Translation of Prežih’s dialect lexis into English

(Prežihov Voranc: Samorastniki – Irma M. Ožbalt: The Self-Sown)

By Anja Benko & Zinka Zorko (University of Maribor, Slovenia)


Prežihov Voranc (1893–1950), born as Lovro Kuhar in Kotje na Koroškem (Slovenia), was a self-taught writer, an author of novels, stories, short stories, sketch stories and travelogues. The short story Samorastniki (The Self-Sown) was published in the 1940 collection with the same title and includes eight short stories. The collection is entitled as the last short story – The Self-Sown (Samorastniki), which is also the subject of this analysis. Prežih's style is based on the Slovene standard language, while the Carinthian dialect features are visible in dialect lexis, set expressions and metaphors. The novel Samorastniki intertwines language and style, which is visible in the choice of stylistic and linguistic devices (also dialect lexis) and in the established semantic fields.

Keywords: prežihov voranc – lovro kuhar, samorastniki, the self-sown, carinthian dialect, mežica local speech

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0 Introduction

Anja Benko[1], Zinka Zorko[2]

Lovro Kuhar – Prežihov Voranc was born in the village of Kotlje in the Koroška region in 1895 and died in Maribor in 1950.[3]

The publicist Karl Markus Gauss from Salzburg pinpoints three words – a writer, vagabound, communist – in his 1988 essay collection Črnilo je pikro in order to encompass Prežih's life path. Prežihov Voranc was a politician and artist, whose political, pedagogical and national initiative is incorporated in his literature, which along with an artistic function also has socially-ideological function. Influenced by his time and place, the author voices the political issues of his time. Karl Markus – Gauss addresses Voranc as »the song from a margin that became a magnificent epic«.

Prežihov Voranc intentionally decided to take a literary path of socially engaged realism. In terms of typology, the category of realism is based on the term mimesis and is a kind of omnipresent substance, while the historic term of realism is limited by the literary style as a cognitive category. Prežihov Voranc gave up the ideological discourse exactly in The Self-Sown – a short story, which centres around man and human relations, i.e. psychological, moral and ethical aspects of his time and place. His works portray a little man, a determined and noble representative of the rural and industrial proletariat.

Lovro Kuhar – Prežihov Voranc is first and foremost a short story writer, novelist and children’s author. Stemming from a negative standpoint towards the then situation, he provided guidelines that were supposed to oppose the time, define and justify the future world with the stated goals as follows: politics ought to be in the function of national aspirations; work should no longer be a drudgery and abuse but man's inner joy when being creative; love should be the exchange of equal values; motherhood – the highest meaning of life, as the children are our future; last but not least, morality under the slogan: never act in a way that might disturb or hurt the other. Work, honour, love, dignity, pride and fortitude are likewise the words uttered by Meta Hudabivnik to her children and seem to be virtues sown in and grown from man’s inner psychodynamic structure.

Such new reality was constructed by Prežih in the context of the socialism and socialist ideology. However, his socialism does not stem from the working class only. Prežih embraces the socialist ideology rationally, while harbouring his love for homeland and peasants in his heart and soul.

1 Prežih's style

Prežihov Voranc wrote literature in Slovene Standard language. According to the message that the author conveys, we can differentiate between objectified and subjectified messages. Their effect depends on the author’s emotional engagement, while the recipient communicates (i.e. responds) with the text at emotional level. The author is ought to choose the lexis that distinctively and suggestively transfers the level of his emotional engagement. When the recipient is presented with a stylistically neutral background, the expressive lexis that stems from the local dialect or Carinthian colloquial can surface. A dialectal lexical item[4], carrying a stylistic value, is typical of a particular local speech and can be observed at all language levels.

Lovro Kuhar's dialect speech was the Mežica local speech, which is one of the Carinthian subdialects. The Mežica dialect is nowadays spoken in the Meža valley and the Mislinja valley, where also the South-Pohorje Styrian subdialect is spoken.

The Kotlje local speech lost the tonemic opposition and the word intonation is a falling one. Among the long accented vowels there are two typical Carinthian diphtongs, namely ie and ou to mirror the long jat, the etimologycal sound e and long etimological sound o. Short accented vowels evoled from the originally short vowels or younger accentual withdrawals.

A short schwa sound and a short nasal e are mirrored in short a sound. In a consonant system the so called švapanje (i.e. the Carinthian dialect phenomenon when the consonant before back vowels is pronounced as w) is visible; while štekanje is also present (the phenomenon where š is added before t in demonstrative adjectives and adverbs). At morphological level the masculine, feminine and neutral nouns are preserved in singular, while in plural the neutral nouns are feminized; rarely they become masculine. In masculine declension the locative and instrumental cases are the same in singular, while the adjectival masculine declension exhibits the genitive ending -iga in singular.

