Sunday, February 29, 2004
"What you are now witnessing is open to your.....
Any conclusions regardingt what it was you heard will be open to your own.....
Who I am is open to your personal (file under personnel) .....
what you see involves the ..... of perception;
Es más, el montón de tu desgarga será causado por forma de tu .....
El modo en que tratas a la gente está manifestado en tu.....
Tu modo de pensar, la base de tu existencia se gira por tu propia.....
El concepto de tu lugar en este universo nació en tu .....
You are now listening to the fool
the man who did a cakewalk
snuffed a lady's perfumed hatbox
and spent late hours at the drool school,
haciendo parodias en mi troka vacía
cantando a pájaros libres, que ni caso me hacen.
You are now experiencing the duality,
lo que pasa cuando las dos voces te hablan
and you keep changing the dial,
buscando the right tune, spontaneous reality,
la tesis sobre los platitudes de chic versus anolítica,
de voces que te hablan:
ambiciones de Europa, squared to the root of el Indígena,
divided by the land, multiplied a thousand times by the spirit."
(excerpt from "Interpretation", p. 70 Flor Y Canto II)
Again music for our metaphor and the odd language of bureacracy and authority in 2 languages. Flipping through channels on the radio also an interesting metaphor for what is going on. A choice of realities and what history historia you will listen to or read.
"We are now free to decide if we will accept our present term in material form,
under the direction of God, Buddha, Tizoc, Kennedy, or Many Fernandez......
On an earthy basis, we shall ponder the question of whether we also wish
constant direction and supervision from our mortal saviors,
tijeras, Clavez, Corchy, Alambrista, Abe, Licaldo, or Emiliano Zapata (Jr),
Okay... here I am getting it that those are playful name puns on (I know who the tijeras one is but can't call it to mind right away... later...) chavez, corky the boxer/writer guy, alurista... and who? jokes in other language and other culture and history! well at least I am vaguely aware there is a joke even if I don't really get it.
I run into this a lot as a translator. In fact it is partly that sensation of missing a joke that first got me into translation when I was a kid, as I listened to Los Melodicos or Alberto Beltran and vaguely realized there were off color jokes in there pretty much any time they were singing about farm animals.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Literatura Chicana Texto y contexto ed. Joseph sommers and Tomas Ibarra and antonio Castañeda
Aztlán by Luís Valdez and Stan Snyder
Nuyorican poets: Nuyoricans (big anthology)
Victor Hernández Cruz (Snaps, Mainland, Tropicalization)
Pedro Pietri (Puerto Rican Obituary)
Miguel Piñro - playwright mostly known as, but great poetry, look for it
Miguel Algarín - editor of good stuff, look for it
Leticia Hernandez - local - tues. mar. 9th Intersection for the Arts 1pm(?)
K. Weber - fellow grad student does translation, contact her
Jimmy Santiago Baca. how did I leave him off my list? Why does my list focus around chicano mvment of the 70s? Well. Because when I look for "bilingual poetry" on web or "poetry chicano latino" etc. in library catalog, that is what I get. And I don't think I looked up nuyoricans anywhere though I have heard of them - It didn't occur to me. And in all the poetry scenes i have found in the last 2 years - no one has heard of anyone and in fact, see my giant rants on the Non Profit Not To Be Named and its complete ignorance of "how to find a latino poet" despite being IN S@N JOSE. heh heh And me, interested, and also asking everyone I know and don't know, including cold-calling and visiting office hours of various profs, no one could give me any names except for Renato telling me to look up José Montoya and the floricanto poets. nor was i able to find any poetry reeadings that were bilingual nor did anyone tell me about the intersection for the arts. It also took me 3 years living here to find out about the Center for Art in Translation, even though I was looking and asking for something, anything, to do with translation and started my own translation reading group in order to fill the void. So yeah. if that answers any questions about why and how? and why no one knows? it is hard to find, or see, anything, from my suburban gringalandia... In fact in comp. lit dept. OR poetry ctr. SF OR creative writing dept, no one I talked with ever mentioned the existence of the ethnic studies or La Raza depts!!!
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
I have had commentary from non-spanish speakers at poetry readings about some of my de Ibarbourou translations too - that I will leave words like "piragua" instead of translating it as "canoe" or "boat" or "dugout canoe" or something. This is clearly the "foreignizing vs. domesticating" issue. And here I didn't feel like "piragua" was any more exotic a word for de Ibarbourou than "canoe" would be for an english speaking US-ian.
