Latvian: Smells Like Teen Spirit


New Member
Russian - Latvia
I have a quick question, how would you properly translate the name of the well-known song 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', as well as a reinterpreted improvisation 'Smells Like Latvian Spirit'?
Thanks! :)
  • ger4

    Senior Member
    Labdien! The first two words are straightforward but if you need a translation of the brand name, it gets a bit tricky...

    "Smells Like Teen Spirit":
    - Smaržo kā Teen Spirit
    - Smaržo kā Tīņi gars*
    - Smaržo kā Tīņu gars*

    "Smells Like Latvian Spirit":
    - Smaržo kā Latvian spirit
    - Smaržo kā Latviešu gars*
    - Smaržo kā Latvijas gars*

    - smaržo < 3rd person (singular = plural) of smaržot = "to smell", "produce a smell" - often, not always, with pleasant associations ("exhaling fragrance").

    - As a Latvian sentence doesn't need a subject, no equivalent of "it" is needed, not even in formal speech. So I guess the sentence would sound stylistically more neutral, less colloquial than the English original with the "it" dropped.

    - kā = "like", "how"

    - tīņi = a Latvian spelling for "teen(ager)s", with the plural -s replaced by the Latvian nominative plural -i. Even though I found tīņi gars as a translation of the song title (Smaržo kā tīņi gars), I'm not sure if there is a typo. Normally you would expect the genitive plural, ending in -u.

    - tīņu = this is the genitive plural form, as it occurs in tīņu mode "teenager fashion", literally "teenagers' fashion" or "fashion of teenagers", tīņu filmas "~ films", tīņu problēmas "~ problems" etc.

    - gars = "spirit" (brīvības gars "the spirit of freedom", likuma gars "the spirit of the law", laika gars "zeitgeist")

    - latviešu < genitive plural of latvietis, a person from Latvia (the same form is also used in the name of the language: latviešu valoda, literally "language of Latvians"). So I would use it if it refers to the people, culture etc. A more literal back-translation would then be 'spirit of Latvians'.

    - Latvijas < genitive singular of Latvija, the name of the country. I would use Latvijas if the expression refers to the country itself (beauty of nature etc). A literal back-translation would be 'the spirit of Latvia' (compare: Latvijas daba = "Latvian nature", lit. "Latvia's nature")

    Capitalization: in Latvian proper names and brand names consisting of more than one word, in general only the first word is spelled with a capital letter. If the expressions were not meant to sound like brand names, the words tīņi, tīņu and latviešu would not be capitalized (Latvijas < Latvija is always capitalized as it is a proper name).
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