Saturday, 1 July 2017

The history of my translations

About time to say something more about how all these translations came to be. As I say in the "about me", I love languages. In fact, studying random languages is my hobby.
I am native to Italian.
I had the great luck to go to England for a total of 1.5 years between primary and middle school1, which is how I got my near-native English level.
I started studying French by myself in primary, and then in middle school I had a year of lessons at the European school of Culham, Oxfordshire, and finally a year of lessons by a mother-tongue teacher in Giussano two years later as I began high school.
In middle school, I attended German in the Italian school, and was probably the best of the class, and almost surely the only one to buy and read vol. 3 of the textbook, when in school we only got to vol. 2. In high school, there was an afternoon course. In my first year, there were three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The last one was attended by 4 people: me, and 3 who graduated from the school the following year. This meant that the level was shut off that year, and I started intermediate, but I was too advanced so I dropped out.
I also studied Spanish a little by myself, but of course Italian helped a lot there.
Back at the end of middle school, I attended an afternoon course in Latin. High school had Latin as a mandatory subject.
I chose a kind of high school called liceo scientifico (scientific high school), with no Greek, but in the same building there were friends of mine attending liceo classico (classical high school), featuring mandatory Greek, so I decided to teach myself Ancient Greek. I started in the first year of high school, at the latest around March.
Firstly, I studied the grammar and did the translation exercises, which ended with a translation of a Greek poem. I always worked Greek-to-Latin, because why not, and when I saw the poem I decided to try and have a meter in the translation. However, my knowledge of meters back then was limited to a very approximate knowledge of the hexameter, so I produced some awful hexameters, and when I picked that translation up again in the summer of the last year of high school, I might have decided to redo it in the then-known iambic trimeter, which was the original meter. I don't remember. I will post that thing, and you will see if it's in awful hexameters, and then it's the oldest translation I will post here, or good iambic trimeters, and then it's average-old for this blog.
After that, I switched directions, and started translating Latin author passages from my textbook into Greek. In this phase, I also translated three fables by Phaedrus into awful hexameters, and I know I reworked those into iambic trimeters when I gathered my translations of poems in a single file in the above-mentioned summer.
In the summer of the second year of high school, I switched to Greek authors, then I found an appendix about dialects and thought, "I wanna be able to translate any dialect", so I started translating something from every dialect.
I first did a fudgeton of Herodotus to practice his dialect and to get ready for Homer's which is similar but more different from Attic, and that is when I translated the Thermopylae epigrams into Latin.
Then it was Homer's turn, and you will see, sometime, three passages of the Iliad (2 + 1) and two of the Odyssey translated into Latin hexameters – again, not too good, IIRC, but no time to rework those.
Then it was the turn of Aeolic. I was convinced I'd just pull the texts off Greek Wikisource and translate in no time, so I decided to be lazy and, instead of selecting some Sappho and some Alcaeus, just translate all of Sappho. Of course, that got me deep into philology and text reconstruction, and I went even deeper in my blog posts. And that took from May (9th?) 2010 to August 28 2011. I was translating everything into Latin poetry. Then at some point (around May-June 2010 I guess) I found myself translating the Hymn to Aphrodite into Italian, and I thought, "let's translate everything into Italian too, 'cos why not!", and thus I did. Shortly afterwards, the same happened with English. At some point I also translated that Hymn into French and German for some reason, but 3 translations for all of Sappho were enough, and German was a lot harder because I needed rhyme dictionaries and wasn't that good at German. I also translated part of another poem, "O Atthis", but left it half-done, probably due to lack of time.
In the meantime, I met Catullus (and there's this too) in high school, and at the start of the schoolyear 2009/2010 I translated poem 5 into hendecasyllabics with the rhythm of the phalecian lines of the original. I translated a lot more of Catullus, but only much later, in June-July 2011, that is in the following schoolyear. I don't know why Catullus came back under my eyes. I guess either I was working on old notes for some reason and decided to translate more "'cos why not", or one poem came under my eyes in relation to Foscolo at the end of that year, or I had a project I only managed to complete in that period.
In the meantime, though, I had met Virgil, and translated some of the Aeneid between November 2010 and March 2011.
That same year, I also met Horace, and translated three poems of his.
I also met Donne, and translated the Valediction twice with two different meters, and one of his religious sonnets twice as well, with the same pair of meters.
The following year, I met Lucrece, and translated probably all the passages we dealt with in class.
Throughout high school, I was studying Dante, and I had previously read the whole Divine Comedy by myself in the second year of "lower secondary", and between 2010 and 2011 (plus a second version of one translation in 2012) I translated some parts from Latin (occasionally there are tercets written in Latin, though the Comedy is in Italian) into Italian, and the beginnings of Canto 1 and 3 from Inferno into English, in Dante tercets of course. I seem to remember a translation of some part of the Comedy into French as well, but apparently I was unable to find it.
In the meantime, English Literature was going, and in schoolyear 2009-2010 I met Shakespeare and translated some of his sonnets (1, 2, 3 -- and nr. 1 was a fabricated memory, since I only translated it very close to posting date IIRC, definitely way into the blog's history, when I found out the translation didn't exist as I looked for it to draft the related post) into Italian. Actually, I see that there are two phases of Shakespeare: one before Sydney and Spenser (cfr. below), probably from browsing the textbook randomly and bumping into "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun", plus doing Romeo and Juliet someplace else (summer reading homework IIRC) and translating the balcony speech and a couple other random parts into Italian, and that was in the summer of the second year of high school, and hence predates Homer (but not the fables I think), and then two more Shakespeare sonnets, in schoolyear 2010-2011, between Sydney and Spenser and the Donne translations. Actually, the second translation of Donne's sonnet is from the following schoolyear.
