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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!

  • Sonaea   /   April 1, 2019., 5:50 pmReply

    Hey! So, that was interesting. It was actually interesting enough for me to go up to my room, get my books and compare them with your thesis. I have the German version (though only NOTW because I can't find my WMF anywhere ... I think I borrowed them but that person says she gave them back, so ... idk) >Okay, in the German version Blac of Drossen Tor is translated to ... well, Blac von Drossen Tor. It's literary the same only that the word "of" has been translated to its German version. And Drossen Tor fits not at all the version of my black dress which is not even a black dress at all here. The phrase is like this:
    Lady Lackless - sieben Pfänder
    Birgt sie unter den Gewändern

    Translated it's something like this:
    Lady Lackless - seven (I actually had to look it up in an online dictionary, I hope it's correct - it's said to mean something like deposits or pledges/mortgages)/(it could also mean bailiff - had to look that up too - though that's not it, probably, as that is a person and ... that doesn't work) She holds under the clothes

    and honestly ... Blac von Drossen Tor and Birgt sie unter den Gewändern (or only Gewändern) sonds nothing alike. But that could be just the translations fault.

    Onto the next phrase.
    Einen Ring, den man nicht ansteckt
    Well, that's not very different from a ring that's not for wearing only that ansteckt means to attach sth to sth (like buttons or, well, rings). I can't find anything special about that because the only place you can attach a ring to something in the German language would be the finger ... Though it would sound very weird it should be technically possible to attach a ring to something with the help of a fixing pin but ... that's the only possible explanation I could come up with to be able o use the words "attach" and "ring" that has nothing to do with a finger. conclusion: It means exactly the same as in the English version.

    Now, that's interesting.
    Auch ein Wort, das laut nach Lust schmeckt.
    Also a word, that tastes loudly like lust (or desire, not necessary sexual but probably)

    first - there's nothing like a curse or anything like that in this sentence. it's about lust. Again, I don't have the other book. Sadly, that would be really interesting now. Maybe I'll be able to find it in the next few weeks ...
    second - how can a word taste loudly? I mean, a word can be spoken loudly and lust can taste ... but otherwise?
    So. I'm not good at interpreting stuff so I'll just let it be like this. Maybe you can come up with something.

    Okay. the next few verses are the other way round in the order, so I'll write them together
    Eine klinkenlose Tür
    Harrt der Kerze für und für

    a door without a handle(a handleless door)
    waits (mostly the word has the addition of patiently) for the candle (I actually got no idea what the last part means in German. a quick resarch said it could mean either "each one of them" (the candles?) or "time and time again" but it's a phrase and it's really old and I've only read it once or twice and I don't know the exact meaning)

    Für die Klunker ihres Herren
    Gibt's ein Kästchen ohne Sperren

    For the (big) gemstones (though they don't have to be worth much. the word "Klunker" is colloquial and is kinda used when talking without too much respect about something. I would use Klunker if I was annoyed at a person's exaggerated jewelry eg. point for the obsidian theory I still don't know of. I'll do some research afterwards) of her Master (yeah. "Herr" means something like Mister but if it's used like this - to be the Herr of someone - he's her Herr - it doesn't mean husband like in all the other translations but more something like master. It says he's the one in authority)
    there's a box without locking

    Ein Geheimnis hütet sie
    The original says theres a secret she's been keeping. In German it's She's keeping a secret. So, yeah, the time's and active vs passive is different. the rest remains the same

    Wenn sie träumt, schläft sie doch nie
    Whenever she dreams, she still (as in not the time-version like "I'm still asleep" but the "but" version "yet she never sleeps") never sleeps

    Auf verstreunten Unwegswegen ...
    Well. That's different again. Auf is on. that's for sure but the rest of the words are kinda made up. So. Verstreunten. it's a mix between verstreut and streunen I guess. verstreut is scattered and streunen means to stray. Unwegswegen could be a mix of unwegsam or umweg and Wegen. Unwegsam would mean hard to walk/travel on. Umweg would mean detour. Wegen just means ways. The sentence would begin somehow like "on scattered-straying hard-to-trave-on-detour-ways ..."

    ... mag Lackless ihr Rätsel pflegen.
    ... Lackless may care for (as in to nurse/foster/look after, not as in to like sth) her riddle/Luckless likes to care for her riddle. "mag" could be interpreted both ways.

    Yeah, so that's it. Maybe you can do something with it because personally, I'm totally confused right now.
    [edited by aethel so line breaks would show up]

    • aethel   /   April 1, 2019., 9:16 pmReply

      Oh this is super. Thank you! Looking forward to digging into this.

      • Sonaea   /   April 7, 2019., 1:53 pmReply

        So. I just got the second book back from my friend and thought I probably should post that part too ^^ Sieben Dinge, die verbieten Durch die Lackless-Tür zu treten Seven things, that forbid to step through the (meant is threshold) Lackless-door So it's like - they're not literary in front, they just hinder the entrance Eins ein Ring, der ungetragen, one (is) a ring, that (is) not worn not very informative ... the words added in () are not written in the German version but I need to write them for the english version otherwise one wouldn't understand the meaning eins ein Wort, verwehrt zu sagen, one (is) a word, (one is) not allowed to say okay, so. there it says nothing about whether or not the word is about lust or cussing. Just that one is not allowed to say it. Eines eine Zeit, die recht, One (is) a time, that (is) right, Original: One a time that must be right ... not much to add here either Eins eine Kerze ohne Licht, one (is) a candle without light interesting is only that between Kerze and ohne there is not , like in nearly all of the other verses and I don't think it's because of grammar. It still means exactly the same as the original though Eins ein Sohn, der bringt das Blut, One (is) a son, that brings the blood, exactly the same, again. Eins ein Riegel vor der Flut, One a locking bolt before/in front of the flood okay. here the , is again missing. could be some difficult grammar that makes a difference when to use , and when not but ... I don't know. I don't know what to make of this. So. the original says "one a door that holds the flood" so ... I guess the difference is what holds it (back?). But I got no idea of what to make out of it. Eins ein Ding, das fest verwahrt, One (is) a thing, that (is being) firmly stored Original: One a thing tight-held in keeping. Uh ... don't ask me. no idea. Dann kommt, was mit Schlaf sich paart. Then comes, which goes with/mates/pairs itself with sleep Uh ... other than that one could interpret it as to mate with sleep or to pair up with sleep (which does not make much sense) there's not much difference to the original either. So, yeah. no idea of what to make with that. I don't think there are any great insights to gain from the second version of the song but ... I'll post it anyway so that maybe someone might be able to piece this stuff together. Greetings!

  • MonkeyBoy   /   August 6, 2019., 1:39 pmReply

    Do you think the 'road' might be related to 'path', i.e. the Lethani? Only someone who knows the path can solve the riddle. Also, I think she can't solve it herself because, like the 'son' and 'candle' references, it takes a male heir of the Lackless family.

    • aethel   /   January 18, 2020., 1:27 pmReply

      While I don't have a particular theory as for how, I do think the road/path of the Lethani thing is going to come up somehow, yes.

  • Melissa   /   August 7, 2019., 7:08 amReply

    So this is a very interesting read. Thank you for all your effort! I only have one thing to contribute (technically two things, that are linked I guess). First, it seems that Auri is collecting the things Kvothe will need to open the door or "box". She has given him the candle, a key, and other things. Your interpretation of the ring maybe being linked to the broken circle struck me as being another item that Auri has found..... only it is mentioned in Slow Regard. She finds a broken gear in the Underthing. Could it be the "ring, not for wearing"? Just a thought! Thank you again for your insights!