“VERDE, QUE TE QUIERO, VERDE.”
“Skebgezo, gmenwénmen, skebgezo.”
“Green, I want you, green.”
Potawatomi is an oral language meaning that it has only been until (relatively) recently that a dictionary using English has been made available to people like me who just want to learn the language because it sounds beautiful. To complicate things there are both Southern and Northern dialects that have their own vocabulary. I live in the north but my on-line language classes are from a southern band (Citizen Nation) who, logically, use southern terms. Today I am struggling over how to say green in Potawatomi in the context of the first line of Federico Garcia Lorca’s poem, Romance Sonambulo. “Verde, que te quiero, verde.” In Potawatomi the world is broken up into things that are animate (all that which is living, all which is spiritual, etc.) and inanimate (man-made things, etc.) The green that Lorca addresses (verde) embodies both hopeful and thwarted desire. I’ve always seen it as something otherworldly and alive. Animate green. One Potawatomi word-list I found on-line from Wisconsin says that green is, “eshkebok.” I liked that, since I could rhyme it with sleepwalk which plays nicely with the title of Lorca’s poem (Ballad of the Sleepwalker). However a different word list (this one from Oklahoma) says that green is, “skebgezo.” Perhaps it’s that regional difference I don’t really understand yet? Perhaps one is animate and the other not? I don’t know. The frustration of learning by oneself is that there is no one to correct my errors as I go along. Que te quiero (how I want you) is easier since I could find the actual phrase in Potawatomi in several sources. It is: “gmenwénmen.” I’m not at a place in my studies where I can keep translating the poem but one day I will. One day I will translate all of Lorca’s work and a brand new world will open up, just like that. I am endlessly excited to see a new world.