One other thing with translating de Ibarbourou particularly - I know I'm not always preserving the right tone - the degree of high-falutin' literariness. Sometimes by accident, and sometimes on purpose.
*what some actual mayan, or non mayan "indio" would think of this, I have suspicion not necessarily liking being exoticised, mithologized, subsumed,he does mention non-maya: "Azteca, Toteca, Maya or Yaqui" Nahuatl too.
Mixing of mayan phrases in capital letters
p. 20 Place name lists begin to emphasize the indioness of the names.
p. 23 fictional etymology. flexiblity. "re-ligion" "RE-LIGARE" the crossing of languages here has resulted in an idea. the idea of the "false cognate" but I think that "falseness" is false - it is fruitful. the "false cognate" creates something new, some new idea and new word.
p. 24 re-writing of history. alternative history. fictional history. catachrestic mythologizing. comes out very strong here:
Jesus Christ spoke
in a strange
and holy language, saying:
"HELI LAMAH ZABAC TANI"
which was misinterpreted
long ago as
"MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST
THOU FORSAKEN ME?"
becvause the translators
did not recognize
the strange phrase
"AHORA ME SUMERGIÓ EN LA
ALBORADA DE TU PRESENCIA"
p. 52 Flor y Canto II
I love the poem "Nacimiento' by Viviana Aparicio Chamberlain
It strikes me that Bruce-Novoa's structures don't apply very well to the work by women poets
tends toward similarities with what i think of as the more academic or intellectual mexican poets like Huerta Writing the bulk in spanish A poet's poet and a virtuoso I warm to him extremely.
Monday, February 16, 2004
I am happy for the translations and the footnotes. I don't get a lot of the poems when I first read them. I figure some out from context and then look up words.
now i notice a thing I could talk about. for example in Alurista's poem "En El Barrio" we have things like this:
en el barrio
- en las tardes de fuego
when the dusk prowls
en la calle desierta
pues los jefes y jefas
- often late hours
we play canicas
in the playground
abandoned and dark
hasta la noche
we play canicas
until we grow
to make borlote
and walk the streets
paved - with buildings
altos como el fuego
- el que corre en mis venas
Well, I had meant to just quote a few lines but I typed the whole poem because i liked it so much. A few quick notes before i go to sleep. I get it all except the words canicas and borlote but i get the idea that canicas is some kids' game and borlote is more questionable fun of some kind like maybe drinking or whatever, something the teenagers would do. but I think an english speaker with much less spanish than I have could still "get" this poem. why? we have some repetition that is not exact repetition in the "dragontales" sense. alurista is not repeating "en las tardes de fuego" "on late afternoons at fiery sunset" or whatever. but if you don't get the tardes de fuego, you still get "when the dusk prowls" right afterwards to give you the sense of time. the fuego is also I think echoed in the word "abandon" and the feeling of ominousness and the words "walk the streets". It reminds me of the technique of translation that I have been calling "echoing". I found when translating some poems that I could not manage to work all the echoes, all the possible meanings, double meanings, implications, of a single word in spanish, fit into the place in the poem it should be in. I will provide an example of this later but am too tired to look it up now.
But I can remember the words "dura cuenca" and thinking about the geographic basin and then something about it being like a skull or helmet and hoofs were also involved. The poem had a lot of death imagery and dryness and I think I worked in the "skull" meaning a few lines later, where it did not exist in the original Spanish version. So, rather than lose multiple meanings inherent in one word or phrase, I tried to echo the possible meanings somewhere else in the poem. Maybe real translators have a technical term for this. I will check. I also did this in a few places in translating "Fusion" by J. de Ibarbourou. So that when people read it they say "why do you have this word here, it's not in the original." and I then explain.
The point was that here is a link between translation and a technique used in bilingual poetry to make the poem accessible to more than one linguistic category of audience.
And it's a great poem.
I wonder if I am going to end up talking about what and why I consider good vs. bad poems here. Probably here on the blog, because I think about it a lot. But in any sort of final paper I would rather just focus on the "good" whatever I decide that to be. But shouldn't I define what I mean by good, or why I am choosing the poems I choose to talk about?
For example what if a 90% spanish speaker reads this - do they like it? does it work on those levels? for this poem yes I think so.
I might try typing up only the english or only the spanish and see what 2 different poems come of it.
I also feel the urge to read some of these to hapless english-only poets at poetry readings and see their reactions.
