Bâtissez de votre rêve une retraite dans le désert

purplepanther

Senior Member
England, English
Bonjour à tous!

I'm trying to translate the following paragraph, which I find to be spiritual, and perhaps rather cryptic:

"Bâtissez de votre rêve une retraite dans le désert avant l'enceinte de la ville. Votre maison est votre plus grand corps, elle grandit sous le soleil et dans le silence de la nuit et elle n'est pas sans rêves".

Would it make sense to translate it as:

Build of your dream a desert retreat, away from the confines of the city. Your house is an extension your your body/yourself, she thrives in the sun, and at night she is not without dreams. (wasn't sure whether or not use 'it' or 'she', as the house is personified)

It's mainly the 'bâtissez de votre rêve' that i'm having problems with, but if you notice any other misinterpretations please let me know.

Merci d'avance!

Purplepanther
 
  • tilt

    Senior Member
    French French
    In my opinion, bâtissez de votre rêve une retraite is a rather odd phrase, not to say it incorrect. My own translation would be build from your dream a retreat, which sounds quite meaningless to me, in English as well as in French.

    Note that, according to the WR dictionary, I'm not sure retreat is the best translation for retraite in this context.
     

    alexa99

    Senior Member
    france
    Shouldn't the original text be " Bâtissez la retraite de vos rêves " "ou "faites de votre rêve unz retraite "rather than " "Bâtissez de votre rêve une retraite " which is more than obscure and definitely terrible French.

    Does the author
     

    alexa99

    Senior Member
    france
    Sorry,

    I suppose that the author refer to an inside escape, or something like that.
    Then " batissez de vos rêves " should be " faites de vos rêves"
     

    tilt

    Senior Member
    French French
    Thanks, Pieanne! tilt, why do you think retreat doesn't fit here? should it be more like 'hideaway'?
    The compound forms in the WR dictionary made me think retreat was used only to mean a kind of a defeat, and moreover, I wondered if sanctum wouldn't work better, as it sounds close to sanctuary, which also fits the context.
    But if you say retreat is good, that's ok for me.
     

    purplepanther

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I'm sorry guys, i'm still baffled by this phrase :(. I'm going to give you guys some more context in the hope that maybe we can work out what it's trying to say.

    I have translated the former paragraph as:
    In the town of Shashamane in Ethiopia, the land given to black people by Haile Selassie I, an array of different projects are underway. Rasta communities who have settled there have established their own system. From housing and farming to schools and sports centres, everything necessary for progress is found in Shashamane, to such an extent that even the Ethiopians have expressed jealousy of Rastafari brothers. The town is now able to welcome all those who have the Spirit of Jah and who wish to return to their motherland.

    Then for the part i'm struggling with the font is slightly smaller, this is normally when the author writes a prayer, quote or something spiritual and abstract. Again, for purposes of context, here's the paragraph:

    "Bâtissez de votre rêve une retraite dans le désert avant l'enceinte de la ville. Votre maison est votre plus grand corps, elle grandit sous le soleil et dans le silence de la nuit et elle n'est pas sans rêves. Ne quitte-t-elle pas la ville pour le bosquet et la colline? Par peur, aïeux vous ont rassemblés trop près les uns des autres et cette peur durera encore un peu de temps puis les murs do votre cité sépareront votre foyer de vos champs. Vous n'habitez pas des tombes construites par des mains mortes pour les vivants car ce qui infini en vous habite le chateau du ciel dont les fenêtres sont les chants et le silence de la nuit un rêve".

    Sorry this message is so long! But if someone can help me understand this part i'd be very grateful.

    Purplepanther
     

    candypole

    Senior Member
    australia english
    The idea is that one should not be afraid to build a house out in the open, away from the confines of a city, one should be free. I think the writing shows distinct African influences - the natives can confirm this. The tone is rather high falutin', a combination of real estate agentspeak and cultspeak, with more than a touch of biblical. Sincere I'm sure.

