Why “Sway” Again? Prosodic Constraints and Singability in Song (Re)translation
This study focuses on the song ¿Quién será? (1953, lyrics by Pablo Beltrán Ruiz and music by Pablo Beltrán Ruiz and Luis Demetrio Traconis Molina), which has had many language versions so far (e.g. Arabic, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, etc.), including the English Sway (1954, lyrics by Norman Gimbel), which is often erroneously thought to be the original. The lyrics have also been rewritten in Turkish by Fecri Ebcioğlu in 1968/1987, Yeşil Giresunlu in 1977, and Athena in 2000. With particular reference to Johan Franzon’s analysis of song translation, the present article analyzes the Turkish versions in an attempt to investigate the possible constraints behind the decisions taken by the various agents of the cultural import. Given that a translated version of a source song is expected to reproduce the music and/or the lyrics and/or the sung performance, the Turkish versions appear to be adaptations with rewritten lyrics, which enable a reproduction of the melody and a sung performance similar to that of the source song. The data analysis further suggests that prosodic constraints rank the highest among the layers of singability and that translators’ attitude towards the literary quality of the original lyrics might influence their decision to adopt assimilating strategies or not.
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