A maternal reply mingled with
The hissing of the hot planchas
Y los frijoles de la hoya
Boiling musically dando segunda
A los ruidos nocturnos and
The snores of the old man
Lulling sounds y los perros
becomes in a translation into English by Toni Empringham:
A maternal reply mingled with
The hissing of the hot iron
And the beans in the pot
Boiling musically seconding
The nocturnal sounds and
The snores of the old man
Lulling sounds and the dogs
It would be interesting to translate it all into Spanish too. If you are going to bridge one way then also build the bridge the other way.
Sunday, February 15, 2004
I will repeat again for myself:
"The artists and writers who inhabit the Fourth World have a very important role: to elaborate the new set of myths, metaphors, and symbols that will locate us within all of these fluctuating cartographies."
And am thinking of Wittig's myths and histories and symbols in Les Guèrilléres and with Sande Zeig in Lesbian Peoples: Material for a Dictionary.
Reversals, fiction, myth. How I felt on reading Egalia's Daughters. Rewriting of histories.
I am also thinking of my love of Laureano Albán's Enciclopedia de Maravillas. Its similiarities in the dual language edition to "Lesbian Peoples" rewriting symbology by creating authoritative encyclopediac definitions in poetry. Poetry, leaping, illogic, fiction, as legitimate source material for an encyclopedia or a dictionary. The possible truths or could have beens in "Lesbian Peoples" and the cheerfully sly personal jokes. The feeling that "real" history is this false or this subjective as well.
I am departing from the idea of bilingualness in the poetry, but these seem like useful connections for the other project.
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Right away on page one the word "Gringoñol" in the introduction to "Freefalling toward a borderless future" made me laugh and simultaneously feel at home and feel uncomfortable. Then the essay gave me some more new words for identity and geography. Nuyo Rico. Cuba York. Mexamerica. Canochis. Chicanadians, Waspbacks, Gringotlanis, Anglomalans. Right on! Where am I? I'm not sure but in some (not too painful) colonialist purgatory or limbo.
"Here/there, the indigenous and the immigrant share the same space but are foreigners to each other. Here/there we are all potential border-crossers and cultural exiles. We have all been uprooted to different degrees, and for different reasons, but not everyone is aware of it. Here/there, homelessness, border culture, and deterritorialization are the dominant experience, not just fancy academic theories. "
Yo Guillermo! I am a duck swimming around happily in your pond made of mixy uppy words and languages. Tell it! I love a straight talking manifesto.
I oppose the sinister cartography of the New World Order with the conceptual map of the New World Border - a great trans- and intercontinental border zone, a place in which no centers remain. It's all margins, meaning there are no "others", or better said, the only true "others" are those who resist fusion, mestizaje, and cross-cultural dialogue. In this utopian cartography, hybridity is the dominant culture; Spanglish, Franglé, and Gringoñol are linguas francas; and monoculture is a culture of resistance practiced by a stubborn or scared minority.
I also oppose the old colonial dichotomy of First World/Third World with the more pertinent notion of the Fourth World - a conceptual place where the indigenous peoples meet with the diasporic communities. In the Fourth World, there is very little place for static identities, fixed nationalities, "pure" languages, or sacred cultural traditions. The members of the Fourth World live between and across various cultures, communities, and countries. And our identitites are constantly being reshaped by this kaleidoscopic experience. The artists and writers who inhabit the Fourth World have a very important role: to elaborate the new set of myths, metaphors, and symbols that will locate us within all of these fluctuating cartographies.
I typed all this in because I think the Fourth World will be a good term for me. The poems I am looking at often inhabit that Fourth World. To get to the Fourth World, "beyond science fiction", it is necessary to be hybrid, to be dislocated. The mixing of languages for the 100%-er of either side can be a good dislocator.
Holy cow. As I keep reading I am developing a giant crush on Gomez-Peña. Everything he is saying is what i have been railing at the SJ poetry center about all year and also what I like about translation. Hybridity, simulteneity, cross-cultural diplomacy, conscious border crossing while not destroying the borders, ie not making everything happy bland multiculti cultural globalization pablum.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
'Code-switching occurs commonly amongst bilinguals and may take a number of different forms, including alteration of sentences, phrases from both languages succeeding each other and switching in a long narrative. In normal conversations between two bilinguals code-switching consists of 84% single word switches, 10% phrase switches and 6% clause switches (Cook, V. 1991)'.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Here is the space where I will start keeping it. Later today or tomorrow morning.
