a transcription error in the word donjirengge. Just as Manchu can inject the meaning of "going" using the derivational suffix -ne-, it can likewise inject the meaning of "coming" using -nji-. If Jakdan meant to parallel Du Fu's 自去自來, we would expect cihai deyenere cihai deyenjirengge. However, instead of "come flying" (deyenji-), Jakdan gave us "listen, hear" (donji-).

The simplest explanation here is that Jakdan (or a copyist) made a mistake, and this is really meant to be deyenjirengge. However, I am entertaining the idea that Jakdan intended to embellish his translation again by telling us that people can hear the swallows, and he was poetically licensed to do this by the similarity between the words deyenji- and donji-.