Saturday, 24 August 2019

The knock-knock beetle

So today we have a Xhosa song, Qongqothwane, aka "The click song", though the title means "the knock-knock beetle". I'll come back to that title as I explain this song word by word with the help of a native Xhosa speaker, and finally provide correct spelling and translation – you wouldn't believe the amount of misinformation there is on the internet about this song's meaning. But back to the translations. Now, I have an English and Chinese version. Dating is not easy, because I had to reformulate them because of having blindly trusted an unjustified translation. The first version in Chinese was done sometime between March 10 and April 3 2013. It read «道路的占卜师» and «它快乐的这儿已过路», with English «Diviner of the roads» and «It passed with joy» to justify them. Then sometime between Jun 4 and Jun 10 2017 I did a first English version, reading «Diviner of roadways» and «Just passed by a while ago», which I corrected to «He’s already passing by» on Jan 23 2018 at 17:06. Correspondingly, I also made the Chinese version «它已在快过这条路». Then the Quora post happened, and it seems I still need to rework these things. So let me get through what is going on in this song, word by word, and produce a literal translation.
  1. "Igqirha lendlela nguqongqothwane":
    • Igqirha is found to be the singular form of the noun meaning "traditional doctor" at the Xhosa dictionary, and my Quora helper glosses it as "witchdoctor". I guess "diviner" could do. That is the Wikipedia take on this word.
    • Lendlela is le-, "of", + -ndlela, root of a noun meaning "road".
    • Nguqongqothwane is ngu-, "he's", a subject prefix for an opportune third person singular, + -qongqothwane, root of the name of this beetle which emits a characteristic knock-knock sound which the clicks in the name imitate. This beetle's passing is considered a good omen, which is why this song is sung at weddings. Cfr. Wikipedia on the beetles.
    So the first line means "He's the witchdoctor of the roads". Time to revise the «Diviner of roadways» English version on Sep 10 2018 at 11:22.
  2. "Sel' eqabel' egqith' apha, kuthiwa nguqongqothwane":
    • Sele, elided to sel' here, means "already", says Quora helper.
    • Eqabela, elided to eqabel' here, is e-, subject prefix, + -qabela, "climb", says Quora helper.
    • Eqgitha, elided here to egqith', is e-, subject prefix, + -gqitha, "pass by", says Xhosa dictionary and Quora helper.
    • Apha means "here", say Xhosa dictionary and Quora helper.
    • Kuthiwa is ku-, other subject prefix, + -thi, "say", + -iwa, "by them", so "he's said by them", or "he's called by them", where "them" is generic. In fact, maybe -iwa is actually a passivizing suffix. So from "he's called" I had "he's called" and 它叫, with this reinterpretation as "it's said he is", I'll have 人说 and 是 instead of 那, and as for English… we will see.
    • Nguqongqothwane is as above.
    So this line means «Already he's climbing, he's passing by here, it's said that he's the knock-knock beetle». There is a variant with "Sel'equbul'" instead of "Sel'eqabel". I ignore it, and leave the explanation to this other Quora post. Also, «He climbs up while passing by here» in that tune is kind of a tongue twister, so I changed it for the recording, and I also find "Ah oh" terrible, so I stuck to the original "awu" accidentally in the recording, but I planned to have "yah-hoo!".
  3. The rest of what is in the below lyrics is essentially filler text with no meaning, as the English version should highlight.
Now that we finally understand what this song actually says, time to get to the translations, which I will rework right now, past 23 on 7/9/18. Let's see!


Igqirha lendlela,
Nguqongqothwane,
Igqirha lendlela, kuthiwa
Nguqongqothwane,
Igqirha lendlela, huyya,
Nguqongqothwane,
Igqirha lendlela, kuthiwa
Nguqonqothwane.

Sel' eqabel' egqith' apha, ga’aya,
Nguqonqothwane,
Sel' eqabel' egqith' apha, awu,
Nguqonqothwane,
Sel' eqabel' egqith' apha, ga’aya,
Nguqonqothwane,
Sel' eqabel' egqith' apha, mm,
Nguqonqothwane.

Igqirha lendlela,
Nguqonqothwane,
Igqirha lendlela, kuthiwa
Nguqongqothwane,
Igqirha lendlela, huyya,
Nguqongqothwane,
Igqirha lendlela, kuthiwa
Nguqonqothwane.

Sel' eqabel' egqith' apha,
Nguqonqothwane,
Sel' eqabel' egqith' apha,
Nguqonqothwane,
Sel' eqabel' egqith' apha,
Nguqonqothwane,
Sel' eqabel' egqith' apha,
Nguqonqothwane.

