St Valentine was martyred in Rome about 1740 years ago today. What better way to honour him than with loving words in many languages? It’s been shown yet again, very entertainingly and by many translators, that idioms don’t translate easily, but some are almost the same:
Alle Wege führen nach Rom – wszystkie drogi prowadzą do Rzymu – kaikki tiet vievät Roomaan – all roads lead to Rome
If you’re struggling to communicate across linguistic boundaries, might the language of food be a safer bet?:
Die Liebe geht durch den Magen – przez żołądek do serca – tie miehen sydämeen vie vatsan kautta – the way to a MAN’s heart is through his stomach (in English and Finnish – in German and Polish it’s any hearts and stomachs regardless of gender)
If that fails, you must concede that:
Liebe macht blind – miłość czyni ślepym – rakkaus on sokea – love is blind (in German and Polish it makes you blind, rather than being blind). Or, to put it another way, “love is not blind, it just can’t always see where it’s worth arriving to” (Rakkaus ei oo sokea/Se ei aina vaan osaa katsoa/ Kenen luokse kannattaa saapua: lyrics by Haloo Helsinki for their 2013 hit Rakkaus)
Or you could just give up and go home.
“All roads lead to Rome, but I’m going home to Crewe, where my love is waiting for me.”
The only traces I could find of the Finnish song “Kaikki tiet vievät Roomaan, minä lähden Kouvolaan…” are on Kouvola pride websites and blogs, so I don’t know who wrote it. Kouvola – the Finnish Crewe – is not a beautiful town (see picture on the video), it’s just where you change trains, but if you love your home town, or the person waiting for you in it, you don’t care. If you’re feeling cynical about love this year, hear the song as a hymn to your home town, and remember this other, much more typical, Finnish idiom:
Toimii kuin junan vessa = Works like the train toilet
And if you’re feeling loved-up, here’s a new word, to winch (to kiss, to court, in Glasgow slang). The image of lovers meeting at the station is from the statute Glasgow Buchanan Street, Wincher’s Stance, by the appropriately named John Clinch.
Happy Valentine’s Day!