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Part of Ascensus Casusque Sigii Sidorum et Aranearum Martis, a project to translate Ziggy Stardust into Latin

Back to StarForward to Ziggy Stardust


Hang Onto Yourself

by David Bowie

Well, she's a tongue twisting storm, she will come to the show tonight
Praying to the light machine
She wants my honey not my money, she's a funky thigh collector
Laying on electric dreams

Well come on, come on, we've really got a good thing going
Well come on, well come on, if you think we're gonna make it
You better hang on to yourself!

We can't dance, we don't talk much, we just ball and play
But then we move like tigers on vaseline
Well the bitter comes out better on a stolen guitar
You're the blessed, we're the Spiders From Mars

Well come on, come on, we've really got a good thing going
Well come on, well come on, if you think we're gonna make it
You better hang on to yourself!

Come on, oh, lay it on!

Well come on, come on, we've really got a good thing going
Well come on, well come on, if you think we're gonna make it
You better hang on to yourself!

Well come on, come on, we've really got a good thing going
Well come on, well come on, if you think we're gonna make it
You better hang on to yourself!

Come on, come on, come on, come on…




Ipse Te Obtine

ab D. Bovio

Hem, tempestas torquens linguae est, ad spectaculum veniet
Ad machinam lucis hac nocte precans
Mellem meum non argentum vult, nam confertrix coxarum est
Somnia viris electrica dat

Hem propera, propera, ibi bonum vero habemus
Hem propera, propera, si ut putas ualeamus
Ipse te obtineas!

Non possumus saltare, non nimis dicimus, sole futuimus moderamurque
Sed inde ut tigribus lubrici movemus
Hem cervisia maius gustat cum lyra aulata
Beatus es, sumus Aranearum Martis

Hem propera, propera, ibi bonum vero habemus
Hem propera, propera, si ut putas ualeamus
Ipse te obtineas!

O propera, o largi!

Hem propera, propera, ibi bonum vero habemus
Hem propera, propera, si ut putas ualeamus
Ipse te obtineas!

Hem propera, propera, ibi bonum vero habemus
Hem propera, propera, si ut putas ualeamus
Ipse te obtineas!

Propera, propera, propera, propera…


Translation Notes

For some reason, despite the fact that just about every line had some slang in it, I was able to keep this reasonable close to the original rhythm. In this case, the slang isn’t used to make the song more compact, just to obfuscate the meaning a bit. So by reducing it to a literal translation of the slang’s meaning, I was able to match it almost syllable for syllable.

In the first line, "twist" in "tongue-twisting storm" was translated with torqueo, which, in addition to meaning "twist," can also mean "torture," "curl," or "wrack." If we assume that the woman in question is the same sort of person (if not in fact the same person) as the woman mentioned in Suffragette City, this makes sense as a word choice.

I moved hac nocte (in this night) from the first line to the second line. While it’s no longer an exact translation, the first line needed the syllables dropped and the second needed them added, so it seemed like an OK choice. In a couple other places in the song, I moved words out of their standard slots to improve the rhythm and flow. The most noticeable is probably the ut in the second line of the chorus, which was originally one word later (a textbook example of a siut clause). But the line was unpleasantly awkward like that, so I changed it.

I couldn’t find a Latin word for "tiger," so I used pardi lubrici, oiled panthers, for "tigers on Vaseline." Of all of the large cats that Latin has words for, I decided that panthers have the same stalking-pouncing-sexual power feel that tigers do. If somebody knows of a Latin word for tiger — and given the scope of the Roman Empire, it seems likely that one exists — I’d like to know what it is.

(That last paragraph is no longer relevant, as jessicapierce reminded me of Panthera Tigris' Latin name. Duh. But I'm leaving the paragraph in, because I think it still shows something about my translation method.)

Working from Pseudo_Intellectual’s definition of "lay on," I translated line 15 using largior, which is a deponent verb meaning "to give lavishly." Think "largesse." Assuming that "lay it on" is a call to give freely, this seems to be a good translation.

One final note is that aulata in line 10 is derived from fero, a verb with some fun participles.

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