The Things Lost in Translation

I once asked a friend for the word for albino in Igbo and she said, “onye ocha bara anya.” I have my struggles with Igbo. I was intrigued enough by it to ask for translations of words during the year I spent living Anambra state and for a while afterwards. But I thought the language was too difficult and confusing. Yet, even in my lack of understanding, I appreciated how they described ideas and objects in ways that bore vivid hints of their unique worldview. The principal in the school where I served once spent a morning at the assembly using the Igbo expression for teacher to explain the duties expected of us. There is no way for the person who speaks just English to look at an albino and call them “someone in whose eyes fairness (light) has entered.” And there’s also no way for someone without a knowledge of Igbo to write a book like Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch.

In writing stories and communicating ideas, so much is lost to the need to bend our worlds into the restrictive mold of the English language. The consequences of the slow death of our languages are, therefore, not just in the lost tongue, but the imaginations weakened. They are in the loss of the ability to frame ideas in ways that allow us to imagine futures and realities for ourselves that are different from that which is forced unto us.

For the International Mother Language Day, I chose to write a story in Yorùbá, my mother tongue, and have a friend translate it to English. He then asked for translations into other languages on Facebook. As people read the translations, many commented on how the humour in the Yoruba was lost in the English. English is not built for handling that kind of humor without being broken down and retooled. This is why the pidgin translations delight me. They are the closest in spirit to what the story is.

There are ten translations of the same story below, in seven languages: Yoruba, English, Nigerian Pidgin English, Igbo, Ibibio, Hausa and Silozi . Perhaps you should join us too in this exercise. Read the story, translate it into your mother tongue and send it to us in the comments section.

***

Yoruba by IfeOluwa Nihinlola

Oríta mẹ́ta tó wà ní wájú ìyàna sábó lati pàdé omo ti mo n wí yìí. Níse ló gbé ìdí sára mọ́tò to wa loju titi tó n tọ̀. “káì,” Kọ́lé pariwo. Kọ̀ ti è dáwa lóhùn.

Ni Kọ́lé bá sún mo bí ìgbà tó fé fun ní ìkó. Bó se rí Kọ́lé báyìí ló dátò mó ìdí, sáré síwájú díẹ̀. O yàka, ó ní “o yí ẹ yí.”

Emi àti Kọ́lé bú sí ẹ̀rín.

Kọ́lé ni, “Maa wo omo tó gbédè tí ò gbéèké yii.”

Mo wí fún Kọ́lé pé “Bí wọ́n ti n sọó kọ́un, Eké l’ógbọ́, kò gbédè.”

“Ewo àwọn olórí buyúkú.”

“Ta lo l’órí burúkú?” Kọ́lé pakuru mọ.

“Iyá ẹ, ìwọ olóyí bobo.”

Kini Kọ́lé gbọ́ èyí sí, ló bá lée. Esẹ̀ ọmọ náà yá. O súré wo agbolé játi jàti kan lẹ́sẹ̀ẹ titi. Kọ́lé gba tele. Emi náà tèlé wọn. Ibi tí Kọ́lé ti ní kí òún sáré wọ ọ̀dẹ̀ kan tí ọmọ náà wọ, kò wo ilẹ̀ kó ri pó òkúta wà lẹ́nu ọ̀nà. Lóbá fesẹ̀ kọ. O forí dó lẹ̀ báyìí lètè bẹ̀ kíyá kíyá.

Ki n tó dé iwáju re orí ti bere sí yo kókó. Mo bá sáré si pé kí n fàá dìde. Nse ló gbá owó mi dànù. Kìí sòní, kìí sàná tí mo ti maá n wí fun pé kìí se gbogbo eni tó bá búni ló didadan ká fún lésì. Tó o ba ri bó se benu je bi eni f’eyin pàkúta láarin ìrẹsì.

Wòó, enu tó bàjẹ́ ló se mí ní kàyéfì jù. Mo réèrín omí bọ́ lójúù mi. Ta ní ó báwa gbo pé omo tí kò gbédè ló gbé bọ̀dá Kọ́lé alágbára subú tí bọ̀da fi bẹ̀rẹ̀ sí sunkún?

