Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.
Have you ever wondered about what some of those folk songs mean? Before the Internet it was almost impossible to get translations of Balkan folk songs. Now they are relatively easy to find if you know where to look.
Today's post features two songs from Croatia with humorous lyrics. After I read the translations, I wondered if Croatia is a fantasyland full of crazy people and anthropomorphic creatures. From what I've seen of it in pictures, it looks nothing like Disney World. Croatia does, however, have some amazingly beautiful scenery, and it's a place I'd definitely like to visit. I've been to Disney World too many times, anyway.
The first song is Raca Plava, and the group in the video is a "bonding folk dance class" from China. They seem to take their dancing quite seriously; you can hear the teacher call the steps while the music plays.
Click this link for the lyrics in English translation. If you've ever seen a duck swimming with a basket on its head you have probably had a bit too much to drink or spent too much time in Alice's Wonderland. According to the lyrics, the man is in love with a woman who has a distinctive walk. Maybe she walks like a duck. The song as a whole is rather strange.
The next song Sukacica, (dance: Sukacko Kolo) is another excursion into surreality. This time it's a kitchen disaster, complete with burnt food, poultry with singed feathers, and roasted chickens with water running out of them (somebody tried to put out the fire). The cook and the rest of them danced all night despite the mishaps. They had a jolly old time. You can read the lyrics in Croatian, German and English here:
By the way, the Songbook For Nearsighted People is an excellent source of lyrics with songs from the Balkans and beyond. Most of the songs are translated into German and English. It's definitely worth a look.
Sukacko Kolo can be done in a circle (kolo is Croatian for circle) or as a couple dance. This group is from Belgium, and they use the "double kolo" method: two circles.
If you enjoyed this you will also like:
Some Fun for April Fool's Day: Silly Songs, Strange Sayings, and Insults From the Balkans (includes a version of Sukacko Kolo with a male-female role reversal).
The River of Many Names, Part 6: The Danube in Croatian Folk Songs
Sometimes Lost in Translation (Bulgarian proverbs translated into English, some of them are quite funny!)
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