Translating from Standard Slovene into Carinthian and the Prekmurje Dialects in Slovene films
By Mihaela Koletnik, Alenka Valh Lopert, Zinka Zorko (University of Maribor, Slovenia)
The present article analyses the translating written standard texts into the Carinthian and Prekmurje dialects in the case of the Slovene films Svetneči Gašper and Boj na požiralniku, and also Halgato and Traktor, ljubezen, in rock’n'roll, and film speech, i. e. speech in the spoken dialogue.
In theory the genre of film is already in itself a special language comprising specific expressive means, therefore the term film speech will be used to interpret the results of the analysis. Its basic form is dialogue treated as an interaction between two or more persons and the scriptwriter defines the language variety used in the films. The Slovene standard language is one that appears in different forms, i. e. varieties. The present article deals with the social varieties divided into standard and non-standard varieties, dialects being part of the latter. The language spoken in Slovene films up to the late 1960s was mostly the Standard. The awareness of the Slovene language diversity/stratification soon started to reflect in Slovene film as one of the realities of contemporary life being implicated also in the entire film facture.
Lovro Kuhar – Prežihov Voranc wrote his novels in the standard Slovene language while also introducing expressions from the Carinthian dialect. Most of the films made on the basis of his novels were in the standard social variety, only two Svetneči Gašper (the novel Pot na klop) and Boj na požiralniku were in the Carinthian dialect spoken in Mežiška Valley. The actors born in Carinthia use their dialect in the dialogue speech at all language levels. They preserve the Carinthian diphthongs ie and uo, the stress point with all the typical shifts of stress to the left and short vowels also in the middle of the word. The pitch patterns in the sentences and words are distinctly falling. The consonant l before back vowels is pronounced as w (šwa for šla). Feminisation of the neuter, typical dialectal Carinthian endings and inflections for person prevail with most of the actors. Most interjections are also in dialect, usually those expressing mood and requests. With most of the non-Carinthian actors a standard basis is observed, with, however, the presence of dialectal lexemes.
Both feature films Halgato (1994) and Traktor, ljubezen, in rock’n'roll (2006) are produced in the Prekmurje dialect despite the fact that the novels by Feri Lainšček on which they are based were written in standard Slovene: (1) Namesto koga roža cveti (1991), the prize-winning Slovene best film of the year, and (2) Vankoštanc (1994).
The translating of the dialogic part of the script from the standard variety into the Prekmurje dialect in Traktor, ljubezen in rock ‘n’ roll was the work of the writer Lainšček himself, he being a native speaker of this dialect. The results of the analysis show that the phonological, morphological and lexical levels are close to the Prekmurje dialect, while the syntax is nearer to the regional spoken language.
The analysis of the speech in Halgato shows that all the actors speak the language variety anticipated for them in the script, i. e. the Prekmurje dialect. The acoustic realisation of the sounds, groups of sounds, words, phrases etc. is most consistent with actors who are native-speakers of the Prekmurje dialect. Some minor deviations from the dialect system occur with other actors who had to learn the dialect, especially in terms of stress placement, quantity and quality of vowels and intonation.
Slovene films, translation, standard Slovene, Carinthian dialect, Prekmurje dialect
©inTRAlinea & Mihaela Koletnik, Alenka Valh Lopert, Zinka Zorko (2009).
"Translating from Standard Slovene into Carinthian and the Prekmurje Dialects in Slovene films"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: The Translation of Dialects in Multimedia
Edited by: M. Giorgio Marrano, G. Nadiani & C. Rundle
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Permanent URL: http://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/1717
Film represents one of the most recent art genres as it only came into existence at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. Its history can be divided into the period of the silent and the period of the sound film. Sound was first used in the American film The Jazz Singer on October 6, 1927. The first Slovene feature film with sound was F. Štiglic’s Na svoji zemlji and dates back to 1948. The screenplay was written by Ciril Kosmač and based upon his short story Očka Orel (Šimenc 1996: 70–74.)
