Sunday, June 22, 2008

Translator? Not!

I like translating Tagalog songs into English. My first translations were of Eraserheads songs, done way back in my first year of high school; they were pretty bad, mostly because they were literal, almost word-for-word translations. At the time I didn't know this popular dictum: if a translation is beautiful, it isn't faithful to the original, and vice versa. A purist at heart, I unconsciously chose the latter, and wound up with clumsy English lyrics that were devoid of the charm of the original Tagalog. That this was so didn't matter to me, or maybe I was unaware of what a bad job I did; I was quite proud of those translations.

Fast forward to my (hopefully) last year in university. Friday morning, my roommate and I are sitting on her bed, watching MTV. Moonstar88's Migraine comes on; my roommate reaches for the remote, saying that the video's been playing all summer. Chunky yellow handwriting flashes on the screen like the opening credits of a movie; the band's female vocalist, clad in a knee-length dress with red printed flowers, her face obscured by the black angular frame of her glasses, is sitting on a wooden bench under a tree next to a young man in a pastel blue dinner jacket and a red bow tie, probably another band member. A bus stops in front of them; the young man takes his boxy red suitcase and gets on, while the girl remains sitting on the bench and watches him with a pleading look in her eyes. It's one of those videos whose ending you already know the minute they start playing. I must have been feeling sentimental - I might have been thinking of a certain well-known person whose name I shall withhold for the time being - I may have just liked the campy costumes and setting. Whatever the exact reason, I convinced my roommate to leave the remote alone, and we sat through five somewhat surreal minutes of girl-tries-to-get-boy-to-notice-her. Something in the song struck a chord in me, and I decided that I wanted to translate it into English. I hunted for an mp3 of the song and a copy of the Tagalog lyrics as soon as I could go online, and eagerly set to work.

Below are the original Tagalog lyrics and the English translation that I wrote. I tried to stay as close to the original wording as I could, although I couldn't avoid putting in some edits and paraphrases here and there to make the flow of the translation smoother. I also took a few liberties with a metaphor or two whose meaning I wasn't clear about... I hope I didn't misunderstand the song. ^^;

Migraine by Moonstar88

Oo nga pala, hindi nga pala tayo
Hanggang dito lang ako, nangangarap na mapa-sayo
Hindi sinasadya
Hahanapin pa ang lugar ko
Asan nga ba ako? andiyan pa ba sa iyo?

Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? aasa ba ko sayo?

Nasusuka ako, kinakain na ang loob
Masakit na mga tuhod, kailangan bang lumuhod?
Gusto ko lang naman, yung totoo
Yung tipong ang sagot
Ay di rin isang tanong

Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? asan ba ko sayo?
Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? aasa ba ko sayo?

Dahil di na makatulog
Dahil di na makakain
Dahil di na makatawa
Dahil hindi na...

Oo nga pala, hindi nga pala tayo
Hanggang dito na lang ako

Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? asan ba ko sayo?
Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? Aasa ba ko sayo?
Nahihilo
Nalilito


English translation by Tina

I keep forgetting that we're not together
All I can do is hope to be with you
Unconsciously looking for my place
Where am I now?
Am I still by your side?

You make me dizzy, you confuse my mind
Where do you think I should be?
Should I put my faith in you?

My insides are churning, so much it makes me sick
My knees are hurting, must I kneel before you?
I just want to know the truth
The kind whose answer isn't another question

You make me dizzy, you confuse my mind
Where do you think I should be?
You make me dizzy, you confuse my mind
Where do you think I should be?
Should I put my faith in you?

Because I can't sleep
Because I can't eat
Because I can't laugh
Because I can't...

I keep forgetting that we're not together
This is all I can do

You make me dizzy, you confuse my mind
Where do you think I should be?
You make me dizzy, you confuse my mind
Where do you think I should be?
Should I put my faith in you?

You make me dizzy
You confuse my mind

---
By the way, this was two Fridays ago...I almost forgot to put this post up :) Thesis work officially begins tomorrow; we'll be given our topics if we haven't thought of any. I spent the whole week in the library, looking up books for all the lovely research work I'll be doing. I want to blog during my thesis, but I might wind up writing about theoretical computer science...I'm in the Algorithms and Complexity research lab :D What fun! XP

8 comments:

Rich said...

Haha, I tried to sing the the song in english. Hehe.
I didn't know you have this kinda hobby.
Anyway, this song is the OST of a teledrama in GMA entitled "Witch Yoo-Hee", I just thought you can look like the Yoo-Hee there. Hehe

-= http://static.dailymotion.com/dyn/preview/320x240/5822252.jpg =-

how can you have a beautiful ending without making beautiful mistakes said...

The anguish of love has no barriers...although I could never translate a song in Tagalog to English in which I give you kudos! Depressing music makes for a depressing day...and I'm already dreading it.

lesterjoseph said...

comma splice or nahahabaan lang ako sa sentences. :))
gets ko naman yung post, haha.

"Algorithms and Complexity" seems really fun!
Goodluck!

Emir Rio Abueva said...

Are you for real LJ? Seems fun?! LOL!

Tina, I want to hear you sing your translation!
So Sing it!
LOL!

Good luck sa thesis!

aireen said...

hey. Im looking for the translation of this song and I landed off to your page. I dunno if this page was still active but kinda reading it now, it's cool. Btw, its April 2012. hehe. just thought you should know :)
(neeria_here@yahoo.com)

Roland said...

whoah, this is so cool. i came across this page looking for a translation for Moonstar88 Migraine. I can't believe this post was way back in 2008. It's April 2013, and this song is hitting me so hard right now. :)

k0k0d3-chin said...

hi, sorry i kinda used your migraine english translation in one of my posts on tumblr (i sourced you tho), i couldn't find any other better translations of it elsewhere and my english isn't that good OTL

wakoko79 said...

This song is really great. The music is mellow and so good. Maganda din yung mga salitang ginamit, katulad ng parte na ito:

Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? asan ba ko sayo?
Nahihilo, nalilito
Asan ba ko sayo? Aasa ba ko sayo?

You just can't translate it without loosing much of its meaning. The literal translation would be something like:

(I'm getting) Dizzy, (I'm getting) confused
Where am I in you? Where am I in you?
(I'm getting) Dizzy, (I'm getting) confused
Where am I in you? Will I place my hope in you?

But of course, that's the literal which makes no sense especially with the lines:

Asan ba ko sayo? Asan ba ko sayo?
[Where am I in you? Where am I in you?]

And,

Asan ba ko sayo? Aasa ba ko sayo?
[Where am I in you? Will I place my hope in you?]

The line "Asan ba ko sayo?" is actually quite difficult to translate, in the poetical sense.
This line actually is literally translated, meaning that my english translation means exactly what it would mean to us in Tagalog.
But it implies other meaning, it goes like:

What is my value to you? Am I in your only in your brain? (Just an acquaintance or friend)
Am I in your heart?(Do you love me? Do you feel even a glint of romantic connection with me? Is there a chance that we can be romantically involved?)
Or am I not even in any of your thoughts? (Just a stranger, or someone that you just don't give a s**t to)

But for the singer to say this line means that she/he feels something, but don't have any proof of connection with that person. She can only hope.
This impression further reinforced by saying that question twice in a line, which gives the impression of desperately wanting to know.

I also like the fact that using clever Tagalog words, the question:
Asan ba ko sayo?
[Where am I in you?]

,was easily transformed into:
Aasa ba ko sayo?
[Will I place my hope in you?]

This song is really good, right in the feels. =)