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Kurdistan's Joan Baez Sings in Armenian

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#1 Yervant1


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Posted 31 December 2014 - 09:39 AM

Kurdistan's Joan Baez Sings in Armenian

By Edwina Charles, BA (Phil), BSc Hon (Psych), London, 17 December 2014

Many are the classically-trained opera singers who sing in languages
which are not their mother tongue. But rare is the 'foreign' singer
whose articulation is as good as that of the native speaker's, and
even rarer the person whose command of the foreign tongue surpasses
that of some native speakers.

Aygűl Erce, the Kurdish folk singer based in London, seems--I am
assured by Prof. Hovhanness I. Pilikian, an Armenian
philologist--enunciates in Armenian better than most Western

This is not surprising as Prof. Pilikian had recognized the talent of
Ms. Erce (classically trained as an opera-singer) and had recently
taken her under his wing, and translated into literary Armenian (in a
way that is understood by Eastern and Western Armenians) one of Ms.
Erce's famous songs, originally in a double version of Kurdish and
Turkish (They Stole My Years Away).

The professor's musically fitting translation is a glorious mixture of
both literary Armenian dialects. For example, "Yess hakin em vznots-s"
(I am wearing my scarf/necklace) in grammatical form is in Eastern
Armenian, but perfectly legible to Western Armenians, with the added
ambiguity of the scarf meaning necklace as well. There are also
magnificent puns in the line "Vostikanner@ ints bantetsin" (the police
{also soldiers} jailed {but also killed/murdered} me). S-bannel echoes
(the sound from the two words murder, kill).

Apolitical Pop

The de-politicization of the pop world by the American ruling elite
over several decades has succeeded in inventing a fantasy drug-fueled
world of no more than androgynous male singers usually singing in
Beatles-type falsetto, and female pop divas with lyrics emptied of
serious content. Gone are the days when Bob Dylan and Joan Baez could
raise global consciousness against the war in Vietnam and topple
American authorities.

Idolizing Joan Baez as an artist, Ms. Erce's bonus value is that she
is preserving and modernizing Ms. Baez' tradition of writing
politically humanitarian protest songs, shaming the evildoers of the
world, and displaying compassion for the underdog, the unfairly
abused, and the masses lacking social justice, oppressed by brutal

And here is her best hitherto--PuÅ?e (Scarf)--about a young and
innocent (presumably Kurdish) university student, waiting at a bus
stop to go to university and instead, the 'Americanized' brutalized
genocidal Turkish police arrest him, beat him up with batons, and
throw him in jail, all because he happens to wear the Palestinian-type
scarf worn by the Intifada youth ... The Kurdish student is put on
trial, as in Kafka's novel, never knowing why. His university cut off,
his dreams of a career destroyed. For wearing a Palestinian-style

The story is true, and was reported in the Turkish press. It inspired
Ms. Erce to her most melodious and easily remembered, heart-breaking

Prof. Pilikian seems to have coached Ms. Erce, working meticulously on
her Armenian enunciation, but especially musically on aselective
translation that takes into account the complexity of the song's
political themes and their evocative semantic dimensions, frequently
rendering explicit what is implicit in the original. For example, by
describing the scarf with a single word ("Palestinian"), Prof.
Pilikian has linked the struggles of the two oppressed peoples, whose
lands are conquered by the oppressors: Kurdistan by the Turks, and
Arab Palestine by the Israelis.

Two extremely rich moments in the narrative occur when Prof. Pilikian
contextually vibrates with a single word several socio-political
layers of references: "Anonk ints voghchagizetsin" (they--the brutal
genocidiers--who holocausted me", referring to the Holocaust, and in
the main refrain of the song--"O yaman, yaman, yaman". Mourning in his
cell, the young student remembers his mother ("Oi mama-s, mama-s,
mama-s), apologizing to his mother for causing her grief, while
expressing longing for her maternal love and warmth.



Aygűl Erce and Joan Baez

"It was not at all difficult to work with Ms. Erce", Prof. Pilikian
said. "She is pitch-perfect--rare even among experienced
opera-singers. A fount of melodious harmonies, her lyrics are always
deeply significant, highly political, profoundly compassionate and
humanitarian. Her musical phrasing is smooth and tuneful, richly and
memorably tuneful. In other words, a second Joan Baez. No wonder the
legendary Ms. Baez is Ms. Erce's ideal and idol. I was very pleased
when on a recent appearance of Ms. Baez in London, Mark Spector, Ms.
Baez' agent performed the impossible miracle: Upon my recommendation,
he arranged for the star to meet her young acolyte, hence this most
beautiful sisterly picture."

