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Quang Le – Dap Vo Cay Dan

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English Translation
Translated by: Gigi

Breaking the Guitar (1)

Breaking the guitar; resenting life, [I] break this guitar (2)
Oh, beloved; oh, beloved! Oh, love; oh, love! (3)
Breaking the guitar, resenting life for being silvery white like lime (4)
[I'm] Enraged at the person who forgot her promise

Breaking the guitar, [I'm] enraged at the girl who loved it
So depressing, so depressing! How can it subside?
Breaking the guitar, [I'm] enraged at the person who exchanged white for black (5)
[I'm] Resenting life's turning events for it's like the turning of a hand (6)

The story of the days that passed: I met a girl
who carried a sorrowful singing voice
She told me, "You should learn the guitar
so that the guitar can accompany me when I sing
for all the days of flowery dreams of our life."

I loved her, so I quickly left for the city
Finding places where I can learn the guitar
After a year, I returned home
but the girl from long ago has left already

I asked around from people to people in the neighborhood finding her
Where is she, where is she? Where is she, where is she?
Someone broke the sad news that she met a famous musician
and started a family with him

I felt a sting of love for her, and then I sobbed out of love for myself
What's left of life? Farewell, guitar!
Breaking the guitar, [I'm] enraged at the person who exchanged white for black
[I'm] Resenting life's turning events for it's like the turning of a hand.

Translation Notes:
(0) All of the words in brackets are not part of the original lyrics. The composer rarely uses "I" in the lyrics since in Vietnamese, you don't have to use "I" all the time if people know that you are the one talking. So the I's in brackets are just there for grammatical reasons. The ones without the brackets are part of the original lyrics.
(1) The Vietnamese title is "Dap Vo Cay Dan". The word "dan" in the title is an ambiguous word. It refers any musical instrument that you only play with your hands (guitar, piano, and other traditional Vietnamese instruments). I just translated to guitar since it is the one that you break by smashing/beating it. That is what the "Dap Vo" part means in the title: "dap" means to smash or beat and "vo" means to break. I used break since it sounds better than "smash/beat."
(2) The verb that the composer uses here is "gian" meaning "to be mad at", "to resent", etc. And throughout the entire song, he uses this verb to express his emotions towards life and the girl. Since it has a different meaning depending on whatever/whoever receiving the verb, I translated into two similar words in English. The composer "resents" life and is "enraged" at the girl who betrayed him.
(3) I wasn't sure how to translated the "Nguoi oi, nguoi oi!" part. Well, "nguoi" means person but he's using it to refer to the girl he loved, so I used the noun "beloved." I did not want to use "love" (person), because the next part "Tinh oi, tinh oi!" he is really referring to "love" (thing).
(4) The "lime" here is not the fruit. It is the chemical lime (calcium oxide), which is a grayish (silver) white, odorless soluble solid. I'm guessing the meaning here is that the composer meant that life is colorless, lacks meaning, and so forth.
(5) That is the literal translation. It is the Vietnamese metaphor "a person exchanging white for black". The "white" here means the composer, his love, etc. while the "black" here means "the famous musician." The girl betrayed the composer's love by marrying the famous musician (who can also provide her a stable lifestyle). In other words, she traded love for security, and in doing so, she betrayed the composer.
(6) That is also the literal translation, and it's a Vietnamese simile. A person can easily turn their hands back and forth (back to palm, palm to back), and life's event can also turn quickly so easily. Life's twisted, turning event is referring to how the composer went to learn the guitar for the girl he loved only to come back to the fact that she didn't wait for him (a slap to the face) and instead married a famous musician (another slap to the face).

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  1. http://youtube.com/watch?v=amxbZI8EaSQ here is the Dap vo cay dan song from mylove QL 🙂

  2. Thank you for translating.

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