copal

Sometimes the senses can offer paths that lead back to a remembered moment that has a unique cultural texture. Fragrances often have this quality, and for me this is especially true of copal, which is a resin-based incense.  It’s smoke envelops you in history due to its ancient origins and ceremonial traditions in Mexico and its neighbors to the south.   

The photos are from the Quetzalcoatl Prayer for Peace Walk, which brought thousands of participants together in Mexico City.  Many in the procession carried censers with burning copal, blanketing the Zócalo with its distinctive scent.  Other marchers banged drums, played flutes, or blew conch shells as others scattered flower petals. The procession encircled the immense plaza, then spiraled in, the participants gathering at the huge central flagpole for the prayer ceremony.

The experience of this gathering always will be as near as a whiff of copal for anyone who was there. Some additional photos of the event can be found here.

convergence

Barefoot, walking down the beach, there was a lot of driftwood, large pieces of boughs and trunks, with surfaces that were shiny, polished by the sun and sea and the gentle sandblast from the onshore wind. Shells, too, were scattered there, of course, including this one.  What struck me was how much alike they look, despite very different origins.  One comes from the sea where a living thing built a shell to keep water out, and the other stood on land where this living thing built a trunk to keep water in.  Here their ‘bones’ coincide for a while on this beach where I happen upon them, and I notice that they look like different parts of the same thing.  But then, maybe we all are.

Barefoot, walking down the beach, there was a lot of driftwood, large pieces of boughs and trunks, with surfaces that were shiny, polished by the sun and sea and the gentle sandblast from the onshore wind. Shells, too, were scattered there, of course, including this one.  What struck me was how much alike they look, despite very different origins.  One comes from the sea where a living thing built a shell to keep water out, and the other stood on land where this living thing built a trunk to keep water in.  Here their ‘bones’ coincide for a while on this beach where I happen upon them, and I notice that they look like different parts of the same thing.  But then, maybe we all are.

translation issue ~ 翻译问题 ~ Übersetzungsausgabe ~ Μετάφραση θέμα ~ ””” मुद्दे

After months of drought here in Florida, a tropical storm brought a prolonged deluge, transforming the landscape. I tried to explain the amount of rain to a European friend, which involved switching from ‘a foot of rain’ to the metric system. Performing this easy task online, I thought about the nature of translation.

Converting the rainfall from inches to centimeters is not translation, although similar steps are involved.  It is a precise conversion, a same measurement expressed on different scales.  Translation is not so precise a conversion.  It involves something more on the part of the person translating: involvement, thought, interpretation. It is more of an art and less of a science. 

Language differences can be an obstacle to communication. But an obstacle can be an opportunity to grow. And of course, this interpretive translation can occur in many other contexts as well, not only between languages. The pieces collected here explore this translation experience and its result in places, tongues, and media as diverse and unique as the contributors themselves.

Enjoy the journey in all its translations! 

***

Japan – 日本:  “I was a bit tired of deciphering menus and plastic food models,” Jolene Hurme writes, but there was another linguistic twist to her culinary adventure in a foreign tongue.

Mexico – México: “In la peñita under the sea horses…” – Rose Hunter explores currents flowing beneath palm shadows on a small island island.

United Kingdom – Britain: The senses are our guides to the world around us, but how fanciful their translations can be, Sandra Davies explores with a poetic quartet of small daily translations.

Hungary – Magyarország: Visit a Hungarian spa with Karyn Eisler by following her treatment translation: “Whatever’s on offer, I’m happy to receive: Izappakolas, Biorezonancia, Hidroterapia..” Plunge into the therapeutic delights.

Italy, Germany, China: While trying to learn Italian, Dorothee Lang reflects on the complexities of language similarities and differences and conjugates Forms of Being: du bist, tu sei, you are.. 

United States – America: ‘The challenge of photography is to convey the emotion that is felt when viewing a scene,’ Greg Hull‘s piece explores how to tell more of the story while finding the best way to picture a Magnolia Tree.  

USA – U.S.: Under stars more seen than spoken, Sherry O’Keefe searches for a Latin root, and reveals the way some words can’t be translated, and the way those same words weave in and out of lives, each time a different version of stars that won’t be shifted.

Canada – Canada: Shared work and overcoming language difficulties leads to surprising connections, Beth Adams discovers while Translating the Garden

Great Britain – England: Jean Morris brings into the translation theme the connection of the ear, or ears, and what lies between them, revealing ‘the mysterious aspects of translation – a process as ubiquitous as it is indefinable’ : Bring Across.

International: This year, Michelle Elvy started an experiment in writing collective stories that cross borders and continue in different strings. Together with Martha Williams, Claire King, Anita Chapman, Jules Archer, Beate Sigriddaughter, Myra King, and Toby Cogswell, several stories took shape. Here’s #5: This Day and #6 Kite.

New Zealand – Aotearoa: Translation also can be a link to ancestors, Martin Porter reveals in this fictional migration tale that starts with the line “I have no words of my own..”: Children of te Marama.

Facebookland: A line about forgetting foreign words leads to an enlightening and amusing discussion of behatted language curiosities, and even to a poetic translation: The ä ö ü of it (or: Come here Umlaut)

Germany – Bundesrepublik Deutschland:  For some words – like Gemütlichkeit or Brückentag – there isn’t an equivalent. That’s what Linda Hofke realizes and takes us on a tour into the (language) gap.

USA – U.S.Vivian Faith Prescott from Alaskan has been involved with the Tlingit language revitalization effort since 2000. She will host the next carnival edition – more on that below – and reflects on the role and name of the Raven in the Tinglit nation, and in other cultures in A Ruffle of Feathers

Mexico – México: From the editor of this issue, a journey gone slightly wrong and the word it forced him to learn.

About: This is the edition #16 of the >language >place blog carnival. You can read more about the idea and this collective web project on the language / place web page.

Edition #17 will be hosted by lifelong Alaskan Vivian Faith Prescott, who writes poetry & prose about the human relationship to the landscape. The theme is “Inspiration.” Contributions are invited from writers, artists, photographers, poets, & bloggers, or anyone who is inspired. Please interpret widely. Guidelines

Editor’s note: It has been an enlightening and inspiring experience to see this issue evolving. I started with concepts about translation, and was surprised by how much my understanding was changed by these submissions. Thanks to each of you who contributed for helping to make it such an impressive collection. And thanks to Dorothee for this project, for inviting me to edit this issue, and for providing lots of help along the way.

– steve

PS: looking for future hosts
i am currently looking for hosts for future editions of this blog carnival, if you are interested, then contact me (Dorothee) at langplace AT gmail DOT com – looking forward to hear from you.

inspiring places / coastal

some things transcend language, each providing a universal touchstone of experience. such is the shore, which varies so dramatically from place to place. it is a zone of transition where the elements always are at play, creating a moving, infinitely detailed and ever changing worldscape.

I have been taking photograhps at the coast for a long time, some of which can be seen by clicking here.  some sense of the motion is evident in still photographs, but now I have begun to try some videos, too, to explore it in the extended time dimension. included too, is some of the rhythm of ocean sound.  but so far, unfortunately, the taste of seawater, the touch of sun and ocean breeze, and the salty scents the breeze carries elude electronic recording!

 this short video seems to work best in full screen

thanks to Dorothee Lang for her suggestions and help

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