No one else can hear the baby speak, but I can. I can hear her say ‘up’ and ‘clap’, I hear ‘stairs’. I hear ‘string’. No one believes my baby says ‘string’, but I know she does, because she loves the bit of string that is tied to the door of the car, and she says ‘shing’. You have to listen hard, I admit that.
For months we have been on call and answer. ‘Ah da da dah,’ says the child. ‘Ah dah dee doo dah,’ I say back. This conversation is surprisingly complex, and gives me a new respect for birds, whales and chimpanzees. With three or four syllables, in all their variations, we can say, the two of us, all that we need, for now, to say.
Still, I dream of the baby turning around, and opening her mouth to say something wonderful and long and syntactically amazing like, ‘Can I go to the shops?’ I know it is in there somewhere — before her first word was ever uttered, there were full sentences playing across her face. The trick is getting them out of there — like pulling down the weather.
There is nothing so exciting as speech. A baby looks at your face as you say a word, and whatever passes between you as you hear the word back, is love and love returned. It is the gaze made manifest. Teaching a child to speak is giving them the world. It is better than feeding them, I realise, as I stand beside the kitchen counter, dropping scraps of words to my daughter’s up-tilted face. And I think that all words are sublimated nurture, or a request for nurture, or its provision. All words happen in the space between you and your dear old Ma.
I develop a theory that all writers have Major Mothers, Serious Mothers, sometimes Demanding Mothers — the kind of women you always know when they are in the room. I test this theory any time I am at a reading or conference, I float it across the dinner table. The last time I did this, one of the writers did not answer. He had started to cry.
Anne Enright, ‘Speech’ in Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, London: Vintage, 2005, 171-72.
Nitko drugi ne razumije govor bebe, samo ja. Čujem je kad kaže „hop” i „klop”. Čujem „kos”. Čujem „konac”. Nitko ne vjeruje da moja beba kaže „konac”, ali ja znam da je to istina jer obožava komadić konca koji je vezan za vrata auta i uvijek ga naziva „onjac”. Ali priznajem, moraš se vraški potruditi da je razumiješ.
Mjesecima se već dozivamo. „A da da da”, kaže dijete. „A da di du da,” odgovorim joj. Iznenađujuće je složen taj razgovor i u meni budi poštovanje prema pticama, kitovima i čimpanzama. Uz tri do četiri sloga u svim njihovim rasponima, nas si dvije zasad kažemo sve što si imamo za reći.
Ipak, žudim za danom kad će se dijete prevrtati naokolo i otvarati svoja usta kako bi izustila nešto predivno i dugo i sintaktički čudesno, nešto poput; Smijem li ići u trgovinu? Znam da smo nadomak tome – prije nego što je izgovorila prvo slovo, cijele rečenice zaigrano su joj vrludale licem. Ali kvaka je u tome kako ih izvući iz nje – kao da pokušavam rastjerati oblake.
Ništa nije uzbudljivije od govora. Beba ti promatra lice dok izgovaraš riječ i sve što se među vama događa u tom trenutku, dok slušaš nju kako ponavlja za tobom, samo je odraz uzvraćene ljubavi. Pogled je to koji postaje jasan. Učiti dijete govoru znači otkrivati mu svijet. Shvatim, puno je bolje nego hraniti je, i to dok stojim pokraj kuhinjskog pulta, a otpatci riječi kaplju na kćerino podignuto lice. I razmišljam kako su sve riječi zapravo plemenite odgojiteljice, potreba za odgojem ili njegovim zalihama. Sve riječi nastaju u međuprostoru tebe i tvog dobrog starog „mamice“.
Nekako sam razvila teoriju da svi pisci imaju Super majke, Ozbiljne majke, a ponekad i Zahtjevne majke – tip žena koje uvijek prepoznaš kada su u prostoriji. Ispipavam ovu teoriju svaki put kada sam na čitanju ili konferenciji; samo mi izleti preko stola. Posljednji put kada sam to učinila, odgovora od pisca nije bilo. Samo je zaplakao.