Film as a theoretical genre typically has its own specific language and means of expression, hence the term film speech in this article. The term has been established for some time, as explained by K. Podbevšek (1983: 294): “…these are specific expressive means in a film, a special technique (scenes, details, cuts, perspective, editing etc.).” Film speech thus involves a transfer of the written discourse (screenplay) or, in other words, it is an “audible realization of the screenplay” (Podbevšek 1983: 294). Its basic form is undoubtedly a dialogue, which is an interaction between two or more persons. The language variety, in which it is conducted, however, is determined by the screenwriter. It is important that the language is adjusted to the film and not vice versa (Čuk 1983: 315). The theory of dialogue deals with a communication between interlocutors who engage in one-way and in two-way dialogues. In the former case, interlocutors decide who, when and what to say themselves, in the latter the role of triggering communication shifts between them. The communication is therefore based on fixed sequences or talk chains (Korošec 1998: 245–253). The dialogue in the film does not represent an independent element, but is rather only one of its constituent elements, serving as a means of communication. A good dialogue therefore is a dialogue which sheds light on what is not conveyed by the character (Koršič 2000: 62). This raises the question as to the role of the language editor in the creation of a film. Some are of the opinion that language editors are not necessary because of the all-important and universal nature of the film discourse itself. They believe that language editors are often too narrow-minded and purist and are thus to be blamed for the often stilted and affected use of the Slovene language in films (Štefančič 2005: 60). Others view linguists and language editors as equal partners of the team that should participate in the choice of an adequate social language variety for a particular film. The actors come from all parts of Slovenia where different dialects are spoken, but have all received their formal education in Standard Slovene. Good dialogues can only grow out of the cooperation between film directors, screenwriters, authors and language editors. With a shift away from the standard language, non-theatrical/non-affected speech has gained a great deal of acceptance and popularity. Language used in films has thus become much more convincing and “deliberately casual.” Speech used in films should be natural, relaxed, up-to-date and, above all, functional with the film’s content. The speech used in films thus progresses from the artistic to non-artistic. Its functionality thus seems to be the criterion of the film’s artistic value (Koršič 2006: 160). We can only talk about language and speech norms when they are in accordance with aesthetic and functional objectives of the speech used by the film’s character. Most screenplays for Slovene films are based on literary works. Discrepancies between screenplays and the literary works on which they are based are quite common: (1) dialogues – unnatural morphology, syntax and vocabulary, (b) no consideration of social diversity reflected in different language varieties and (c) omission of the distinction between tonemic and non-tonemic intonation (Dular 1983: 333–335). In 1970, the linguist J. Toporišič published his study Slovenski pogovorni jezik (Colloquial Slovene). These allowed language editors to argue for the use of general colloquial Slovene (which is close to the Central Slovene variety) and regional colloquial varieties in practice.
Speech in a film does not represent an independent form of art, but is rather just a part of the entire film art. It acts as an equal part of the sound background that, together with picture, makes up an indivisible film unit. Consequently, the way actors talk should not deviate from the story, the characters and circumstances. Film discourse is considered to be good when it does not stand out as a separate element in a film. Until late 1960s, Slovene used in film was typically characterized by standard pronunciation, which was mostly the consequence of the screenplays being based on literary works. As a result, these films gave the impression of being elevated, alienated, stilted and affected.
It should be emphasized that Slovene occurs in several forms, so-called varieties: social, functional, transmissive, temporal/historical and quantitative. In this article, I am primarily interested in its social varieties, which can be divided into two sub-varieties: standard and non-standard. Standard variety serves as a means of communication throughout Slovenia and plays an all-national and representative role. It is classified into a literary variety and a colloquial variety (the latter being a less formal variety of Standard Slovene). Non-standard Slovene is divided into seven dialectal groups: Pannonian, Styrian, Lower Carniolan, Carinthian, Upper Carniolan, Littoral and the Rovte one as well as into regional colloquial languages. These are a kind of transitive dialects made up of several geographical dialects, i.e. the kind of a social varieties in between Standard literary Slovene on the one hand and dialects on the other: Central Slovene (with the centre in Ljubljana), South Styrian (Celje), North Styrian (Maribor with an influence on Ptuj and Ravne as well; a subvariant that developed along the Mura River and is centred around Murska Sobota), Littoral (with variants around Nova Gorica., Trieste, Koper and Postojna) and possibly two more: the Rovte one (Škofja Loka) and Austrian Carinthian (Toporišič 2000: 13–21).
