Monday, July 23, 2012

I Yearn For You

This one has been a bit of a trial. Translating a language that is unknown, where the context, the way natives use words, where the poetry of structure is a mystery, is  an almost impossible task.  I went to Google translate and started typing, clicked on find language, and up popped Estonian.  But a word for word translation isn't as simple as it might seem.  Kui has a different meaning depending on context.  It can mean as, if, than, when, how, that, and while.  Au can mean honor, glory, credit, dignity, and reputation.  And then there is the way people write cursive.  I tried habad, halad, nabad, nalad, and a number of other combinations for word number three on the back of the photo.  The only one that was in the Google translator, in Estonian, was nabad.  And it's meaning; navel or umbilical cord.  The first sentence, when I put in all the words together, "So is the threat to the honor of navels."  It might make sense to someone from Estonia, but to me...well, I can't help but think there is something wrong there.

The second sentence gets into the realm of the poetry of language.  Word for word, "You, my, place the dishes, looking for".  How about,  "I look for you where I place my dishes."  A simple invocation of home life?  I like to think so.

And in the next sentence, "I yearn for you."  At least I think that's how I think  it should read.   If anyone from Estonia can correct my poor efforts, leave a comment.

Added July 26.....We have a translation.  It's from an anonymous Estonian poem.  Click on comments and read Oliver's contribution.  Nothing about dishes, I'm disappointed.


  1. I love the expression I look for you where I place my dishes. So poetic.
    Good job on the tough translation.

  2. Hi. Random visitor from Estonia :)
    Interesting handwriting, some strange Vs and unreadable second word - "on".
    In Estonian:
    Kui on vabad õhtutunnid,
    Sind mu silmad otsivad;
    Sa mind igatsema sunnid,
    Oma juurde meelitad.

    In English (word-for-word versus not-a-poet version)
    When (there) are free evening hours
    You my eyes are searching
    You make me miss (you)
    Lure me to you

    Late in the evening
    My eyes look for you
    I yearn for you
    I'm drawn to you

    It's a second verse from a hundred-year-old(?) poem. Author unknown. Here's the rest of it:
    Tähekene, miks sa vilgud?
    Miks sa nõnda virvendad?
    Sinu püsimata pilgud
    hingesse mul tungivad.

    Oma viimsel elu-õhtul
    sinu poole vaatan ma,
    oma viimsed ohkamised
    taeva ruumi saadan ka.

    You can try and Google translate it ;)
    It's basically about a star (obvious metaphor for a loved one)
    Last verse in one sentence: you're the last thing I see when I die. So it probably goes back to the Estonian War of Independence or World War I, maybe even earlier.

    Such a cool hobby, keep it up!
    Greetings from Estonia!