It was always a mystery to me why the churches of Ireland were filled with women, and empty of men. I looked up at the crucifix and thought it was a bizarre thing for women to worship a man in a church run by men. As far as I was concerned being a Catholic was silly, and being a Jew meant so much more washing-up. What all religions do, however, is what most political systems fail to do — they prize and praise the figure of the mother.
She is the machine, the hidden power. She is the ideal, the revered one, the truly loved. Which makes up, in a way, for being skipped in shop queues and looking like a heap.
And more. On the third night of my child’s life I looked into her eyes and realised that nothing I believed could explain this. It was an embarrassing moment. I think I saw her soul. I suffered from the conviction that a part of her was ancient; and that part chose to be there with me at the beginning of something new. I had a wise child.
Carrying her out of the hospital and into the noise of the traffic; driving her home in second gear; feeding her in the middle of the night, and at the beginning of the night, and at dawn — so precious — I found myself shrinking in the face of her vast and unknowable future. How would she turn out? What would she do? When would she die? Not for many, many years, I hoped; not for the longest time. The mechanisms of fate, the grinding of her days that would lead to one end or another, became urgently opaque to me. There were a thousand things that could hurt this child, or even estrange her from me. What could I do? Nothing. My best.
These are all feelings that religion understands.
I had, I thought, become human in a different and perhaps more radical way. I had let something slip into the stream of time. What else can you do, but trust the river — put it all into the hands of a higher power?
Oh, all right.
And who else, but the suffering Christ, could know the suffering that motherhood brings?
Actually, I will resist the tug of it, if you don’t mind. Still, I will resist.
Anne Enright, ‘God’ in Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, London: Vintage, 2005, 111-12.
Children are actually a form of brainwashing. They are a cult, a perfectly legal cult. Think about it. When you join a cult you are undernourished, you are denied sleep, you are forced to do repetitive and pointless tasks at random hours of the day and night, then you stare deep into your despotic leader’s eyes, repeating meaningless phrases, or mantras, like Ooh da gorgeous. Yes, you are! Cult members, like parents, are overwhelmed by spiritual feelings and often burst into tears. Cult members, like parents, spout nonsense with a happy, blank look in their eyes. They know they’re sort of mad, but they can’t help it. They call it love.
From ‘Baby-Talk’ in Anne Enright, Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, London: Vintage, 2005, 138.
To, da so bile irske cerkve polne žensk, moških pa ni bilo nikjer, mi je bilo vedno uganka. Gledala sem gor v razpelo in razmišljala, kako je čudno, da ženske častijo moškega v cerkvi, ki jo vodijo moški. Po moje je bilo že to, da si katoličan, smešno, pri Judih pa je bilo samo še več pomivanja. Kakorkoli, vsem verovanjem je skupno to, kar večini političnim sistemom ne uspe – častijo in čislajo lik matere.
Mati je stroj, skrita gonilna sila. Ona je ideal, čaščena, resnično ljubljena. Na nek način to odtehta dejstvo, da jo drugi preskočijo v vrsti v trgovini in izgleda kot kup nesreče.
In to še ni vse. Tretjo noč življenja svoje hčerke sem ji pogledala v oči in ugotovila, da nič, v kar sem verjela, tega ne more pojasniti. Kar nerodno mi je bilo. Zdi se mi, da sem videla njeno dušo. Trpela sem zaradi prepričanja, da je del nje starodaven in ta del se je odločil, da bo z mano na začetku nečesa novega. Imela sem modrega otroka.
Ko sem jo nosila iz bolnišnice v prometni hrup; jo domov peljala v drugi prestavi; jo hranila sredi noči in ob mraku in ob jutranji zarji – tako dragoceno je bilo –, sem se šibila pod težo njene neskončne in nepredstavljive prihodnosti. Kakšna bo postala? Kaj bo počela? Kdaj bo umrla? Upala sem, da še mnogo, mnogo let ne, naj jih bo čim več. Nenadoma mi je kolesje usode, ki poganja takšen ali drugačen razplet njenih dni, postalo neizbežno nejasno. Obstajalo je tisoč stvari, ki bi tej dojenčici lahko škodovale ali jo celo odtujile od mene. Kaj bom lahko naredila? Nič. Vse, kar je v moji moči.
Vse to so občutki, ki jih vera razume.
Mislila sem, da sem postala človeška na drugačen, mogoče bolj radikalen način. Pustila sem, da nekaj smukne v tok časa. Kaj drugega lahko narediš, kot zaupaš toku reke – predaš vse v roke višje sile?
