Posted by: ktzefr | August 12, 2015

Words…and the trouble they get into

Birds, Mayan Textile; Photo:KFawcett

Birds, Mayan Textile; Photo:KFawcett

I was reading poetry this morning in Spanish, side by side with the English version, and thinking about the images lost in translation.  Sometimes the translations on Facebook and other online forums are almost silly, in addition to being incorrect.  And I can imagine all sorts of misunderstandings as a result.

In any case, it’s the beauty of the Spanish language that is often lost in translation.  Even when the English is correct, i.e. the meaning is accurate, the image may not be as…pretty as it is in the original.

Consider these…

“…dentro de cada palabra existe una sonrisa”  Translated: “…inside every word there can be kindness.”

The meaning is okay, as translated, but isn’t the Spanish, “…inside every word exists a smile” prettier?


“…por los caminos olvidados de California” Translated: “…through the backroads of California.”

Of course, we call them backroads, but think of the different image for olvidados when it’s more specific — forgotten/left behind“What the heck is a forgotten road?” someone may ask, but a poet knows.  


“…de sus labios brotaban palabras melodiosas”  Translated: “…rhyming words would pour out of her mouth”

I suppose if the English version said “from her lips sprouted melodious words” it would sound a bit awkward.  But…words can be melodious without rhyming.  And sprouted?  I like it.  I image tiny seeds in the mind that become sturdy sprouts before they’re spit out. 

Oh well, when you read the English translation of a Spanish book, just remember that chances are it’s a whole lot prettier in Spanish.

So, I’m not a poet, but I like to play with…


I am a collector of words.

I pick them up from one page

and pluck them down in a new spot

to see where they take me.


Words do not sit still. They walk and run,

Skip and hop, fall and fly. They bounce.

They fling themselves from one place to the next.

They can dive and splash or soar above our heads.

They leap, but sometimes not too high.

They can be cautious, too.


Words are time travelers.

They can go from here to there,

And from there to here,

On a moment’s notice.


One word can jog a memory.


Words are not like people; they mean

What they say.


And they don’t care whether

you like them or not.


Some words are weak; some are strong.

Sometimes one is better than another.


It’s no secret that some words act like they’re alive!

They can run amok and cause great harm.

But the right word at the right time can also heal.


Words can change the world…

But only if they’ve been picked up

And plucked back down

In the right places.





  1. I love the poem about Words — very thought-provoking and true. Is that yours?

    • Thanks, Kathy. Yes, it’s mine. I’m not much of a poet, but I love the special challenge of writing poetry. 🙂

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