The Linguist

The Linguist 51,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 23 of 35

FEATURES Stuff and nonsense Pilar Orero marks the bicentenary of Edward Lear���s birth with a look at the translation of his poems dward Lear has been translated into most languages, but how does the translator render nonsense words such as ���ombliferous���, ���scroobious���, ���borascible��� and ���umbrageous���? Or even, for that matter, comprehensible but modified words, such as ���sarpint��� (which, as Lear���s original illustration makes clear, means ���serpent���)? Lear���s use of onomatopoeia, of the type found in nursery rhymes, sets another challenge ��� try rendering ���dum diddle���, ���spickle-speckled���, ���Tick-a-Tick, Tick-a-Tick��� or ���daffy-down-dillies���. Translators use three main strategies: ignoring the nonsense words to render a meaningful text; creating new words; or modifying words, usually to rhyme. In this Spanish translation, the Moppsikon Floppsikon bear becomes the invented ���Timpiri Tampi���: There was an old person of Ware, Who rode on the back of a bear: When they ask���d, ������Does it trot?��� ��� he said ���Certainly not! He���s a Moppsikon Floppsikon bear!��� During his life, Edward Lear was better known for his illustrations than his poetry, and he made a living out of selling his pictures and books of landscapes. His drawings create a visual counterpoint to the verse, which he felt accentuated the meaning. Reproducing these illustrations with the translated text can pose interesting challenges. There may be objects, such as ���port���, ���tincture of Senna��� (to rhyme with Vienna) and ���gooseberry fool���, that are impossible to render in Spanish, hence the translation strategy of omission. Illustrations also limit the translator���s creative freedom: in one limerick Leopoldo Panero renders ���spade��� as espada (���sword���), which enables him to maintain the metre and rhyme, but is problematic when you consider the illustration: Erase un viejo de Tomelloso Que galopaba en la grupa de un oso; Cuando le preguntaron: �����Pero es que trota?���, Respondi�� jovial: �����Como una marmota!, ��Este es un Timpiri Tampi y no un oso!��� In another example, the translator modifies nonsense words in order to render the rhyme: There was an Old Man of the Isles, Whose face was pervaded with smiles: He sang high dum diddle, and played on the fiddle, That amiable Man of the Isles. Translation strategies may differ depending on the intended audience, for example whether the text is to be read by adults or children. In three consecutive decades, three translations of the following limerick were published in Spanish, revealing different approaches to translating Lear: There was an old person of Crowle, Who lived in the nest of an owl; When they screamed in the nest, he screamed out with the rest, That depressing old person of Crowle. The first, published in the 1970s by an independent publishing house specialising in marginal poets, respects neither the rhyme nor the rhythm of the original. This fact is more marked since it is a bilingual edition, making comparison unavoidable. The overall result may be considered as Panero���s personal E Erase un viejo de Medell��n Cuya cara era toda un moh��n; Cantaba: ���Din din dir��n don��� Y tocaba el viol��n, Aquel Viejo amable de Medell��n. 24 The Linguist DECEMBER/JANUARY interpretation of the original text: Hubo una vez un viejo en Crowle Que decidi�� vivir en el nido de un buho; Cuando chillaban todos en el nido El lo hac��a tan bien como los dem��s Aquel viejo deprimente de Crowle. The second translation, by Crist��bal Serra and Eduardo Jord��, appeared in the publisher Tusquets��� series ���Marginales���: Hubo en Crowle un anciano algo tontuelo que viv��a en el nido de un mochuelo; cuando los mochuelitos emit��an sus gritos, igual que ellos gritaba el muy tontuelo. This edition is monolingual, yet special attention is paid to metre and rhyme. The last translation, by Santerb��s, changes the location from Crowle in England to Gante in Belgium: Hab��a un vejete de Gante Que conviv��a con una nidada ululante. Cuando algareaba el nido vocinglero Lanzaba un graznido lastimero, Aquel deprimente vejete de Gante. This edition is for children, which is surprising as the register is quite hard for them. Nevertheless special effort has been made to annotate cultural and historical data. These very different approaches to translating nonsense all share an interest in creativity and delight in a master of nonsense literature. TL A Lecturer at the Universitat Aut��noma de Barcelona, Dr Pilar Orero is an Editorial Board member of The Journal of Specialised Translation.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 51,6