Bones of earth

A composer called Daniel J Hay contacted me today asking for help with a piece he’s working on entitled Tears For Earth. In the first movement, Bones of Earth, he wants to have a chorus of speakers in counterpoint to the tenor solo repeating the phrase “bones of earth” (or “the bones of the earth”) in various languages. Could you help with this?

The translations should ideally be in the Latin/Roman alphabet and have notes on how to pronounce them.

Here are a few that I came up with:

– Welsh: esgyrn y ddaear (esgeern uh they-yar)
– Irish: cnámha an domhain (craavuh un down)
– Mandarin: diqiu de gutou (dee chee-oh duh goo-toe)
– Japanese: chikyuu no hone (chee-queue no hoe-nay)

Other translations already received.

30 thoughts on “Bones of earth

  1. correction to the portuguese: it should be “ossos da terra” not “ossas da terra”

    spanish: huesos de la tierra

    catalá: ossos de la terra

    french: os de la terre

    italian: ossi della terra

  2. Spanish: los huesos de la tierra (lohs way-sohs duh lah tee-eh-rah)
    French: les os de la terre (lay oh duh lah teh-ah)

  3. You have a typo in the Japanese transliteration– should be chikyuu (the pronunciation is right though, so I’m sure you just mistyped).

  4. I’d like to suggest that the pronunciation for “diqiu” in Mandarin to be “dee-cho” instead of “dee chee-oh” because “qiu” is only one syllable.

    The Cantonese equivalent would be:

    dei.kau dik gwat.tau (day-kau dick gwuht tau) OR
    dei.kau ge gwat.tau (day-kau geh gwuht tau)

    The second one is more colloquial.

  5. The Swedish translation on the page is wrong. It lacks the ring above the ‘å’ in “på” and it translates to ‘bone(s) on earth’ which I don’t think is what Daniel was looking for. I came up with two translations to choose from:

    – jordens ben /ˈjʊrdɛns beːn/ (yoor-dens behn) ‘the earth’s bone(s)’
    – ben från jorden” /beːn frɔn ˈjʊrdɛn/ (behn fron yoor-den) ‘bone(s) from the earth’

    The word “ben” is both singular and plural. The ‘e’ is pronounced longer and more closed than in the name Ben though not as closed as the ‘ee’ in been.

  6. Polish: kości ziemi

    (though that sounds much odder in Polish than the English equivalent to my non-native ears).

    Esperanto: la ostoj de la tero or l’ostoj de la tero (more poetic)

    Hungarian : a föld csontjai (literally the earth’s bones, it exists in google, I won’t vouch for how idiomatic it may be)

  7. sorry about skipping pronunciation notes

    the Polish isn’t really different enough from the the other slavic languages to worry with

    esperanto : oj = oy, pronounce the rest like Spanish or Italian and you’ll be fine

    Hungarian : ö as in German, cs = English ch, tj = t in tune (british) but longer, a = au in caught and ai is very close to oy (but the two vowels are more equal in length)

  8. Tamil: ‘bhumiyin elumbugal’ (bhoomiyin elumbuhaL*)

    *’-L’ is a retroflex pronounced by curling the tip of the tongue back so that it makes contact with the palette near the back of the throat..

  9. French : les os de la terre (lay zoh duh lah teh-ah)
    – John A : you must pronounce the s of ‘les’ in front of a vowel
    – the translation on the google page is wrong (lacks the article ‘la’)
    Latin : the translation is also wrong – should be : ossa terrae – genitive of terra
    (pronounced : ossah terray)
    German : also a wrong translation – should be : (die) Knochen der Erde
    Italian : should be : le ossa della terra (same lack of article as in French)
    Modern Greek : (ta) kókkala tis yis (pronounced as written)
    Norwegian : similar to the Swedish translation by Arakun : ‘jordens ben’ (yourdens behn) or ‘ben fra jorden’ (behn frah yourden)
    Icelandic : should be ‘bein jarðar’ (not ‘jaroar’) – (pronounced : bain yarthar – th as in
    English ‘the’)

  10. Sanskrit: asthi prtivyaah (uhs-tee pr-tee-wyahh)

    The r is a vocalic r. The h at the end is a sort of voiced h sound.

    Latin: ossa terrae (ohs-sah teh-rye)

  11. The Dutch spelling (and its pronunciation) on the list is slightly incorrect.
    It is: “beenderen van de aarde”.
    Syllables “BEEN” and “AAR” are stressed.

