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A First of May tradition for millennia

But not in Minnesota. Are you kidding? It’s cold out there.

(NSFW song. Fertility rites turn out to be something some people find objectionable.)

Comments

  1. says

    Stray thought: I can’t help but notice that the sign language translations completely alter the text. Much of the poetry goes out; the rhythm is changed and rhymes disappear.

    That made me wonder if anyone is doing poetry specifically for sign language? I.e. instead of rhyming through similar sounds, you create rhymes through similar gestures. The rhythm is established according to hand movements rather than syllables.

    I’d be interested to see what people could come up with, using that approach. Does any of you know of examples of this?

  2. twas brillig (stevem) says

    re LykeX@3:

    Sounds splendid, get on it. Seriously. That does sound like a truly inspirational approach to poetry for the “audially challenged” [sorry for the attempt at PC garbleness]. “sign-language poetry” needs to be real. Applause, xir.
    [really. not joking. not sarcastic.]

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    Yeah, if it weren’t for the rain…

    …and the cold…

    …and the mud…

    …and the fact that no woman would ever want to fuck me…

  4. says

    @LykeX #3 – There is already quite a bit out there. If you live in a major city, there is probably a regular ASL poetry slam or deaf jam event. And Google is your friend: there are lots of YouTube videos of people delivering their original compositions.

  5. carlie says

    The interpretation is more complex than I thought – I happened to catch a live stream of him practicing for the upcoming concert a couple of weeks ago, and he was online chatting with several other ASL users on nuances of which sign to use to get most of the meaning across, what to do with the double-meaning words that have totally different signs, what to do when you have a sign that itself signifies something different (e.g. the sign for “child” really only means child, not a slang for anybody, so it would be creepy to use that sign in the phrase “Oooo child, you’re gonna like it when we’re taking each other’s pants off”), etc. It’s quite a process. No different than any other language to language interpretation, but interesting to see the behind the scenes work.

  6. cyberax says

    Lyx@3:

    That’s because ASL translation is not really a translation, but a ‘gloss’. It loses a lot of ASL-specific nuance.

    And there’s a lot of ASL poetry out there, and it’s often quite stunning – you use fluent motions instead of rhyming words, and it looks great.

  7. says

    Point the first: I wish I could share this on my social media, but I have young kids seeing my posts and it would not be appropriate.

    Point the second: the conversation about ASL poetry and translation reminds me of my hula class. Hawaiian hula is based on gestural translation of the mele (song or chant) that can be literal or figurative, or both. A great example is the word ‘pua’ which means flower. It could be used literally in the mele, such as a flower lei, or figuratively in the mele, often used for ali’i (chief) as in ‘brilliant flower of the people’. In the dance these same uses apply and you can have any number of interpretations: lit/lit, lit/fig, fig/lit, fig/fig. Hula is poetry in motion.

  8. says

    Ah, May Day. I was always boggled that May Day was a huge deal when I was in Catholic school. (Having done some reading on my own and found out what it was really all about.) There was a pageant, and music, and dances, and yes, even a Maypole. Heh. The nuns twisted it into a celebration of the Virgin Mary of all things.

  9. says

    A co-worker pointed out that today is also Loyalty Day. From the Wikipedia:

    Loyalty Day is observed on May 1 in the United States. It is a day set aside for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.

    Loyalty Day is celebrated with parades and ceremonies in several U.S. communities…. Although a legal holiday, it is not a federal holiday

    Its origins lie in a response to the socialist movement in 1920s America. Yay, mindless obedience!

  10. says

    Gregory @ 12:

    Loyalty Day is observed on May 1 in the United States. It is a day set aside for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.

    Oh, urrggh, no. Shades of McCarthy.

  11. CJO says

    That’s because ASL translation is not really a translation, but a ‘gloss’. It loses a lot of ASL-specific nuance.

    Not different in principle from translating anything but the simplest of utterances between any two natural languages. Poetry is especially difficult to translate; something has to go: literal sense, meter, rhyme, etc. You’re never going to be able to capture all nuance and retain the sense.

  12. says

    Gregory @ 15, I know, it’s what it reminds me of, too much. I grew up with a Bircher who thought McCarthy was just all that.

    When it comes to May Day, I’m in favour of traditional celebrations – dancing, flowers, and fucking.

  13. says

    @Inaji #16 – “When it comes to May Day, I’m in favour of traditional celebrations – dancing, flowers, and fucking.”

    I agree: some traditions are definitely worth preserving.

  14. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    So, a song translated from English and then translated back isn’t exactly the same as it was originally, thus the non-English language has no poetry?

    Wow. Serious comprehension fail.

    As for loyalty day, as a US citizen proud of our accomplishments but terribly cognizant of our weaknesses, I’ll spend it nursing my chronic pain, reading up for my summer term evidence class to prep myself for a career in international conflict resolution and rights protection, and, if I’m lucky, getting lucky with my partner after the kids go to bed.

    Outdoor fucking? Not a chance.

  15. carlie says

    I grew up in an incredibly conservative part of the midwest. Our proms, even in the 90s, were huge full-length hoop skirt dresses. No, really. Public school. We also had (and still have) a May Day celebration that sort of mimics a debuatante ball and prom and homecoming rolled into one. There’s a promenade of the senior girls around the gym, a choreographed dance, a queen and court, and yes, an actual maypole with a maypole dance. Still. I giggle thinking of how many people have no idea what it all means.

  16. l7eslie3 says

    @LykeX #3

    Did you notice that the expression of the phrase “met all kinds of people” differed from the following “and we fucked everyone” by only adding the middle fingers, a more devious facial expression, and more aggressive collision of hands? I did, right away, and it made me laugh out loud! I don’t know any sign languages, but that seems like rhyming to me!