2. Dialects in the Film
A special issue has to do with the way literary works written in Standard Slovene can be transferred into a dialectal film discourse through the use of perhaps only individual dialectal words. This is a decision that has to be made by the film director since the literary screenplay provides only a framework that is not binding in this respect. Taking this into account, it is in fact impressive that there are a number of Slovene films that have very successfully managed this transfer. There are several key questions with regard to the films produced in dialects: (1) the use of pure dialects or only (2) their stylization, (3) the need to include a language editor (perhaps even from the area where a particular dialect is spoken) or, even better, a dialectologist, (4) the selection of actors – (a) professional actors from a particular dialect area, (b) professional actors that learn the dialect, (c) inclusion of amateur actors.
The above questions will be answered by the analysis of (1) the translation/transfer of the texts written in Standard Slovene into Carinthian and the Prekmurje dialects in the Slovene films Svetneči Gašper (1982), Boj na požiralniku(1979), Halgato (1994) and Traktor, ljubezen in rock’n'roll (2006) as well as of (2) the film discourse, i.e. speech realization of the dialogues in the screenplays of the mentioned films.
2.1. Prekmurje Dialect in the Film
As is the case with many other Slovene films, the screenplays for two films produced in the Slovene Prekmurje dialect, Halgato (1994) and Traktor, ljubezen in rock’n'roll (2006), were based upon literary works. Both feature films were made after literary works written in Standard Slovene. Halgato is based upon Feri Lainšček’s novel Namesto koga roža cveti (1991), which received award for the best Slovene novel of the year, and Traktor, ljubezen in rock’n'roll upon Lainšček’s novel Vankoštanc.
The purpose of this article is to shed light on (1) the translation of the dialogues (i.e. the text of the dialogues) in the film Traktor, ljubezen in rock’n'roll (Traktor, love and rock’n'roll) from Standard Slovene into the dialect, and (2) the actors’ pronunciation (i.e. the spoken realization of the dialogues) in the film Halgato.
2.2. Film Traktor, ljubezen in rock’n'roll
The film director of Traktor, ljubezen in rock’n'roll, Branko Djurić, wrote the screenplay for the film together with Feri Lainšček and Miroslav Mandić. Both the novel and the screenplay were written in Standard Slovene and Lainšček set out to systematically translate the spoken part of the screenplay into the Prekmurje dialect. Since the film is still in the post-production stage, we cannot evaluate the actors’ pronunciation and their spoken implementation of the dialogues. Instead we will limit ourselves to the analysis of the translation of the written dialogues from the screenplay.
As a rule, the text translated into the Prekmurje dialect has no diacritic marks for stress, which is why only native indigenous dialect speakers can read all of its prosodic features correctly. The vowels are not marked for stress, quality or quantity except for eight lexemes, where there are diacritic marks for long and narrow vowels (vodé ‘water’) and for short and open e (srêčen ‘happy’).
In the text, we encounter two dialectal diphthongs: ej and ou as well as the dialectal ü and u which developed from the syllabic l. The diphthongized i and u are written as ij and üj. The labialized a is not especially marked; in some cases, it is written as ä or even as o, which is indicative of a typically rounded articulation. The written forms of voiced consonants mirror their pronunciation. The exception is –v, which in word-final positions or before voiceless consonants remains unstable and is written either as v or f.
All inflection, conjugation and comparison patterns follow the rules of the current dialectal use. The text contains numerous dialectal adverbs and particles. Examples of such dialectal words are nikdar and vej replacing the Standard Slovene equivalents nikol ‘never’ and saj ‘but, anyway’.