While reading this Anne Enright's short literary piece, at first, one thought crossed my mind and it was how to use a few words to say a whole lot. And truly, it was just like that, story which abounds with touchy, spiritual, almost fairylike sense of unbreakable mother-daughter bond which highlights the importance of gathering one child's first impressions of the world through the lens of one mother's approach, knowledge and simply, existence. The story is divided in five paragraphs out of which the first four are imbued with the notable sense of mother's closeness and devotion towards her baby girl. The last paragraph could be seen as the one more general, where that parental string loosens a bit and becomes more immersed into the situations of the real world, the one we live in.
When it comes to the translation of this short story, my main goal was to transfer that authentic atmosphere and tone which reflects closeness and the purest form of love between the two human beings as, in this case, between the mother and the daughter. Concerning the methods and approaches to this translation, it is of great importance to mention specific sound sets up and st which emphasize phonetic word play that Enright used at the beginning of the text. Words “up”,“clap” and “stairs”,“string” not only have certain semantic value, but also are the words suitable for one child's pronounciation capabilities. In addition, due to the rhyme pattern involved within these one syllable words, this sequence represented a real challenge in translation. In the case of a first pair, while translating and adapting these words to Croatian, the emphasis was put on maintaining the rhyme in order to achieve the original playfulness. But, the semantic meaning changed as I had to naturalize certain words so as to make them understandable and logic. For instance, words “up” and “clap” were translated as “hop” and “klop”. Both “hop” and “klop” are exclamations and while “hop” carries the same meaning as “up”,“klop”in Croatian, is more related to the onomatopoeic sound of a heartbeat. On the other hand, in the case of “stairs” and “string” the emphasis was put on maintaining the pattern of repeating first two letters of both words. For instance, the two letters “st” became “ko” in the Croatian version which finally resulted in “kos” and “konac”. As the word “konac” became suitable replacement for “string”, I opted for the complete alienation of the original meaning of the word “stairs” in order to stay faithfull to the translated pun. What is more, the word “string”, carries an additional significance as it was mentioned couple of times within the story.
Another challenge was adapting the word “shing”. It represents the word “string”, but uttered by small child who often mispronounces words. Therefore, my approach to this translation was to affect the word so that it sounds childish. “Konac” is the word I used as the Croatian version of “string” and in order to achieve the pun on words I omitted the first letter k- and added -j to an n-. An overly interesting sequence of translating to the Croatian language was an idiom “call and answer” which once again acknowledged the richness of the English language as it was impossible to find an adequate equivalent in the Croatian language. “Call and answer” in Croatian, is a phrase most frequently used in the field of music in a sense of compositional technique. To resolve this language barrier, I came up with the strategy of transposition where I opted for a change of grammatic category as the idiom was replaced by a verb “dozivati” which means to call someone in anticipation for the answer. Another expression I had not encountered before was “pulling down the weather”. It was rather difficult to find the explanation for this phrase, so I had to consider the tone, voice and the context around it in order to transmit the message into Croatian. “Kao da pokušavam rastjerati oblake” was my final solution as it represents the inability or strong efforts in doing something. But also, as the original contains the word weather, I opted for the phrase which includes the word “oblake” which stands for clouds, and therefore it reflects the notion of weather. Reflecting to the style and translating methods used, among all the other aforementioned, the interesting thing to observe was in the third chapter where I opted for the wide range of translating methods. Such as of particularization that is the usage of more concise and precise terms in the target language for the word “say”, which became “izustila”. Also, the method of modulation for “it is in there somewhere” which became “nadomak tome” as the example of a shift in perspective. Certain deviations from the original could be seen in the noun phrase “your dear old Ma” which could not be translated literally in its entirety. Even though the adjective “old” in both, English and Croatian expresses the same sense of devotion and familiarity, the noun “Ma” is not common in the Croatian language. Thus, the whole phrase was translated as “dobrog starog „mamice“”.
Finally, even though this is a a prose text we could refer to it as a “poetic prose” mostly because of the tone, word choices and sentence structures. Sentence structures are not complex in a syntactic way, but each one of them carries another fluidly vivid set of thoughts and narrative imageries that for a moment made me stop and assess certain sequences that could perfectly function as separate parts from the rest of the text.