Thursday, February 11, 2010

Biung Wang - Xinfeng (Belief)

I have a problem with this song, namely, that I have found three different versions of the lyrics, one plainly wrong (not enough syllables), two plausible and differing only in near-homonyms. This is a classic example of somebody somewhere writing down the lyrics by ear, which is even less accurate in Chinese than in other languages. Trouble is, I don't know who has the right lyrics.

Secondly I have zero clue what "hudas" means. When I first heard the song by ear, of course as a native English speaker, I thought he was singing "who does". I Googled, but all I'm finding is surnames and stuff about Tagalog. Biung is a Bunun, not a Han, so my best guess is that it means something in the Bunun language.

*googles in Chinese*

Aha! It means "長輩" in Chinese, which means that it means "elders" in English. Makes sense in context of the lyrics. MYSTERY SOLVED.

I'm not going to try to translate the other Bunun in the song. The Formosan language group is fascinating and I'd love to learn more about it, but I know pretty much zip, and I'm not going to pretend like I know more than I do. You should read the Wikipedia article to learn something about their culture--I think it definitely has a bearing on this song's meaning. My own interpretation is that Biung seems to have frustration at both his own Bunun culture and the greater Taiwanese culture which systematically suppressed the Bunun for so long--the kind of frustration you only have with things that are precious to you. I would warn against any anti-religious interpretation, however, because I've read interviews with him, and he's said his two most important beliefs are his beliefs in tribal culture and in the Christian religion (the Chinese word could also be translated as "convictions").

I actually have this album but I don't know where the case is. I rip my cds when I get them and pack the case and actual CD away.

Biung wrote both the lyrics and the melody.

走在街上開始想像walking down the street, beginning to imagine
(穿梭樹林楓葉飄落)(the maple leaves in the forest floating back and forth)
坐在路口仿佛聽見sitting at an intersection, it seems like one can hear
(蟲鳴鳥叫和流水聲)(the insects' cry, the birds' song, and the sound of flowing water)
陽光照着我的側臉the sun shines on my tilted face
(爲何一點也不溫暖)(why isn't it the least bit warm?)
搖曳風中的小米田the millet fields swaying in the wind
(閉上眼睛才能看見)(only with eyes closed can it be seen)
我的腳步越走越慢my footsteps get slower and slower
握着雙手心中祈盼grasping my hands, my heart prays with longing
對着天空放聲呐喊shouting a battle cry to the sky
我的眼淚一直在流my tears are constantly falling
我不知道要怎麽走I don't know which way to go
(親愛的孩子你有你的方向)(dear child, you have your own direction)
狩獵爲何不能生活why can't hunting be a way of life?1
(親愛的孩子森林給你力量)(dear child, the forest gives you strength)
沒有你到底怎麽過just how am I supposed to get by without you?
(親愛的孩子信仰給你希望)(dear child, belief gives you hope)
hudas為何沒有告訴我why didn't the hudas2 tell me?

1. Literally "hunting/why/cannot/life, to live, livelihood". No pronouns, and I'm hesitant to introduce them. Does he mean "why can't I hunt for my livelihood"? Does he mean the Bunun in general? Does he mean that some outside force is forbidding hunting (by law for example), or that hunting itself is no longer feasible to feed a family? It could be any of those meanings.
2. "Elders" in the Bunun language, as I mentioned in the prologue.

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