The excruciatingly embarrassing Singing Valentine that a grim-looking dwarf delivered to Harry in Book 2 Chapter 13. The song was anonymously commissioned by Ginny. (This was not Ginny's year!)
|His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,
His hair is as dark as a blackboard.
I wish he was mine, he's really divine,
The hero who conquered the Dark Lord.
Several things in this English verse to look for in a translation:
1. The overall humorous effect.
2. The parallel similes in the first two lines.
3. The use of rhyme (this is unlikely to be reproduced in CJV languages, which tend not to use rhyme -- although ancient Chinese poetry did have elaborate rhyme schemes).
4. Although addressed to Harry, it refers to him in the third person as 'he'.
5. The word 'divine' literally means 'of the gods', 'godlike', but in popular usage is an expression of appreciation several notches above 'wonderful' in reference to adored ones, food, music, art, or other moving experiences.
|Tā de yǎnjing lǜ
de xiàng gāng yānguo de lài-hámá,
Tā xiàng hēibǎn yíyàng wūhēi xiāosǎ,
Wǒ xīwàng tā shì wǒ de, yīnwèi tā zhēn de hěn shuàiqì,
Shì zhēngfú Hēimótóu de yǒngshì.
Succinct and largely faithful to the English. No attempt at reproducing a rhyme scheme.
The second line dispenses both with the parallel wording (possibly for stylistic reasons) as well as Harry's hair to say 'He is pitch-black, free and elegant like a blackboard.'
'Divine' emerges as 帅气 shuàiqì meaning 'handsome, elegant, graceful'.
|Tā de yǎnjing lǜ
de xiàng shì xīnxiān de yān-hámá,
Tā de tóufa hēi de xiàng shì dìshàng de làn níbā,
Wǒ xīwàng tā biànchéng wǒ de rén, yīnwèi tā shì zhème de shén,
Tā jiù shì dǎdǎo Hēimówáng de yīngxióng dǐng guā guā.
This version attempts something like a rhyme scheme (lines 1, 3, and 4).
In order to fit the rhyme scheme, some changes have been made:
Line 2 compares Harry's hair not to a blackboard but to 地上的爛泥巴 dìshàng
de làn níbā 'mushy mud on the ground'.
Line 4 adds 頂呱呱 dǐng guā guā ('tip-top, first-rate, excellent') to the end of the line, which adds to the flippant and humorous effect.
'Divine' is translated as 神 shén. This means 'god', 'supernatural', 'magical', 'spirit', 'mind', 'energy', or 'expression', but also has the colloquial meaning of 'smart, clever, incredible'. While it is a happy coincidence that 神 shén, like 'divine', means both 'godlike' and 'incredible', it unfortunately falls somewhat short of the tone of swooning romantic admiration carried by the word 'divine'.
|Anata no me wa midori-iro,
aoi kaeru no shin-zuke no yō
Anata no kami wa makkuro, kokuban no yō
Anata ga watashi no mono nara ii no ni. Anata wa suteki
Yami no Teiō o seifuku shita, anata wa eiyū
The Japanese follows the English quite closely, capturing the simplicity of the English with clear and simple Japanese, including the parallel similes in the first two lines. The only difference is that the toad becomes an 青い蛙 aoi kaeru 'green frog'.
There is, not surprisingly, no attempt to reproduce a rhyme scheme, which is not found in Japanese poetry.
Note that the Valentine is addressed to あなた anata, 'you', not 'him' as in the English. あなた anata is used by Japanese women to their husbands.
'Divine' becomes 素敵 suteki, commonly used for people of the opposite sex whom one finds admirable and attractive.
|Mắt chàng xanh như cóc ngâm tươi rói
Tóc chàng đen như tấm bảng đen
Em ước sao chàng là của em
Chàng quả thực siêu phàm
Vị anh hùng đã chiến thắng trùm Hắc ám.
The Vietnamese follows the English quite closely. There is no rhyme scheme and line 4 is split into two separate lines.
The Vietnamese is addressed to 'chàng', which literally means 'young man' but is also equivalent 'you' when used by a wife to her husband. Similarly, 'em', 'younger sister', is a personal pronoun used by women.
The Vietnamese misses the mark on 'divine' with 'siêu phàm', which means 'eminent, outstanding, preternatural, superhuman'. The last line goes on to explain that Harry is 'siêu phàm' because ('vi'̣) he defeated the Dark Lord.