I am enjoying reading this paper. Pountain talks about the benefits of extending spanish through borrowing and extending grammatical possibilities. (ie verbs like emailearse) That's great. But what are the benefits of code switching? The Poetics of Code Switching. Maybe it is code switching I need to be looking at more closely. because it is insistant that both languages be used simultaneously and it doesn't adhere to one grammar or the other. for example I've heard poems where a person writes the whole poem in English and just substitutes a Spanish word here and there but the overall structure is grammatically (lexically?) English. (find a good example of this) Montoya goes beyond this as do a lot of the other writers I'm skimming - Raúl Salinas etc.
I think at this point I need to stop reading linguistics papers for a few days and rip quickly through an anthology. I need more examples in my head than Montoya.
It is working well to think about this early every morning even though I am too busy buying a new house and getting ready to move for the next week or so to really focus.
Monday, February 09, 2004
a good article on spanglish and calques. " Although “a normal feature of bilingualism,” (Crystal 115) the loanwords, code-switching, and calques typical to the varieties of Spanglish threaten both the English and Spanish languages, with purists on both sides condemning the budding dialect."
Sunday, February 08, 2004
Molotov (hilarious. "frijolero" gringo accent is cracking me up! )
I wish to find some women? where are they hiding, hiphopistas? anyone have suggestions? I surfed about and looked through some compilation CDs but found no women. they must be there, I have faith!
Todd asserts that the process of pidginization takes place all the time anytime two people who don't speak each other's languages come into contact - 'people who have elementary communication needs but possess only a vestigial grasp of each others' languages". so far he has not talked much about power or dominant cultures etc. "But the creation of a pidgin and its elaboration into either an extended pidgin or a creole, while not uncommon, is much rarer than the actual process of pidginization itself. The emergence of such a language as a permanent form is not merely the result of lanugages coming into contact and influencing each other; rather it is the birth of a new language, one with the potential to develop and spread or to disappear if the need for the communication which brought it into existence should cease to be operative" (11).
"the need for the communication" that is the interesting part. Where does the need come from? What is being "exchanged"? (in a poetry reading? In a book? in a cypress hill hip-hop album?)
"Describing the Haitian situation in 1939 Ferguson coined the term diglossia to describe the special form of bilingualism where two varieties of the one language exist in the same speech community, one of the languages having high status and the other low" (Todd, 26). P. 27 Todd goes on to talk about the change in this percieved status: "Young, and especially educated, creole speakers are realising that there is no intrinsic stigma attached to speaking a creaole, and that to deny their linguistic heritage is to interfere with their cultural heritage and to block, if not to dam, the flow of their self-expression." Keep in mind this book was written in 1974.
Theories of pidgin development.
1. early and rather obnoxious "baby talk" theories.
2. The nautical jargon theory. Early sailors english, spanish and portugues spread a core pidgin world-wide.
3. the monogenetic/relexification theory (deriving from 15th century portuguese pidgin, "Sabir", earlier crusaders)
all assuming a "dominant language"
4. Todd's synthesis of all these explanations, I'll summarize it later
Chapter 4 - development from pidgin to creole.
I keep trying to think about the history of California/Mexico. The dominant language being spanish for so long.
My neighborhood is unofficially called "little michoacan".
My conversation with Rafael yesterday where I suddenly realized that his avoiding speaking spanish with me was not because my spanish was so awful, but because he is from yucatan and he is Mayan and spanish is not his first language either. Wow, that makes me feel dumb! I was feeling really embarrassed that he kept talking in english. English is actually easier for him than Spanish. This is probably true of a lot of people in my neighborhood. I wish I could tell from accents but I can't. I remember reading some statistic of what percentage of mexican citizens primarily speak a non-spanish language ... but it was very, very high and "minority" was not quite the correct word, whatever the number was. What this means for Spanish and for Spanglish I have no idea and it all seems a bit beyond me. I could keep it in mind. It's another reason that the "puro castiliano" people bug the hell out of me, they so obviously seem wrong-headed just like or maybe even worse than the "white" US-ians who start spouting off about "learn english dammit"
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Thinking about translation. One thing: is there an assumed slippage in your thought between language and culture? You might want to address that since they are not always synonymous or contiguous.I do want to talk about the idea of a legitimate/illegitimate creator of bilingual poetry. I was at a poetry reading recently with a poet, Brenda, who is learning Spanish and who has been writing poetry in spanish or in 2 or three languages at once. A guy from Spain was also there and he was a bit superior about her bad spanish. Yes, her spanish was often incorrect and especially it was written in the grammatical structure of english, but I argued with Mr. Castiliano Puro de Madrid, I don't remember his name at all, that part of Spanglish is exactly that, that chicano spanglish is valid, and if gringos are talking and writing spanglish, all to the good. My spanish is better than hers, but still really, really bad, but sometimes I write bits of poetry in Spanish or spanglish because I'm thinking in spanglish and so, how else to express it? Because she is (sort of) part of the dominant culture, it's supposedly bogus that she tries to write in spanish as a cultural tourist. But in many ways she is NOT part of the dominant culture except by speaking the language fluently. I strongly suspect that Mr. Madrid would not have made fun of a Guatemalan woman who wrote a poem in ungrammatical English and read it out loud with a strong accent, so why jump all over Brenda's case? I understand why, but I probably don't agree.
