Pronounced [vutt sweevuh swis uh veyssy]1, the above is a line composed for “Skaapwagterjie”, the Afrikaans counterpart2 of “Shepherd Girl”. It translates to “That floats like a tune”, which does nothing to convey the alliterative and onomatopoeic beauty that Afrikaans achieves in this simple string of syllables. Incidentally, I am unable to use the line as no configuration of the stanza in which it is meant to appear permits me; but what a joy to have conceived of it!
- The [uh] like the “a” in “about”.
- I now prefer “counterpart” as a description of “Skaapwagtertjie”’s relationship with “Shepherd Girl” rather than “translation”. Whilst the process is that of translation, my goal is an Afrikaans poem in its own right.