  12. i´m a speaker of Catalan but Gomez has already provided the translation.

    basque: lurrearen hezurrak (that would be The bones of the earth. Bones of earth -or earthly bones- would translate as lur hezurrak or lurrezko hezurrak, if I´m correct)

  13. Corrections welcome:

    Ket (ket): атәннаңә (тига) баңка; IPA /atənnaŋə (tiγa) baŋka/.
    Nivkh (niv): мив(ык) ӈыньфку; IPA /miv(ɨk) ŋɨɲfku/.
    Yakut (sah): буордаах уҥуох; IPA /buoɾdaax uŋuox/.
    Northern (Tundra) Yukaghir (ykg): лукуд-амун; IPA /lukud-amun/.
    Nenets (yrk): лы’ ё; IPA /lɨʔ ʲo/.

  14. The comment about the Swedish is correct. “Jordens ben” would be better, and it would be the same in Danish (albeit with a different pronunciation).

  15. Addendum on the Sanskrit: the first word is pronounced uhs-tih (last sound like the i in bit), not uhs-tee. That’s what I get for looking at a bunch of different transliteration systems all in quick succession…

  16. I also agree that the Swedish should be “Jordens ben”. I believe that the Latin should be “ossa terrae” (not “Ossa Terra” as on the website). I’m not fluent in Finnish, but I think that it is “luut maan” (pronounced as spelled).

  17. The Japanese (and Mandarin for that matter) translation doesn’t ring well with me

    Aesthetically I think you’d rather have

    土の骨 tuti no hone (tsuchi no hone[depending on how you like to romanise])

    “chikyuu no hone” is really more “bones of the globe”, certainly it means Earth but the feeling is completely wrong

  18. Maybe “cnámha an talaimh”/”cnámha na talún” would be more appropriate for Irish? Depends on what exactly he means by Earth!

  19. Tamazight (north africa):
    ixsan n tmurt (x = spanish j or german ch, a = french è or german ä, u = french ou or english oo)

  20. The meaning of the phrase is clear from the poem at the link. (Click on ‘Bones Of Earth’ above ‘Chorus of Speakers Text’.)

    The pronunciation given for terre in French is not really accurate (teh-ah). Something like ‘teh-rrh’ would be more accurate, with an explanation that the ‘rrh’ is pronounced in the back of the mouth.

  21. Occitan: Los òsses de la tèrra. (looz OSSez deh la TEH-rroh)
    Provençal dialect of Occitan: Leis òsses de la tèrra. (leez OSSeh deh la TEHrrhoh) Same explanation as for French that ‘rrh’ is pronounced in the back of the mouth.
    Pyrenean Gascon dialect: Eths òsses dera tèrra. (edz OSSez dero TEHrro [or] edz OSSuhz deruh TERRuh)

  22. Xhosa: amathambo ehlabathi (amaT’HAHMbo eh-thlaBAHt’hee) (t’h means to pronounce the ‘th’ as a ‘t’ with a puff of air after, like at the beginning of words in English, and not as the English ‘th’ in ‘thin’. The ‘thl’ in the second word stands for a sound very similar to ‘ll’ n Welsh, i.e. something lik’e ‘th’ and ‘sh’ rolled together and pronounced on the side of the mouth like ‘l’.)

    Tagalog: mundóng mga butó (moonDONG mang-a booTOH)

  23. The German needs to be corrected as well, it should read:
    “Gebeine der Erde” (“Erde” is not masculine but feminine, i.e., takes “die”, which in the genitive becomes “der”.)
    “Knochen” also means “bones”, but sounds strange in this context. I’d talk about “knochen” when the emphasis is on individual bones, “Gebeine” when they somehow belong together (as is the case in a skeleton). Thus “ein paar Hühnerknochen” (a few chicken bones”, yet “Die Gebeine einer Leiche” (the bones of a corpse)

  24. To Chris Miller :
    I’m a Frenchman, Chris, and I could agree with you that the French r is pronounced in the back of the mouth (it is called ‘uvular’), but there are several varieties of r in our language, and it is not always so intrusive as your transcription ‘rrh’ suggests.
    At the end of a word after a vowel, it’s not very intrusive in fact, and for me, the
    transcription ‘teh-ah’ is not so bad, although it should be a bit more consonantic, but not so strong.

  25. The Hebrew should be corrected to ” ‘atzamot ha’olam ” or ” ha’atzamot shel ha’olam “

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