lunes, 8 de febrero de 2010

Sadowsky's Couplet Re-Translated

Many of us have been fascinated by William Hamblin’s famous article Further Notes on the Necronomicon about Phileus P. Sadowsky’s etymological research on the Al Azif; Hamblin’s notes concerning the possible roots of various eldritch names, such as Cthulhu being compared to the Arabic Kadhulu, have even proven a source of inspiration for authors such as Simon (in Dead Names: The Dark History of the Necronomicon) , Parker Ryan (in his famous The Necronomicon Info Source), and Warlock Asylum.

Well, far be it from me to cast a shade of doubt upon the late, illustrious professor Sadowsky, whose very existence was conceived in order to uphold the noblest interests of devout Chaosium Call of Cthulhu RPG rulebook users, but I confess, I recently submitted Sadowsky’s Arab rendering

La mayyitan ma qadirun yatabaqa sarmadhi
Fa itha yaji ash-shuthath qad yantahi

to Zizo, a native Arab who happens to be an online acquaintance of my ex-wife (well, OK, I pestered her about it for a couple of weeks), and here are the results.

I hoped Zizo would be open minded enough, since he is an artist himself; still, he was quite appalled by these weird verses, and when we showed him the equivalent translation,

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange Aeons even death may die.

Well, his reaction made it obvious that he was not acquainted hith Lovecraft, to say the least!

At any rate, ignoring the English version, he rendered the Arabic text, as it was, in Spanish for us, and it was my turn to be astonished when he wrote:

ما ميتا ما قارد يتبقي
سر مدي فانا يجي الشذاذ الموت
What is dead Gard remains the secret
of how I am the death of Luigi

This was very strange, to say the least. Mi first impression was, “Luigi? Italian for “Luis”? Is he doing a wordplay on my name? But he never even knew my name!” Then I noticed the word Gard and was even more confused. I know there are lots of eclectic neo-Wiccans who want my hide, but how come Alhazred predicted my death at the hands of a dead Gardnerian???

Zizo assured us that this was a correct rendering. When questioned concerning the word “Gard”, he explained what was clearly a word he didn’t find a Spanish cognate for:

“It’s like saying, ‘I love life and adore people,’ ‘don’t worry, except for life’”

That would mean, an approximate rendering of the couplet of the Mad arab would be something like

ما ميتا ما قارد يتبقي
سر مدي فانا يجي الشذاذ الموت
What is dead with a careless love for life remains the secret
of how I am the death of Luigi

Zizo refused to translate anything else; that was when he pressed my ex-wife until she explained that this translation was for me and why I wanted it, and he kindly directed me to Google Translator for any further queries.

Evidently, professor Sadowsky transcribed the wrong couplet from the fragment of Al Azif he worked from. Your guess is as good as mine as to just who would this “Luigi” be, but finding an Italian name in the Arabic text kind of makes me wonder if Pietro Pizzari wasn’t so far off-base when he postulated that the Mad Arab was actually an Italian seaman who was captured by Arabs and then sold as a slave to an Arab necromancer! On the other hand, this strange word, “Gard,” is clearly an Arabic cognate of the well-known mantram, “Hakuna Matata” – which of course means that singing merkaats and warthogs must be a sure sign that the stars are coming right for Cthulhu’s awakening.

Just in case, I’ll make a point of saying “Klaatu Barada Nikto” if I'm ever approached by a dead Gardnerian.

3 comentarios:

  1. Try:
    لا ميتاً ما قادراً يتبقى سرمدى
    فإذا يجئ الشذاذ الموت قد ينتهي

    Or perhaps even:
    لا ميتاً ما قادر يتبقى سرمدي
    فإذا يجئ الشذاذ الموت قد ينتهي

    Instead of:
    ما ميتا ما قارد يتبقي
    سر مدي فانا يجي الشذاذ الموت

  2. Thanks! I've only just been able to reply because my PC dropped dead all of a sudden last month. It's so tantalizing, to see these other versions, yet being unable to really understand them. If this continues, I'll have to get an Arabic dictionary. And I said no more languages after I studied Nahuatl...

  3. There is some similarety between the arabic and english text.
    Which one is the original?
    Coz i dont see that it was 100% well translated even though it has the same idea of death to die :/