In order to obtain greater expressivenes and capture the local feaures of the region, Prežihov Voranc especially by using proper names, set expressions and metaphors introduced the Carinthian dialect lexis and dialect compounds.

2 Irma M. Ožbalt

The short story Samorastniki was translated to English as The Self-Sown by Irma M. Ožbalt.

The translator was born in Žužemberg on 6th November 1926 to the Marinčič family as the youngest of three children. She attended primary school in Šempeter, the first three classes of grammar school in Celje and then continued her schooling at the Poljane grammar school in Ljubljana. The German occupation forced her parents to emigrate to Slavonia (Croatia), while Irma and her brother stayed in Ljubljana. In 1945 she faced expulsion from the teaching college due to her catholic religious beliefs. Her brother was killed during the war. At that time she once again enrolled in grammar school, and after the Matura exam studied Slovene and English at Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana.

In 1957 she married and headed to Sydney, Australia. After five years she returned to Maribor, Slovenia. In 1966 she together with her husband and two children moved to Montreal, Canada. At the McGill University she obtained her Masters degree and PhD from the field of Slavic languages and literature.

Since her retirement in 1990, she has been engaged in researching the Slovene language and literature, translating from Slovene to English and vice versa, while also producing (publishing) her own literary work.

In 1983 the publishing house Prometej from New Orleans published a bilingual edition of the short story Samorastniki, in English titled as The Self-Sown.

3 The Self-Sown

The 1940 short story collection The Self-Sown, written by Prežihov Voranc includes eight short stories (Boj na požiralniku, Jirs in Bavh, Vodnjak, Ljubezen na odoru, Pot na klop, Prvi spopad, Odpustki in Samorastniki), in which the author depicts the lives of Carinthian peasants, cottagers, maidservants, who fight the empty and unyielding soil. He tells a story of humiliation, love, suffering of the Carinthian people.

The collection is entitled as the last short story – The Self-Sown (Samorastniki), which is also the subject of this analysis. All eight short stories centre on the fight for survival, which often takes its toll – people's lives. The potrayed people are sufferers, drained from the shortage, drudgery, yet determined and strong in their everyday battle to survive. The ending is nevetheless clear – it is man's downfall, who in spite of this spends the last moments of their lives full of zeal and belief in future and human (Janež 1971: 252).

The short story The Self-Sown is a love story evolving around the cottager Meta Hudabivnik and Ožbej, a son of the rich farmer Karničnik, who strongly opposes their relation as he wants his son to marry a wealthy girl. However, Ožbej refuses to give in to his father's pressure. Meta is gruesomely tortured – on her palms the yarn is burnt, she is flogged, yet what is the worst is the humiliation and scorn from everyone in her village and surroundings. Even though it is prohibited for Meta to meet Ožbej, she gives birth to nine children. Ožbej, however, does not marry her, which speaks of his cowardice and strong will his father imposes on him. The story ends even more tragically. After having taken to drinking, Ožbej on his way home falls into a lake and drowns. Meta is actually her whole life a single parent to nine children. Despite the poverty, negligence, scorn and suffering, the children become strong and hard-working people, whose family is “sown” in the Carinthian soil – thus the title “self-sown”. The mighty Karnice estate decays at the end. Prežihov Voranc symbolically depicts the proletarian win in this short story.

4 Analysis of the dialect lexis translated into English in The Self-Sown

The analysis of the translated text begins with reading the original text (Newmark 200: 30). As a reader, one has to comprehend what the text is about. Only at later stage should a reader analyse it as a translator, the view of whose is by no means equal to the one of a linguist or literary critic. However, the processes of reading the text and comprehending it should not be separated.

Newmark (2003: 267) defends the idea that in terms of translating a text, a short story is the second most difficult literary genre to break down, while the rendition of the original might be longer than the original text. “In terms of key vocabulary items, translators have to critically approach their texts; they have to pinpoint the vocabulary items that carry the crucial meaning (and are consequently semantically more important) and those that are marginal. As a result, the lost and newly gained information in translation is in accordance with their prior evaluation of the source text.

The analysis of dialect lexis in the short story The Self-Sown encompasses personal proper names, geopraphical names, the names for estates, houses, sourrunfing, various objects, units of measurment, expressions for customs and traditions, food and clothing items, religion-related expressions, the dialect expressions for human, swear words, as typical dialect vocabulary iterms are written also the translations of epithets, metaphors, personifications and dialect expressive verbs.

