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How to translate 'lowlands low'

DigiTrad:
SAILING IN THE LOWLANDS LOW


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Sailing in the Lowlands Low (P J McCall) (6)
Lyr Req: Lowlands Low (5)
The Lowlands, Low (14)
Lyr Req: The Lowlands Low (from the Clydesiders) (4) (closed)


Roberto 14 Nov 10 - 10:23 AM
giles earle 14 Nov 10 - 10:56 AM
dick greenhaus 14 Nov 10 - 11:56 AM
kendall 14 Nov 10 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Donal 14 Nov 10 - 09:46 PM
GUEST,squeezer 15 Nov 10 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,BostonBlackie 17 Nov 10 - 08:50 PM
Amos 17 Nov 10 - 10:29 PM
Arnie 18 Nov 10 - 06:30 AM
MGM·Lion 18 Nov 10 - 06:38 AM
MGM·Lion 18 Nov 10 - 07:36 AM
alex s 18 Nov 10 - 07:41 AM
Noreen 18 Nov 10 - 09:36 AM
Bob the Postman 18 Nov 10 - 09:46 AM
Les from Hull 18 Nov 10 - 11:16 AM
Amos 18 Nov 10 - 11:19 AM
Bob the Postman 19 Nov 10 - 11:13 AM
Brian Peters 19 Nov 10 - 12:58 PM
doc.tom 19 Nov 10 - 03:22 PM
Herga Kitty 19 Nov 10 - 04:20 PM
Roberto 20 Nov 10 - 01:46 AM
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Subject: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: Roberto
Date: 14 Nov 10 - 10:23 AM

In different versions of The Golden Vanity, we have lines such as "Down in the Lowlands low" "By the Lowlands low" "As we sail by the Lowlands low" or, without "lowlands", but with "low" ("As she sailed upon the low and lonesome low"), etc. Similar lines in the shanties "Lowlands" and "Lowlands Low". And then we have the "Lowlands of Holland". How would you translate such verses in another language? With references to the Netherlands, or to the vast surface of the sea, or what else? Thanks in advance. R


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: giles earle
Date: 14 Nov 10 - 10:56 AM

Well, the OED reckons the Netherlands, the relevant entry being:

b.A.2.b pl. The Low Countries.

   c 1685 in Roxburghe Ballads (Ballad Soc.) (1887) VI. ii. 421 And it is called the Sweet Trinity, And was taken by the false Gallaly, sailing in the Low-lands.    1923 G. B. Harrison Shakespeare's Fellows iii. 100 Between his service in the Lowlands and the success of Every Man in his Humour, 1598, he had tried acting.    1961 T. Henrot Belgium 28 Some fifteen Spanish grandees were named successively governors of the Spanish Low Lands.


Of course, whether you invariably believe every word in the OED is another matter...


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Nov 10 - 11:56 AM

Probably Netherlands and nearby waters. Hugill once said that the phrase
was adapted to other songs because it sings well.


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: kendall
Date: 14 Nov 10 - 12:31 PM

One version even has the BABARY PIRATES in the low land sea..unlikely.


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: GUEST,Donal
Date: 14 Nov 10 - 09:46 PM

Perhaps not so unlikely.
See here


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: GUEST,squeezer
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 10:35 AM

They were based on Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel.


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: GUEST,BostonBlackie
Date: 17 Nov 10 - 08:50 PM

Roberto -

I read in another thread you have mp3 from That She Blows you offered to share. I would love to have them. I have been separated from that album for >20 years, but still can hear it.


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: Amos
Date: 17 Nov 10 - 10:29 PM

The lowlands are presumed to be the waters of the coast of Holland, They are called that because much of the shoreline is near sealevel and lower inland--hence the dikes.


AFAIK.

A


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: Arnie
Date: 18 Nov 10 - 06:30 AM

'Where the lowlands of Holland by the rising sun show, then it's down on the quay we will go.' From the song Life on a Serviceman's Pay. Can't recall who sang it now, but it may have been the Teeside Fettlers or Gentleman Soldier?


