Our #transcollaborator Martina Severin tells us about her experience of projecting and conducting an Italian language workshop within the ‘language learning’ strand of the collaborative translation project.

10th May 2017

martina

As an Italian Erasmus student, I decided to propose a project for a workshop that would represent my nationality, in particular the part of Italy from which I come from, in order to involve all my personal experience in this project. I proposed to analyse and work on a possible translation of the text and cultural significance into the English language of a popular Italian song, “Roma Capoccia“, by Antonello Venditti. As you can already see from the title, it seems to be a very challenging song for a non-native Italian speaker. I chose this text primarily for its cultural significance, Venditti wrote it with the aim of celebrating Rome, its landscapes, its historical places, its attractions. It is a piece of Italian culture. For the context of the #Transcollaborate project, this song presents many aspects of Roman accent, so it is a good example of the many difficulties that a language such as Italian can offer to translators. The workshop aim was to work on language learning, so our audience was varied – English and Italian speakers, from the first year to the last year of bachelor, Erasmus and PhD students; all of them with an intermediate-high level of knowledge of the Italian language.

The workshop started with the viewing and listening of the musical video of “Roma Capoccia” in order to identify the different pronunciation of the words in the Roman accent, and to contextualise the song. Later, I asked the participants to work in groups, to analyse two different pieces of the song, and to identify the main difficulties, the most curious, challenging or funny words, what attracts their attention, without focusing on finding a final translation, but on the transference of the meaning into English. The most challenging discussion arose from the title “Roma Capoccia”, what it might mean, what the cultural significance might be and how it can be translated into English; and these are some of the options we devised together:

  • Rome Caput Mundi : it is a Latin sentence that stands for “Rome capital of the world”;
  • Head of the Hills : because of the fact that Rome was built on seven hills, that are also cited in the song.

Other challenging sentences are:

  • quanno l’arancia rosseggia sui sette colli: which is a metaphor for an orange-coloured sun that spreads its red colour at sunset on the seven hills;
  • la santità der Cuppolone: which means the holiness of the Vatican, in fact “cuppolone” in Rome is used only in reference to the big cupola, part of the Papal Basilica of San Pietro in the Vatican city.

Do you have any other ideas or suggestions?

It was interesting how English native speakers could recognize and interpret a different spelling of a word and surprising that Italian speakers from different cities of Italy have difficulties in understanding, demonstrating the great variety in Italian language, and the different cultural experiences. Examples are:

  • quann’è quando è when is
  • so’ sono  are
  • er/der il/del the

These are only some of the interesting points we made, but, given that there is no official English translation for this song, it is a work in progress. It has been interesting looking together at the cultural significance of these words from the different cultural perspectives. The collaborative aspect of the workshop was successful: Italian and English speakers collaborated and integrated their different cultural background. When I introduced myself at the beginning of the workshop, I stressed that I am a student, as almost all the people who were attending, and this has allowed me to arrange it in a friendly way, making students feel comfortable (I hope!), and creating an informal, but very productive, atmosphere. The experience has been really challenging and exciting for me, for the first time I was “on the other side”, not a student attending the workshop but the organizer and facilitator of it, and I had to find interesting ways to keep the level of attention high, to get people involved, without making them bored. I have really enjoyed working with all the group, and I have to thank Gioia and Georgia of the University of Warwick for having given to me this amazing opportunity. Grazie di cuore!

Look forward to share and discuss this experience in Prato. See you soon!

Martina Severin

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