Eurovision Song Contest Leads to Translation Spree

DIY, Geek out!, Stunt Double

Last weekend’s Eurovision Song Contest got me to do two things I’ve been putting off too long: I’ve updated my Eurovision playlists on YouTube, and started on refreshing my Swedish skills. Today I’ll talk about the latter in light of the former. But first, the song that combines the two.

Pernilla Karlsson – “När Jag Blundar” (Finland) via escDjpo2012

Eurovision 2012 contestant from Finland; written and composed by Jonas Karlsson, performed by Pernilla Karlsson

We have two official languages in Finland, Finnish and Swedish. Consequently, Finnish-speaking kids (which I am) learn Swedish at school and vice versa. Usually you start your second national language (toinen kotimainen; det andra inhemska) on seventh grade if you haven’t elected to do it earlier. The earliest you start a non-native language is third grade; that’s when I began with Swedish, continuing through high school. I also studied some Swedish at the university level, but since leaving Finland 10+ years ago I’ve barely used it, apart from following a few home dec blogs in Swedish or Norwegian.

The other day on Twitter, reading a tweet by Swedish-speaking Finnish author Maria Turtschaninoff, I realized in the deep-in-the-gut way that you occasionally get that there’s way little Swedish in my life nowadays. That prompted me to try tweeting in Swedish:

(It says roughly: When reading Turtschaninoff’s tweets, one thinks that one doesn’t have enough Swedish in one’s life (or at least this woman does).)

I was also pondering on digging up my few Swedish-language novels, but I didn’t actually get that far.

Fast forward ten days to the Eurovision finals. The Euroviisut is a big thing in Europe, and winning is especially big because the winning country gets to host the following year’s contest. This year it was Sweden’s turn, and the contest was livestreamed in the U.S. for the first time. It was great fun – the Swedes know how to put on a good show – and I tried my hand at livetweeting for the first time.

After the finals, I updated my Eurovision playlists with my most recent favorites, and also did some searching in the past five years’ performances (which I didn’t see at all). One of the songs I came across is När jag blundar, the Finnish contestant from 2012 and the work of a brother-sister team, Jonas and Pernilla Karlsson. I just loved it from the first, and played and re-played it.

Then När jag blundar collided with the thought of my slowly deteriorating Swedish skills, and I realized a fun possibility: I could translate the original lyrics both into Finnish and English to get my Swedish brain working again.

I found out after making my initial translations that Jonas originally wrote the song for their mother’s 50th birthday. That made some of the meanings clearer, and I was able to polish mine. And because the appetite grows while eating (as we say in Finnish), I attempted two English versions. One is a basic word for word translation, the other rhymes and is singable to the melody.

 

När jag blundar (written and composed by Jonas Karlsson, performed by Pernilla Karlsson)

When I Close My Eyes (unofficial translations by Eppu Jensen)

 

(word for word)

Close together, the scent of us two.

Turn oneself around, the same blue shirt.

The scent I recognize would be nothing without you.

 

Like a sea without water, like a lantern without light,

a life without colors, that is not you.

Someone seen when one closes one’s eyes like an angel in front,

someone that helps one to fly when one’s forgotten how to.

Beloved without feelings or laughing without sound,

a life without colors, that is not you.

Someone that’s forgotten all worries, a woman with courage,

someone that understands what’s being said though no words are said.

 

Sit yourself down, we’re holding your hand.

Tell who you are, we exist for each other.

All memories would be nothing without you.

 

Like a sea…

Like a sea…

 

(rhyming)

Almost the same, the scent of us two.

Turning around, the same shirt in blue.

The scent I remember would be nothing without you.

 

Like a sea without water, like a lantern without light,

or a life without colors, for you that’s not right.

One you’ll see with your eyes closed like an angel in front,

one to help you to fly when forgot is the wont.

Beloved without feelings or a laugh that is not heard

or a life without colors, for you that’s not right.

One’s forgot all their worries, a woman with might,

one to get what you are saying though you say not a word.

 

Sit yourself down, we’re holding your hand.

Tell us who you are, we exist for our kin.

All the memories would be nothing without you.

 

Like a sea…

Like a sea…

 

That was such fun! The chorus rhymes are a little convoluted – I just couldn’t make the original AA-BB-AA-CC pattern work in English; the best I could do is AA-BB-CA-AC. I’m pretty happy otherwise, though, for something that’s out of my regular skillset.

(Om du är svenskspråkig och ser nånting ovanligt, var vänlig och sänd mig en kommentar. Tusen tack!)

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

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