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Insights From Language: Lackless Rhyme, part 2

Continued from the first post, insights from looking at the Lackless Rhyme in English, French, and Japanese.

Frankly, much like the Forsworn Word in the first post, a lot of the other components of the rhyme don’t take on much additional meaning with the translations.  They are just that: translations. I also start to have less to work with since the NOTW and WMF rhymes diverge more after the 4’th line.

In all 3 languages, the first rhyme goes on to tell us that beside her husband’s candle is a door without a handle.

Rocks in a  Box
(English): In a box, no lid or locks / Lackless keeps her husband’s rocks
French: Dans un écrin sans verrou / Lackless a les bijoux de son époux
Japanese: ふたも鍵もない小箱の中に / 入れているのはだんなの小石
(futa mo kagi mo nai kobako no naka ni / ireteiru no wa danna no koishi)

There are a couple small points of interest that are self evident in the literal translations:
French translation: In a case without locks, Lackless keeps the jewels of her spouse
Japanese: In a (little) box with no lid or key are her husband’s (little) rocks.

The use of jewels is interesting because it would seem that in order to correctly translate the connotation that gets chibi Kvothe into trouble with his mother, we get a little more information about what kind of rocks may be in there. (For fans of a certain theory, it’s not much of a stretch to assume obsidian might be considered a jewel.)  As shown, the Japanese version is very clear that this is a small box containing small rocks (or pebbles). As far as I know, in Japanese, one’s husband’s 小石 (koishi) does not carry the same connotations as a husband’s rocks or jewels, but I’m not a native speaker.

Next, in all three languages: ~ She’s keeping a secret. ~ She is dreaming but not sleeping.
(Nothing telling in the language, although this “not sleeping” did make me think of Haliax)

The Road and the Riddle
English: On a road, that’s not for traveling / Lackless likes her riddle raveling
French: Sur la route, ce n’est pas pour voyager / Qu’elle veut sa devinette débrouillée
Japanese: 旅じゃないのに道の上 / 自分の謎を解いてもらいたいとさ
(tabi ja nai no ni michi no ue) / (jibun no nazou wo toite moraitai to sa)

There’s an implied connection in the French grammar between the last two lines of rhyme, so I’m translating them together. It is  also interesting that the last line of the French and Japanese versions are somewhat different from the English, but similar to each other.

French: On the road, it’s not for traveling / that she wants her riddle untangled
Japanese: On a road but not a journey / she wants someone to solve her mystery.
The Japanese emphasizes that the riddle belongs to her, and both languages imply not only that she wants it solved, but that she can’t solve it herself.

The Rest
As far as the rest of the WMF version of the rhyme, I only have the French to work with.  It follows the English pretty closely, with the only notable differences being:

English: a time that must be right
French: une heure pas encore venue
Translation: a time that has not yet come

English: a son who brings the blood
French: un fils qui porte le lignage
Translation: a son who carries the lineage

So that wraps up the Lackless rhyme language analysis. If anyone has a suggestion for something else in NOTW (where I have all three language versions to work with) to compare the translations on, feel free to suggest it in the comments!

  • aethel   /   April 11, 2018., 12:42 amReply

    Per request, here is the French version from NOTW in full:

    Sous sa robe noire sept choses
    Dame Lackless a encloses
    L'une est un anneau qui n’est pas fait pour être porté
    L’autre un cri qui n’est pas fait pour être juré
    Près du cierge de son aimé
    Est une porte sans poignée
    Dans un écrin sans verrou
    Lackless a les bijoux de son époux
    C’est un secret qu’elle va gardant
    Sans dormir mais en rêvant
    Sur la route, ce n’est pas pour voyager
    Qu’elle veut sa devinette débrouillée

  • aethel   /   April 11, 2018., 12:54 amReply


  • aethel   /   April 17, 2018., 6:20 pmReply

    And the WMF version in French:

    Devant la porte des Lackless
    Sept choses se tiennent sur le seuil.
    L’une est un anneau qui n’est pas porté
    L’une est un mot qui a été renié
    L’une est une heure pas encore venue
    L’une est une chandelle sans lumière
    L’une est un fils qui porte le lignage
    L’une est une porte qui retient le flux
    L’une est une chose gardée bien serrée
    Puis vient ce qui vient avec le sommeil.

  • CiccioBenzina   /   June 28, 2018., 5:47 pmReply

    Wow! Very nice!! After reading these two post, I reread the two Lackless rhyme in my language that is Italian. I already noticed that in italian version the "Blac of Drossen Tor" is translated in "Nevar di Vasten Tor" so I assumed that in some ways the sound of these words is important but until I read your posts i never found a link between these translated words and others in the book. So I reread the first Lackless Rhyme and the first two verse are: "Lady Lackless ha sette oggetti .\sotto la nera veste stretti:". So the Italian literal translation of these two verse is the same as the English: "Seven things has Lady Lackless / Keeps them underneath her black dress" but I immediately noticed that the words "nera veste" (black dress) sound very very close to "Nevar di Vasten" just like the English and Japanese versions. So probably the Italian translator, just like the french translator, didn't find a way to translate "black dress" in a way that sounds like "Blac of Drossen Tor", so He directly translated the "Blac of Drossen Tor". Then, even in the Italian version, in the second Lackless Rhyme, the line "One of them a ring unworn" is translated in "Un anello non per le dita", which in English literal tranlation is: "A ring not for fingers", so I agree with the theory that the "ring that's not for wearing" refers to the circle of waystones from Kvothe's dream.

    • aethel   /   June 28, 2018., 10:29 pmReply

      Terrific additions! Thank you!