Daily English Challenge–Friday, May 29, 2009

Hi everyone,

Thank you, jEa and chị Kiêm Yến, for being my heroines.

I have below the edited version of jEa’s translation of Solomon’s Song of Songs and the edited version of chị Yến’s translation. In the editing work, I have done two thíngs: correcting few mistakes and, the main thing, refining the writing to make it sound smoother and more natural.

jEa, you are very creative with language. You have the potential to become a good novelist, if you keep working at it. I am sure that many people have said you write very well.

Just please remember that, when doing translation, we cannot be too creative. We need to stay faithful to “the author’s expression” as much as we can. We should be as creative as possible, within the limit of “the author’s expression.”

Here is jEa’s edited version


Em đã đánh cắp trái tim anh, hỡi cô em, cô dâu của anh;
Em đã đánh cắp trái tim anh
Chỉ với ánh mắt liếc,
Chỉ với viên ngọc trên chuỗi hạt .

Tình yêu của em dễ chịu làm sao, hỡi cô em, cô dâu của anh!
Tình yêu của em dễ chịu hơn cả rượu vang,
Và mùi nước hoa của em dễ chịu hơn bất kì gia vị nào!

Hỡi cô dâu của anh, môi em nhỏ giọt ngọt ngào như tổ ong nhỏ mật,
sữa và mật ong dưới lưỡi của em.
Mùi hương quần áo em như mùi hương của Li-băng

Em là khu vườn đóng kín, hỡi cô em, cô dâu của anh;
Em là giòng suối khép kín, là ngọn núi chưa mở.
Em là suối phun nước giữa vườn,
Suối nguồn nước chảy
Chảy xuống từ Li-băng.


Gió bắc, hãy thức dậy,
Và gió nam, hãy đến đây!
Thổi qua vườn của em,
Để mùi hương của mảnh vườn lan toả
Hãy để người tình của em vào vườn của chàng
Và thưởng thức những trái cây ngon nhất .


Anh đã bước vào vườn của anh, hỡi cô em, cô dâu của anh;
Anh đã lấy nhựa trầm hương với gia vị của anh.
Anh đã ăn tổ ong và mật ong ;
Anh đã uống rượu và sữa.


Em ngủ nhưng trái tim vẫn thức
Nghe kìa! Người tình của em đang gõ cửa:

“Hãy mở cửa cho anh, hỡi cô em, người yêu dấu,
Chim bồ câu của anh, người hoàn mĩ của anh.
Đầu anh ướt đẫm sương,
Tóc anh ướt đẫm sương khuya.”

Em đã cởi áo choàng-
Có nên mặc lại không ?
Em đã rửa chân
Có nên làm dơ chân lần nữa ?

Người tình của em đưa tay qua ô then cửa;
Tim em bắt đầu đập mạnh.

Em đứng dậy mở cửa cho người tình,
và đôi tay em nhỏ giọt trầm hương,
ngón tay em đầy nhựa đang chảy,
dính đầy trên nắm cửa.


• Read these two clauses again. “Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad.” There is a word omitted—“so”. Blow on my garden, so that its fragrance may spread. The word “so” is often omitted in poetry.

• When the author writes “You are a garden”, don’t add “như là” in the translation to weaken the sentence. Simply translate: “Em là mảnh vườn”, not “em như là mảnh vườn.”

* Choice fruit = trái cây ngon nhất, choice meat = thịt ngon nhất.

• The present-day war-torn country of Lebanon, in the Biblical time, was a great country of giant cedar trees, spices, and beautiful clothing.


Now, chi Kiêm Yến’s writing.

All natural phenomena don’t have their own meanings. Our thoughts impose meanings on them. The rain is only the rain. If we feel it’s sad, it’s sad; if we feel it’s glad, it’s glad. Sunshine is only sunshine; if we suppose it’s brilliant, it’s brilliant; if we suppose it’s dazzling, it’s dazzling.

All the feelings- happiness, sadness, angrer, hate, love, fondness- are our responses to the outside. If your husband comes home late, it’s right if you complain. It’s also right if you’re glad, as he has overcome the traffic jam to come home. Late is late! This is neither a happy thing nor a sad thing, neither good nor bad. Gladness or sadness is our reactions to the event “coming home late”.

A half glass–it’s correct if we say it is half full; it’s also correct if we say it is half empty. It’s right either way. All things depend on our choice. Do we choose positive thinking, being strong and life loving? Or do we choose to be a complainer, or a loser?


• Generally, we say: the rain, the heat, the coldness, the coolness, the snow, the sun, the moon, the earth, the sky, the leaves, the trees, etc. (with “the”).

But we say: Life, death, sunshine, sickness, God… (without “the”)

Why? Well, I can explain it, but it may create more confusion. Won’t help. Just read and write often, until these things soak in naturally.

• “All feelings—happiness, sadness…” We should use a noun, not an adjective, to explain a noun. Use “happiness” (not, “happy”) to explain “feeling”.

If you use adjectives to explain a noun, is it wrong? Well, probably, we can say it is OK. Just not superb writing. It depends on what level of writing we are talking about.


Who is the boss in your home? Chồng chúa vợ tôi. “Man is king, woman is servant”. This is probably the biggest lie in the Vietnamese culture. I have never seen a Vietnamese family in which the woman does not run everything and everyone, including the “king.” (And I am not telling you who runs who in my family).

So, what do you think about this? Who is the boss in your family? Why is that?

OK, guys, have fun. And have a great day!


One thought on “Daily English Challenge–Friday, May 29, 2009”

  1. You ask me a very difficult question, brother Hoành! It takes me so much time to find out “who is the boss in my home?”.

    I even can not define “the boss”. How is the boss? A person has a powerful position in my home? Or a person that other person to obey? I’ve never imagined there is a boss in my family!

    When I was a child, sometimes I saw my father acting like a boss. Everyone in my big family listened to his orders, including my mother. He worked and got money to provide for all family. Therefor, although my mother exhaustedly took care of a large household, she always obeyed him.

    I suppose that woman today isn’t the same she was before . Since she gets married and has a family, she makes every effort to build her own one. She inherits the traditional moral standard from mother and, concurrently, participates the social activities. She has a high responsibility for all things she involves. She does chores, cleaning house, preparing meal, washing clothes, feeding children. She reads book, sings song and helps children to do homework. She not only takes care her child, but also takes care her husband! She pays attention to his career- creating good condition to his working, carrying about his look, managing his time. That’s the reason you think woman runs everything and eveyone in her home, do you?

    How about man? I think he changes so much. His role as “king” is eliminated, because in his home, he has to do chores with his wife. When a married couple go home after all day working, there are no reason to explain why there is only woman in the kitchen? When woman shows her love, she absolutely want to receive similar things from her husband. And I think, it’s nicest if two both share all things, including hobbies such as seeing a film, traveling, listening to music…

    Consequently, I will not determine who is the boss in my home. Do you agree with me?

    Nice day, brother.

    Số lượt thích

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