Simple one-clause sentences in the Prekmurje dialect typically have the same structure as those in Standard Slovene with theme, transition and rheme. In addition to some word order idiosyncrasies that have no impact on the meaning, the following characteristics were found in the translation: (1) Changes (extension or narrowing) of Standard Slovene syntactic patterns: Nimam gotovine. → Znaš, ka neman gotovine. (I have no cash.); Ne vidiš, da imam rjave lase. → Rjave lasej man. (Don’t you see that I am a brunette?); (2) The use of personal and demonstrative pronouns in places where Standard Slovene, owing to stylistic markedness, uses zero pronoun: Tu si doma? → Tü si tij doma? (So this is where you live?); (3) Addition of cohesive particles and/or adverbs in places where these are redundant in Standard Slovene: Saj veš, zakaj. → Vej pa znaš, zakoj. (You know why.); (4) Addition of adjectival modifiers (a) to the left of the headword: Daj mi kozarec vode → Daj mi eno kupico vode. (Give me a glass of water.); (b) to the right the headword, which serves to place a greater emphasis on the headword and achieve a higher degree of emotional markedness: na svetu → na svejti božjon. (in this world of ours); (5) Replacement of interrogative particles with interrogative pronouns: Ali vaju spoznam? → Ka vaj spoznan? (Do I recognize you two?) Ali ti je kdo kaj napravil → Ka ti je što kaj napravo? (Has anybody hurt you?); (6) Replacement of the right non-prepositional nominal modifier in the genitive case with a prepositional one: Kje pa so čebulice gladiol? → Ge pa maš lüjkece od gladiol? (And where are the gladiolus bulbs?); (7) Replacement of non-finite verbal forms with finite ones: Videti je, /.../ → Vijdin, /.../ (It seems that /…/); (8) Replacement of derivational lexemes with non-derivational ones: prestopiti → stopiti prejk (to overstep); pohiteti → priti pred čason (to hurry); (9) Omission of particles and pronouns that seem to be redundant in the dialectal context: Ali me slišiš? → Me čüješ? (Can you hear me?); Ti si zmešana. → Zmejšana si. (You are crazy.); (10) Consistent use of so-called Pannonian negation – when emphasized, the particle nej (not) is used together with the verb biti (to be): nejsan (I’m not), whereas in unstressed function it is shifted to the second slot: san nej (I’m not): To ni Švica. → Tou je nej Švica. (This is not Switzerland.); Midva z Düplinom nisva takšna. → Miva z Düplinom sva nej takša. (Duplin and I are not like that.)
In his translation, Lainšček tries to approach the dialect on the lexical level as well. The prevailing forms are thus words from Pannonian Slovene. We also notice some Germanisms (špilati ‘to play’) and, occasionally, some Standard Slovene words that were not translated into the dialect (luč ‘light’, tema ‘darkness’, beseda ‘word’, miza ‘table’).
We see that Feri Lainšček, who not only knows the linguistic system of his own dialect perfectly, but also uses it both in spoken and in written discourse, does not adhere strictly to the original text when translating it. He does not translate word-by-word, but takes into account the fact that differences between the dialect and Standard Slovene are not limited to phonology and morphology, but are instead manifested on all linguistic levels. The comparison of the Standard Slovene and dialectal versions of the text points to some very original expressive possibilities of the dialect. Compared to its Standard Slovene version, the text written in the dialect has a much greater expressive power.
2.3. Film Halgato
The screenplay for the film Halgato is also the result of cooperation between Feri Lainšček and the film director Andrej Mlakar. The screenplay is based upon the novel Namesto koga roža cveti, in which Lainšček deals with the life of the Roma population in the Prekmurje region. Both the novel and the screenplay were written in Standard Slovene. Since it was decided, however, that the film will be produced in the Prekmurje dialect, Lainšček together with Branko Šömen, another native speaker of the Prekmurje dialect, translated the dialogues into the Prekmurje dialect on the scene of filming itself. The actors rehearsed the dialogues for individual scenes on the spot, which however did not represent any serious problems as most of them came from the area where the dialect was spoken. The roles were not played only by professional actors, but also by amateurs, who were perfectly fluent in the dialect. The dialogues that were spoken in the Prekmurje dialect were not recorded in the film script, which is why we cannot analyze the translation from Standard Slovene into the dialect. We can only assess the language the way it is spoken in the film.