The following schoolyear I met Sydney and Spenser and translated one sonnet each into Italian.
In schoolyear 2011-2012, I met romantic poets, among which Blake, and, in 3 sessions spanning the whole schoolyear, I translated London into Italian.
Now let's get back a couple years. In schoolyear 2009-2010, in September or the likes, Italian Literature started, and the roots of Italian Literature lie in troubadours, so we read a couple poems by them. For some reason, I translated the start of a poem by Bernartz de Ventadorn into Italian and English back then. At some point I also translated the first verse of Ellens Dritter Gesang (aka Schubert's Ave Maria, or rather, the tune it was set to goes by that name because someone else thought of setting Ave Maria to it) into Italian.
I completely forgot that, IIRC the previous year, i.e. schoolyear 2008-2009, I found a Pompeian inscription trascribed on my Latin textbook and translated it into Greek.
At the beginning of schoolyear 2011-2012, I met Leopardi in Italian Literature, and decided to translated the Infinito and Alla luna into English and Chinese.
Wait: Chinese? Flashback flashback: what language followed Greek? Because after Sappho I was fed up with Greek and decided not to do Doric because it was similar to Aeolic, so I switched to Japanese and Chinese at the same time. And I was studying them by translating songs.
I also met with a couple poems by Hú Shì. I translated one into Italian English and French, and the second one only into English and Italian.
Before Leopardi, we met Baudelaire in Italian Literature (presumably because of some influence he had on some Italian poet(s)), and I translated Correspondances into Chinese.
So we're done with poems… not quite, but we'll get to that. So for the songs, I started with the Chinese anthem, which I translated into English and French.
Then I looked for Cui Jian's Yiwusuoyou (aka Nothing to my name) on Youtube. I didn't like it that much, so I didn't translate it in an artistic way.
From that, I reached tons of different songs, in different dialects, following the related links suggested by Youtube. And that went on for years, and I translated many of them, and a few I still want to translate for the blog.
For Japanese, I started with a few songs from Meitantei Konan (Detective Conan, in English Case Closed, I think) movies.
Then a girl from my school who was interested in Japanese suggested a few Stereopony songs, which I am posting in these days (1/7/17 today).
Then I bumped into Tamaki Kōji, probably via Youtube, and translated two of his songs.
Then Conan once more, with a few extra songs probably from Youtube. All of that during the 2011-2012 schoolyear, because then I abandoned Japanese and concentrated on Chinese as much as I could with Uni going.
There is just one more poem. In the summer of 2012, I met this Lebanese guy at the Meeting in Rimini, and I knew he spoke Arabic. I had always thought of taking up Arabic, and the following Jan/Feb, browsing Wikipedia randomly, I bumped into Chūn Xiǎo, by Meng Haoran, and decided to translate it into Arabic. Years later, in Dec 2015, I thought back to it, and decided to add cantilation to it, and also classic-ified the translation. In those days, the Lebanese guy made a small correction to the translation. In order to post it on the blog, I recently translated it to English, and I also realized I had invented a verb in the last line, which was therefore mistranslated, so I corrected both translations.
In Feb/March 2012, I started Russian, and bumped into three songs. One of them was pretty nice, so I recently decided to translate it into English to put it into the blog. I still have to do that though. [Future me: I eventually ended up translating it to Hakka, not English. The post is due 15/6/19.]
I am part of the CL religious movement, so naturally I met various songs that are commonly sung at our gatherings or were anyways sung at least once in a CL-related event, and I translated a number of them (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21) into Chinese (Mandarin/Min/Hakka). Several other songs (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15) reached me thanks to CL that were translated to Chinese (Mandarin/Min/Hakka). Some of those were also translated to other languages -- see posts. The lists are not exhaustive because some haven't been posted yet.
During 2011-2012, I translated some English songs, a Neapolitan song (11, 'O surdato 'nnamurato, very famous here in Italy), the first verse of Signore delle cime, and two religious hymns (1, 2) into Chinese (and the last two items also into English for my "corrector" who spoke no Italian).
Finally, at a CL summer holiday last summer, browsing the songbook, I bumped into this Sicilian song ("0" in the second list of songs that reached me thanks to CL above) which stuck into my memory and came back during this schoolyear, I learnt it in Autumn or maybe Winter, and then I decided to translate it into Chinese. I still have to fully understand verse 3 though, so for now I only have 2 translated verses. And that should wrap it up. Maybe one day I'll make a little timeline of all this stuff, and maybe add links to all the posts. Not today though. Thesis time now.

The long lists above include several songs translated after the posting of this post, and the song mentioned in the last paragraph has since been fully dealt with, as you can see in the huge post related to it.
Several more languages have been tackled which I will not list here. Please refer to the Blog's index and, perhaps more importantly, the Index by Languages for more info. The latter isn't kept up to date, but will be given a big update when I get to doing its checkup.

1School in Italy works as follows. We start at 6, and have 5 years of "elementary school" or "primary school". Then there are 8 years of "secondary school", split into "first-degree" (aka "middle school"), which is 3 years, from 11 to 14 -- first three 3 of Hogwarts, if you will :) --, and "second-degree" (aka "high school", aka "liceo"), which is 5 more years. Then you have University. This is, at least, if you don't go to a professional school after middle school, in which case I don't know what happens because I went to "liceo".

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