silent night

The first time I noticed translation was probably while singing Christmas carols.
We learnt to sing Silent Night in something resembling German and Welsh at primary school, and in learning Polish I realised that the fuzzy warm sound of carols I’d heard before I could speak actually meant something: the shepherds, the kings, the manger. Suddenly last Christmas, singing Silent Night in Finnish for the first time, I realised I was singing about work. Work? It rhymes with night in Finnish (yö, työ). If you want it to rhyme, scan, and fit to a melody, you have to change your translation a bit. Or a lot.

The Austrian carol Silent Night is probably the most popular worldwide; UNESCO declared it an intangible world cultural heritage two years ago, and it is 195 years old this Christmas Eve. It has been translated into nearly 150 languages. Franz Xaver Gruber’s music is the same, but Joseph Mohr’s lyrics are not. Here are just two little differences each in four languages:

SilentNight

I hope you enjoy singing it in whatever language you choose. And if you’re stuck for saying Merry Christmas to someone, somewhere, here’s a handy collection of global Christmas greetings.

Have a peaceful, joyful Christmas!

ChristmasCard2013

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Christmas, language, translation
One comment on “silent night
  1. Wujek says:

    Your Dziadunio sang it beautifully in Polish, German and English!
    Wesołych Świąt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

advent Alice in Wonderland American And Other Stories Antonia Lloyd-Jones Arabic Barańczak Beowulf Bible books Brazil Brazilian Portuguese British British Library Buddhism Central Europe Children's Books Children's literature Chinese Christmas Christmas Carols Clare Cavanagh Contemporary Czesław Miłosz Dari Edinburgh Festival English Estonian Eugene Ostashevsky Europe European Literature Night Facebook Fantasy Farsi Fiction Finland Finland 100 Finlandia Prize Finnish Flemish Free Word Centre French friends George Szirtes German Greek Hebrew Herbert Lomas Herta Müller history Hobbit Hungarian Idioms Illustration international International Translation Day Italian J. R. R. Tolkien Japanese Jenny Erpenbeck Jewish Johanna Sinisalo Korean Language language learning Languages Latin left-handed Literature Lola Rogers Lord of the Rings Mabinogion Man Booker International Prize Maori Maria Turtschaninoff Mirkka Rekola Moomins New Year Nobel Prize Old English Oxford English Dictionary PEN Translation Prize Persian Philip Boehm Pippi Longstocking Poetry Poetry Translation Centre Polish Portuguese pubilc libraries Roald Dahl Romanian Rosa Liksom Russian Ryszard Kapuściński Salla Simukka Seamus Heaney Shakespeare Short Stories Slovene Sofi Oksanen Spanish Stanisław Barańczak Susan Bernofsky Svetlana Alexievich Swedish Switzerland Tadeusz Różewicz Terhi Ekebom Thomas Teal Tibetan Tove Jansson Translation translator Translators Without Borders Valentine's Day Wales Warsaw Welsh Wisława Szymborska Witold Szabłowski Women in Translation Month words Words without Borders writing

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow found in translation on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: