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"Lithuania! My fatherland, you are like health.."

skysoulmate 14 | 1,296
29 Oct 2010 #31
If we want to illustrate the language of the times then "fatherland" will be very much appropriate

Don't forget that during the time frame you're quoting Germans and/or German speakers had a huge presence in America; I'm certain the term fatherland, father's land, etc. was much more common then than it is now. (hmm, did I spell this right? lol)

I'm butting out of this discussion as I think the main points have already been made.

1) Pan Tadeusz represents an incredible piece of literature,
2) Translating poetry is difficult and often influenced by regional preferences and linguistic differences. Most often the beauty of poetry lies in the eye of the beholder or rather in the eyes of the reader,

3) Some people hate America no matter what,
4) Some people love America no matter what,
5) It's late, time to go to bed.
mafketis 24 | 9,161
29 Oct 2010 #32
This is a nice example of how difficult good translation can be. As far as I can tell there's no good way to translate the first three words into modern (American) English (I won't make any claims about any other variety).

Let's look at the obvious possiblities....

1. Fatherland, technically the most 'accurate' but what good is 'accuracy' when the word will likely trigger unintended negative connotations in a large segment of modern readers?

2. Country, kind of blah and colorless

3. Homeland, I would have preferred this before the "Department of Homeland Security", But now the word has acquired political connotations (whether positive or negative for a given person) so that clash with the poem's aim. It was a little dicey before since a lot of people might also associate the word with the old South African aparthheid regime. Personally I like it the best but it's problematic now.

4. Motherland, better than fatherland in terms of connotations and 'mother' matches the feminine gender of ojczyzna(!) but it's still far from natural.

5. Other options? 'Land of my (fore)fathers'' of "My forefathers' land" might work but is too many syllables (since Lithuania is also a lot longer than the oriignal).

And that's not even touching the fact that the Lithuania in question is not the current country of the same name... Obvious to Polish readers, but far from obvious to Anglophones. I might suggest either

a) Litwa (with an English w) IIRC Weyland uses the adjective form Litwan
b) Lithua - a neologism but one without the connotations of the modern Lithuania

Perhaps something like

"Lithua, my forefathers' land"
"Lithua, my father's land"
"Lithua, land of my fathers"

might end up being best, but probably won't be accepted for a number of reasons
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446
29 Oct 2010 #33
Lithuania, my homeland, I liken you to good health,
How much you should be be cherished only the one can know
Who's lost such wealth.

(Nothing can ever approach the original. The above pitiful attempt at a translation is bumpy and does not flow, but at least the number of syllables in each line is the same and a rhyme has been retained.)
Mr Grunwald 29 | 1,961
29 Oct 2010 #34
"Homeland" does sound very Nazi-esque, and completely at odds with American usages.

It's like saying "Motherland" is communistic as Russians/Commies in Soviet Union used it for recruitment campaigns, oh COME ON!
hague1cmaeron 14 | 1,377
30 Oct 2010 #35
How much one should tax you, IRS only can tell

Lol yes, I think that is the essential 21st century version coming to Polish schools near you.
26 Jun 2018 #36
Since my translation appears here, I'd like to comment. The whole "ojczyzno" issue is mind-boggling. Although the translation you quote uses "fatherland," my final version uses "native land." I've tried "homeland," which might be better, but it doesn't fit rhythmically, if that's important. I appreciate this discussion!
Lyzko 29 | 7,258
27 Jun 2018 #37
"Land of my birth", "land of my forefathers" etc.. something along those lines. Yes, the sonic aesthetic, the entire rhythm of the unit must match, not merely the accuracy of the meaning:-)

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