Ros Sereysothea was the most famous female singer in Cambodia in the 1960s and early 1970s. Known as the “Golden Voice of the Royal Capital,” she recorded an enormous number of songs and was at the forefront of a vibrant music scene.
Her life was then tragically cut short, like the lives of so many others, during the Khmer Rouge period.
Today I tried to translate the lyrics to one of her songs, “Today I Drank Wine.” It’s my first attempt at translating a Khmer song. I’m not sure if I have it right, but I think I’m close. However, any suggestions for improvement would certainly be appreciated.
I’m linking to three YouTube videos. The first contains the original recording. The second is a karaoke version that has the lyrics. And the third is a recent cover of the song by Dengue Fever.
tgnay nih / khnom jeh nham sra
Today / I learned to drink wine
daoie saa neak naa / daoie saa snaeha
Because of someone / because of a love
snaeha aoie khnom chyy jet
A love that broke my heart
jet khnom khung / min sraveng soh sra
My heart aches / and its not drunk on the wine at all
sra min baan gaa / sraveng snaeha
The wine has no effect / I’m drunk on a love
snaeha kyy jia tnam pul
A love that is a poison.
tgnay ni khnom pleik
Today I am forgetting
pleik rieng haoie gday snae
Forgetting the matter of love
jet bong kyy jia nirieh viec ve
Of your heart that has deceived me
angvaa som snae
Having begged for love
baan haoie doh day
You walked away after you got it
roic bomphleit chyyng
So forget it.
min aoie khung
I’m not going to let myself feel hurt
ba-uh koh mleng dau haoie
If I’ve made a mistake like this
sanae roic pra ngey
Having loved, I’m now carefree
bongjet braan haoie
My heart’s been broken
look aey / mien neak naa saang
But my dear / someone will return [my love].