neljapäev, september 06, 2007

Ma Waene Tardo Liin

So much of Estonian history telling and retelling focuses on four years, 1918, 1940, 1944, and 1991. Everything else is often boiled down to the nationalist refrain of "800 years of slavery". But was it really 800 years of pure slavery for the Estonian nationalist soul that only began to thaw with the writings of Kristjan Jaak Peterson?

The poetry of Käsu Hans, an early 18th century poet says no. Hans was an Estonian poet from Tartumaa who is famous for his lengthy metric lament, "Oh! Ma Waene Tardo Liin" (Oh, my poor Tartu city) which was written in 1708 during the peak of the Great Northern War between the Swedish and Russian empire that scarred Estonia so deep that it took decades to recover demographically.

In other words, a lot of Estonians were killed. Ever wonder why so many Estonians look the same? Because there were so few leftover at the end of the Great Northern War. While Käsu Hans' writing is interesting because it a) dispels the myth of Estonians being intellectual zeros during the Age of Enlightenment, and b) provides a stirring account of one of the most destructive eras in Estonian history, the real gem in his poetry is the language. Here's an example:

Oh! ma waene Tardo Liin:
Mes sündi nüüd siin minnoga
Perratu ma olle siin:
Kes woib mo päle Kaeda?
Mo Pat mulle teggi sedda,
Et mul johtu ni suur Hedda,
Sedde pea nüüd tundma siin,
Oh! ma waene Tardo Liin.

Can any of you decipher this Estonian, 300 years after it was written?

28 kommentaari:

Maarja ütles ...

I had to read some parts of it for my archeography exam at Tartu University. The skill is somewhat out of practice, as I don't read gothic handwriting every day. As I remember, reading the text letter by letter was quite easy, but understanding the meaning of some words was more difficult. The full text, if i'm not mistaken, is also published in the anthology of Estonian poetry.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Did I understand correctly that you asked for modern Estonian translation?
Well, it's something like

Oh, ma vaene Tartu linn
Mis sünnib nüüd siin minuga
Kasutu/pidetu/mõttetu ma olen siin
["kaema" back then probably meant "suvatsema", but maybe "halastama" isn't out of context]
Kes võiks mu peale halastada?
Mu patt mulle tegi seda,
et mulle juhtus nii suur häda.
Seda pean nüüd tundma siin,
oh ma vaene Tartu linn.

Maybe they have full translation in some textbook.

Giustino ütles ...

Is it written in dialect, or is it just an older version of the language?

antyx ütles ...

It's written in how the language would have been put on paper in the heavily structured and stylized way of late-medieval Germanic languages. Basically it's Chaucer in Estonian. It's weird, but a native speaker can read it.

(A more modern reference would be the written word in Terry Pratchett's novels.)

nonsie ütles ...

It's also easier to read for someone familiar with southern dialects.

Mari ütles ...

it should be in the Tartu dialect (if i remember correctly), which was the leading southern dialect at the time.

there were two written languages of estonian back then, the northern (which has developed into what we have today) and the southern.

nowadays the widest written southern dialect is the Wõro language.

..after cosulting a book, i found: "the historic southern written Estonian was presumably based on the dialect of the town of Tartu, which itself was a mixture of northern and southern influences, the true dialect of Tartumaa was more southern"

and yes, you also have got to consider the grammatic rules of the German language, that's were 1/3 the weirdness comes from.

in upstate NY ütles ...

Couldn't "perratu" mean "without family?" Just asking, because it would fit with the sense of the lament in the stanza.

If I remember correctly, the great Northern War left Estonia with only one-quarter of its population.

Certainly, I am no expert in Estonian.

Giustino ütles ...

That's what I thought it meant. Like 'võimetu'.

sofie ütles ...

"Kaeda" could mean "vaadata":
"kes võib mu peale vaadata"
="kes suudaks mind niimoodi vaadata?"

Zeen-meister ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Zeen-meister ütles ...

Minu "tõlge" oleks järgmine.. :)

Oh mu vaene Tartu linn
Mis sündis siin nüüd minuga
Peretu ma olen siin
Kes hoolitseks nüüd minu eest?
Mu enda patt on selles süüdi
et juhtus minuga nii suur häda
Seda pean nüüd tundma siin,
oh ma vaene Tartu linn.

Huvitav on see, kuidas me isegi sellest nii erinevalt aru saame :)

plasma-jack ütles ...

mina kasutasin internetti, kuhu targemad inimesed on sõnaseletusi pannud ;-)

in upstate NY ütles ...

I believe "voimetu" means "without will" or "without energy."

Unknown ütles ...

It is written in Southern Estonian dialect, which is still spoken by a dozen or so people around Tartu (and a similar dialect is spoken in South-Eastern Estonia). These days there were two forms of written Estonian language, and the one based on Tartu dialect ("lõunaeesti kirjakeel" or "tartu keel") was actually the more widespread. For dialect words, one can (with some tricks) use Võro-Eesti synaraamat:

"perratu" (I guess it should be perädü in "modern Võro usage") means probably "2. armetu, kõle; mahajäetud, kõrvaline" (miserable)

"kaema" means "vaatama" (to look).

plasma-jack ütles ...

but it MEANT "suvatsema"

in upstate NY ütles ...

