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Translating Sicilian dialect

Translating Sicilian dialect

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Translating Sicilian dialect

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  1. Translating Sicilian dialect The case ofCamilleri’s “Montalbano”

  2. Montalbano • Environment (where? when?) • Behaviour (what?) • Values and beliefs (why?) • Identity (who?) • Identity 2: Sicilianity

  3. Montalbano • Regional association: Sicilian character • Regional location: Working in Sicily • Regional culture: Experiencing everyday the Sicilian mentality opposed to his personal Sicilianity Aim of this lesson: to see what changes and what remains in the translation from Italian into English

  4. L’odore della notte (Sellerio 2001)transl. Stephen Sartarelli:The Smellof the Night (Penguin 2005) • Subtitle:An Inspector Montalbano Mystery is an addition (Katan: “a strategy that makes the frames available to the SC reader equally accessible to the TC reader) Why? • Necessary to indicate the novel is a detective one (the real appeal to the English-speaking readers of that genre, without which the book would not attract the same attention)

  5. Peculiarity: • Extensiveuseofregionalvernacularstrictlylimitedto a precise Western area ofSicily (evenEasternSicilianssometimescannotrecognisethemselves in thatidiomaticlanguage). • Restricteddiscourse community • Camilleri optsfor 3 linguisticchoices: • Siciliandialect • Standard Italian • Sicilian-likeitalian

  6. Examples of Camilleri’s linguistic choices: Observations? • A regionalvarietyofItalianisrendered in Standard English • A typicalSiciliannarratortalkingaboutSiciliancharactersbecomes a non-specifictypical English narrator • The narratorislinguisticallyrepresentativeof a region. Some of the termsusedfortranslation are insteadquiteliteral, losingtheirregionalcharacteristics. • i.e. reminisced (formal English) couldhavebeenreplacedby the lessformalrecalled; moccarocouldhavebecome the more vulgarsnotratherthan the more scientificmucus.

  7. In the translation we have the occasional use of a formal and high register. • Do you consider it a good or bad choice? • Choice not totally out of place as the terms used in Sicilian are quite poetic. • The translator is sensitive in ignoring a common idea according to which speaking Sicilian gives a popular (=belonging to the lower social classes) connotation. • The translator understands that the connotation of the general atmosphere of the situation described, wants to be more culturally authentic than the one usually defined by the use of the dialect.

  8. Can characters be translated? Main character: Brave, good-looking, nonconformist Sicilian inspector. • His Sicilianity can be seen from the very beginning of his speech: “Montalbano sono” • Can this aspect be translated? Linguistic untranslatability? • Transl.: “Montalbano the name”

  9. Cantarella: stupidclerkhavingacquiredhis job bymeansoffriendshipwithlocalpoliticians, heisneverthelessdeeplyhonest. • Heusesanodddirectspeechwith a mixtureofItalian, Sicilian and nonsense. • Three of the characteristicsofhisspeech are pleonasm, false derivations and nonsense neologisms. • Hismostrecurrentsentenceto Montalbano is: • “Vossia di pirsonapirsonalmente è”? • Trans.: “Isthatyourself in person? • Thereis no repetition (pleonasm) Butthischoiceisnotcoherentthroughout the whole text sincelater: • “In pirsonapirsonalmenti” • Trans.: “Poissonally in poison” • The sound issimilarto the Italiancorrespondentutterance, the repetitioniskeptbut the meaningislost.

  10. Mariastella Cosentino • “In tutta Montelusa e provincia c’era però una fimmina ch’era diverso concetto. Una sola, che di nome faceva Cosentino Mariastella. • What’s the important cultural element? • The narrator, in presenting the character, uses the deviceshewoulduse: putting the surnamebefore the name, anhabitofunculturedSouthern people. • Transl. In allMontelusa province therewasone woman however,…. Onlyone, and hernamewasMariastella Cosentino. • Correct English order = loss of the strong nuance of the character background and personality.

  11. Titles • Italiandeferencetowards social status makesit common todefine people bytheirtitle • In English the first way ofidentifyingsomebodyisbyhis personal identityratherthanbyhisrole in society: • “C’è il notaro?” spiò il commissario trasendo. • “Il povero signor notaio…” • Transl. “Is Mr. Carlentinihere?” • “Poor Mr. Carlentini…” • The samehappens with “Professor Tommasino”, whoisgiven maximum respect in the novel: in the English version he loseshistitle and therefore the Italianconnotation: “Thisiswhen Tommasino shows up”. • Target-orientedchoice. In English the titleofreferencecouldbeperceivedas a violationof the pragmatic “maximofquantity” (Grice: “Do notmakeyourcontribution more informative thanisrequired). • The titleCantarellauseswhenaddressingto Montalbano isdottori, a mixtureofItaliandottore and Siciliandutturi. • In the English versionitbecomes ‘chief’, a titlenotportraying the cultural aspectconveyedby Camilleri.