Prežih's texts altogether abound in 192 personal proper names; there are 205 male and 87 female characters in his collection The characters are named with the morphological and semantic varieties of their personal names, while they are marked with common names, unmodified given (Christian) names, dialect compounds and nicknames. To name the bottom of the social ladder, the writer chose pejorative expressions, which is visible in naming the illegitimate children in The Self-Sown. The variety of personal names might convey a pejorative or affectionate relation towards the literary character as in Ožbej, Gal/Gav, Gaber. The names Hudabela and Hudabivka are stylistically the most obvious synonyms.

Nouns are used as a stylistic device as in krvava rihta 'torture' – metonymy; srot nesrečni – a swear word; dečva 'a girl'; huba estate; iberžnica 'maidservant, who does the menial work'; janka 'skirt'; martra 'suffering, pain'; pankrt 'illegitimate child'; rihta 'judgement/verdict'; samorastnik, tartman 'the final part of a well pipe adorned with Tartar head; drhal 'rabble'.

Ajdectives are used as a stylistic device as in skuren 'ugly, indecent'.

Dialect verbs are used as a stylistic device as well.

Closed world classes (for example adverbs) also show dialect-markedness: druge barti.

5 Analysis of culturally specific elements in The Self-Sown

At phonological level the short story The Self-Sown exhibits fewer dialect features, whereas the dialect lexis is clearly visible at the word level. The collection abounds in the local and dialect words. Prežih also included set expressions, comparisons, and personifications that he was familiar with.

Among the dialect words nouns, adjectives, verbs and interjections prevail. We analyzed certain dialect expressions and juxtaposed them with their English translational equivalents with the presupposition that all translational counterparts are in Standard English. We aimed to find out whether the target language words are marked in a different way, whether they by any means show that the original text does not contain a Standard (Slovene) word, and whether the translator renders the lexis into English with the main objective that the recipient understands the meaning, while paying no attention to the dialect features of the text.

»There are literary genres that, when undergoing the translation, loose a certain level of their meaning: poetry, euphonic poetry, texts with wordplay or culturally specific texts that abound in dialect elements. However, this does not mean they are inappropriate for a translation« (Newmark 200: 302). Some translators share the opinion that texts containing dialect elements are the most difficult to translate, while Peter Newmark opposes this belief. He says that when the dialect appears at metalinguistic level (i.e. as a language pattern), the dialect is transferred to Standard language, while the translator provides justification as to why he translated it this way (Newmark 2000: 302). However, when the dialect is featured in the belles lettres or plays the Newman singles out yet another factor. According to him the translator has to decide as to what function of the dialect he wants to emphasize: a social (i.e. slang) variety of language, an enhancement of the social differences or a portrayal of local, culturally-specific features (Newmark 200: 303).

The realia are grouped according to theme, time and place. All the dialect expressions originate from the Carinthian dialect and Prežih' surroundings. We classified words according to their semantics, namely, geographical names, estates, house and surroundings, objects (tools), units of measurement, currency, customs and traditions, religion, food items, man's features and characteristics, clothing items and swear words. We also culled the epithets, expressive verbs, metaphors, comparisons, personifications and sayings. In addition, we analyzed the dialect variant of personal names, which are Prežih's omnipresent stylistic feature. The personal names create a specific atmosphere in the literary work. They encompass the unmodified given (Christian) names, Slovene names, Biblical names and Saints' names used across Europe, while the pejorative names, which were also analyzed, were used almost as a rule for illegitimate children in Prežih's time.

