Linguaphile wrote:Or change the names to English names with a similar effect:
On the second floor, as our closest neighbors, was the Fiddler family with their two children, whose given names quite in keeping with their family name were Melody and Carol. The Fiddlers' kitchen was exactly behind the wall of my piano room, but music couldn't be heard from there, only voices.
Ooh, that was clever! Kudos to you!
The word order and grammatical structure for this one is so different from English that it seems there are several ways to translate it, for example with a car left for the night in the yard it was necessary to let the coolant water out no matter what
(what I started with) versus a car left overnight in the yard absolutely had to have its coolant water drained
(what I decided on).
tuli ööseks hoovile seisma jäetud autost jahutusvesi ilmtingimata välja lasta
it-came for-the-night to-the-yard to-stay left from-the-car cooling-water without-any-conditions out to-let,
so in terms of grammatical structure and literal meaning there is no exact match and this is why we end up with two fairly differently-structured English translations that both seem to work okay.
I so know this pain. You have no idea how much I've struggled
A) when I've been translating something from English into Finnish to my parents, and mid-way through realised I can't use this syntax*, I have to change the word order to make it work... and
B) when I've translated Finnish texts into English for my friend**.
I once even tried simultaneous interpretation when my friend and I were watching TV... It was a Swedish film with Finnish subs, and I had to focus so hard that I didn't even noticed when the characters started to speak in English, but kept translating!
And it's not just the word order, it's also the use of postpositions and cases instead of prepositions... You have to read/listen to the whole word and then process how it's said in English before you can do anything with it. I'm not saying it takes forever
, but it would be much easier if you could just go like i en hus
= in a house
is my nemesis. I see it and I immediately start crying because I know this is going to get messy.
**Song lyrics are the worst
. They really show you that Finnish has a free word order, which means you have to go through the entire sentence before you can start to translate it. Like how the region anthem
(or whatever, dunno what to call it) of Ostrobothnia begins:
- Mis' laaja aukee Pohjanmaa
- Where wide opens Ostrobothnia = Where the wide Ostrobothnia(n lands) open
Or this Christmas carol
- lehmät ne lehdoista näkee vain / unta kahleissa kytkyin
- cows they groves-from see only / dream chains-in tethers-of = the cows are dreaming of groves in their tethers
How it goes for me: cows of gro... no wait, they're seeing from the groves, no wait they're DREAMING of groves! And they're chained? In chains? Tethered? Chained by tethers? With tethers? What? No wait I can just say in their tethers, that's the same thing... No, but I should probably say the cows
because it's the family's cows, not just random cows?
- Tonttu puoleksi unissaan / ajan virtaa on kuulevinaan
- Tonttu half sleep-in-his / time's stream is thinks-he-hears = tonttu, half-asleep, thinks it's the stream of time that he hears
How it goes for me: Tonttu, half-asleep, the stream of time is... oh fuck, no.
(Tonttu = a miniature mythical humanoid creature believed to live in the forests and in or near people's dwellings. The tonttu mentioned in this song is the guardian and protector of the family's house and outdoor buildings. Also, the singer in the video I linked has slightly different lyrics: he sings ajan virtaa on kulkevinaan
or time's stream is thinks-he-walks... or "he imagines he's walking on/following the stream of time".)
Or another Christmas carol
:Arkihuolesi kaikki heitä,
mieles' nuorena nousta suo!
Armas joulu jo kutsuu meitä
taasen muistojen suurten luo.
Kylmä voisko nyt olla kellä,
talven säästä kun tuoksahtaa
lämmin leuto ja henkäys hellä,
rinnan jäitä mi liuottaa?
Everyday worries-your all throw
mind-your young-as rise let!
Dear Christmas already calls us
again memories' great to.
Cold could now be whom-at,
winter's weather-from when whiffs
warm mild and breath gentle,
chest's ices which thaws?Let go of all your everyday worries,
let your mind be young again!
Dear Christmas is calling us once again
To the great memories.
Who could feel cold now
when from the winter weather
a warm, mild and gentle wind sighs,
and thaws the ice in your chest?
Or this one
(yes Finnish Christmas carols are cheery like that):Kerran loppuun satu joulun saa
Suru säveliä sumentaapi
Kerran silmän täyttää kyyneleet
Virtaa vuolahina tuskan veet
Siks, oi tähtisilmät, loistakaatte!
Once end-to tale Christmas's comes
Sorrow tunes blurs
Once eye's fill tears
Flows heavy-as agony's waters
That-for, oh star-eyes, shine!Once the tale of Christmas shall come to its end
Sorrow will darken the tunes
Once the eye will be filled with tears
The waters of agony will flow freely
Therefore, oh starry eyes, please shine [now]!
The Estonian sentence would be easy though:tuli ööseks hoovile seisma jäetud autost jahutusvesi ilmtingimata välja lasta
tuli yöksi pihalle seisomaan jätetystä autosta jäähdytysnesteet välttämättä pihalle laskea/päästää.
(Although, I think it'd feel more natural to say laskea/päästää pihalle
than pihalle laskea/päästää
. But it's not wrong in either way, and I don't think people would even notice if I kept the original word order tbh.)