Czech, Swedish, English, Slovenian, Lusatian-sorbian, German, and Finnish
Besides the mystery of my pseudonym, many people also ask 1) what is the purpose of using poems in the original language and then 2) if I have a good grasp of all of them.
An answer to the first question has deep roots in my philosophical standpoint that translation is impossible. From my point of view neither individual’s thoughts are communicable: the recipient cannot receive them as the author thought/imagined them. In this philosophical manner I make an effort to be able to understand the poems, to study their content, to study about their authors, to learn pronunciation. These things all together make me abler to compose music for them, to give a specific feeling to singing. An aspect very related to the previous explanation is, that I have sympathy for authors, whose literar pieces are being translated. I don’t simply want to present someone’s poem (=ideas, feelings, impressions) in a language the given author didn’t naturally expressed through. Another thing related to the first question is that I love different phonemic systems; each language is very unique and interesting, so why not simply sing in the original words.
But everything has its limits, and my opinion about translation impossibility needs to be tailored to the fact that I cannot learn all languages I would love to. And through this restriction I’m getting to the anwer for the second question:
Well, Czech is my mother tongue, and so there couldn’t be any doubt about understanding. But you can imagine that nobody (except of few linguists in a country 🙂 ) knows his mother tongue for 100%. So I try to catch some things that are new to me.
Then, German, language I have learned since primary school until bachelor studies. After my highschool, where I was able to talk German, I slowly switched to using English, and during my bachelor my German was almost forgotten. Now I have very poor understanding and production in her, but still I have knowledge of the pronunciation and can have the basic talks with shop assistants etc.
English is my second language, but the first one I have actually met with, because I had some pre-primaryschool classes of her. Then I started to learn when I was around twenty, and English naturally became the best and most used language. Of course, mistakes are still made very often and I still try to learn.
Let’s say something about Swedish, the beautiful language I was fascinated with in my childhood (and not only Swedish, by the way. I love sound of all Germanic languages. To my ears, it sounds great). I have begun with her at 2012 as an autodidact. First I travelled to Denmark, Sweden and Åland and decided to learn Swedish because at that time it seemed to me it will be the most universal in the Scandinavia. That time, to be intermediate in Swedish helped me to get a job in certain company, where I did some back-office administration for Nordic countries. In fact, I used mostly English, but was still with Swedish and Finnish more in contact everyday, unlike now.
When I travelled to Denmark, I met there some people whom I visited later in Finland. That was my first contact with Finnish, the only things I knew about this country was good hockey players, vodka, and some brief stories about historical issues with Russia and Sweden. First time, Finnish sounded weird but nice at the same time, reminded me of stones. I met there many great people as well in Finland as in Åland, and in general, I was impressed by the local spirit, so I took it into my head to learn Finnish. Later there were few friends who helped me with translating and understanding the language so I have written some songs in in too.
In the music school (Czech page of ZUŠ here) with our choir and orchestra we made concerts in Sachsen, Germany. Specifically, we visited Budyšín and other Lusatian places, and there I’ve heard Lusatian-sorbian for the first time. It is the most western Slavic language, but nowadays, I would say, its phonemes are pretty affected by the German pronunciation. I was amazed by the sound of Lusatian-sorbian and wanted to learn it, but there wasn’t any possibility to get any lectures in my hometown in Czech Republic. Then my music school has stopped the project in organizing concerts in Germany and after almost 10 years of gap I’ve met a great guy, Radek Čermák, who translates from L-S into Czech. I was surprised that this language still does exist and I almost immediately started to learn it (must mention that it is very similar to the Czech). Since then, thanks to the collaboration with Czech people connected to Lusatia, I know many good-hearted, gentle, and educated Lusatian sorbs. One of them is a poet Róža Domašcyna, whose poems I love and set them into a music lately.
Slovenian is the only one I haven’t learned. I actually had a good luck to meet people who are involved in Slovenian literature somehow. The above mentioned Radek is one of them, as a translator. Others are mostly awesome Slovenians who live in Czech and teach here their language, write literature and poetry. Radek and others helped me with reading and pronunciation, and, in general, provided me a deeper contact with a background of Slovenian poetry so I could grasp it by music better.
Interesting to mention is that during my bachelor study I’ve had one year of Russian, and eventhough there’s lot of great poetry written in Russian, I don’t sing in it. I don’t feel I am able to learn enough the accent and stress – aspects that make this language very unique.