    "Out of your dreams, built a retreat in the desert before the city walls. Your house is an extension of you, it grows under the sun and in the silence of the night and is not without dreams. Does it not leave the city for the bush and the hills? Out of fear, (your) ancestors have gathered you too near to one another, and this fear will last yet a little while, then the walls of your city will separate your home from the fields. You will not inhabit the tombs constructed by dead heads for the living, for what is infinite in you will dwell in the castle of the sky whose windows are songs and the silence of the night a dream."
     

    purplepanther

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Thank you ever so much, Candypole! That has clarified quite a few things for me actually. It will definitely be sincere as the author quotes the bible frequently. But as a non-native i would never in a million years have identified the mix of nuance in there, the "real estate agent speak and cultspeak", as you say. Oh, and one little question: what's high falutin'? never heard of that before :confused:
     

    candypole

    Senior Member
    australia english
    If you google it, you'll quickly get all the nuances of high falutin'. Briefly: rather prompous,pretentious way of speaking.
     

    purplepanther

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Thanks, Candypole, i found it under the spelling of Hifalutin, and yes it would make sense as throughout the whole book he is telling the reader how they ought to be living their lives.
    Also, You know you said that the writing shows distinct African influences, how did you come to that conclusion? Are there words in there that evoke imagery of the African landscape for example (maybe 'le bosquet et la colline)?
     

    le chat noir

    Senior Member
    French
    I must say I'm baffled by this style. It is definitely terrible as far as classical written French is concerned. It certainly sounds more like a prayer or incantation than anything else.

    Here are a few weird-sounding bits with quick "casual French" equivalents:
    "avant l'enceinte..." -> "hors de l'enceinte..." (English influence ?)
    "votre plus grand corps" -> "la plus grande partie de votre corps"
    "elle n'est pas sans rêves" -> "elle peut rêver" / "elle aussi rêve" ???
    "aïeux vous ont rassemblés" -> missing "les" article
    "durera encore un peu de temps" -> "durera encore un peu" (adding "de temps" makes it sounds like a litteral English translation)
    "ce qui infini en vous" -> "ce qui est infini en vous" (I warped the sentence in all directions I could think of and could not find any subtle interpretation, however far-fetched, that would explain the missing verb).

    The sentences are very heavy, the dots are not found where one would expect them. The last sentence is really a convoluted one (the silence of the night seen as a dream of the castle in the sky which is the home of the infinite part of yourself - wow! :)).

    Now about African influence, well frankly I did not see anything definite. I would rather say the style shows hints of English influence, which could indeed come from former African colonies or maybe Jamaica, given the context.

    However I'm no expert on African influences on written French, so I'm also curious about candypole's analysis.
     

    candypole

    Senior Member
    australia english
    I'm very familiar with the speech of h Africans from the Horn of Africa in English, and the French sounds a lot like that, but looking at it again, I agree with Chat Noir that it also shows clear evidence of an English influence a well.
     

    tilt

    Senior Member
    French French
    Here are a few weird-sounding bits with quick "casual French" equivalents:
    "avant l'enceinte..." -> "hors de l'enceinte..." (English influence ?)
    "votre plus grand corps" -> "la plus grande partie de votre corps"
    "elle n'est pas sans rêves" -> "elle peut rêver" / "elle aussi rêve" ???
    "aïeux vous ont rassemblés" -> missing "les" article
    "durera encore un peu de temps" -> "durera encore un peu" (adding "de temps" makes it sounds like a litteral English translation)
    "ce qui infini en vous" -> "ce qui est infini en vous" (I warped the sentence in all directions I could think of and could not find any subtle interpretation, however far-fetched, that would explain the missing verb).
    I agree with the corrections you suggest, except for votre plus grand corps, wich in my opinion means literally your bigger body (i.e. your house is like another body for you, bigger than your real one).
    I'd also say vos misses before aïeux, rather than les, but this doesn't really change the meaning of the sentence.
     

    le chat noir

    Senior Member
    French
    I agree with you, I changed the meaning: I could hardly imagine a single person sharing multiple bodies, that would be bringing schizophrenia to a completely new level! I suspect a better rephrasing would be "la maison est comme votre corps en plus grand". The shocking parts in the original are that there is no comparison, just plain equivalence between a body and a house, and the implicit assumption that we go around with an indefinite number of bodies :).

