A Low’s Pentathlon analysis of translations of Estonian songs in the Eurovision Song contest



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Tartu Ülikool


The translation of song lyrics is one of the more complex fields of translation. While translations of song lyrics are relatively rare compared to other types of translation, one of the common occurrences of them is in the Eurovision Song Contest. Using English translations provided by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), this study aims to identify issues and notable aspects of translating songs from Estonian to English. The translations are analysed using Low’s (2005) Pentathlon Principle and compared to the musical notation to reveal how the aspects of singability, sense, naturalness, rhythm and rhyme influence the performability of a translation. The EBU translations are then compared to sung translations to show how different approaches can produce considerably different results in terms of singability. The results of the analysis are used to exemplify how aspects like stress and rhythmic match have a considerable effect on the singability of a translation and how semantic flexibility can allow the translator to work within the limitations posed by the musical aspects of melody and rhythm.



Low Pentatlon