Ennie and I had an interesting conversation over dinner tonight. The topic was the song known to the world as the Hungarian Suicide Song. Szomorú Vasárnap.

It was on a radio show / podcast she was listening to.

I read the lyrics in Hungarian, then the ones in English.

The concept of translating song or poetry is an interesting one. Do you translate verbatim? The rhythm and rhyme? The meaning? What is the important part of the meaning?

There’s a book written by Douglas Hofstadter, Le Ton Beau De Marot: In Praise Of The Music Of Language, that’s all about exactly this topic. How do you translate a simple little poem? So many ways, all right — all wrong.

– = –

I read the lyrics in Hungarian — there’s a couple parts of the poem. All of them are sadder than the English version…

“Szomorú” is a bit more than “gloomy” or “sad.” It’s more “woeful” in the way it’s used in the song. Like this is the only thing that matters, “pained” and “mournful.”

Odd the way language works like that.