    You're right also about the article: "vos/les/nos" could do, depending on the way the narrator sees things.
     

    purplepanther

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Thanks le chat noir, Candypole and tilt. I see what you mean about it being very heavy now. Do you you think that it might be better translated if I use a West-Indian writing style, with inflections of patois? I'm thinking this because, firstly, for obvious reasons the patois has a lot of African influence, and secondly because Rastafarians in particular do tend to use a heavy style sometimes, and even make up their own words. I've been looking at model texts in English, and here is one example of a Rastafarian in Jamaica speaking, you'll see what I mean:

    "From you know how you are supposed to be, man, ca you were in the womb of your mother fi nine months and you were in your father's loins fi longer than that; you don't know how long you were in your father's loins before he sow you into the womb of your mother. That's how the creation come: till the soil and you plant the food and you reap it, and so the way man go to the woman and bring forth the pickney".

    (for purposes of comprehesion, 'ca' = because, 'fi' = for, 'pickney' = children)

    I know the subject matter is completely different, but would you say the style is similar to the one i'm trying to translate? For example, we wouldn't normally say "bring forth children", and the "till the soil and you plant the food and you reap it" has quite biblical connotations, don't you think?
     

    candypole

    Senior Member
    australia english
    I don't know, it's up to you, but Africans don't speak like that at all - none of the ones I know, Horn of Africa, Central or Southern Africans. Read the books written by Africans and you'll get the tone, though that won't help you in the short term.
     

    purplepanther

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I see what you're saying, Candypole, but i'm unsure as what exactly makes it sound distinctly 'African'. As West-Indian dialects/patois are heavily rooted in African dialect I thought it could work here. Also, aside from the African issue, as you can see in the example I gave, Rastafarians often use biblical language as part of everyday speech. It sounds elevated in parts, yet grammatically incorrect (e.g. "before he sew you" should be in the past tense), so I thought it might be similar to what you guys were saying about the text. :confused:
     

    tilt

    Senior Member
    French French
    Using West-Indian style sounds as a good idea to me.
    I don't know this style that well, but the French text sounds somehow oriental to me. Moreover, the example you gave does work, in my opinion.
    Nonetheless, I wonder if the Bible style would be even better.
     

    purplepanther

    Senior Member
    England, English
    wow, oriental too?? This paragraph is getting stranger and stranger! :confused: i think i am going to go for the biblical and slightly disjointed style, and of course i'll send you it when i'm done, Candypole!
     

    purplepanther

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Well! Would you believe it? It turns out that this paragraph which was giving me such trouble was, in fact, originally written in ENGLISH! this is a translation!!

    "Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls. Your house is your larger body. It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream? And dreaming, leave the city for grove or hilltop? In their fear your forefathers gathered you too near together. And that fear shall endure a little longer. A little longer shall your city walls separate your hearths from your fields.
    You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living.
    For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night."
    However, the author has not referenced the original author, Kahlil Gibran, anywhere in the book, not even in the bibliography. Furthermore he has rearranged some of the sentences, as you'll see from this link with the full poem:
    http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/houses-chapter-ix/
    Surely he is not trying to pass it off as his own work?!? :eek: :confused:
     

    le chat noir

    Senior Member
    French
    Hehe, nice catch! I wonder how you managed to find out. At least that explains the English influences :).
    The original version makes a lot more sense (except maybe the somewhat obscure metaphor about the houses dreaming to escape the city).
    Could it be that the author simply read a French translation without knowing about the English origin?
     

    purplepanther

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I googled a few words from the paragraph, thinking it might come up with something similar i could use as a model text, but lo and behold, the whole thing was there!
    I think it's unlikely that the author didn't know about the origin because i have since realised that he has quoted the same author several times throughout the book, where i have already spent hours of my time painstakingly translating them :(
     

    purplepanther

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Hehehe, very cheeky! :D
    But seriously, he should have referenced everything, shouldn't he? The only indication he has given that he is quoting is that the font is ever so slightly smaller than the rest of the text. I don't know much about the laws of plagiarism :confused:
     
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