It is all very well to be able to write books, but can you wiggle your ears?

Sitting in the Dschungel

Not a Bowie fan. Not really, anyway. I like his new tune though. I’m sure I won’t be the first person to say that it reminds me of Johnny Cash’s Hurt. Now I am a Johnny Cash fan. Hurt – a Trent Rezner (Nine Inch Nails) song – encapsulated something that Cash had carried around with him for far too long. The song, and the performance,  creaks with the wisdom and  pain of long life. It sings reflectively of reget and acceptance. It’s a very beautiful thing.

Bowie’s new song does the same, I think. But here’s the thing about it. I keep listening to the line, “Sitting in the Dschungel/ On Nürnberger Straße”, and particularly to the word Dschungel.

You don’t need to be bilingual to guess that it translates as jungle. I don’t speak German, and it’s not a language I’m especially fond of. I prefer the rythms and melodies of latin languages. But dschungel is beautiful. Maybe it’s because it sounds so almost like jungle, but isn’t. You know, maybe it’s the weirdness of it. Maybe Germans would like the sound of the word jungle in the same way.

But what’s fascinating is how a word – a sound even – in and of itself can be a thing of great beauty.

One comment on “Sitting in the Dschungel

  1. dylanhearn
    January 15, 2013

    I agree. I worked in Germany for four years and loved it when I bought Jungle Book for my little boy and found Dschungel Buch on the cover. I’m not an expert but I take it that Jungle is an imported word into the German language, and as they pronounce “J” as “Y”, they needed a way of producing the sound.
    As an aside, the song bare necessities has completely different words and meaning in German, rather than as a literal translation, all about making choices. Very nice it is too!

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This entry was posted on January 10, 2013 by in Lyrics, Poetry, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , .
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