The analysis of the dialogues that were phonetically transcribed shows a good implementation of the spoken language plan – so good in fact that the film required subtitles in Standard Slovene because those who did not speak the Prekmurje dialect did not understand it.
All of the characters featured in the film consistently use the Prekmurje dialect on all linguistic levels. Only two persons (one in the main and the other in a supporting role) speak Standard Slovene as foreseen in the screenplay. The acoustic realization of the sounds, sound combinations, collocations etc. shows the highest degree of consistency with those actors that were born in Prekmurje. Their speech is characterized by typical Prekmurje vowels, the diphthongs ej and ou, the Prekmurje accent with appropriate stress shifts, and short vowels that in the Prekmurje dialect may occur in any of the syllables. The dialectal system is uniform and solid. Actors who are not originally from Prekmurje and who had to learn how to speak the dialect deviate occasionally from the dialectal linguistic system. These deviations are manifested on the level of phonology in:
(a) the place of stress, which is at times influenced by Standard Slovene (the standard zató instead of the dialectal záto ‘therefore’); (b) the quality of vowels, where the Prekmurje short vowels in non-final and final word syllables are often prolonged; (c) the quantity of vowels, where the very pronounced dialectal roundness of the short a is often omitted; (d) the intonation, where a speech melody different from the genuine Prekmurje one is observed.
The consonants are pronounced in accordance with the dialect rules by all the actors. All the actors also use dialectal endings and inflections.
The sentence structure with numerous particle formations, interjections, original dialectal adverbs and particles, repetitions of different types and a rich Pannonian Slovene vocabulary is also dialectal.
2. 4. The Carinthian dialect in Slovene films
Lovro Kuhar – Prežihov Voranc (1893–1950), born in Kotlje near Ravne, was an artist and a politician. He intentionally chose a literary discourse of socially engaged realistic writing. This is based on realism as a cognitive category. In literature, it aspires to a realistic description of life and to a yearning for a better and more just social order. In the center of Voranc’s art are the man and human relations, as well as psychological, moral and ethical dimensions of a given place in a given time. The little man in his works represents peasants and factory workers, and is presented as noble and full of energy.
Prežihov Voranc wrote short stories (Samorastniki, Solzice) and novels (Doberdob, Požganica, Jamnica). The themes of his novels deal with the famous battle from World War I at Doberdob, with the fatal battle and plebiscite for Carinthia and with economic, social and moral crisis in the period between the two wars. In his works, Voranc provides solid and steadfast guidelines for an individual’s personal and social reality in the future: politics should be in the function of national aspirations; work – hard work and abuse of people should be replaced by man’s inner happiness at being creative: love should involve exchange of equal values; motherhood – the highest meaning of life, as children belong to the future; morals – don’t do anything that might disturb or hurt the other; man’s psycho-dynamic structure and character should be based on “self-made” qualities: work, honour, love, dignity, pride and steadfastness. Prežih penetrated into the essence of peasant life. He stressed the need to preserve farming land and develop and cultivate the country, as the deterioration in this area would affect negatively the very existence of a 2 million nation. The scenes from peasant life have global dimensions and are of vital importance to his artistic views. Some chapters, especially those from his collection Samorastniki, exceed their concrete connotations and transcend into a conflict between cosmic relations, and between nature and man in particular. His tale Boj na požiralniku (1937) deals with the issue of human existence in general. In his novella Pot na klop from his collection Solzice he is first consciously facing the world and life, the breadth and depth of human psyche, the complexities of the relations between the peasant and the worker that comes to his bench only to die.
