홀로 by 정키 - help please
I'm trying to figure out this beautiful song and the English translation is making me question my Korean ability altogether. I am so far off at times...depressing. I will just write the English lines that I don't understand.

아침에 눈을 떴을 때
텅 빈 방안에 나 홀로
니 빈자리 거닐면서 Translated as: I am lost in thought. (I'm reading: your empty chair, while walking ???)
많은 생각들에 잠겨 Translated as: thinking of your empty space. (I'm reading: I am locked in many thoughts)
지워질 수 없는 기억
돌이킬 수 없는 우리
헤어날 수 없는 나와 Translated as: I'm watching you drift away from me. (I'm reading: cannot be freed from me ??)
멀어져만 가는 너를 바라봐 Translated as: unable to escape. (I'm reading: you are only going farther away so I can only watch you from a far)
누군가 한 말 처럼 translated as: Though I hope of. (I'm reading: someone/anyone one words like ???? -- so frustrating to know all the words and have no idea what they mean together)
언젠가 만날 거라 translated as: meeting you sometimes. (I'm reading: we must meet sometimes 라 = command)
그렇게 우린 헤어진 거야

As Steve says, I am deep in the fog that is Korean and pray for the day that it lifts.

Any help would be much appreciated. And I certainly recommend this song to anyone interested in Korean...
July 2014
  • Moderator
    alex 1705 656 31848
    A quick look at this and my initial reaction is that the translation isn't necessarily line by line as you've put it out. Songs are notoriously difficult to translate, and while I don't have much trouble translating a speech or presentation, translating a song provides a significant challenge.

    Look at the lyrics to popular English songs and you'll find that the English often isn't correct. It's the same thing in Korean, so you have these sometimes strange and awkward turns of phrase. What I would do with these song lyrics is just string them out as one long sentence, then add your own punctuation where you think it makes sense. This will help segment it out properly instead of trying to translate lines that are split based on their rhythmic value rather than their grammatical purpose.
    August 2014
    • johnnylooselips ca Canada 4426
      Personally, I am a purist and really dislike it when translators take massive liberties when translating texts, be it songs or dialogue from movies. I got a little lesson last night on the above lyrics and I now have a much better understanding and realize what an absolute disservice the translator has done to the original lyrics.

      For example:

      니 빈자리 거닐면서 Translated as: I am lost in thought.

      There was no need for this. The original lyrics are clearly using "empty chair" to symbolize the loss of the relationship. This symbol is easily translated into English. You don't have to be "lost in thought" to have that grieving feeling of emptiness as you recall powerful memories. In fact, "empty chair" is a far superior metaphor. Joni Mitchel put it beautifully when she said, upon reflecting on a lost relationship, "the frying pan is too wide." It would be tragic to see this beautiful line get translated into Korean as "I'm lonely."

      It's one thing to change lyrics in order to SING the song in English. I am lost in thought may roll off the tough or rhyme better than a line that contains "empty chair" .. but I think one should respect the original composition enough that all attempts should be made to use "empty chair" before moving on to other expressions.

      In any event, fighting through texts only makes the learning stick even more. I will not forget these words.
      August 2014
      • Moderator
        alex ca Canada 1705 656 31848
        Glad to hear you've made some progress :) My point above was also more that the translation shows it line-by-line, but the English translation is ordered so that it makes sense on its own, not as a direct translation of the line next to it.

        니 빈자리 거닐면서 would be something like "As I walk around your empty chair"
        많은 생각들에 잠겨 would be something like "I am trapped by my thoughts"

        The main difference here is that this translation in English doesn't make sense because it's in the wrong order, whereas if we switch the Korean around it also doesn't make sense because it's in the wrong order.

        I try not to read translations too much personally, as I find it gets me thinking in English too much and I lose out a lot on the nuances of the target language as I try to relate it too much to my own native language. I've made this a big part of my learning approach for Korean and it seems to have worked well, though it definitely makes it tougher starting out. I like to think, however, that it's given me a bit of a better sense of what feels "natural" in Korean and what feels "unnatural". Still a long long way from any native speaker, of course :P
        August 2014