***

English by Akintunde Aiki

We met the child at Orita Meta before the route to Sabo. He stood close to a car, pants down, urinating.

"Kai" Kole shouted at him, but he was unresponsive.

Kole moved closer to the child like he was going to knock him on his head. Alarmed by the proximity between himself and Kole, he stopped urinating and fled.

"You're mad" He said as he ran, raising his hand to show its fingers spread out.

Kole and I laughed.

Kole said something about the child, his speech, and insult. He said it all wrong and I corrected him.

"Unfortunate beings" The child reiterated from a distance.

"Who are you talking to ?" Kole made to beat him.

"Your mother, silly person "

Kole chased him upon hearing this, but the boy was swift, he ran into a slum by the street. I followed suit. Kola ran into a hovel where he assumed the child was, unaware of a stone at the door. He hit his foot against the stone and couldn't break his fall. His head hit the ground and his lips tore, bleeding.

He was writhing in pain when I got to him. I offered to help him up but he slapped my hand away.

I have lost count of the number of times I told Kole that he doesn't have to trade profanities with people.

I laughed hysterically as he wailed on like a babe.

Isn't it hilarious that the almighty Kole was defeated by a child that could barely speak?

***

Pidgin (Benin) by Joe Aito

Na for the T-Junshon before road wey bend go Sabo, naim we see the pikin. Hin just standa for dia, fall trouser, dey piss.

"Wey you commot dia" Kole shat gi am but the pikin nor kawa, hin nor shake.

Kole near the pikin, gauge hinself. As the pikin see say e fit over am, him gbaga!

"You dey crase!" Hin halla as hin dey gbaga. He con still throw waka join sef.

Me and Kole boss laff.

Kole yarn sontin about the pikin, the way hin dey talk and how hin dey curse us. But Kole yarn nor gather and as hin be my guy, I just align am.

"No levels, bros. Una don cast" the small boy still dey throway from far.

"Who you dey follow talk?" Kole near the small boy.

"Your Mama! Yaa Maa na suegbe. "

As Kole hear this wan, hin dada scatter. Kole pursue am but the boy fast, hin enter wan koro for the area. Me just follow dem for back.

Kola march enter wan basha wey hin feel say the boy dey but hin bin nor see stone for door.

He nack hin leg for the stone, fall yakata for ground before hin fit get hinself. Hin head knack ground, hin lebe burst, blood dey pour pra pra.

Hin dey shaat, dey hala, when I reash where hin dey. I give am hand but my guy slap my hand comot oh.

I nor fi cant how many times I don yarn Kole make hin nor dey follow people dey throway dirty yarn. Me just dey laff am as hin dey cry, dey shaat laik woman.

The thing nor funny as small pikin wey neva even sabi talk con fall a whole Chairman Kole hand?

***

Pidgin (Waffi) by Emmanuel Okoro

We jam the pikin for T-junction, before the road bend yansh enter Sabo. E balance near one motor, dey throway Sapele water.

“Wey you!” Kole hala am, but the pikin just bone am like say e na strong jew. Nai Kole kawa near the pikin, raise hand like who wan tear am better slap. As the pikin see say yawa go soon gas, sharp-sharp e borrow leg discharge comot.

“You dey mad!” the pikin halla as e dey run. E even gather mind raise e hand give us waka.

Naso Me and kola burst laugh. Kole con dey clear me about the pikin; say e nor like how the pikin behave. But e con be as if e dey yarn dust. Base on who I be for the film, I con gats clear am well.

“Ódóyór!” the pikin throway shout come awa side.

“Na we you dey talk to like that?” Kole don dey do body like hawk wey wan catch fawo.

“No. Na your mama, you dust!”

