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Manch' Samen gibt's

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Jul. 18th, 2016 | 06:33 pm

I'm still learning Icelandic, and the textbook I'm currently using had a poem today, Til eru fræ by Davíð Stefánsson frá Fagraskógi, which was so nice I ended up not just reading it but also crafting a translation. And of course I'd like to share that, so here you go:

Til eru fræ

Til eru fræ, sem fengu þennan dóm:
að fjalla í jörð, en verða aldrei blóm.
Eins eru skip, sem aldrei landið ná,
og iðgræn lönd, er sökkva í djúpin blá.
og von, sem hefur vængi sína misst,
og varir, sem að aldrei geta kysst,
og elskendur, sem aldrei geta mæst,
og aldrei geta sumir draumar ræst.

Til eru ljóð, sem lifna og deyja í senn,
og lítil börn, sem aldrei verða menn.

Manch' Samen gibt's

Manch Samen gibt's, dem schweres Los ist auferlegt:
daß in der Erde Schoß nie jungen Trieb er schlägt.
Auch gibt es Schiffe, die nie sich're Häfen seh'n,
und Länder, reichbegrünt, die in der See vergeh'n,
und Hoffnung, deren Schein vor langer Zeit verblaßt',
und Lippen, die niemals ein zarter Kuß erfaßt.
Einander bleibt allzeit manch' Liebespaar verhüllt,
Und mancher teure Traum wird nimmermehr erfüllt.

Manch' Dichtkunst gibt's, die lebt und sterben will alsdann,
Und manches kleine Kind wächst nie zum Mann heran.

I had to change the meter to make it fit; my translation is a Iambic hexameter (the original is a Iambic pentameter), but it stays true to the original's evocative images and manages to flow and rhyme well, and I'm really quite happy with it, if I say so myself.

Perhaps I should consider a career translating poetry. :P

EDIT: no English translation yet, BTW, though I'm sorta toying with the idea of attempting one. "And islands, lush and green, that sink in depths blue..."

EDIT 2: English translation's done.

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Comments {6}

allaboutweather

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from: allaboutweather
date: Jul. 18th, 2016 10:02 pm (UTC)
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Isn't Icelandic one of the purest languages in the world? I heard they use ancient Icelandic words for relatively new words (ex. "Internet" in Icelandic will not be Internet).

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Jul. 18th, 2016 10:18 pm (UTC)
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They do dredge up old words to recycle, yes, or invent new words as well so in order to avoid taking on too many loanwords.

The Internet is actually "netið" (and the suffixed -ið is just the definite article), but a fairly well-known example of an old word being reused is "sími", "telephone", which used to mean "wire" (actually distantly related to the German "Seil", "rope").

A good example of a newly-crafted word is "tölva", "computer", which is an amalgam of "tala", "number", and "völva", "prophetess". Or take "rafmagn", "electricity", derived from "raf", "amber", and "magn", "power". ("raf" was in the past used as a translation of the Greek "electron".)

Of course this hasn't kept many loanwords from creeping into the language, especially in colloquial use. But yes, overall and compared to other languages I'm familiar with I'd say it's remained relatively pure.

Edited at 2016-07-18 10:18 pm (UTC)

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allaboutweather

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from: allaboutweather
date: Jul. 18th, 2016 10:42 pm (UTC)
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Ah. I suppose it's one of the more difficult languages to learn, though apparently English is (as a second language). The Germans, Dutch and Belgians frequently speak it as a second language.

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Jul. 18th, 2016 10:54 pm (UTC)
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The Germans, Dutch and Belgians frequently speak it as a second language.

English, or Icelandic? ;)

It's not so easy to learn, yes; there's a lot of inflection etc. that's been ground off in other languages. I'm not sure I'd describe it as archaic myself, but I'd certainly call it a baroque language. Linguistic development is linked to social development anyway, and the stagnation that Iceland saw for many centuries left it with a relatively pure form of Old (West) Norse.

That said it's also fun to learn.

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allaboutweather

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from: allaboutweather
date: Jul. 18th, 2016 10:58 pm (UTC)
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English. ;)

I wish I was able to retain the Spanish I lost in the last few years. Does Rosetta Stone work?

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Jul. 18th, 2016 10:59 pm (UTC)
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I've no idea!

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