Doesn't "kaeda" share the same root as "kaitse?"

plasma-jack ütles ...

hmm. it sounds very reasonable in the context, indeed.

Zeen-meister ütles ...

Nojah, Plasma, eks ma pärast kah uurisin :)Kuid ikkagi pakkus mulje nalja see, kuidas ma enne, "puhta lehena", sellest aru sain. Tõenäoliselt saab tänapäeval "keskmine eestlane" enam vähem samamoodi aru, nagu ma enne kirjutasin. Seda itku on päris palju tsiteeritud ja tundub, et tegelikult oleks alati vaja selle juurde ka autoriteetset ja ametlikku tõlget, et taolist arusaamatust vältida ;)

Unknown ütles ...

Hmm, I thought that "perratu" meant "päratu" at first. Something like 'huge' or 'without an end'.

Frank ütles ...

Great Post! May the slavery-image lose the last bits of its appeal...

plasma-jack ütles ...

There's no point in denying that most of our ancestors were serfs. No problem with that - as long as we can drink our mind out at company parties hosted at old Baltic German manors. The irony! I bet the barons are having some pogo in their graves.

Unknown ütles ...

2 plasma-jack

See nimekiri, millele sa viitad, on "ainult ühel autoril esinevad sõnad". St ilmselt see tähendus "suvatsema" ei ole kunagi olnud eriti levinud. Samast kohast ( lõunaeestikeelsete (eL) tekstide hulgast otsides leiad mitukümmend vastet, kus "kaema" päris kindlasti tähendab "vaatama":

Nt Nida+ +sammoti peap temma ka häste perra+ ► +kaema , et äkkilisse külmaga , essi+ +ärraniste et nemmad hommogo- nink launa tulega ärra ei külma . (Lenz. 1796)

Jutt on mingitest taimedest, mis ei tohi hommiku- või lõunatuulega ära külmuda. Aga mõte ei ole mitte selles, et tuul peab suvatsema mitte puhuda :P

Unknown ütles ...

P.S. contains the full text of the song and a German translation. (Search, e.g., by author).

"Kes woib mo päle kaeda" is translated as "Wer will jetzt auf mich noch sehen", sehen = to see / to look.

in upstate NY ütles ...

The question is whether "kaema" means "to look/watch/see" vs "to protect/guard."

(Pardon my English: my productive Estonian is much worse than my receptive Estonian.)

Typically, most words have multiple meanings that overlap. It is not uncommon for "to watch" to mean "to protect."

Certainly in English, "Watch your children" means to protect them. "Watch out" is usually a warning to protect oneself.

So I really don't quite understand this squabble over "kaema," as the two meanings are not mutually exclusive the way "full" and "empty" would be. Rather one meaning could bleed into another, as typically happens with words as new usages are created.

in upstate NY ütles ...

Even in Estonian, "vaata ette" means "be careful" or "protect yourself."

Frank ütles ...

Hello Plasma-Jack, your point:

"There's no point in denying that most of our ancestors were serfs." would apply to the majority of Europeans, or would it not?

Let me put that argument upside-down: according to what I have been told by many Estonians nearly any Estonian has a notion that some or more drops of baron´s blood run through her or his veins ...

And as I have been told by the genealogist of the Eestimaa Rüütelkond there are at least some families within that club who cannot really deny that there is more than a possibility the first bearer of their noble name was at least half Estonian. In order to rise socially one had to adapt "German" manners and appearance. Those who were fit to do so were not necessarily denied the chance to do so. We must not look at this issues through a late 19th / early 20th century ideologies looking-glass - earlier centuries supposedly were less class-ridden and more focused on the necessities and vicissitudes of life.

Jan Kross comes to mind ...

Doris ütles ...

kaema is definitely "to look". Being from Tartu, I use it every now and then.... Plus, it makes sense in the context.

and yes, there was a study on how many Estonians there were in the nobility right after the Christianisation and the result was that up to the 1348 (IIRC, too lazy to look it up) St. George's night uprising, Jyri88 ylest6us, about 30% of the nobility was actually the pre-conquest Estonian upper class. And, also interesting, the easiest way to track down your estonian-family roots would be through the name Miller or its derivates. Because a lot of the Estonian a-bit-better-off peasants became millers. Somewhere between a serf and a free man. And they were generally known by their profession-name earlier than the rest of the peasantry got their names. AND, the profession was usually given along in the family.

Pretty much any other trail through the anchestry either disappears in the 1800s or ends up in a Baltic German/Swedish/Polish noble family.

KRISTIN ütles ...

See on ju praktiliselt samasugune kui praegune eesti keel! Ei mingit probleemi.