The road to Ti-po-lieh-li

Another acquisition, from the north edge of Victoria: Chinese in Echuca-Moama: A Chronicle 1850's to 1930 [sic] by one Carol Holsworth for the Echuca Historical Society. My copy is signed!

I'm up to 1882; my eyes keep glazing over at the lengthy reports on tariffs and market gardens, but I remain awake thanks to the ongoing adventures of Isabella Ah Kew, an alcoholic white woman who keeps getting arrested and sent to "gaol" for drunkenly abusing a series of Chinese husbands.

Holsworth also includes a copy of an April 1915 article in the Riverine Herald entitled "'Tipperary' in Chinese: 'It's a long, long way to Ti-Po-Lieh-Li'". The lyrics in hanzi (courtesy of "Mr. Ack Goon") and backtranslation are as follows:


This road is far from Ti-po-lieh-li [地波列里],
 We must walk for many days.
This road is far from Ti-po-lieh-li,
 I want to see my lovely girl.
To meet again Pi-ko-ti-li [必各地里],
To see again Lei-ssu Kwei-rh [壘司規兒].
This road is far from Ti-po-lieh-li,
But my heart is already in that place.

(I must confess that I am not confident about 個 there but I'm not sure what else the character as written could be. 回? 伺? The actual character is written like 何 with an extra line below the central square.)

Seems that this translation was doing the rounds in 1915. Even the NY Times has a (poorly) romanized version:

Shigh ko yuan lu tao Ti-po-lieh-li,
 Pi yao ti jih hsing tsou.
Shih ko yuan lu tao Ti-po-lieh-li,
 Yao chien we ngai tzu nu,
Tsai hui Pi-ko-ti-li,
Tsai chien Lei-ssu Kwei-rh,
Shih ko yuan lu tao Ti-po-lieh-li,
Tan wo hsin tsai na-rh.

Popularity factor: 7

Mark S.:

Here it is in Pinyin:
Shì ge yuǎnlù dào Dìbōlièlǐ
bìyào duōrì xíngzǒu
shì ge yuǎnlù dào Dìbōlièlǐ
yào jiàn wǒ ài zhī nǚ
zàihuì Bìgèdìlǐ
zàijiàn Lěisī Guīr
shì ge yuǎnlù dào Dìbōlièlǐ
dàn wǒ xīn zài nàr

The modern Mandarin terms for these appear to be Dìpòléilǐ (蒂珀雷里), Láisītè Guǎngchǎng (萊斯特廣場), and Píkǎdílǐ (皮卡迪里). But I'm sure there are lots of variants out there.

language hat:

I'm not sure why you're translating the fifth and six lines so perversely; they appear to exactly reflect the original, "Goodbye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester Square." (Yes, I'm aware of the literal meaning of zàijiàn.)


Oh, that was in the paper with the Chinese version. I quite agree with you actually; "that place" is particularly unnecessary.

language hat:

Well, duh. Now that I look with both eyes, I see that the translation is inside the quote box. You'll have to excuse me, I hab a bad code.


Am I remembering the song correctly? Isn't the Chinese version missing a syllable in the next-to-last line?


Don't ask me, I only know it in agglutinative languages.

language hat:

Waiter, there's too much gluten in my language.

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