Igqirha lendlela,
Nguqonqothwane,
Igqirha lendlela, kuthiwa
Nguqongqothwane.

Sel' eqabel' egqith' apha, ga’aya,
Nguqonqothwane,
Sel' eqabel' egqith' apha, mm,
Nguqonqothwane.



道路的占卜师,
是黄粉虫子,
道路的占卜师,人说
是黄粉虫子,
道路的占卜师,oh yeah,
是黄粉虫子,
道路的占卜师,人说
是黄粉虫子。

已在爬上,这里过路,呀哦呀,
是黄粉虫子,
已在爬上,这里过路,哎哟,
是黄粉虫子,
已在爬上,这里过路,呀哦呀,
是黄粉虫子,
已在爬上,这里过路,呣,
是黄粉虫子。

道路的占卜师,
是黄粉虫子,
道路的占卜师,人说
是黄粉虫子,
道路的占卜师,oh yeah,
是黄粉虫子,
道路的占卜师,人说
是黄粉虫子。

已在爬上,这里过路,
是黄粉虫子,
已在爬上,这里过路,
是黄粉虫子,
已在爬上,这里过路,
是黄粉虫子,
已在爬上,这里过路,
是黄粉虫子。

道路的占卜师,
是黄粉虫子,
道路的占卜师,人说
是黄粉虫子。

已在爬上,这里过路,呀哦呀,
是黄粉虫子,
已在爬上,这里过路,呣,
是黄粉虫子。
Witchdoctor of all roads,
The knock-knock beetle,
Witchdoctor of all roads, they call him
The knock-knock beetle,
Witchdoctor of all roads, oh yeah,
The knock-knock beetle,
Witchdoctor of all roads, they call him
The knock-knock beetle.

Climbin' up 'n' passing by here, yeah oh yeah,
The knock-knock beetle,
Climbin' up 'n' passing by here, yah-hoo,
The knock-knock beetle,
Climbin' up 'n' passing by here, yeah oh yeah,
The knock-knock beetle,
Climbin' up 'n' passing by here, mmh,
The knock-knock beetle.

Witchdoctor of all roads,
The knock-knock beetle,
Witchdoctor of all roads, they call him
The knock-knock beetle,
Witchdoctor of all roads, oh yeah,
The knock-knock beetle,
Witchdoctor of all roads, they call him
The knock-knock beetle.

Climbin' up 'n' passing by here,
The knock-knock beetle,
Climbin' up 'n' passing by here,
The knock-knock beetle,
Climbin' up 'n' passing by here,
The knock-knock beetle,
Climbin' up 'n' passing by here,
The knock-knock beetle.

Witchdoctor of all roads,
The knock-knock beetle,
Witchdoctor of all roads, they call him
The knock-knock beetle.

Climbin' up 'n' passing by here, yeah oh yeah,
The knock-knock beetle,
Climbin' up 'n' passing by here, mmh,
The knock-knock beetle.



Dàolù de zhānbǔshī,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Dàolù de zhānbǔshī, rén shuō
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Dàolù de zhānbǔshī, oh yeah,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Dàolù de zhānbǔshī, rén shuō
Shì huángfěn chóngzi.

Yǐ zài pá shàng, zhèlǐ guòlù, ya ó ya,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Yǐ zài pá shàng, zhèlǐ guòlù, āi yō,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Yǐ zài pá shàng, zhèlǐ guòlù, ya ó ya,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Yǐ zài pá shàng, zhèlǐ guòlù, ḿ,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi.

Dàolù de zhānbǔshī,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Dàolù de zhānbǔshī, rén shuō
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Dàolù de zhānbǔshī, oh yeah,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Dàolù de zhānbǔshī, rén shuō
Shì huángfěn chóngzi.

Yǐ zài pá shàng, zhèlǐ guòlù,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Yǐ zài pá shàng, zhèlǐ guòlù,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Yǐ zài pá shàng, zhèlǐ guòlù,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Yǐ zài pá shàng, zhèlǐ guòlù,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi.

Dàolù de zhānbǔshī,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Dàolù de zhānbǔshī, rén shuō
Shì huángfěn chóngzi.

Yǐ zài pá shàng, zhèlǐ guòlù, ya ó ya,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi,
Yǐ zài pá shàng, zhèlǐ guòlù, ḿ,
Shì huángfěn chóngzi.

No comments:

Post a Comment