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Theme for the week: language

2013/01/28 in Uncategorized


This week all the poems posted here, will relate to the theme “Language”.

The two poems here are almost identical, but not quite. See how they deviate from each other in places. This demonstrates how different languages shape the thinking of speakers in different ways.

Many of my poems are created in Afrikaans and English and coexist in the two languages.

If you are not a South African you may not know that the “G” in “Gobabis” is pronounced as that guttural sound in Afrikaans, and not the “hard” “g” sound as in the English word “go”.

The parsimonious English Tongue

The English Tongue
moves on a narrow path;
it deigns to produce
only a certain range of sounds.

The English Tongue
does not trill its r,
it does not smack and click
like the Tongues of the Xhosa and the San.

The English Tongue
never comes close
to the guttural g
of Afrikaans,
ad it stiffly ignores
the diphthongs of French,
the squat å and ö of the Swedes.

The English Tongue
can express the finest of feelings,
the most profound philosophies,
the intricacies of the inner workings
of atoms,
all with its limited array of sounds.

What if, one day,
the English Tongue
arrives in Gobabis?

Die spaarsamige Engelse Tong

Die Engelse Tong
beweeg op ‘n smal pad;
dit is bereid om net
‘n sekere reeks klanke voort te bring.

Die Engelse Tong
rol nie sy r nie,
dit sleep en klik nie
soos die Tonge van die Xhosa en die San nie.

Die Engelse Tong
kom nie eers naby
die aardse g
van Afrikaans nie,
en dit ignoreer
stywerig die Franse diftonge,
die bonkige å en ö van die Swede.

Die Engelse Tong
kan die fynste gevoelens uitdruk,
die diepsinnigste filosofieë,
die ingewikkeldste innerlike
van atome,
alles met sy beperkte reeks klanke.

Sê nou, eendag,
kom die Engelse Tong
aan in Gobabis?


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