Ms Erce is so pleased with her work with Prof. Pilikian that she said
she already feels like an ... Armenian and that she is almost certain
she must have had an Armenian grandmother. She knows her husband does.
Indeed her Kurdish husband had discovered some time ago that he had an
Armenian grandmother, like many Kurds nowadays re-discovering their
Armenian origins.

"In today's Turkey," said Prof. Pilikian, "so many Turks and Kurds
have had the courage to come out of the woodworks and claim their
part-Armenian heritage. It has become almost trendy to claim an
Armenian connection... And imagine, Talaat Pasha, the Ottoman Minister
of the Interior with Enver and Jemal who planned and organized the
genocide of two million Armenians...Talaat who had bragged to the
American Ambassador Henry Morgenthau that he was determined to leave
only a single Armenian, for a taxidermist, to stuff it for a museum
as a sample of the race. The proto-Nazi must be turning in his grave
hearing of several million modern Turks being proud of their Armenian
grandmothers--almost a 'new race' I call Armeno-Turks. History shall
never be on the side of genocidiers."

Lyrics of Aygul Erce's Song PuÅ?e
Translated into Armenian by Professor Hovhanness I. Pilikian

Eem Vzno-tz-e(h)

Ba-gh eh ot-e(h) aissor
Yess hakin em Vzno-ts-e(h)-s
Otobiuss-e(h) che(h)kav jamin
Yess ch-hassa hamalsaran

Vostikanner-e(h) in-ts bante(h)-ts-in
Vzno-ts-s getin nete(h)-ts-in
Vzno-ts-s Pa-gh-estin-ian
Ou-zeh-ts-in giank-s p-ja-ts-neh-l

O yaman, yaman, yaman
O yaman, yaman, yaman,
Oi mamas, mamas, mamas
Ou-zeh-ts-in giank-s p-ja-ts-neh-l

Anonk ints voghjakizeh-ts-in
Go-gh-ts-an giankiss tarinere(h)
Giankiss jame(h)re(h) vatne(h)-ts-in
Hamalsaran-s ve(h)rja-ts-ou-ts-in

Yev Yess ch-ou-ne(h)m patas-kh-an
Te(h) in-ts he(h)t in-ch patah-e(h)-ts
Anonk in-ts dataran han-ts-ne(h)-ts-in
Arran-ts im han-ts-ank-e(h) passtel-ou

O yaman, yaman, yaman
O yaman, yaman, yaman,
Oi mamas, mamas, mamas
Ou-zeh-ts-in giank-s p-ja-ts-neh-l

PuÅ?i (Kurdish)PUÅ?Ä° (Turkish)Scarf (English)
Hewa pir sare îroHava cok soguk bugunThe weather is cold today
Min puÅ?îya xwe giredaTaktim yine PusimiI wore my scarf called PuÅ?i
Otobus jî nema hatOtobuste gelmedi
Dereng mam ji dibistanê xweGec kaldim okulumaThe bus did not arrive on time
and I was late for my Uni
Xistin zindane XistinTiktilar iceriye
Avêtin puÅ?îya min erdêAttilar Pusimi yereSuddenly, the Police put me in prison
Qey min puÅ?î gredayîPusi takmisim diyeThey threw my PuÅ?i on the floor
Å?ewitandin biqesdanîYaktilar bile bile
Because I wore a large scarf
Oy eman eman emanOy aman aman amanThey wanted to ruin my life on purpose
Oy eman eman emanOy aman aman aman
Å?ewitandin dayê emanOy aman yaktilar anamThey did ruin my life indeed
Salên min dizîn emanYillarimi caldilarAi yaman yaman yaman

Ciwanîya min dest diçeGencligim gidiyor eldenAi yaman yaman yaman
Dibistana min zu qetîyaOkulum bitti erkenAi yaman they burnt me alive
Ewa ku serê min hatBasima gelenlereThey stole my years away
manayek Hên nikaribumBir anlam veremeden
Dadgehê ava kirine My Life's time is wasted
Cezayê min birîneMahkemeyi kurmuslarMy Uni is over
Çi govan heye çi selminCezamida kesmisler
Salên min dizîne emanNe tanik var ne delilAnd I really have no answer
Yillarimi calmislarAs to what happened to me
Xistin zindane Xistin
Avêtin puÅ?îya min erdê They put me on trial
Qey min puÅ?î gredayî They sentenced me
Å?ewitandin biqesdanî Without any evidence of what my guilt was

Oy eman eman eman
Oy eman eman eman
Å?ewitandin dayê eman
Salên min dizîn eman





Aygűl Erce and Joan Baez

Edited by Yervant1, 31 December 2014 - 09:42 AM.

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