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TRANSLATING by Diana Der-Hovanessian 1. I was born bilingual but... The Armenian language is the music of my childhood, the sweet taste of everything that was home. It is my lost treasure, halved and bartered; the dream that comes to haunt the English language dream. It is the echo of the ages, the shadow of old giants, but palpable. Yes, we made it. We are part of it, this gift we are letting drift away. 2. Old Words Sometimes it takes five words of buoyant, tensile English to explain one ancient leathery word. Old words lie weighted,glittering for centuries in the sun like brittle stones. And Armenian words have worn thin like old coins, changed, exchanged in vain, gaining a soft patina unmatched except by old monasteries in the rain. Their meanings have grown ironic with a subtle subliminal drone. Take the word for justice, for instance, with its satiric undertones. 3. Custom Words are not lifeless. They live in houses, they grow and they are fed. In Armenia "Dada"is grandmother, the second hovering figure over baby's head. 4. Words Are Made of Breath, larynx, lip and tongue. Print and paper are silent signs of what should be sung. The Arabs say every new language gives the learner an added soul. The Irish say Celtic silence cannot be recast or retold. The Armenians say their language is translated only by the heart. Italians laugh saying music is the translator's taunt, not art. Diana Der-Hovanessian (reprinted from American Scholar winner of the Mary Elinore Smith prize ) -- Diana Der-Hovanessian New England born poet is the author of nine volumes of translations from the Armenian, one from Romanian, and several of her own works including the newly published THE SECOND QUESTION from Sheep Meadow Press