5.1 Geographical names

  • In case of translating geographical names, Peter Newmark (2000: 307–308) says that they are useful as eponyms, when their connotation is obvious. When it is necessary, they need to be not only rendered into the target language but also equipped with additional information, since being familiar with them is the basic knowledge. Translations of geographical names should be up-to-date, meaning the translator is ought to double-check the lexis in the latest, updated professional literature, taking into consideration also country's wishes as to what variant of a place name to use and never invent new geographical names themselves (Newmark 2000: 333).
  • Place names: Bela = Bela; Borovlje = Borovlje; Celovec = Celovec; Celovška cesta = near Celovec; Dobrla ves = Dobrlaves; Jamnica = Jamnica; na Laškem = somewhere in Italy; Pliberk = Pliberk; Pušča = Pušča; Šentvid = the town of Šentvid; Tinje = Tinje.
  • When translating geographical names, the translator provides additional information to help the reader understand their meaning. This is also the most common process when translating geographical names. It is essential for the recipient to understand whether the story takes places or is about a town, village, mountain, river or some other place. Here are some examples from the analyzed texts. It is interesting to observe how the translator throughout her translation writes the place Dobrla ves as one word, which is incorrect. Moreover, she only provides an additional description with Šentvid, while leaves the other place names unchanged. In the case of Laško, she simplifies its name to somewhere near Italy, and renders Celovška cesta to near Celovec. Both translations are inaccurate. The latter might be translated as the Celovška street, for example. English also employs the name Klagenfurt and by no means the Slovene variant Celovec for the Austrian city.
  • Rivers, streams: Drava = the Drava river, the Drava, the Drava valley; Zablatniško jezero = the Zablatniško Lake.
  • Words in this group are also equipped with additional information, most probably for the better understanding. What seems interesting is that the translator writes Lake with a capital letter, whereas other common nouns (mountain, valley, and town) are never capitalized. On one occasion the Drava is translated as the Drava valley, which is inaccurate, as the text is about the river and not the valley.
  • Moutains, hills and valleys: Obir = the Obir mountain range, the Obir; Dobrač = the Dobra mountain, the Dobrač; Golce = Golce mountains; Karavanke = the Karavanke mountains; Karnice (Velike/Male) = slope, which was called Karnice, Karnice (Little/Big Karnice); Koroška dežela = the Carinthian land; Olševa = the Olševa, (Olševo) mountain, Olševa mountains; Peca = the Peca mountain, the Peca; Podjuna = the Podjuna valley, Podjuna; Rož = the valley of Rož; Svinec = the Svinec mountain; Svinja = the Svinja, the Savinja valley.
  • When translating mountains, hills and valleys, the translator commonly resorts to adding some additional information to clarify the meaning of place names. All the mountain names are equipped by the term mountain, while all valleys by the term valley. None of the two are capitalized. The word Dobrač is once translated as the Dobra mountain, while the correct translation is the Dobrač mountain; Dobrač is also a variant she uses. Olševa is once rendered into English as the Olševo mountain, which is again inaccurate. What comes as a surprise is also the inconsistent translation of Podjuna and Rož. Both places names might be equipped with the word valley that follows the geographical name. The translator, however, translates Rož as the valley of Rož. The same goes for Svinja, a mountain – the translator uses the expression the Savinja valley. The general finding based on the data is that upon the first encounter with the word the translator usually adds some additional information to a place name and then uses the latter without an additional description.
  • Regions: Koroška dežela = Carinthia province, Carinthian land; Koroška = Carinthia; Belanske globače = one of the gullies, the ravines of Bela, the Bela valleys, additional information is also left out as in toda gorje ti, ubogo dekle belanskih globač; Štajerska = Štajersko region, Štajersko.
  • Translating regions also unfolds some inconsistencies. The term Koroška is rendered into English as Carinthia, whereas Štajersko remains unchanged. If the former is translated, the latter should also be, namely with the established term Styria.

5.2 Personal names

  • »Usually forenames and surnames need no translation and in this way »preserve« their nationality with presupposition that their names have no essential connotation in the text.« (Newmark 2000: 330)
  • Karničnik (estate name and family name) = the family named Karničnik, Karničnik, the Karničniks, mother and father Karničnik, Karničnica (a female form); Kresnik = Bonfireman; Hudabivnik (used in variations as follows: Hudabela, Hudabivka, Hudabivška mati, Hudabivnica) = Hudabivnik (explained in translator's comment: Hudabivnik means 'The Evil One'), the Hudabivniks, Hudabivka (the female forms of surname are explained the translator's: Voranc uses the following feminized forms of the surname Hudabivnik: Hudabivka, Hudabivnica, Hudabela), mother Hudabivnik; Gav/Gal (dialect name, ox name) = in tranlator's comments: 'In old times, unusual names were given to illegitimate children by intolerant priests; in this way they exposed the child to ridicule and put a stigma on him forever. »Gav« is later given as »Gal«, the first variation being the phonetical spelling of the name.' The inconsistency is seen also with the translation of this name since Gal is translated as Gav and Gal.
  • The translator translates personal names as they are written (i.e. spelled) in Slovene. However, as there is more to the semantics of Prežih's personal names than meets the eye, the translator adds comments and a preface to her translation. In this way she explains some features and peculiarities that personal names contain. Once again we come across inaccuracy in the translation, as Hudabela, Hudabivka and other variants of the surname Hudabivnik were translated inconsistently. For example, Hudabela is on more occasions translated as Hudabivka and vice versa. The fact that Hudabivka is the most common translation could be explained by the translator’s wish not to puzzle the reader with numerous variations of this surname. The other variants are rare in occurrence and explained in translator's comments. What we can deduce from the culled examples is that the main obstacle with translating eponyms derived from personal names (for example, Hudabivka is a surname derivative) is whether this word will be understood or not (Newmark 2000: 306).

