The Beatles have a number of hits and “Blackbird” is undoubtedly one of their most popular and beautiful songs. Written by Paul McCartney in 1968, the track explores themes of faith and hope. As such, its message has resonated with people all over the world. One of those people touched by the song is Emma Stevens, a member of the Eskasoni First Nation in Nova Scotia, Canada. The 16-year-old student performed a soulful cover of “Blackbird,” with the lyrics translated into the Mi’kmaq language.
The lyrics of “Blackbird” in Mi’kmaq were translated by Katani Julian, a teacher who works in language revitalization. “My language is very different from other ones,” she told WBUR. “There’s a lot of syllables in ours. And there’s a lot of long words that translate into something really easy in English.”
As with any translation, there are words that don't have an exact equivalent in the other language. While a whole phrase may be needed for a single concept, it was also key to follow the rhythm of the song. “I had to really do it very carefully so that I got the message, the original message, across in the Mi’kmaq,” the teacher explains.
Overall, this version of the song has helped to raise awareness about the Mi’kmaq language. Since many young people in the local community didn’t have the opportunity to learn the language, this endeavor was of utmost importance to Stevens and Julian.
“It’s just wonderful to hear it,” the teacher says. “And Mi’kmaq is full of emotions when it’s spoken. You know, when we speak to each other, there’s a lot of emotions that’s conveyed in the words.”
You can listen to this version of “Blackbird” below.
Emma Stevens, a member of the Eskasoni First Nation, performed a soulful cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” with the lyrics translated into the Mi’kmaq language.
h/t: [Open Culture]