Saturday, 17 May 2014

Where There's a "Wola", There's a Way

There are some things in life we cannot control. Most of us, for example, are not very good at controlling other people's hearts and minds. However, when it comes to our intellectual faculties, there is a lot we can do. Of course, when it is difficult, we have to really want to do it. For example, since January I have wanted to lose weight and do a proper Spring Cleaning of our flat. I have lost at least 14 pounds, but I have not done a proper Spring Cleaning of our flat. I suspect this is because I really wanted to lose weight, but I didn't really want to get on my hands and knees and scrub. Mea culpa (whack), mea culpa (whack), mea maxima, maxima culpa (whack, whack).

Another thing I really, really want to do is become fluent in Polish, for various reasons, including wanting to know what it is like when one's brain makes the switch into second-language fluency. However, as I don't live in Poland, or in a Polish-speaking household, and am over thirty, I expect this fluency to take some time. Meanwhile, I promised Alicja over at Dzielne Niewasty (Brave Women) to translate my speech about Saint Edith Stein into Polish, and eleven days later I have stopped procrastinating and have begun this difficult task.

Here are the original two paragraphs:

The concept of “theology” may sound complicated, but it is very simple. St. Ambrose of Milan defined theology as “faith seeking understanding.” Any time you seek to understand a truth of faith, you are doing theology; you are a theologian. Every Catholic who believes what the Church teaches and seeks to understand what it is that he believes is a theologian.

However, there are men and women who dedicate their entire lives to reading the works of the greatest, most insightful Catholic theologians, who themselves had read the work of major and minor theologians before them. Seminarians must read theology, but only a few priests are allowed to dedicate their lives to studying and writing it. The same is true for many religious sisters, and few lay men and women can both study theology full-time and support their families.

And here is the first draft of my translation. I am sure it is riddled with errors, and I will send it to Polish Pretend Son, begging him to fix it.

Pojęcie teologii może wydawać skomplikowane, ale to jest bardzo proste. Sw. Ambroży z Mediolanu zdefiniał teologię jako "wiara w poszukiwaniu rozumienia." Kiedykolwiek szukacie rozumieć prawdę wiary, robiscie teologię--wy jestecie teologami. Każdy Katolik który wierszy co który uczy Kościół i szuka rozumieć który co to jest że on wierzy jest teologiem.

Jednak są mężczyzny i kobiety którzy poświęcają ich całe życia czytaniu książk najwielkszych, najwnikliwszych katolickich teologów, którze siebie odczytać książky głownych i niewielkich teologów przed nimi. Seminarzyści muszą studiować teologię ale tylko kilku kapłanom wolno poświęcić ich życia studiowaniu i pisanie tego. To samo jest prawdziwe dla wielu zakonnic, i niewielu świecki może zarówno się uczyć teologię na pełnym etacie, jak utrzymywać ich rodziny.

Oh heavens. Two and a half years of study, two dictionaries and two verb handbooks went into that. But it's like losing weight: there are no overnight solutions. And I did it in less than an hour, so that is a vast improvement!


Alicja said...

Dorothy, bardzo doceniamy trud, który wkładasz w tłumaczenie konferencji dla nas. Dziękujemy! I wspieramy modlitwą.

Seraphic said...

Dobry pomysł! Dziękuję za modlitwy!

Anonymous said...


I really admire you and I need to admit that Polish language it not the easiest!! So you really amaze me by your persistency in order to get fluent in Polish!!
Yes, I now what you mean by trying to know what it is like when our brain makes the switch into second-language fluency. I can't say I know English well, although I work and study in the UK....Simply...I think it happens naturally when you start to think in foreign language.
I wish you all the best! Don't give up.....difficult it doesn't mean impossible!!

Anonymous said...

It's me again. I hope you don't get me wrong if I correct a bit your polish translation. I am not a Polish teacher. And although I am Polish I am not sure if my Polish is good enough to go into deep details and explaining thinks. Also my English, as you probably noticed is not excellent so I still recommend to send it to a professional. However, some things are just obvious for someone who was born in Poland. So please see below

Kiedykolwiek szukacie zrozumienia ( „rozumieć” is infinitivie so you need to say zrozumienia (understanding) otherwise it doesn’t soud well in Polish) prawdy (not prawdę) wiary, uczycie się teologii (would be better to say, meant as study teology. You can’t say „robiscie teologię” It doesn’t sound well. However, I am not sure of the meaning which you wanted to express. Therefore, you can say “poruszacie sie w obszarze teologii” which means touch surface of the area of theology. Wy jestecie teologami. (well done, good) każdy katolik, który wierzy (must be wierzy not wierszy. Wierszy is totalny diffrent word. Moreover, (no need to put co before który), że Kościół uczy i szuka zrozumienia (no rozumieć) wiary (instead of co to jest że on wierzy) jest teologiem.

I just corrected it a bit. Well done! It good I still can understand. I will have a difficult day at work tomorrow. So I better go to bed now. However, please do not publish this comment. I don't want you to feel embarrass about these little mistakes in translation. Good luck!! Regards, E

Seraphic said...

I am not allowed to give up for another 2.5 years. My rule to myself--because I am a terrible quitter--was that I am not allowed to quit during the first five years, no matter what happened!

Seraphic said...

Thank you! I put it up so that somebody would correct it!

Pearlmusic said...

Pojęcie “teologii” może wydawać się skomplikowane, ale [w istocie] jest bardzo proste. "Święty Ambroży z Mediolanu zdefiniował teologię jako „wiarę, która stara się zrozumieć”. Kiedykolwiek starasz się zrozumieć prawdę wiary, zajmujesz się teologią; jesteś teologiem. Każdy katolik, który wierzy w to, czego naucza Kościół i usiłuje zrozumieć czym jest to, w co wierzy – jest teologiem.

Jednakże są mężczyźni i kobiety, którzy poświęcają swoje całe życie na czytanie dzieł największych i najbardziej wnikliwych teologów katolickich; studiujący pracę bardziej i mniej znaczących teologów, którzy byli przed nimi. Seminarzyści muszą czytać dzieła teologiczne, ale tylko nielicznym księżom wolno poświęcić całe życie na ich studiowanie i pisanie. To samo dotyczy sióstr zakonnych; również niewiele świeckich kobiet i mężczyzn może jednocześnie studiować teologię w pełnym wymiarze i utrzymywać swoje rodziny".

I would translate it more or less this way. Polish language is so obsessed about repeats (which do not sound bad at all in English) and it is recommended to replace the same words with synonyms. And it calls for changes in punctuation, that make it sound better. Also, I would translate "seek" as "starać się" here; I guess what you meant here "to attempt, to strive (to understand)".

Anyway, I'm so impressed by your work! This language is hard, indeed, ale dla chcącego nie ma nic trudnego :) Powodzenia!

Seraphic said...

Thanks to you, too, Pearl Music! It is such a contrast that Polish style hates repetition whereas in English we find it so elegant.

As someone who has always been praised for her English style, it is utterly humiliating to think of how my written Polish looks! Who is the Joseph Conrad of Anglo-Saxons, I wonder. Has any Anglophone ever written beautiful literary Polish?