Off topic: Translating dialects
Thread poster: Marta DEpifanio

Marta DEpifanio
Italy
Local time: 08:48
English to Italian
+ ...
Oct 6, 2018

I am translating something from Italian, specifically Apulian dialect to English. How would you convey the difference between the dialect and italian when translating it? I mean would you use a dialect from another english-speaking country which may be similar to the original one (i.e Can Puglia be considered similar to...Louisiana?) Or would it rather be better to ignore it and give the clearest and most simple translation?

I am curious.
M.


 

Paweł Hamerski
Local time: 08:48
English to Polish
+ ...
It depends upon the purpose but mostly the client. Oct 6, 2018

He decides (unless it is a book and the decisions rest with you).

 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 09:48
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
I don't think so Oct 6, 2018

The dialect is not translatable. Why would a shepherd in Sicily talk like a shepherd of New Zealand in an English translation? Persons talking dialect could use colloquial speech in translation to signal the difference.
As a child I read Huckleberry Finn in German, and Huck's narrative was like an uneducated German person, and Jim's even more so, quite faulty grammar etc. But no-one used any German dialect. It's quite a delicate task in translation I think.


 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:48
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Discuss this with the author Oct 6, 2018

This is far from straightforward. I get the impression that you are not quite clear about the difference between a dialect and a regional accent. Dialects are generally quite different from the mainstream/metropolitan version of the language concerned and might be unintelligible to people unfamiliar with that particular dialect. So, if you wanted to indicate a dialect, there would be good reason to use a target language accent, rather than a target language dialect.

It partly depend
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This is far from straightforward. I get the impression that you are not quite clear about the difference between a dialect and a regional accent. Dialects are generally quite different from the mainstream/metropolitan version of the language concerned and might be unintelligible to people unfamiliar with that particular dialect. So, if you wanted to indicate a dialect, there would be good reason to use a target language accent, rather than a target language dialect.

It partly depends on the purpose and expected readership of the translation. For instance, it's possible that if this is a book and it's going to be published in England, a Yorkshire accent might work. However, if it's going to be published in the United States, an American readership would probably find a transcription of a Yorkshire accent largely unintelligible. A Yorkshire dialect would simply not be an option because very few people indeed would understand it, even in England. However, the regional associations involved would need to be very similar if you're going to substitute a target language regional accent or dialect for a source language one.

Another problem is that, unless you are really familiar with the particular local accent you want to use and know how to transcribe it, you are likely to make a hash of it.

I certainly think it's very wrong to assume that a regional dialect means that the speaker is uneducated!

[Edited at 2018-10-06 19:23 GMT]
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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)
 

Hafid Benhadria
Local time: 07:48
French to Arabic
+ ...
it depends Oct 6, 2018

For some people, it is uneducated to use dialects. For others, it is a way to preserve and promote the cultural richness of the language.

I've faced these two different feelings and opinions with my two literary translations:
- one from French to Algerian Arabic: Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- The second from English to Algerian Arabic: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.

B D Finch wrote:
I certainly think it's very wrong to assume that a regional dialect means that the speaker is uneducated!

[Edited at 2018-10-06 19:23 GMT]


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 13:48
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
In one novel Oct 6, 2018

B D Finch wrote:

This is far from straightforward. I get the impression that you are not quite clear about the difference between a dialect and a regional accent. Dialects are generally quite different from the mainstream/metropolitan version of the language concerned and might be unintelligible to people unfamiliar with that particular dialect. So, if you wanted to indicate a dialect, there would be good reason to use a target language accent, rather than a target language dialect.


In a recent novel I read [translated from Afrikaans to English], the author transcribes phonetically words first and describes in the bracket as standard English.
For instance,
"Jay is 'n lafaard" [You are a coward]

Kind regards,
Soonthon L.


 

Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 08:48
English to Italian
+ ...
Keeping the feel Oct 7, 2018

Unfortunately, dialect is almost completely lost when translating. It would be the same if you translated a novel written in two different languages into a third language, if you think about it.

In fiction you can preserve some of the original feeling by leaving a few selected words here and there in Apulian, untranslated and italicized, perhaps words that strongly differ from standard Italian or designate common objects. Smart readers will recognize the difference.

[Edited a
... See more
Unfortunately, dialect is almost completely lost when translating. It would be the same if you translated a novel written in two different languages into a third language, if you think about it.

In fiction you can preserve some of the original feeling by leaving a few selected words here and there in Apulian, untranslated and italicized, perhaps words that strongly differ from standard Italian or designate common objects. Smart readers will recognize the difference.

[Edited at 2018-10-07 12:44 GMT]
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Tina Vonhof
 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:48
Member
English to Italian
Camilleri - Montalbano Oct 7, 2018

Not sure this will help, but I found it interesting when I first read it, some time ago, as the translators of Camilleri's Montalbano hint at the choices they made to tackle the Sicilian dialect in their renditions in various languages:

http://www.vigata.org/traduzioni/bibliost.shtml
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Not sure this will help, but I found it interesting when I first read it, some time ago, as the translators of Camilleri's Montalbano hint at the choices they made to tackle the Sicilian dialect in their renditions in various languages:

http://www.vigata.org/traduzioni/bibliost.shtml
http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2002/03/11/uno-stile-canagliesco-per-tradurre-camilleri-in.html

(It's all in Italian)
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Marta DEpifanio
Italy
Local time: 08:48
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
it depends, it is good to know what other people do Oct 7, 2018

B D Finch wrote:
I certainly think it's very wrong to assume that a regional dialect means that the speaker is uneducated!


Hi,
I am not translatin a book but interviews so the client doesn't really have an opinion but said it should be the closest to the original as possible.

I did not say it is a matter of being unedu
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B D Finch wrote:
I certainly think it's very wrong to assume that a regional dialect means that the speaker is uneducated!


Hi,
I am not translatin a book but interviews so the client doesn't really have an opinion but said it should be the closest to the original as possible.

I did not say it is a matter of being uneducated, it could be perceived in this way but definitely can also give a specific cultural depth...I like the idea of having books and texts written in one's own dialect because it really adds something specific a reader must understand or try to make an effort in understanding.
I also agree I wasn't clear about whether I referred to dialect/accent ...however I believe in a written text the main issue is the dialect. Daniel Frisano's suggested solution is actually a very good way to keep the feeling and show a bit of the speaker's character and background.
I guess dialects would be lost in translation most of the time.

Thanks for the links. Definitely thought provoking.
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Francesca Ventura
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:48
Member (2018)
English to Italian
+ ...
If you want to read a bit more about it Oct 8, 2018

..I actually wrote my MA dissertation about the translation of dialects and non-standard linguistic varieties (i.e. pidgins and creoles) between English and Italian. If you want to give it a read, you can find it here:

https://www.academia.edu/36257351/Translation_and_commentary_of_a_passage_from_Harare_North_by_Brian_C
... See more
..I actually wrote my MA dissertation about the translation of dialects and non-standard linguistic varieties (i.e. pidgins and creoles) between English and Italian. If you want to give it a read, you can find it here:

https://www.academia.edu/36257351/Translation_and_commentary_of_a_passage_from_Harare_North_by_Brian_Chikwava
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