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Nov 10 - 06:38 AM

There is also of course the much-sung song "The Lowlands of Holland" [which have 'parted my love and me'; or often, regrettably ungrammatically, 'my love and I', necessary for the rhyme with 'until the day I die'!]

~M~


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Nov 10 - 07:36 AM

Addendum to above: Child calls The Lowlands Of Holland, "Bonny Bee Hom", whatever that means. His #92.

~M~


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: alex s
Date: 18 Nov 10 - 07:41 AM

Arnie - Bob Fox has sung this. Was it written by Graeme Miles?


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: Noreen
Date: 18 Nov 10 - 09:36 AM

The shores of old blighty


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 18 Nov 10 - 09:46 AM

None of this discussion is helping Roberto much.

Many versions of "Golden Vanity" come from an oral tradition where the original Dutch connotations of "lowlands" have been forgotten. Versions derived from Appalachia, for instance, may have passed through several generations of singers who were completely ignorant of the sea and sea-faring and for whom references to the Netherlands would have been as fantastic as references to Xanadu or Cockayne. I think that those singers would have taken "lowlands" to refer to the vast, empty prairie-like qualities they imagined the sea to have. On the other hand, with versions handed down in a British seaport town, the singers probably always thought of "lowlands" as referring to the waters near Holland and may even have referred the events of "Golden Vanity" to a particular chapter in Britain's long confrontation with Spain and its possessions in the Low Country.

So my response to the question in the initial post is that I would prefer a translation which retains some allusion to the Netherlands but if a reference to the vastness of the sea works better in the verses the translator is making then this would be perfectly acceptable.


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: Les from Hull
Date: 18 Nov 10 - 11:16 AM

From what we are saying here, I personally think that Stan was right and that 'Lowlands low' became a phrase that was attatched to many songs. So, Roberto, it seems that translating it accurately shouldn't matter too much. It's almost like translating fol-de-rol-de-rido. That's what I think anyway.


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: Amos
Date: 18 Nov 10 - 11:19 AM

A likely area in which to encounter the Spanish enemy. The Turkish enemy, not so much.

Not to be contrary or anything but perhaps it should be translated as the "high seas".


A


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 11:13 AM

I'm thinking that the frequently encountered "Turkish enemy" acquired his fez while being folk-processed from an original "Spanish enemy". Tied in with this process is the confusion around whether the enemy ship was a galleon, a galley, or even a galilee. But I suppose all this has been thoroughly discussed elsewhere on Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 12:58 PM

Just to confuse things further, 'The Lowlands of Holland' has been interpreted variously as referring to Brazil, the West Indies (or possibly Dutch East Indies) and - according to Wikipedia - Australia, (which was once known as New Holland).

It's a while since I looked into it, but some Scots versions of the song have the young man equipping his own ship for an expedition to New Holland, which is described as "a barren place" ? where, nonetheless, sugar cane and wine are plentiful.


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: doc.tom
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 03:22 PM

I don't understand - the question was about the Lowlands Low (etc.) and nothing about Netherlands or Holland (Yes, I know the Lowlands of Holland were the Dutch East Indies "where the sugar cane do grow"). For a guide to translation, I would have thought you took the Lowlands Low as BEING the lonesome sea - after all , there's not much land lower!
TomB


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 04:20 PM

Would like to clarify (because it was only cryptically referred to in earlier posts) that "the shores of Old Blighty" and "life on a serviceman's pay" are both from the Graeme Miles song.

The Low Country was the part of Europe largely below sea level that was the cockpit for the prolonged dustup between Lutherans and Catholics during the Reformation....

Kitty


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Subject: RE: How to translate 'lowlands low'
From: Roberto
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 01:46 AM

Thanks. I've opted for a solution like the one suggested by Bob the Postman. I've chosen three versions of the ballad, for two of them, the British ones, I'll make a reference to the Netherlands (the first is the version in the Penguin Book of English Folk Song and the second is the one sung by Johnny Doughty). The third is that sung by the Carter Family: I'll evoke the loneliness and vastness of the sea. Les from Hull is also right, but it is a pity to make the line just a nonsense rhyme, loosing what it hints at.


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