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Thread: Translated Lit: Which languages do u read?

  1. #1
    Registered User Brasil's Avatar
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    Translated Lit: Which languages do u read?

    Here you can talk about world culture in general, not just literature. Let's know more about other places and different cultures.

    For start:

    Which languages do you can read?

    How do you read a classical Ancient Greek work?
    Do read the Bible in its original language?
    Do you read in Latin?
    Do you read in French?
    Do you read in Russian?
    Do you read in Spanish?
    When you read an old English work, it is in its original version or a translated one?
    Do you read Old English?
    Do you read in the language of Goethe?
    Do you read in the language of Dante?
    Do you read in the language of Camões?

  2. #2
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    I read most of the above languages in translation, and the Old Testament in the original (though I mostly read it now in the King James Version as it is more suited to my area of study), and for ancient Greek Texts, I get translations, usually the best ones I can find from the library.

    Generally, I try for my pleasure reading to try and grab as large a range of translations as possible, while maintaining my studies in my specialty, which is Canadian literature. The only other language I really read in though is Italian, as I am studying the language, and trying to boost my skills, and also to a lesser extent French, which will become a major priority this summer.

    Lately I have been reading mostly literary criticism though, coming from mostly Canada, a little from the States, and from France (with the exception of such great thinkers as Bakhtin). I think literary criticism, even more so than poetry, is the greatest sufferer when it comes to translations. It's a shame that people don't read literary criticism and theory, and limit themselves to the mediocre works of Harold Bloom, and other catalogue writers who write books like "Why read the classics," or "The great books of western literature", or some other such nonsense.
    Last edited by JBI; 02-16-2009 at 05:49 PM.

  3. #3
    Wild is the Wind Silas Thorne's Avatar
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    Can read a little Ancient Greek, though not as much as I used to be able to.

    Can read Old English, with a Glossary and a few books to guide me.

    Can read modern Chinese, and Classical Chinese with a dictionary.

    Want to learn to read many others, like Maori, French and German. Expect I will either need to learn French or German, but since I've done a tiny bit of French already, might start learning this.

  4. #4
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    Good topic!

    I read Italian and some Latin, though I'm afraid I've lost most of my Latin since high school.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brasil View Post
    Do you read Old English?
    Yes, I had to learn Old English for a medieval lit class I was taking, though considering it was only one class, I didn't become an expert. I become literate enough to read the required texts, with only minimal usage of glossaries and such.

  5. #5
    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    I'm getting better - I can now read Old Norse with only minimal difficulty, and I tend to practice by reading it in the original, then reading a translation, and it seems to be working.

    My Old English is a little shakier, but then I've not been doing it as long as the Norse... it'll come in time.

    I can also get by, with a little help from the dictionary, and a lot of time, in Latin, Spanish and French...
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    I can read Spanish, English, French, Italian and Portuguese (in descending order of comprehension ).

    In all of these cases, I try to read the ancient languages as well, although of course I probably miss many things...

  7. #7
    Registered User Brasil's Avatar
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    I can read in:

    - Portuguese (my native language);

    - Galego-Português (or Galician-Portuguese, it was a kind of Ancient Portuguese, the language spoken in Portugal and Galicia, in Middle Ages);

    - Modern Italian (I read and speak well Modern Italian, however can't read very well the Dante's Italian, but there are good bilingual editions of Divine Comedy in Brazil);

    - Spanish (I've read Don Quijote de la Mancha by Cervantes in a Argentine edition);

    - Modern English

    - Modern French (sometimes with a dictionary)

    I can't read in:
    - Latin (I undestand a little, but Virgil's language is not really easy to me)
    - German, Eastern Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin (I speak and undestand the essential for survive, but I can't read, especially oriental characters, I don't read a single word); So I search for translations in Portuguese, Spanish or English and it is not very difficult to find good ones.
    - Greek classics, Bible, Sanskrit, Russian, etc always translated.
    - Because of my master studies in Literature, I read a lot of Literature Theory and Literary Criticism: Russian Formalism, New Criticism, Phenomenology, Post-Structuralism, Brazilian critics, etc. I also don't like Harold Bloom, but not for the same reasons of JBI. It's more because of his ethinocentrism and his critics about Freud. Today, I think he has some skills, but his critical work is for babies. The last critical work I've read is "Rethoric" by Stanley Fish, a good work. I've read in its original version.
    - I usually read a lot of Philosophy too, more than novels, I'm fan of Plato, Karl Marx and Freud (I consider as a kind of philosophy too), but also Nietzsche, Sartre, Machiavelli and oriental philosophers. Always translated.
    Last edited by Brasil; 02-16-2009 at 10:44 PM.