  12. Certain titles are left in in the SL such as the following example: • “Il ragioniere Emanuele Gargano…” • “The ragioniere Emanuele Gargano, a tall, handsome…” • The English false equivalent of ragioniere is ‘accountant’. In Italian it is a title linked to education and profession (it hides his lack of culture by an irrelevant title – cfr. “ragionier Fantozzi”). A tertiary qualified English accountant would not convey the same implied meaning.

  13. Most localised features of Sicilian culture • Food (rarelyevertranslated): • ‘tumazzo caprino’ = tumazzogoatcheese • ‘pasta di mandorla’ = Marzipanpastries(misleadingasmarzipangenerallyreferstoothersweets) • ‘mustazzola’ = mostaccioli (translatednotinto English, butintoItalian) • Mafia (nottranslated) • “… lo stesso effetto della vampata di una lupara” • “… the sameeffectas the blastof a lupara • Other… • ‘speculazione edilizia’ = construction boom (‘construction’ doesnothave the same strong connotationasspeculazione, wellimpressed in the mind ofSiciliansasbeingresponsibleforallarchitecturalhorrorsstillspoiling the beauty ofancientcities)

  14. Narrator’s misogyny • In Camilleri traces of bias against women. Although the translator finds other ways of portraying the story by changing the original expressions, the targets of his words remain women: • “Ma dove voleva andare a parare quel grannissimo cornuto?” • Transl. “What was this goddamn son of a bitch getting at?” • “Agùri e figli mascoli” • Transl. “May you bear only sons”

  15. Provincial habits • “Vinisseccà”, lo guidò la voce della fimmina. Si trovò nel salotto buono. • “Come on up”, the woman’s voice guided. Hefoundhimself in the right living room. • ( the meaningisassociatedwith the Sicilianhabitofhaving a room in which family lives and a rarely-usedroomwhereguests can bereceived and isdifficulttobeunderstood and translated => in Eng. The interpretationisthatthereis a right living room in contrastwith a supposed wrong one!) • Ho avuto una botta di culo incredibile! • I hit the goddamn jackpot • ( the English people love gambling and itiscommonlyassociatedwith fortune)

  16. Anglican vs Catholic: the disappearanceofOur Lady • Some expressions are translatedaccuratelyinto English equivalents: • “Ringraziando la Madonna” • “Thank the Lord” • “Oh, Madunnuzza Santa!” • “Jesus Christ!” • “Matre santa” • “Ohmygod” • “C’è il signori e Quistori che sta facendo come una Maria, dottori” • “What’s wrong isthathishonor the c’mishnerismakinglike a pack ofdemons, Chief! • Some others are left in Italian: • “Maria Santissima, Chief! What a scare I got.”

  17. Sexual vulgarities • Muchof Montalbano’s languageischaracterisedby the useofvulgarsexualexpressions, sometimesaltered in the English versionto a more sanitisedexpression. • “lui di storie di soldi non ci capiva una minchia” • “Hedidn’t understand a damnthingaboutmoneymatters” • “Fora subito dai cabasisi” • “Nowgetouttahere” • “E lei pensa che io sono così coglione da credere a un imbroglione come Gargano?” • “Do youthink I wouldbe so stupidasto trust in a crooklike Gargano?” • The vulgarityisrespected in: • “Non c’è telegiornale che non ti tempesti con la Borsa, il Nasdaq, il Dow Jones, il Mibtel, la Minchiatel” • “Thereisnot a single TV news programthatdoesn’tbombardyou with noiseabout the stock market, the Mibtel, the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq, the Nisdick”

  18. Deletion… • Some parts of the original text have been omitted in the translation, possibly due to the particular relevance and significance they have to Italian/Sicilian culture, which may not find an equivalent in English-speaking culture • Ex. “Continuava a dargli del tu”

  19. Addition • “Quali principiu?” • “What beginning?” she said in dialect • “è la Cinquecento gialla, no? • “It’s the yellow Fiat 500, isn’t it?”

  20. Notes by the translator • In Santarelli’s translation there is a useful appendix of notes explaining some of the most controversial themes • to provide a cultural overview of the context described.: • Food, customary Italian shops (e.g. explanation of the tobacco shop), Sicilian habits and culture, proverbs, references to Italian recent history • At the end of the book not to prevent people from relaxing bt reading a detective story