NORTH OF REALITY TRANSLATION PROJECT: SCARECROW ANATOMY

by johannespunkt

Welcome back to the North of Reality Translation project! Before this week’s post, I’d like to point y’all’s attention at Uel’s Patreon: patreon.com/uelaramchek?ty=h. If you’re reading this you’re probably aware but I’m reminding you anyway, he’s doing a thing called cryptofiction, meaning you pay to receive secret works of fiction that no-one else will get to read. This will be the only chance ever to read these secret fictions. The cutoff point for the first one is just in a few days, the 15th of February. This is really very exciting, we’ll get access to literature that basically no-one else will see, like if Max Brod had kept his promise, and Kafka was still alive somehow. Okay, that analogy ran away from me pretty quickly.

The point is, if you like these fictions, do sign up for the patreon. You’ll get an envelope containing a new secret thing each month. Who doesn’t love secrets?

Today’s story is Scarecrow Anatomy. Translation notes, in English, can be found at the bottom of the post. You can find all the entries in this project — eventually around thirty total — at this link: /tag/the-north-of-reality-translation-project/

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NORR OM VERKLIGHETEN: FÅGELSKRÄMMEANATOMI
    av Uel Aramchek
        översättning: Johannes Punkt

Konsten att bygga en välfungerande fågelskrämma är sedan länge bortglömd. De flesta som syns i dagsläget är bara bulvaner som av sin egen kraft varken jagar fasan eller spelar mandolin som sina företrädare. Medeltida bönder kände väl till processen av att bygga någonting självgående från vegetabiliskt material, men vad som behövdes fördes nästan alltid vidare genom muntlig tradition och inget annat, och har således gått förlorat.

Återfunna sidor ifrån 1812 års Then förbjudna Almanack beskriver flera delar av den här processen i detalj. En fullkomlig anatomi konstrueras av grönsaker lagrade inuti fågelskrämmans magparti. En ensam aubergin blir i regel levern, medan längder av ihålig majs binds ihop för att bli tarmarna. Så väcks fågelskrämmans organ till liv i samband med att floran inuti börjar ruttna, och med det tillbringar de sina sju till tretton dagars liv i ständig förmultning.

Den skenbara medvetenhet sådana skrämmor uppnår skulle kunna vara ett epifenomen av bakteriekulturen som långsamt förtär deras kroppar från insidan. Somliga har föreslagit att en slags elementär kod ristas in i grönsaksköttet, likt det Emet som aktiverar en golem, och att detta språk kompileras naturligt i fermentering. Utan ett fungerande exempel kan dock ingen av dessa teorier beprövas.

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Notes

As I read through this in preparation for translating, I thought, “Finally! I know all the words here, and they should be no trouble to translate.” This was not exactly true, but mostly. The phrase “lost to time” kind of stumped me a while, and in the end I went with something that does not include the word for time: “har … gått förlorat,” which means something like “has been lost,” although the verb is go, not be. The words decoy and decay lose their consonance in translation, which is a shame, but the best word I could find for decoy was bulvan, which is very satisfying. It evokes courtroom dealings and fake birds, so I think the aura around it is preserved quite well.

I translated some nouns into vague noun phrases with specifying post-modifiers, such as requirement becoming vad som behövdes (“what was needed”), and automaton into någonting självgående (“something that functions/walks by itself”). In last week’s translation I’d translated automaton into robot (… well, “robot”), but that did not sit right here where nothing, ah, mechanical was described. The vagueness of these phrases fits, in my meaning, with the sense that most of this information is lost.

“The Forbidden Almanac” became the archaic-sounding “Then förbjudna Almanack,” echoing old publications like Then Swänska Argus. I capitalised Emet because that’s how I’ve seen Hebrew words in isotranslation dealt with before. All in all, this was not super challenging to translate but quite satisfying.

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