Fálala, translated by Robin Munby

‘Pero fala’ first appeared in the Asturian-language journal Formientu. As its title – literally ‘But Speak’ – suggests, it is an exhortation to speak Asturian, a minority language of Spain not yet granted official status, but very much alive in its written and spoken forms. Its lack of official status means that Asturian literature receives less attention than languages like Catalan, Galician or Basque, both within and outwith Spain. Translating this poem, which is also an impassioned affirmation of the richness and beauty of the language, felt like an opportunity to introduce Asturian to Anglophone readers. With this in mind, I decided to produce a poem which retained an abundance of Asturian vocabulary. The bilingual source text, which juxtaposes Spanish terms with their Asturian counterparts, became a trilingual translation. Leaving so much of the text ‘untranslated’ inevitably means less of the source meaning is carried over into my version, but I have tried to compensate for this loss through an abundance of form. I use italics to differentiate the Spanish terms, which are arranged together with the ‘translated’ English text on the left-hand side of the page, whereas the Asturian words are scattered across the page to their right. The reader of the translation may not be able to follow the poem’s titular imperative, but they can at least immerse themselves in the sound world of the Asturian language by reading the ‘word cloud’ as an independent entity, if they wish. I have also tried to help guide the reader through the poem’s bilingualism, where possible. For example, while I have left the title in Asturian, I have changed it to ‘Fálala’, the last word of my translation. This translated-untranslated title is glossed for the reader in the poem’s last lines: but, above all, speak it, but, above all, fálala.

PERO FALA

L’asturianu tien delles pallabres
perguapes:
fesoria, llambiotada, migayes…
Nun me digas que les estrelles brillen
que los paxarinos vuelen
o que quies dir “de marcha”,
di que rescamplen
qu’esnalen
y que te presta dir de folixa
-o a correla, si se tercia-.
Si te ruxe’l butiellu,
nun xintes “bogavante”
“almejes”
o “rape”,
sinón bugre
amasueles
o pixín, yá lo sabes.
Pa salir de casa, ¡garra la zamarra!
-glayará to güela, siempre esmolecía
pol fríu y la xelada-.
Vete a un chigre
bebi sidra
-recién escanciao-
o un fervinchu
si tas amaláu,
reñi colos parroquianos
del Sporting o del Uviéu
da lo mesmo,
nada que nun tenga arreglu
con unes cachaes
y una partida tute
al tiempu.
Nun corras, vete a tou meter
nun saltes, blinca
anda pelo segao
comi’l bollu na xira
celebra l’amagüestu
o bailla’l xiringüelu…
Pero, sobre too, afáyate cola llingua
siéntila,
embébite
d’ella
pero, sobre too, fálala.

Original poem by Claudia Elena Menéndez Fernández. This poem first appeared in the journal Formientu. Reproduced by kind permission of the poet