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Traduttore traditore (was: genitive)

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Friday, May 3, 2002, 14:51
Christophe Grandsire scripsit:

> They probably would inverse the annexion, make the "atrocious Parisian patois" > into the "atroce patois de Londres", using French words with English > syntax :))))) . I never saw those stories in French, so I don't know what they > *actually* do (if it was ever translated at all).
Perhaps not; it might be just too hard for delicate French sensibilities to take. :-) But the remedy you suggest would not be translating, it would be over-translating: you would have to change the name of the monarchs from Plantagenet to Capet, e.g., and the whole framework of the conhistory would have to be pulled apart and reassembled. To use an example of Douglas Hofstadter's, when we commission someone to translate a history of France (written in French) into German, we do not expect the translator to make it into a history of Germany! And if he did, we would reject the translation altogether. No, some other solution must be found. Consider this smaller sample, a poem by the 18th century Romantic poet John Keats: 1 Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight, 2 Alone and palely loitering; 3 The sedge is wither'd from the lake, 4 And no birds sing. 5 Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight, 6 So haggard and so woe-begone? 7 The squirrel's granary is full, 8 And the harvest's done. 9 I see a lily on thy brow, 10 With anguish moist and fever dew; 11 And on thy cheek a fading rose 12 Fast withereth too. 13 I met a lady in the meads 14 Full beautiful, a faery's child; 15 Her hair was long, her foot was light, 16 And her eyes were wild. 17 I set her on my pacing steed, 18 And nothing else saw all day long; 19 For sideways would she lean, and sing 20 A faery's song. 21 I made a garland for her head, 22 And bracelets too, and fragrant zone; 23 She look'd at me as she did love, 24 And made sweet moan. 25 She found me roots of relish sweet, 26 And honey wild, and manna dew; 27 And sure in language strange she said, 28 I love thee true. 29 She took me to her elfin grot, 30 And there she gaz'd and sighed deep, 31 And there I shut her wild sad eyes-- 32 So kiss'd to sleep. 33 And there we slumber'd on the moss, 34 And there I dream'd, ah woe betide, 35 The latest dream I ever dream'd 36 On the cold hill side. 37 I saw pale kings, and princes too, 38 Pale warriors, death-pale were they all; 39 Who cry'd--"La belle Dame sans merci 40 Hath thee in thrall!" 41 I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam 42 With horrid warning gaped wide, 43 And I awoke, and found me here 44 On the cold hill side. 45 And this is why I sojourn here 46 Alone and palely loitering, 47 Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake, 48 And no birds sing. ObConlang: if anyone feels like tackling this as a translation exercise, "meads" in line 13 = "meadows", and I am pretty sure that "zone" in line 22 means "belt", as in Latin, though this is not a normal English meaning. Now returning to our theme, what is the woeful French translator to do with line 39? Leave the mildly archaic French alone, in a context of modern French? Translate it into English? If so, with what English words? If Keats could have found appropriate English words, wouldn't he have used them already? Perhaps the phrase should be translated into Occitan? And so on. -- John Cowan <jcowan@...> I amar prestar aen, han mathon ne nen, han mathon ne chae, a han noston ne 'wilith. --Galadriel, _LOTR:FOTR_