Naso Kole con pursue the boy, but the pikin don play gamebox taya. Naso the pikin bend enter one ekóróh like that. Kola try follow am up, con go enter another ekóróh. E nor know say one big stone just leggo for ground dey wait. As e be say Kole nor dey ever look road well, e go kick the stone. E clear say e nor get breeze for yansh.

Na Kole head first digwe give ground. E even tear lip, dey bleed.

When I waka near am, my guy just dey shake for ground like fawo wey cold dey catch, e do face like shit wey dem mash miss. I stretch hand, say make I help the jew, naso e nack am comot.

I nor fit count how mant times I don tell am say make e nor dey do gragra with area boys dem.

Naso I laugh like who dem dey totori as my guy dey ground dey cry like elefue.

A whole guy man like Kola nai one smallie just run down? The matter funny die.

***

Igbo by Oma Abii

Anyi zutere nwatakiri ahu na Orita Meta tupu eruo uzo esi aga Sabo. O kwu oto n'akuku otu ugboala, kputuo uwe ukwu ya n'anyu mamiri. Kole tikporo ya mkpu "Kai!" , mana nwatakiri azaghi ya.

Kole biara ya nso, dika o ga-eke ya okpo. Ka o mere nkea, ujo biara ya bu nwatakiri, o kwusi mamiri o na-anyu wee gbapu oso.

Ka o na-agba, o si Kole "ara n'agba gi! " wee welie aka, saghepu mkpisi aka ya ka akwukwo akpu.

Mu na Kole achia ochi.

Kole nwere ihe o kwuru banyere nwatakiri ahu; otu osiri kwuo okwu ya na mkpari o nyere ya. Okwutechaghi ya, mu onwem agwazie ya.

Nwataa noro ebe tere aka wee kwuo "ndi uwa ojoo"

"Onye ka I na-agwa" Kole ajuo ya, mekwaa ka ochoro iti ya ihe

"Nne gi, onye nzuzu”

Ka Kole nuru nkea, o chuwara ya oso mana nwata n'agba ajo oso. O gbaara banye na ebe ndi otutu mmadu bi di n'akuku uzo. Mu onwem gbarakwa soro ha.

Kole gbaara banye n'otu onu ulo ebe o che na ya bu nwatakiri no, omataghi na okwute no n'onu uzo ahu. O kporo ukwu n'okwute ahu, o ghotaghi onwe ya wee daa ada, Kuo isi n'ala ma gbawaa onu...lekwa obara!

Tupu m na-erute, o no n'ahu ufu. E merem Ka m nyere ya aka bilie mana o kupuru aka m.

Agaghim echetacha ugboro ole m gwagoro Kole na obaghi uru ya na ndi mmadu ikocha onu.

Nnukwu ochi buuru m ka ono n'ala, N'ebee Ka nwatakiri.

Obughi ihe ochi na nwatakiri ka na asa ahu n'afo meriri dimkpa di ka Kole?

***

Ngwa (a Variation of Igbo) by Chinwendu Nwangwa

Anyi zutara nwa ahu na Orita Meta tupu uzor na ga Sabo. Oguzo ugboala nda, obante ya no n'ala, o na anyu mmammiri.

"Kai" Kole atieraya nkpu, mana o zaghi.

Kole aga nwatakiri ahu nda dika ochoro ite ya okpo n'isi ya. Ujo abia ya maka otu Kole si di ya nda, ya akwusi inyu mmamiri gba oso.

"Ara na agba gi" o kwuru ka o na agba oso, gwelie aka i zi ka mpisi aka ya gbasara.

Kole na mu achia ochi.

Kole ekwo okwu ihe basara nwatakiri ahu, okwu ya na mkpari ya. Okwutafughi ya ma kuzie raya nke oma.

"Ndi uwa ojo" nwatakiri ahu no na ebe di anya kwokwa ozor.

"Onye ka i na ekwura okwu?" Kole agawa iku ya ihe.