2. 4.1. Boj na požiralniku
In Boj na požiralniku, the ten-year old Dihurček is leaving for Osojnik to work a shepherd boy. He later inherits an impoverished piece of land with numerous water springs that he tries to dry up. A landslide above the water spring, however, mortally wounds Dihurček’s father. By then, Dihurček’s mother exhausted, had already died in the field after miscarrying her sixth child. So the Dihurček’s family is subsequently destroyed by strangers and all the children dispersed. The film Boj na požiralniku was directed by Janez Drozg and recorded on video by Radio and Television Ljubljana in 1979, the music was composed by Bojan Adamič. Some actors, for instance those that play the five children, come from the Carinthan dialect area. The same is true of the actress playing Dihurka, Jerica Mrzel. In the film, she is referred to as Jera or Jerca. Some actors are from Austrian Carinthia, others are from central Slovenia, but they all try to speak the Podjuna Carinthian dialect. The dialogues show traces of the Mežica dialect, only the children display elements of Eastern Podjuna dialect as spoken in Strojna. Some characteristics of the latter are the vowel mutation in the word-final position of -a into -e and of -o into -i after č, ž, š and j, the labialization of the long a into the open o, and the reflex a (as opposed to e in the Mežica dialect) of the nasal e and of the semi-vowel. Examples: dàž, bomo začáli, ne grám, pokwàkni; ràdi ‘redi’; po à:teje ← po ateja, bojo áteje úzáli. The stress on the old long circumflex and acute syllables is the same as in Standard Slovene, while the vowels with secondary and tertiary stress shift can also be short. Examples: bom dúəbo (old stress shift); gə̀re ‘zgoraj’, prèveč, pə̀rnas, zàčne, ọ̀ko, pùsti, vẹ̀čer, so rèkli, òstau, dóma, òtrek. The shift of stress by one syllable toward the end of the word: bote widẹ́li.
2. 4.2. Pot na klop
The novella Pot na klop from the collection Solzice was renamed in the film to Svetneči Gašper after the main character. The text was transferred into the dialect by Mitja Šipek from Šentanel, who has performed this monodrama both in Slovenia and abroad. The language he uses is a fairly accurate dialectal equivalent of the literary original. The word intonation is falling; the prosodic, phonological, morphological and lexical Mežica dialect is genuine, only in some places the word order of clitics is changed. Also, the rheme only rarely occurs before the theme.
The analysis of two films based upon the work of Prežihov Voranc. Both Boj na požiralniku and Svetneči Gašper (based upon the novella Pot na klop) are produced in the Carinthian dialect. The prevailing dialect in both is the Mežica dialect with typical Carinthian diphthongs ie instead of the long jat and etymological e and uo instead of the long etymological o. The long semi-vowel and the nasal en have the narrow e as a reflex in the Mežica dialect, but a long a in the Eastern Podjuna dialect as spoken in Strojna and by the children acting in the film. Similarly, the reflex of the long a is long o in the film, while the Mežica dialect preserves a. Word intonation is falling; because of secondary and tertiary stress shifts we encounter short stressed vowels even in the middle of the words, hence the well-known Carinthian stress shift of the type babíca, vedéli.
Consonant alterations are typically Carinthian. V is thus pronounced only bilabially as w. Š before final vowels meets with little obstruction on the hard palate and passes into w; the phenomenon is referred to as švapanje. Among typical inflectional phenomena we encounter the suffix -u in the genitive case of singular masculine nouns – moštu; the adjectival ending -oje is contracted into -e: wsoke leto, svete mesto; in the genitive of singular masculine nouns we observe the use of -iga, and in the locative of plural nouns the ending -eh; there are numerous interjections that give the novella Pot na klop extra expressive power. In syntax, the theme and the rheme are often used interchangeably in spoken discourse. Numerous dialectal lexemes are proof of Prežih’s profound familiarity with his Carinthian vernacular language.
It can be concluded that the language used in the film analyzed is such that it “creates an illusion for the audience as if the world featured in the film is not really a film, but a real one” (Gjurin 1983: 316). The spoken discourse therefore is what we would expect in comparable real-life circumstances. And this is no doubt among the most important qualities of the analyzed film.
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Feri Lainšček (born in 1959) is a leading Slovene author. He is also known as a song-writer and has worked with a number of Slovene singers and pop bands. He writes lyrical and epic songs as well as dramas for adults and young people. The majority of his works are written in Standard Slovene. Some, however, were written in dialect and later published in Standard Slovene as well. The contemporary Slovene literary critics appreciate him as a prolific author of excellent novels.