Under the dark sky

Friday, January 29, 2010

I just bought a copy of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, and the first page talks about how to begin stories in Persian (yeki bood, yeki nabood or یکی بود یکی نبود), which literally means "there was one, there wasn't one." Turkish uses the same when starting stories - bir varmış, bir yokmuş.

Anyway, after that it led to another story that starts with "zeer-e gonbad'e kabood" or "under the bruised (dark) dome (sky)", so setting up a pretty dismal stage for the beginning of the story. Sometimes I like to take a look at what Google Translate does with sayings like this so I wrote it out:

زیر گنبد کبود

Now let's feed it into Google Translate to see what it does with it. Google Translate works instantly now so it went like this:

زیر - following
زیر کنبد - under dome

So far, so good. Add the third word though and it turns to this:


Answer: HOUSTON. Yeah, Google Translate still needs some work.

5 comments:

Sarah said...

I read "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ" back in July; I hope you'll post a review and let us know what you think of it.

Growing up, I spent a year in Monterey living next door to a couple who were attending the Defense Language Institute there, in preparation for an embassy posting in Tehran. This was, oh, 1977 or so. I never did hear what happened to them when the revolution started, but ever since I've been sort of interested in Iran.

Alijsh said...

Kabud, when it refer to sky, means «azure». So, «zir e gonbad e kabud» means «under the azure dome» i.e. «under sky». It does not set up a pretty dismal stage for the beginning of the story. That's just your interpretation based on a wrong translation. In other words, you are simply misunderstood.

데이빛 / Mithridates said...

>That's just your interpretation based on a wrong translation.

No, it's just what the book says. I'm certainly not ready to try to interpret Persian poetry.

Alijsh said...

Ke in towr. Sharmande. In any case, please note that the phrase does not have such a meaning and impression. It's just a variation of «once upon a time» like «yeki bud, yeki na bud» and «ruz i, ruzgâr i».

데이빛 / Mithridates said...

>That's just your interpretation based on a wrong translation.

No, it's just what the book says. I'm certainly not ready to try to interpret Persian poetry.

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