The first in a series of song translations I am doing to try and rekindle my love of studying Chinese.
Using music to learn Chinese has always worked for me: songs are catchy, a sentence full of meaning I don’t understand will stick in my head more than structured dialogue between an employee and his superior.
You can probably guess that I love writing. I learned to write more poetically by listening to songs–aside from my obsession with heavy-metal (Epica , Nightwish, Ozzy Osburne, Megadeath, anybody? ), I was a huge fan of Bjork and Tori Amos in Highschool. One of my favorite lines from Bjork’s “Bachlorettte” :
I’m a fountain of blood in the shape of a girl / drink me make feel real/wet your break in my stream/ game were playing is love / loves a two way dream
What I like about using songs to learn a language is that the song sets a mood, a feeling, and through the melody the words contract that mood, that feeling, like an emotional transfusion–you remember the lines that moved you.
It’s not surprising then, as Maya Angelo once wrote:
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
I’ve been listening to one of my favorite Chinese artist, Wangting Qu (曲婉婷), a singer song writer of Chinese ethnicity hailing from Canada.
When I first heard this song, I was captivated by the chorus. That was maybe a year or two ago.
In the song I heard words related to the seasons, love, and finding happiness. I wasn’t entirely sure what they all meant when you put them together.
Until very recently, when I was coming home and decided to reread the lyrics. The last time I had done so was before going to Taiwan.
Aside from the words I needed to look up, I found I could understand the bulk of the song. A song about a girl who had lost someone she loved–and learned that life goes on even with that person gone.
I am thankful you left me/ You should know
Without you I would never have learned so quickly/
What is real strength and what is real love
That it’s important to understand how to love yourself before you can love another
You thought after you left me/ I wouldn’t be happy
a sad leading lady like the ones on TV
I’m telling you today
I’ve been doing just fine*
*The woes of a translator: I struggled to find a way to capture this notion of 快活 which is a melting pot of contentment, enjoyment, cheerfulness, and being carefree. I settled for saying “I’ve been doing just fine,” as a means to contrast the notion of the poet rejecting the idea of being a “sad leading lady;” it is her response to the “你” who broke her heart and her spirit: I’m living well. I’m enjoying life. I’ve been doing just fine.
If anyone has a better translation. Please do share! 😉 Perhaps I will translate the whole song later, but until then…