Pearls of wisdom

Recently, I bought a newly published book called “Star in a Night Sky“, which is an anthology of Esperanto literature accompanied by the English translations. The literature includes both original works and translations.

So, some posts may arise from what I find there! Today, for example, is about Esperanto proverbs.

Do you ever think about how peppered with proverbs and sayings general conversation is? Sometimes a simple one-liner proverb succinctly states a possibly complicated idea. Proverbs really enrich a language, and Esperanto should be no different!

Through reading the book I found that L. L. Zamenhof’s* father had created a collection of thousands of proverbs and their equivalents in Russian, Polish, French and German. He had also begun adding Esperanto equivalents, but unfortunately died before he could complete his work. It’s quite sweet that the father would undertake such a thing in the dreamt-up language of his son! Made me chuckle.

Fortunately, the younger Zamenhof took up the work, naming the completed project “Proverbaro Esperanta” (Esperanto proverb collection). A quick google search will give you numerous versions of this text.

Obviously, some national language proverbs can be very idiomatic, but Esperanto’s need to be fairly internationally understood. There’s nothing stopping them being colourful and neat though!

I picked out a few I liked, and gave them literal (more or less) translations. Leave me a comment if you need any explanation as to what wisdom they’re trying to impart:

  1. inter lupoj kriu lupe = among wolves, howl like a wolf
  2. mankas klapo en lia kapo = a valve’s missing in his head
  3. inter la blinduloj reĝas la strabuloj = among the blind, the cross-eyed is king
  4. ĉiu tajloro havas sian tranĉmanieron = each tailor has his own way of cutting
  5. troa petolo danĝera al kolo = undue frolicking is dangerous for the neck

* The creator of Esperanto, which you should probably know by now!

Strangers from distant lands… Friends of old

“La duonon el vi mi ne konas duone tiom, kiom mi volus; kaj mi ŝatas malpli ol la duonon el vi duone tiom, kiom vi meritas.”

The above may give away that I’ve been reading the Esperantisised version of The Fellowship of the Ring. If not, then perhaps this’ll jog your memory!

It’s brought to my attention neat words such as:

  • tremvoĉe = with a trembling voice
  • vetermakulita = weather-worn
  • taŭzi = to tousle, dishevel, jostle
  • pomŝarĝita = apple-laden
  • mukokula = mucus-eyed

Also, I’m beginning to notice the little tricks that a good translator uses to try to capture the original flavour of a text. Let me give you an example:

There is a hobbit surname “Proudfoot”. In his speech, Bilbo refers to them collectively as “Proudfoots”, and one loud hobbit corrects him to “Proudfeet”. The humour behind this comment relies on the irregular plural of the English word “foot” (feet). So how can this humour be transferred to Esperanto when in our beautiful language all words have their plural with the simple addition of a “j” (including the word for “foot”!)?

Well, this is the solution the translator opts for:

… [bilbo speech] … Bonkorpoj, Brokhusoj kaj Fierfutoj.
“Fierpiedoj!” kriis maljuneta hobito

Bilbo uses the wrong notion of “foot” (“futo” is an Esperanto word, but it isn’t the anatomical “foot”), and is subsequently corrected.

I think that’s kinda neat! I’m looking forward to comparing the rest of the translation to the original and gaining some insights!