Samita ASBL

The Dhamma in one’s own language

The metta sutta in Saarland: Es Metta-Sutta

Was de Buddha iwwer die Liebe gesad hat

Das do soll ma mache,
wemma verstann hat, was gudd is,
un wemma de Wää zum Friede kennt:
Ma soll wisse, wie ma ebbes anpackt, un soll offrichtig sin,
soll grad eraus und sanft schwätze,
soll bescheiden sin un net engebillt,
zufriede un leicht froh se mache,
soll sich net zuviel Pflichte offlade un von genügsamer Art sin.
Friedlich un ruhig soll ma sin, un weise un geschickt,
net stolz oder fordernd.
Ma soll aach net es Klänschde mache,
was weise Mensche tadele würde.
Ma soll wünsche: Froh un in Sicherheit solle se sin―
dass doch alle Läwewese glicklich wäre!
Was es aach fer Läwewese gäbt:
Ob se stark sin oder schwach, kens werd ausgelosst,
die große un mächdische, die mittlere, die korze oder kläne,
die wo ma sien kann un die unsichtbare,
die wo nah un die wo weit ewegg läwe,
die wo schon gebor sin un die wo of e Geburt zusteiere―
dass doch alle Läwewese glicklich wäre!
Nimmand soll jemand anneres hinergehn
oder irgend e Läwewese in irgend änem Zustand verachde.
Nimmand soll aus Ärjer oder Unwille
annere Schade wünsche.
So wie e Mudder ihr Kind,
ihr änzisches Kind mit ihrem Läwe beschützt,
so soll ma mit eme grenzelose Herz
alle Läwewese umfasse;
ma soll Freindlichkät iwwer die ganz Welt ausstrahle:
no owwe zum Himmel,
no unne in die Tiefe,
un ganz ronderum ohne Grenze,
frei von Hass oder Unwille.
Ob ma steht oder geht, sitzt oder leit,
solang ma net schläfrig is,
soll ma das in Erinnerung behalle.
Es heischt, das wär e erhabenes Läwe.
Wemma sich net an falsche Vorstellunge klammert,
e reines Herz hat un klar sieht,
wemma dezu von sinnlichem Verlange frei is,
werd ma nimmeh in der do Welt gebor.

—Sutta Nipata 1.8

Doing this translation had some unexpected effect on me: I really felt the text is resonating with me on a much deeper level than in any other language I’ve read it in so far. Saarland has been my very first language, my mother tongue, what I’ve grown up with. And it resonates much deeper with the emotional part of my being than anything else. Reading my translation out loud I felt this is the way to naturally understand its meaning. And so I can most deeply appreciate why the Buddha encouraged people to learn the Dhamma in their own language!

Therefore: Thank you so much, Venerable @Vimala, for this suggestion!*

(*This translation was made in reply to this challenge.)

Saarland is actually a spoken language, not a written one. As soon as we go to school and start writing, the very first thing they try to teach us is real, ‘proper’ German—I say ‘try’, because hardly any Saarlander manages to learn proper German ever in their lives. Even Erich Honecker, head of state of the GDR, was always recognizable as a Saarlander by his pronunciation (not that he’s one we’ve been particularly proud of… ).

As it is a spoken language there is no official orthography for Saarland. Actually there are a number of authors who started writing in this language over the last decades; but the first texts published were mostly joke texts, like little booklets describing all the peculiarities of the language that seem strange or funny to other Germans. But there are also some more serious writers, probably not taken all too seriously by the audience, that is to say there’s a limited number of readers. I also didn’t keep track with what they’ve published, so I don’t know whether or not there is some agreement as to orthography.

Given this background, translating the metta sutta into Saarland has been quite a challenge. Especially I had to get over the idea that I’m going to translate into a joke language. As some authors who write joke books in Saarland seem to compete for making up the weirdest kinds of spelling (so that it becomes increasingly difficult to figure out how a word should be pronounced), I tried to make some compromises between capturing every nuance in the differences in pronunciation between German and Saarland and keeping the text readable.

Doing this work sheds a completely new light on this my mother tongue: Usually it has kind of the taste of not being fit for those things that really matter in life; that it’s just for jokes and children’s stuff. Having made a translation of the metta sutta in Saarland now gives the language a new value for me, makes it more meaningful. When reading my translation out loud there occurred the thought that with this even my mother might be able to catch a little glimpse of the Dhamma… who knows!

May this translation be beneficial to many beings!

I’m still adding an audio file for the pronunciation:

(By Anagarika Sabbamitta)