I would love to see a transcription / explanation of the lyrics of this song from 1976 by Bembeya Jazz National: Bembeya Jazz National - Sina Mousso (audio) - YouTube
I know that the title refers to co-wives, and that the song is about polygamy, but need help with the lyrics beyond that point.
Particularly this part of the chorus, I’m unsure how best to transcribe it. My mentor Professor Keita sent me this transcription/translation in French:
N’alouw(ô mes mères), Di’ala salouma(je vous dis), sinaya la gwèlèya magni (la rivalité de la polygamie est pénible), a ma silan ni (et effroyable)
I ni ce, Bruce! I’ve added your request to the #requests:request-song-lyrics category, so perhaps someday we’ll get there
In the meantime, I had a look at Professor Keïta’s transcription/translation and I had a listen to the song’s chorus. So, thank you to Keïta-kɛ, because without his initial work, I wouldn’t have been able to hear it correctly.
Here’s what I would propose for standard Latin-based spelling (I have also included a very literal translation for you):
Nalu [OR: N nalu (Keïta proposes this, but I don’t necessarily hear the N)]
Mothers [OR: ‘My mothers’]
N di à lase alu ma
I transmit to you (the following)
Sinaya la gbɛlɛya man ɲi [OR: Sinaya la gbɛlɛya ma ɲa]
The hardship(s) of co-wifehood isn’t good
It is frightful
If you are interested in Maninka spelling in Latin script, the most current reference document is Diané and Vydrin’s 2014 article in Mandenkan.
Hope that is helpful!
Awesome, most appreciated. What would you think of this more idiomatic English translation:
Ladies, let me tell you: problems between co-wives are onerous and frightful
It seems like it could work, except I’d take issue with your use of “problems between co-wives” for sinaya la gbɛlɛya (cf. sinaya ka gɛlɛya in Bambara), which is more literally ‘the difficulty of co-wifehood’.
To me, this could suggest that the chorus is about if/when problems happen to come up in polygamous wifehood situations. But instead I think that that the turn of phrase is actually a more blanket statement about co-wifehood being difficult in a way by nature.