    Vitória-ES, Brasil

  8. #8
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Hmm strange - I found the Tuscan Italian idiom not to have changed much in the past 700 years. Surely the words haven't altered much:

    A la stagion che il mondo foglia e fiora,
    Accresce gioa a tutti i fini amanti,
    Vanno insieme a li giardini allora
    Che gli augelletti fanno dolci canti,
    La franca gente tutta s'innamora,
    Ed in servir ciascun traggesi innanti
    Ed ogni damigella in gioi' dimora.
    A me n'abbondan marrimenti e painti.

    Chè lo mio padre m'ha messa in errore,
    E tienemi sovente in forte doglia:
    donar mi vuole, a mia forza segnore.
    Ed io di ciò non ho disio nè voglia,
    E in gran tormento vivo tutte l'ore
    però non me rallegra fior nè foglia.

    - La Compiuta Donzella C. 1250


    That seems like it could have been written anytime up until 1900, yet it's dated from the second half the thirteenth century, which is rather remarkable, when one thinks of it, given that the language has remained, in terms of poetic idiom, so intact all these years.

    Perhaps it is just the density of Dante, which I can't conquer either - or perhaps it's just that we're so attuned to prose, and poetry is far trickier to master.

    It's actually quite interesting when one thinks about it - if one looks at, for instance, classical Chinese, as a counter example, that is one language which didn't move at all, and then suddenly destroyed itself. Italian has never had a barrier, but I guess Tuscan's role as the language of Dante and communication has somehow preserved the language in as much as not altering it as much as something like English.

    P.S., I can't believe how beautiful that simple poem is, let me see if I can find a translation - the poem uses such a tiny, almost childlike vocabulary, but is profound beyond belief.

    edit, if anyone is interested, here it is, in a rather literal, but interesting translation, though the idiom is completely lost, and the feeling of the poetry is sacrificed entirely.
    http://books.google.ca/books?id=TjGd...esult#PPA15,M1
    Last edited by JBI; 02-16-2009 at 11:09 PM.

  9. #9
    Registered User Brasil's Avatar
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    Dante wrote in the Tuscan dialect, the matrix of the current Italian.

    The verses you shared above I can read, but some words are very strange for me. Now I'm confuse if it is Tuscan dialect or current Italian.

    Some passages of Dante are easier than others, some seems like the current Italian (Modern Italian) and others are very diferent, of difficult understanding.

    I tried once read Dante, cause I speak and read italian very well, but I could undestand well the Divine Comedy till I find a bilingual version.

  10. #10
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    It's true, you get strange words in here, like Augelletti for Uccellini and other unmorphed words, which I think hold closer to Occitan, though I'm no expert, so don't quote me.
    Last edited by JBI; 02-17-2009 at 12:37 AM.

  11. #11
    laudator temporis acti andave_ya's Avatar
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    Oh my. English and only English, though I am beginning to read in Arabic.

    And I am required to take either Latin or Greek at the college I was accepted to. I intend to study Greek, although I've only lately begun to read Homer (in English, I mean. It would be interesting to read him and the others in the original.)
    "The time has come," the Walrus said,
    "To talk of many things:
    Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
    Of cabbages--and kings--
    And why the sea is boiling hot--
    And whether pigs have wings."

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    Registered User semi-fly's Avatar
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    How do you read a classical Ancient Greek work? - Greek or in English
    Do read the Bible in its original language? - I've only read the bible in Greek and Latin, I can't imagine trying to read it in Hebrew or Aramaic (If that's even a possibility).
    Do you read in Latin? - Yes
    Do you read in French? - Yes
    Do you read in Russian? - No
    Do you read in Spanish? - Yes
    When you read an old English work, it is in its original version or a translated one? - Original version
    Do you read Old English? - Yes
    Do you read in the language of Goethe? - Yes
    Do you read in the language of Dante? - No. I only know a little Italian and that would fall under the modern form of the language.
    Do you read in the language of Camões? - No. I can't say I know Ancient Portuguese
    expectabam bona et venerunt mihi mala praestolabar lucem et eruperunt tenebrae - Job 30:26

  13. #13
    Registered User Jassica's Avatar
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    I can read in Russian and English easily, and in French only with dictionary...
    In addition I can read in the Old (Church) Slavonic language...
    I want to learn some eastern language, for example Japanese and I desire to learn to read in Latin.
    Ваших душ безлиственную осень
    Мне нравится в потемках освещать...(с)

  14. #14
    Registered User Brasil's Avatar
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    I forgot saying...

    ...I understand some Sicilian and Catalan too.


    Maybe next mouth (or next year, I don't know yet when it'll be exactly) My wife and I will be in a indian comunity for a linguistic research work. So we will learn some native indian languages and some indian stories.

    We were invited and that's a privilege.

    Vitória-ES, Brasil

  15. #15
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brasil View Post
    ...I understand some Sicilian and Catalan too.


    Maybe next mouth (or next year, I don't know yet when it'll be exactly) My wife and I will be in a indian comunity for a linguistic research work. So we will learn some native indian languages and some indian stories.

    We were invited and that's a privilege.
    Indian as in indigenous Brazilian, or as in from the country India?

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