Dialectal dialectics: Translating Trilussa

  • Laurence Hooper
  • The Italianist, December 2005, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1179/026143405x77434

Translating Trilussa

What is it about?

This article discusses translating the Roman dialect poet Trilussa for an English-speaking audience. Although Trilussa wrote in dialect, his poems were published to a nationwide reading public. I argue this lent them a renegade authority, what linguists Jack Chambers and Peter Trudgill have called “covert prestige." I therefore supported using dialectal English in the translations, specifically London English or Cockney. An appendix contains eight of my own Cockney translations

Why is it important?

Prior translators of Trilussa had claimed it was necessary to use Standard English in order not to belittle the poet’s achievement. But this misunderstands the ethical economy of the poems, which depends on the covert prestige of Romanesco. I advocated a dialectal translation in English and proposed London English as a relatively close analogue to Romanesco, since both were from a large urban center and comprehensible on a national level, while retaining their distinctive features

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Laurence E. Hooper