The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0587 Monday, 30 November 2009
Date: Thursday, 12 Nov 2009 00:32:08 -0500
Subject: Re: Literary Incantations Only in Non-Tonal Languages?
>Subject: SHK 20.0560
>. . . when
>Shakespeare is translated into another language, especially a tonal
>language like Mandarin Chinese, much of the magic "sound" of the Bard's
>words is lost. When casting a spell, a Chinese shaman typically doesn't
>utter an incantation, but uses body motion or the cauldron, and
>sometimes calligraphy. So, rather than worrying about what's lost in
>translation, I'm wondering if spoken incantations (in literature, at
>least) arise only in non-tonal languages.
Well, I'm living in Cambodia, and rap is popular here. Not so much as in
That doesn't address your question, since Khmer is a non-tonal language.
(It looks to me like it's in the process of going tonal, but that's my
opinion as a non-linguist.)
However, if you Google "Thai rap", you'll find that rap is also big in
Thailand. And Thai *is* a tonal language.
In my opinion, the analogy you're really looking for is a "voice roll,"
which is a way of speaking in rhythm used by ministers and politicians.
I don't know if they do anything like that in non-tonal languages, but
it should be researchable.
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