"Nne gi, onye iberibe"

Kole churu ya oso ngbe onuru ya, mana nwata nwoke ahu gbara oso ngwa ngwa, o gbabara n'ime ogbe . m'esoro ha. Kola gbabara n'ime ulo oche nwatakiri ahu no, omaghi na nkuma no na on'uzorulo. O kuru okwu ya na nkume ahu da ada. Isi ya kuru na ala onu ya agbawa, na agba obara.

O no na ala na akwa maka ufu. Ma asi ka m nyere ya aka ka olita mana ya okupu aka m.

Echefulam ngbor'ole m gwala Kole na okwesighi iso ndi mmadu na ako onu.

Achirim ezigbo ochi ka ono n'akwa ka nwatakiri amuru ohu.

Owughi ihe ochi na nwatakiri n'anaghi ekwuma okwu meriri Okaka Kole?

***

Ibiobio by Joy Ekpeyong 

Iki nkid eyen odo ke Orita Meta mkpem iso usung ekaya Sabo. Enye akeda akpede moto, afong ukod one ke isung, atuk ekim.

"Kai". Kole abong eye, dien aye iboro ke . Kole asuk ekepde anye odo nte ayem ikong anye ewong. Ayin odo adikid koro Kole akpede enye. anye atede utuk ukim , afeghe.

"Ame ndama". Anye obo, dien afeghe.,adimpe ubok ono waka.

Ami ye Kole isak.

Kole atang iko abanga eyen odo, ye iko omo ye usung eyen esie . Anye atak adue ,dien ami nsua ndo enye.

"Mbon iduok iso", eyen odo atak ke ayang usung.

"Atang iko ye edie owo" ? Kole ayem ibia enye.

"Eka fo, ndisime owo".

Kole abaene enye, ntia atang ntoro, dien ayin odo osop itok afegehe.

Kola afeghe ake atuak ukod ke itiat. Anye uto iwod ke isung, kpong inua omo adin.

Ini ami mfegehe mbine enye, anye usuk atiam idem omo ke ubiak, nyem enam ndo enye adakadda, ayen abian ubok mi asio.

Mmefre ikpad nnkang sebo Kolo ke ida uduntangha ikpu ikpu iko ye mme owo.

Nsak eyen ntutu nnanga eyen atua ayed nte nsek eyen. Ntre idongo mkpo emam nte etuk eyen ami ikanaga iko etan akan okposon Kole ?

***

Igbo by Chidinma Nwabueze

Anyi huru nwata ahu na Orita Meta tupu iruo n'uzo ahu esi aga Sabo. O kwu n'akuku otu ugboala, yipute apante ya ma na -anyu kwazi mamiri.

"Kai", Kole gboroya uja ma na omeghariro ahu.

Kole gakwuru ya nso dichaaka ochoro ike ya okpo n'isi. Ujo jidere ya n'ihi nke a o were kwusi mamiri o na-anyu tipu oso.

" Ara na-ayi gi', o kwuru nke a dika o na agba oso. O chinyekwara ya waka.

Mu na Kole chiri ochi .

Kole kwuru ajo okwu banyere nwatakiri a, ma ka osi ekwu okwu,ma ka osiri were kparia ya. O kporo ya "efulefu".

Nwata nuru nke a ebe di anya o no ma kpookwa ya " efulefu".

"Kedu onye i na-agwa?,kole juru ya. Kole mekwara ka otie ya ihe.

" nne gi,onye nzuzu"

Dika Kole nuru nke a, o bidoro chuba ya oso. Mana nwata na-agba ajo oso. O gbagbara na slomu di nso ebe ahu. E soro m ha.

Kole gbabara na otu onu di ebe ahu, ebe oche na nwata gbabara mana o maghi n' o nwere nnukwu okwute di n'onu uzo ebe ahu.

Ukwu ya kuru n'okwute ahu. O bighikwa ebe ahu, o kukwara isi n'ala nke mere ka onu ya gbawaa ma gbabakwa mmee.

O na-aturi n'ihe ufu Oge nruru ebe ahu. Ejere m ka nyere ya aka ma n'okuchapuru aka m.

