Friday, February 22, 2008

joie de vivre

For reasons unrelated to Translations, I'm doing some research in the "Negro Units" of the Federal Theatre Projects. In E. Quita Craig's book Black Drama of the Federal Theatre Era, she discusses, among other things, the West Indian influence on black playwriting in the 1930s. And in a discussion of religious expression in the Caribbean, she says "In contrast to Christianity, the entire orientation of these religions is toward joy, gaiety, and the fullest expression of life, and this religious joie de vivre dominates the outlook of the black island populations" (p. 141).

There were 18th century laws in America against slaves gathering to dance.
The missionaries suppressed hula in Hawaii the 19th century.

I'm thinking about the local dance in Baile Beag that Lieutenant Yolland leaves with Maire. I would love the music to convey that sense of joy and the fullest expression of life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

pidgin translation by Ruby at beach

We were on the Leeward side of the island almost to the northwest tip, playing in a tidepool, trying to catch fish in a little handheld net. A little boy ran up to us and said, "I know where you can get planny fish." And my husband Sean and I, who pride ourselves on knowing a good amount of pidgin (Sean's written pidgin-speaking characters in his plays and we have the pidgin dictionary!), looked at him blankly, asking, "What kind of fish?" "Planny fish!" "What kind of fish is that?," we kept asking. Finally, our six-year-old daughter Ruby translated for us. "He means he knows where there are a lot of fish." Thanks, Ruby.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


We were in Ireland in 1999. More on that later. All of the signs in the Republic of Ireland are in both Irish and English (why don't we do this in Hawaii? signs in Hawaiian I mean). But as we got to the west coast and further north, we saw a few signs with the English crossed out: