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12:38 AM
@Robusto but not occidental.
@Cerberus There is a name for the situation that we keep talking about.
In political science, Duverger's law holds that plurality-rule elections (such as first past the post) structured within single-member districts tend to favor a two-party system, whereas "the double ballot majority system and proportional representation tend to favor multipartism". The discovery of this tendency is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s. In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a "law" or principle. Duverger's law draws from a model...
 
@Mitch Ah, thanks.
It's useful having a Wiki link to throw at people.
 
That's what wikipedia is for.
Wiktionary, on the other hand, is designed to start arguments.
Anyway, I only just discovered Duverger's law, which was what I was trying badly to explain before but didn't realize had a name.
 
12:55 AM
Were you trying to explain it to me?
Because I have already explained this to many people, though namelessly so.
 
@Cerberus No. We both knew the same things. It was just that this wikipedia page gave a name to it that I didn't know but I thought you might not know it either.
 
1:47 AM
> In the 1950s, she went to James Madison High School. She formed a band called the Co-Sines, changed her name to [...], and made demo records with her friend Paul Simon for $25 a session.
If you guessed the new name was "Carole King" you get the prize.
 
 
9 hours later…
11:02 AM
@Robusto yeah I think we discussed this video a couple years ago. Before I knew what a flute was. I remember the lady very well.
But Jesus Christ what awful reporting. Like something straight out of Idiocracy.
No wonder the comments are turned off.
BTW I will ask you to check a translation for me. Hopefully later tonight.
It'll be the first Mandelstam poem that I've ever bothered localizing into English. And probably the last.
Meanwhile the educational video for today is:
 
 
4 hours later…
3:10 PM
@RegDwigнt That is characteristic of American Правда Fox News, yes.
@RegDwigнt No problem.
 
 
2 hours later…
5:40 PM
It should let you view the score even though it's set to private for now.
There are quite a few issues I have with the lyrics myself. I'll withhold them for now so as not to cloud your judgment. I'll bring them up after that, unless you bring them up first.
 
@RegDwigнt Who's that supposed to be, Huckleberry Sasha or something?
 
In the accompanying flavor text I've also included a literal word-for-word translation, as well as a translation by a poetry professor from NY that I found online.
@tchrist no tweening in this chat. Also who is what or what?
 
I just came for the pixies.
 
OIC. Don't we all always.
Well anyway. I'll leave you alone with the stupid autogenerated flags.
Must get some violin practice done for tomorrow.
It's some church holiday, again. So we'll be playing Bach Bach Bach.
 
6:26 PM
Good afternoon all. What is the preferred flag for "do my homework" type questions. Should be closed? Very low quality? In need of moderator intervention? Or does it not matter?
 
6:38 PM
@MDHunter I'd say "should be closed" fits the bill best.
"Very low quality" is a runner-up but only because those questions do tend to be very poorly worded and formatted, and just generally unsalvageable. But theoretically a homework question is thinkable that's of the highest quality indeed, and should only be closed because we're doing someone's homework for them.
"Moderator attention" is more like, nobody can agree if the question is rubbish or awesome, and everyone's crushing in each other's skulls already.
On homework questions that's rather unlikely. There's usually a strong consensus to have them closed.
Incidentally, that's why flagging might not be necessary in the first place. They should accumulate 5 close votes rather swiftly with no intervention from above.
I for one don't even check flags very often. I've come to trust users with doing their bit.
And once the shit hits the fan, it typically hits my fan with no help from flags. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire.
 
7:18 PM
Thanks for the response. I doubt I'll ever be active enough to accumulate the reputation necessary to cast close votes, so just wanted to see what I could do to be helpful in the meantime.
 
7:43 PM
I just came across a book published in 1843 which says that a particular type of plant should be planted in "a 60-sized pot."
A quick Google search failed to reveal what, exactly, a 60-sized pot is.
There are also 1-sized, 2-sized, 12-sized, 16-sized, and 48-sized pots.
It appears that a 60-sized pot is the smallest of these, and 1-sized must be the largest.
 
@TerranSwett I would guess @tchrist should be uniquely qualified to answer that. He grows his own plants and he lives in a state where pot is legal.
Sorry, I meant to say "They grows his own plants and they lives in his state".
Please don't take away my diamond. Diamonds are a gay British knight's best friends.
Speaking of which, @Cerberus, you seen Rocketman by any chance? I wanted to give it a pass but people won't stop buggering me about watching it. And after binge-watching every scene that's on YouTube, I gotta say, I kinda do want to see it.
It's like Moulin Rouge meets — um, well, Moulin Rouge. By way of Moulin Rouge.
 
8:12 PM
@RegDwigнt Doesn't ring a bell?
@Mitch I did not know it either!
Who knows, perhaps it has several names...
 
I would like to add that give away totally is a single word. It's just spelled with a blank, is all. There's no shortage of languages/writing systems that would spell it without. (Or indeed spell all the words with no blanks at all.) It's just a convention. Spaces do not delimit words. Not even in English. Observe: S P A C E. How many words is that? Five, you say? Count again. — RegDwigнt ♦ 39 secs ago
@Cerberus boo! BOOOO!!! Spoilsport.
Now you.
How can you not listen to and love love love my music. Jesus Christ.
 
8:30 PM
@RegDwigнt It depends 100% on your definition of word.
The one people often use is "anything separated by spaces or stops or the end/beginning of the line/text".
Another definition is one focusing on pronunciation, word accent.
 
@Cerberus my definition of word is the correct one.
There are too many other definitions of word. As you well know. So why even bother.
@Cerberus so how about languages that have no white spaces and no accents. Like Chinese or Japanese.
Again, I'll just stick with my definition. It's the only correct one, after all.
 
@RegDwigнt: Looking at your translation at the moment. Music is good, and am hearing past the MIDI ...
 
Yes thank you. I was hoping you would. Your latest remarks made me think you'd be ready.
So on this one I didn't even meddle with every individual violin note, as I always do. It's just mezzo throughout with no manual adjustments whatsoever.
 
(I do so very much hate MIDI violins.)
 
@Cerberus Everything I've ever learned about music, I've learned from but a handful of people.
Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Pakhmutova, Shainsky, and Elton John. With some @Robusto on the side.
I'm not even being silly for once. It really is true.
My very name on this very site is a testament to that.
I would have picked "Robusto", but it was already taken.
 
8:36 PM
You can have it for ten payments of $3000 each ...
 
That's cool. I'll re-sell it to Cerberus right here, for 3000 bitcoins each.
Should be worth about a rouble by now, I should think?
Maybe 82 copecks.
@Robusto join the club. It's only $2999 a month.
 
Pfft, I can hate MIDI violins for only $1999 elsewhere.
Now don't bother me, I'm laboring over your labour.
What are you trying to get at with "coniferous"? Is that in the original Russian? It's really a horrible word for poetry.
 
Inorite.
It's the most central word of them all though.
That other guy I included a translation of, he also kept it.
Though the context really translates most poorly.
Picture a shiver.
 
So the Russian is literally "coniferous"?
 
A fine shiver, as Mandelstam puts it. THough in English that's usually rendered as quick. In every sense of the word.
@Robusto yes, хвойный. He always does these things. I hate this guy.
 
8:43 PM
@RegDwigнt Then I don't know. Robusto might.
 
So anyway. A fine shiver, you're trembling very quickly with very little amplitude.
But then he adds coniferous into the mix.
 
@RegDwigнt And what pray tell, is that?
 
You've felt a Christmas tree before.
It can be prickly, but it can also be the opposite. Really quite a gentle feeling. The needles are many, but they are soft.
 
@RegDwigнt Totally not fair.
 
@Cerberus sorry I'm in the middle of something right now. But I'll keep a mental note. As I always do.
 
8:45 PM
@RegDwigнt More of a tingle, then?
 
Don't worry, it's fine if you forget about it.
 
@Robusto yeah like that other time he'd talk about shrubs and then call them "getting-more-evening-y". In one word.
Fuck that shit. I'd rather learn bowling.
Yet it was the most natural and unremarkable word. You just wouldn't normally use it in the context. Which is why he did.
Same with coniferous.
Ugly as fuck in English, of course. Not so much in Russian. Actually quite soft-sounding despite the guttural [x].
 
Is humor important in the original, or are we merely talking the redolence of the final line's epiphany of a path not taken?
 
@Cerberus I will not as you know. As you know now, that is. You will forget. As we both know now. And ever.
@Robusto there is no humour at all. Not bleak, but somber. Throughout.
As I hinted at in the description, the two words to keep in mind are probably poignant and prophetic. Or rather, clairvoyant, I said, to avoid the alliteration.
 
@RegDwigнt All right, then if the intent is never humorous we must avoid that and "coniferous sting" has to bite the dust.
 
8:49 PM
But yeah if we ignore alliterations, toss in premonition right into the mix.
@Robusto good. Give me some similes, then.
Not on the spot, but maybe you can think of something.
I'm not liking the sting either, it transitions too nicely into the wasp which the original does not.
But I had to take it because of the rhyme.
So it can go, but then so has the rhyming fella.
 
Do you mind altering the regular triplets here and there to accommodate other words that might not fit them exactly. You know, a dotted eighth and three sixteenths once in a while?
That sort of thing.
 
@Robusto I don't mind it at all. Spoken word is primary. Actually, as you should see in measure 10. The bird gets a crotchet among all the quavers.
 
It gets kicked in the crotchet? That's gotta hurt ...
 
As a side note apropos of nothing, remind me that the next time we discuss how English is stupid and Russian is not, that I mention dactyl. How could I not have thought of this one before!
I believe I did mention the ptaerodactly once or twice, but never the dactyl proper.
Every word you have, every phrase, you prefix it with an upbeat. A something. The something else. Gaaaah.
So dactyl goes straight out of the window first thing in the morning. And he doesn't even have the ptaero to carry himself.
Swiftly followed by amphibrach, mind. Because you also have all those other one-syllable filler words.
And a dog. For the dog. When the dog. If a dog. Than a dog. And so on and so forth.
So really all you're left with is anapaest.
So no, I don't mind meddling with the melody one bit to accomodate a language that can't accomodate the melody.
It's a pains in the ass of course, because you have to think of notes you never thought of before. But that's sort of my whole job here.
Also, none of this is urgent. I'm holding it back anyway to sight-read it tomorrow with my violin teacher to get a general idea of the bowings she fancies.
 
Yes. And remember that in English dactyls always at least flirt with humor. Think of James Joyce's Ulysses with its Stephen Dedalus and Malachi Mulligan.
 
9:00 PM
I think of James Joyce's Ulysses way too often even for his own liking.
 
@RegDwigнt Yes, and it is going to take a while, a bare dozen lines though it may be.
 
Actually, I just think of James Joyce a lot, period.
@Robusto innit always so. You need more time to write a shorter letter.
 
@RegDwigнt He thinks of you too.
 
@Robusto Yes, that's how he wrote the Ulysses in the first place.
 
@RegDwigнt Huh, what was that about.
 
9:02 PM
Is the bird just a bird or is it a particular species?
 
@Cerberus huh what? I forget.
@Robusto no he's just listing random things that fit the metre.
 
kk
 
Which is why I felt confident replacing the old woman with a nun.
 
The nun is good. Don't change that one.
But the bird could be a wren, right? We weren't there, we don't know that it wasn't.
See, a nun is a particular type of old woman, and a wren (or a jackdaw, or a sparrow) is a particular type of bird.
It is the particular instances that bring a poem to life.
 
@Robusto well that's still one syllable, so unless you're aiming to put it at the end to meddle with the rhyme, there's no reason to make it more specific (or less specific or different) than what the original has.
I do want to keep as much of it as close to the urtext as possible.
I'm already closer to it than anyone ever before.
As you should see from the other guy's translation I've included.
 
9:06 PM
I understand that impulse.
 
Also, another thing to keep in mind is that his language is really really simple. Even when he uses a word in a weird way, the word itself is utterly unremarkable.
Which is why I'm not in love with coniferous at all. Who the fuck even knows what that is.
So likewise for wren. I know a lot of people who'd have to look that one up. I don't know many people who'd look up bird.
(Though I might meet some of them if I looked at the main site right now.)
 
@RegDwigнt Really, you'd look up wren?
 
@Robusto sure. That's not what I meant, but sure.
 
I wouldn't try to sell you crow, because that has too many overtones.
 
Yeah that's another thing. We'll come to that.
Like, at the very end I was contemplating choosing between pick and picked.
And the latter was just too much of a consonant cluster.
The melody is hard to sing already as is. No need to make the words unenunciateable on top of that.
 
9:11 PM
So did you switch woman to nun just because nun is a single syllable? Because nun is very much more than that.
 
@Robusto no I switched it to nun to rhyme with anyone.
Basically I'm explaning this all wrong.
Take a look at the literal word-for-word translation of mine. That was my starting point.
 
Ah, I forgot the abab rhyme for a moment.
 
Then, as I always do, even though you may not always notice, is I try to make the metre of the translation fit the music.
If you go back and rewatch my old YouTube shit with that in mind, you'll be amazed just how often the CC sync up with the music.
It just doesn't rhyme. Never does.
 
@RegDwigнt Where is that? I'm not seeing it.
 
Ah in the description on the side. Depending on your screen resolution that is. It's either on the right-hand side, you have to click "show more", or in portrait it can be underneath the score, then you have to click "show more" also likewise.
That's where all the meat and potatoes hide.
 
9:17 PM
Ah, OK.
 
Good. That should give you quite some perspective.
And also context.
I've said a couple words about the poet and the time and the poet at the time.
 
Is there a transcription error in Probstein's translation? "Don’t tell it anyone — ever" is simply not English. My brain just can't put that one into gear.
 
I know. I didn't want to say.
I do think his thingie is kinda, well.
He's a professor. I must watch my tongue. Easy to make enemies. Not so easy, friends.
I've only briefly skimmed through his other translations. They were all on one single endless page. I don't think that's a typo.
That's just how he thinks English is as she is wrote.
 
Also be aware that too-tight rhyming (abab cdcd etc.) can be perceived as sing-songy and on the humorous side.
 
And that's the only other translation I was able to find in the half an hour that I've cobbled mine together in.
@Robusto yes, that can be a major PITA. But for better or worse I tend to stick with whatever the original has.
Or rather, to come back and finish my thought from before, I don't really stick with it ever.
With my previous efforts, I just tried to put together a literal translation as accurate as possible.
Then after that, whenever possible, I look at the individual lines and try and make them fit the music. So add some filler syllables here, pick a shorter synonym there.
With this particular poem, I was able to shoehorn almost every which line into the rhythm, which is why I thought, fuck it, lemme open a rhyming dictionary and see if I can shoehorn some rhymes on top of that.
 
9:26 PM
BTW, speaking of dactyls, this is what you don't want to wind up with:
 
First time I'd opened a rhyming dictionary in 20 years. Which is when I last studied poetry translation.
 
You maybe want something more like this?
 
@Robusto it's 11mil views tho. I'd totally want to wind up with that.
But baby steps.
 
No. Giant steps.
 
That's a different genre altogether.
 
Not the same ballpark, ain't the same fucking sport.
 
See?
Thank you for that segue, though.
 
@Robusto my gripe with that would be that 99% of the lyrics aren't even English.
Schnitzels with Nudels my ass.
@Robusto any time. Only $2999 a-time.
 
@RegDwigнt If your ass is schnitzels with noodles you need to exercise more.
I'm just saying.
 
Inorite. That's why we go over these Dingens.
 
9:30 PM
I'm thinking now that perhaps I should tell you what I find awkward about your translation and let you fix it, rather than me trying to sell you some words you didn't come up with?
 
Yes bring it on. That's what we're here for.
Some of your awkward things might well be on my own list that I've not even mentioned yet.
 
OK, I'm fine with the first five lines. Then we get to "You'll name even only one thing" ...
That is awkward to think about, much less to say.
Feels like you want something more like "You'll give voice to only one thing" or "You'll single out only one thing"—either of which departs from naming but really means the same thing.
I don't care for "You will be stricken at once" I'd prefer "Then you'll be struck all at once" ... small change, maybe, but stricken has a myocardial infarction resonance to it that struck avoids.
 
@Robusto yes, that one's entirely to fill out the metre. The basic idea is that you just open your mouth and speak a word. Mandelstam makes sure not to use the word mouth though, but a more elevated while still perfectly common synonym. I am not aware of any such thing in English, sadly. Which is why I have to write around it.
 
Unless you want to be serious as a heart attack. Literally.
@RegDwigнt Then "give voice to" works just fine.
 
@Robusto that's another thing on my list. That was the one single word I've spent on researching last night when I cobbled this thing together. Because I do not think you can be stricken by a sting.
You're usually stricken by a general condition, like poverty. Or horror.
Or a more specific and momentary one, but well, not sting.
 
9:38 PM
@RegDwigнt Yes. The juxtaposition is unintentionally humorous. Like swatting a fly with a sledge hammer.
@RegDwigнt Well, you can be stricken by lightning.
 
I had a bunch of dictionaries open at that point and COCA collocation search and everything. That's how much it buggered me.
@Robusto yes and a couple other incidental things, which is why I did leave it in in the end.
 
Change it to struck and all at once it is in the same dimension as a sting.
 
But as a general rule, I do not want to claim poetic license. The simpler the better. His language is everyday.
 
So are the things I just told you.
 
@Robusto well yes but that one's just one syllable. Which is no biggie in and of itself, as I can make up for it in music. But I do have to make up for it in music.
Lemme boot the score up see where it even falls in the pattern.
 
9:41 PM
@RegDwigнt Not in the matrix I provided: "Then you'll be struck all at once" scans exactly the same as "You will be stricken at once" ...
 
Ah sorry I wasn't paying attention.
 
Not only that, but "all at once" has that little hint of surprise.
 
I mean, uh, I never read your shit.
Booting up the score anyway.
@Robusto yeah all metre all the way. Saying the same things thrice over just to get to the syllable count.
 
@RegDwigнt Hey, it's your $3000/hr. Do what you like?
And in "You'll give voice to only one thing" you'll becomes a pickup with the downbeat on give.
Well, you'll is a pickup in yours as well.
Anyway, now we come to "By a coniferous sting*. I would recommend you break any self-imposed rules and work really hard to get rid of it. Into the dumper. Flush it.
 
Yeah. That one's a riddle inside an enigma wrapped in garbage.
 
9:48 PM
So let's table it and move on for now.
 
See, that's why I stopped caring about translating poetry. I went to the first lesson, the professor said "it's fucking impossible, get the fuck outta here idiots", I went to the library and spent half a year translating just one poem of Lermontov's into German just to prove him wrong and spite him, and I got it just perfect and then I was satistfied and I stopped.
Quit while you're ahead.
@Robusto you're using that verb on purpose because you know that I know that you know that it means the opposite of itself.
 
@RegDwigнt Now you begin to understand the process here.
 
Only took me less than two decades.
 
@RegDwigнt Unfortunately I stopped being ahead when I had kids. But I couldn't quit.
BTW, I like the slant rhyme of chance/once.
More of that, plz.
 
You should watch Quitters, Inc with James Woods. It showcases a number of efficient and effective strategies that are effable.
@Robusto hah that one was on my list of garden path rhymes. Comprised of just this one item.
 
9:51 PM
I don't altogether like the kid/pick off-rhyme, however.
 
I'd totally expect the reader to take it as chens and then have to go back and re-take it as chuns. Which I liked so I said fuck the reader.
@Robusto I really want to rhyme the kid with a did. But I've not found a way so far.
That's another thing about this Mandelstam guy. His rhymes are never out there. Always perfect.
 
@RegDwigнt Which is what most poets and translators ultimately resolve to do anyway.
 
Like, sometimes they are out there, but nowhere like Gottfried Benn's, like. Or even Shakespeare's.
@Robusto well yes, that's the process. First, get everything perfectly neatly right. Then change a thing or two. Then since you're changing a thing or two anyway, fuck it let's change everything.
That's how all poetry translation works. Because otherwise it doesn't.
 
OK, now this last line is is good, and really does communicate, but I think it could be better. And if you want to end on a really consonant rhyme, you might have to change it.
The wasp and pen case couplet is fine as is, so let's not even talk about that.
 
Oh!
That's another thing I wanted to ask you about. Disregardless of everything else.
 
9:56 PM
Shoot.
 
You've been there, and for once I don't even mean that in a disrespectful way.
 
Out with it, lad!
 
What do you call those things that you had back in the day, where you'd have an ink pen and a couple of feathers and a small bottle of ink in it.
 
An inkwell?
 
Because that's what Mandelstam really means.
@Robusto No, yes. Um. I dunno. The whole set.
People would give them each other as a present. Execs would have an expensive one on their desk.
 
9:58 PM
An inkstand?
 
An ink pen with some ink, on a nice tablet that would close into a case.
@Robusto yes like that. Except you could take it with you.
Let me start from square one. What would one take to school as a kid instead of a pencil case when what you had were not pencils but ink pens.
 
Well, there are pen-and-pencil sets.
@RegDwigнt How the fuck old do you think I am?
 
I'm asking because Mandelstam uses that wonderful collocation, чернильный пенал.
 
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