We had two responses to Wednesday’s challenge to translate this section from Canto XXXI of Dante’s Inferno:
Poi disse a me: «Elli stessi s’accusa;
questi è Nembrotto per lo cui mal coto
pur un linguaggio nel mondo non s’usa.
Lasciànlo stare e non parliamo a vòto;
ché così è a lui ciascun linguaggio
come ‘l suo ad altrui, ch’a nullo è noto»
Frank emailed this:
Then he said to me:
“They accused themselves;
this is Nembrotto who lays bricks badly
because a common language is not used.
Let him stay
and let’s not take turns to talk;
for every language to him
and ‘to his workers is unknown’.
And Valerie, who apppears to have had time on her hands, wrote this:
I like a challenge, and I am sat at the garage waiting for my car to be serviced, so I have an hour and a half to spare so I had a go at translating the excerpt you picked; it’s not a “word for word” literal translation but a translation of sense (to my understanding anyway). I’m sure it’s not exactly right, as I am not certain what “elli stessi s’accusa” means. I assumed elli is an old form of egli but I can’t find any reference to it anywhere?:
Then he said to me: “each one blames himself; this man is Nembrotto (and) it is for the reason of his ill-conceived idea that one language in the world is not used exclusively.
Leave it alone and let’s not speak pointlessly; to him each language is like his own to another person, in that nothing is understood.”
Or, a (feeble) attempt at a rhyme – I couldn’t find anything sensible to rhyme with Nimrod/Nembrotto:
Then he told me: “every man himself condemns; that’s Nimrod,
he’s to blame for his ill-conceived idea
and thus there’s no single language in the world
Let it go, speak not in vain, it can only do no good
As each man understands no others’ words
So nothing he says can by them be understood
Alternatively, for a better rhyme for the first verse:
Then he told me: “every man blames himself; over there is Nimrod.
the reason there’s no single language in the world
Is for the daft idea he came up with – he was such a silly sod!
Ok, maybe not, but I had fun, even if I am completely wrong!
‘Bravi’ to the two of them, I say!
Translating isn’t easy, even if you understand (or think you understand) the original text. And then to end up with something that’s coherent and entertaining too…
If anyone else would like to have a go, or add comments/feedback for Valerie or Frank, please don’t email me. Leave a comment on Wednesday’s article, that way everyone will be able to read it.
OK then, so next I have the link to our another pair of extracts: Canto XXXII
The whole series can be found on our Literature page.
Don’t forget, the -25% offer on this week’s new ebook easy reader (the second in a trilogy of historical mysteries set in the court of the infamous Borgias), Anselmo e la moglie spagnola, ends on Sunday night.
The first volume in the trilogy is Anselmo e l’omicidio di Giovanni Borgia. Volume 3 will be published next week.
Here are those links again:
- Anselmo e la moglie spagnola (vol. 2 in the trilogy)
- Anselmo e l’omicidio di Giovanni Borgia (vol. 1)
- or find something for your level in our Catalog
And last, but not least?
There’s Thursday’s bulletin of easy Italian news waiting to be read/listened to.
A lunedì, allora!!