Oh, pa že.
In kdo drug kot trpeči Jezus bi lahko poznal trpljenje, ki ga prinese materinstvo?
V bistvu se bom temu uprla, če nimate nič proti. Vseeno se bom uprla.
Imeti otroke je pravzaprav oblika pranja možganov. To je kult, popolnoma legalen kult. Samo pomislite. Ko se pridružiš kultu, te stradajo, prikrajšajo za spanje, prisilijo izvajati ponavljajoče se in nesmiselne naloge ob naključnih urah dneva in noči, potem pa strmiš globoko v oči despotske vodje in ponavljaš nesmiselne fraze ali mantre, kot je »Oh, preljubi«. Ja, to počneš! Člane kultov, tako kot starše, preplavlja spiritualna vzhičenost in pogosto planejo v jok. Člani kultov, tako kot starši, z veselim, praznim izrazom na obrazu trosijo nesmisle. Vejo, da so malce nori, a si ne morejo pomagati. Temu pravijo ljubezen.
When first reading the excerpt titled 'God' from Anne Enright’s Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, I noticed the author had a specific style, but only when I started translating, it became clear how difficult it is to stay true to the original tone of the English text. Recreating the same text in another language that conveys the same message to the reader is certainly a typical challenge when translating literary works.
I decided to first do a quick and rough translation, mark some parts of the text that I struggled with and look at them later. These were the ones that I didn’t fully understand at first and needed to do further research (e.g. religion-related topics and the parts for which I needed to understand the context of the book), and the ones where I had to find or form appropriate connotations for idioms or phrases from the original which sound natural in English but not in Slovene.
For these, I was searching through the Slovenian glossary of synonyms CJVT Sopomenke and the Slovenian corpus Gigafida which were very helpful, since I saw how frequently some words or expressions were used, in what context and in which registers. To avoid English structure of the text and word-for-word translation, I started forming and playing with new expressions and turning the sentences around. For example, I found the translation equivalent of ‘looking like a heap’ to be ‘kot kup nesreče’, which is very similar, but means not only to look, but also to feel neglected. Another difficult part was ‘not for the longest time’ for which I decided on ‘naj jih bo čim več’ (‘let there be many more’), omitting the word time for which I could not find a good stylistic solution, but instead making a reference to many years, mentioned in the first part of the sentence.
I have also made the changes in verb tenses used in the original. For example, the gerund used in the beginning of some sentences such as ‘Carrying her out of the hospital, feeding her...’ sounds natural in English, but this does not work in Slovene, so in the translation I added a subject and made a past continuous verb tense: ‘Ko sem jo nosila, jo hranila...’ (literally ‘When I was carrying her…’).
In the first two sentences of the excerpt Baby-talk (‘Children are actually a form of brainwashing. They are a cult, a perfectly legal cult.’), I decided to add the verb ‘to have’ in the first sentence and to add ‘this is’ in the second. My translation became: ‘Imeti otroke je pravzaprav oblika pranja možganov. To je kult, popolnoma legalen kult.’ This is because I thought that literal translation would convey a different meaning, which would not fit into context, since the behaviour of the ones that have children are described, and not children themselves.
Another difficult part was translating the meaningless phrase or mantra ‘Ooh da gorgeous’, which had to be an expression which anyone from the cult could say to their leader or any parent to their child. This was very hard because nothing sounded good enough for both in Slovene. In the end I decided for ‘Oh, preljubi’.
Of course, in some parts of the text, I imitated the original and used the same figures to get the same effect, for example keeping the same structure (parenthetical clauses) and stylistic figures such as word repetition and alliteration (e.g. ‘častijo in čislajo’ for ‘prize and praise’). And in some other cases, I added the figures, as I thought it added a good effect to a less typical combination of words in Slovene (e.g. alliteration ‘neizbežno nejasno’ for ‘urgently opaque’).
Before I submitted the final version of the translation, I had considered the grammatical corrections and stylistic suggestions of my teacher, as well as those of one of my colleagues, with whom I debated over what would sound better and how to change some parts of the translation to make it more eloquent. This proved to be very helpful since some things did not cross my mind while translating and fresh eyes can catch some mistakes and little nuances that I had missed, especially for harder expressions, mentioned above. For example, my original translation of ‘embarrassing moment’ was ‘sramoten trenutek’, which had a stronger negative connotation, so I have changed it to ‘nerodno mi je bilo’. The word ‘machine’ became ‘stroj’ and not ‘mašina’, since the second would be of a less formal register and would not work in the context.