Agaghi m agutanwu ugboro ole ngwagoro Kole ya na ndi mmadu akozi n'onu.

Ochi buru m ka osi were na-eti mkpu akwa ka nwata.

O bu n'o bughi ike ihe ochi na oke mmadu dika Kole ka o bere nwata na-adighi ekwunwu okwu ofuma meriri?

***

Hausa by Nana Sule

Mun samu yaron a Orita Meta kafen hanyan zuwa Sabo. Ya saya kusa de wani motar, wando a kasa, yana fitsari.

“Kai”, Kola ya mai ihu, amma bai nuna dashi ake ba.

Sai de Kola ya matsu kutsa de yaron kamar zai kwankwasa mai kai. Yana ganin Kola na zuwa mai, ya bar fitsarin, ya kama gudu.

“Kana Hauka”, da gudun shi, ya ce haka, harda nuna mai hannu.

Kola de ni muka kama dariya.

Kola yayi wani Magana akan yaron, akan maganar shi de zagin dayayi. Bai ce de kyau ba sai da na gyara mai.

“Mutanen Banza ‘, Yaron yace daga can gaba.

“Da wa kake Magana?” Kola yayi kamar zai bi shi

“Uwar Ka, wawa kowai.”

Yana jin abin da yace, Kola yakama binsa da gudu, ama yaron ya iya gudu, ya shiga wani unguwan. Ni ma na bi su. Kola ya shiga wani lungun da tunanin a wajen yaron yake, bai lura da dusten da ke gabar kofar ba. Sai da ya buga kafar sa a dusten, ya fadi. Kan sa ya samu kasa, bakin sa ya pare, jini ya fara zubar.

Yana cikin balayin zafi da na same shi. Na bashi hannu, na taimake shi ya tashi ama ya mare hannun.

Naama mantar da sau nawa na ma Kola magana akan ya bar lurar de maganan mutane.

Ina ta mi dariya da ya ci gaba da kuka kamar jariri.

Ba abin dariya ba, a ce Kola, de girimar shi, wani yaron da bai ma wani iya magan ba ya mai duka haka?

***

Silozi by Mimi Mwiya

Nelukopani ni mwanana yo fa Orita Meta kufitela nzila yeya  kwa Sabo. Nayemi kwa tuko ni koloi, bulukwe fafasi, inge asweli kuluta.

Kole asutela kaufi ni mwanana inge yabata ku mungongola mwa toho. Mwanana abona bunyinyani bwa sibaka kuyena ni Kole,asiya kuluta,ni ku mata.

"Wapulumuka" Abulela inge a mata, inge ayemisize lizoho kusupeza minwana ye ketalizoho ka kupapuha.

Na ni Kole seluseha. Kole abulela sika kayena mwanana, ni muambolelo wahae, ni litapa. Kaufela nazibulezi ka mafosisa, senimusikulula.

"Batu ba mitolo" Mwanana akutela, kuzwela kwa hule.

"Ubulela ni bo mañi?" Kole aeza inge yabata kumunata.

"Bo maho, sitoto”

Kole,fa ku utwa taba ye, amulelekisa, kono mutangana nanani bubebe fa mautu. A matela mwa mulalanda waligebenga. Nina senibalatelela. Kole a matela mwa nahupula kuli mutangana ki mwan'a matezi, asaboni kuli nekunani licwe kwa munyako.

A nata liutu fa licwe,ni kuwa. Toho yahae ya nata fafasi, milomo yahae ya pazuha, ni kuzwa mali.

Nasweli kutundana ka butuku hanifita kuyena. Nalika kumutusa, kono anata lizoho laka.

Ni supile kubala kuli nimubulelezi hakai Kole kuli hatokwi kucincana matapa ni batu.

Senishwa kuseha hanze a lila inge mbututu.

 Hakikusehisa kuli Kole ya Maata, na komilwe ki mwanana yakona kupalelwa ku bulela?

_________________

Featured Image via Flickr by João Lavinha

More from aKoma



Cancel
Cancel
Cancel