Wednesday, October 04, 2006

National anthem no laughing matter

I've long thought that it's time to change the title and lyrics of Ukraine's National anthem.

This ZNet article illustrates why:

It has recently come to my attention that the title of the Ukrainian national anthem is 'Ukraine Is Not Dead Yet.' (Seriously, it is.)

The same could be said of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's ongoing prosecution of Vice President Cheney's former aide I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby: The case -- involving charges of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice ... -- is not dead yet, nor is it even ailing. U.S. v. Libby is not only alive and well; it is also set to begin ...

According to this site, the lyrics were modified somewhat in 2003, but (obviously) not enough to dispel the negative, defeatist perception that comes through in the translation.

The current lyrics still convey the picture of a people that are under seige ... merely surviving (notwithstanding that that's a miracle in itself) rather than growing and thriving.

I mean, the reason Ukraine hasn't died yet is because she survived centuries of ongoing attempts at obliteration. So why not call a spade a spade and stop letting the foiled would-be obliterators off the hook?

There has to be a positive way to say "they haven't killed us yet" ... or even better, maybe they can just come up with a different phrase altogether, one that is more positive and dignified.

4 comments:

Irena said...

I agree, Pawlina. And the whole meaning could be easily changed and
improved by saying 'Shche ne vmerla UkrainY ni slava ni volia" . So
it's not Ukraine that's not dead, but rather its glory and freedom. I
was delighted to find a Ukr choral group singing it that way, and
played it on the Ottawa radio show on Ukr independence day."
Irena

Fr. BrucePower said...

National Anthems are often revised to reflect a country's ongoing history or to improve the poetry and message conveyed - O Canada has seen such in the fairly recent past. Perhaps they could somehow come up with a version which would translate something like "Ukraine is not dead yet nor will she die - she strong in the hearts of her people" .... sooooo.... all of you good budding Shevschenkos out there - here's a good opporortunity - Thanks Pawlina for bringing up a good point here!

Pawlina said...

I dunno, I was kind of thinking it's time to move on past the "we're not dead yet" mindset to something along the lines of "we're alive and kicking"!

Somehow an anthem should be about life and living rather than about "not dying."

However, I realize that it's just semantics. In some ways the Ukrainian language, with its liberal use of double negatives and loaded metaphors, is actually a far more sophisticated a communications tool than the English ... which explains why it "loses in the translation.'

Fr. Bruce Power said...

I hear you Pawlina! :) Maybe someone could come up with a version in Ukrainian that would translate "Ukraine is doing just fine, thank you very much!"