I think it is perhaps throught thinking through this linkage between culture and language that you might be able to come up with a way to talk about the construct of a "legitimate" creator of bi-ligual poetry vs an "illegitimate" poet who is simply poaching on the coolness factor of throwing in multiculturalism.
Seems to me culture and language intersect interestingly: transmittor of cultural identity, cemetor of bonds especially when language is spoken in a place where another language is predominant.
In some ways it is language that allows culture to exist, perhaps even creates culture though its speakers' ability to express certain thoughts and not certain others.
It creates the possible range of interaction between speakers and shuts down the terrain outside the range by its exclusion of signifiers. (especially idiomatic phrases, here. we can say "you suck" but it might not have the same vector in, say, swahili)
And yet language breaks free of culture in that it can be spoken by those outside of the culture. As you pointed out, can be "enjoyed" by those who don't even understand the meaning of the words.
language changes, expands and contracts, is inadequate to its mating to culture. (Tere is always more to be said than there are words to say it, so people must make up new words.) Like the word "tere," for instance.
As descriptions and maps of relationships, language and culture are separate from each other, though it would be hard to talk about one without the other.
- emotional emphasis
- exasperation w/dominant culture
- to convey familiarity. to convey intimacy. (cultural intimacy) (a sense of neighborhood-ness)
- just because that's the way people talk and think, obviously
the way the lyrical experience is different if it's not primarily a narrative poem
Think about this!
Cognates. "taken over by those nice republicanos" all our postulated listeners except maybe Category 7 get that one. "What became of the berets and revolution y las marchas and all that yelling..." (Montoya 95)
commonly shared words: place names. food. can function as "exoticism" but also as the establishing of identity or intimacy?
"All those programs that we started in the barrio.... "Now that high rise in the barrio..." Any 1 or 2 category reader who is reasonably intelligent should be able to get that "barrio" means neighborhood.
i think "context" could be broken down into different categories but I will have to think about this and come up with more examples.
wow, that would be great synergy!
There is a continuous spectrum of listeners/readers and their levels of language understanding.
consider an english only poem. its listeners can have various levels of understnandingo f the language used. vocabulary, the actual words used. (thnk of an example and quote it) literary "vocabulary", understanding references to ideas, quotes. Cultural references, class background. All this comes into play in reading, hearing, and understanding a poem.
spanish/english poem all the same issues apply but there are more complicatoins. just addressing the bilingualness of the reader/listener we get a spectrum like this:
1. the gringones. 0/100 percenters. English only or english mostly, might know what "barrio" or "salsa" means.
2. the gringuitas 25/75 percenters. I put myself in this category. In the middle. English native speaker, enough spanish to get along.
3. the Homies, 50/50s. Bilingue all the way.
4. the ?? need an amusing name. 75/25. spanish primary, gets along in english.
5. the ?? ditto 100/0. native spanish speaker, no english or very little.
6. ? non native to either spanish or english, have 1 or both as a secondary language
7. ? Extranjeros Don't know any of either language. (how I listen to, say, some guy singing Kabir in Hindi and I still enjoy it) Listening to a language as MUSIC not as meaning. The pleasures, benefits and DANGERS of this. Thinking you "get something".
This spectrum doesn't take into account the different flavors or levels of spanish and english. For example a wealthy educated person from spain might not get a lot of the words in Montoya or might just consider it barbarous bastardized Non-spanish.
Methodology: I like making these categories and labels. I have to make some sort of structuralist thing to start with so that I have some language to talk about this stuff in.
"Joda" the funniness of that - the insouciance. playing around, goofing, screwing around, screwing with your head, fucking around, messing around, screwiness, screwball. No way to translate! silly fucked-ness? being screwed up? fucking-around-itude. what's up? not much just messing around. just screwing around having fun. Possibly "mind-fuck" would be a good translation but it seems slightly less strongly rude in spanish
One essay for Wikipedia will for sure be on Montoya.