5.3 Estate, house, sorroundings

  • Bajta = the shack, the wooden hut, cottage, the house; dimnica = the smoke-room (the addtional description is in the translator's: 'smoke-room: the main dwelling area in an old-fashioned farmhouse, a smoke-filled living room and kitchen combined'); durnik = door; hlev = the barn; huba = homestead, the estate, the heir to the farm; globača = hidden valley; gonja = the dirt ruts hidden by hedgerows (additional describtion); gorica = the hill; goščava = the thicket; graščina = the castle; grunt = the farm (land registers); kamra = the chamber, warm place; kajža = the shack, home, house, shanty, a cottage; krušna peč = the bread-oven; parna = the hayloft; Pankrtska kajža = the 'bastard shanty'.
  • When translating dialect words naming the house and estate, the translator decided for the Standard English lexis, however failed to be consistent in her choice of words. For instance, huba is sometimes translated as the homestead, on other occasion as the estate and also as the farm. All three words are appropriate; however, a single translational equivalent would mean a higher level of consistency. Semantically close are the words bajta and kajža, the translations of which even overlap, i.e. both are translated as the shack as well as the house and the cottage. The original text employs two words (even though they share same meaning) to name these realia items, however, the difference between them is due to translator’s inconsistency blurred in English. It is also interesting that the word gorica is hill in English, knowing that it also means the courtyard in the Carinthian dialect. The translator might not have noticed this in the original text.

5.4. Objects, units of measurements, customs, traditions, religion, food

  • Objects: aherci = gables; cula = a bag; habina = willow cane, whip; kuhlja = izpuščeno; merjasec = wild board; možnar = mortar; otrava = poison; otveza = binding rope; povesmo = flax; psica = the carpenter´s bench, the torture bench, the bench; taterman = pipa; tutujka = dove.
  • Translating the dialect words for objects caused no problem for the translator. She found out the semantics of a lexical item and translated it with a Standard English expression. A mistake that the author did not notice, can be observer in translating merjasec (a wild boar), which also means plough.
  • Translating units of measurement depends on their origin and a possible reader. In the field of belles lettres the choice whether the quantities should be converted or not depends on the importance of persevering the local colorfulness (Newmark 2000: 335).
  • Units of measurement, currency: joh = acre; rajniš = florin, gulden. Since a specified dictionary provides the translational equivalent, the translator had no problems with translating this group of words.
  • Customs and traditions: bela nedelja = Low Sunday; dača = due; pust = Shrovetide (in translator's comments: 'It was the custom to celebrate weddings between Christmas and Ash Wednesday, since Lent was the time of penance and fasting.'); rihta = rite of chastisement, torture; storija = story; tepežka = beating.
  •  Here, likewise, the translator understood the semantics of the dialect words and rendered them into English by using Standard English vocabulary items.
  •  Religion: bognasvaruj = God forbid!; božja martra = the crucifix; ki je za nas krvavo gajžvan bil … = who was scourged for us …; greh = sin; križev pot = Golgotha; martra = torture; martrnica/martrniški stol = the torture bench/stool; mučenica = the martyr; mučeniške srage = sweat born of torture; odžebrati = the recital; odžebravati = join the prayer; pokora = the punishment, a penitence, the penance; rožni venec = the rosary; vpeljanka = purification in church; žebrati = pray.
  • With the exception of the word vpeljanka that is translated with a description, the religion-related lexis was translated with Standard English expressions.
  • Food: kipjenik = buck-wheat dumpling; klobase = sausages; miznik = white bread; stolnik = brown bread; razne druge potice = all kinds of cakes.
  • When translating a typical Carinthian cuisine, the translator used the expressions well-known to the English. The words stolnik and miznik were translated incorrectly. Their meaning is just the opposite of the one found in the translation.

5.5 Names for people, clothes, swear words

  • Names for people: amažnik = pauper, wreck; birič = the beadle; camar = 'the man in charge of the wedding-day ceremonies, wedding manager, the leader' (description); carapa = coward; dečva = wench; deklica = hussy; deklina = the wench; deklič = the wench, girl; drosa (pejorative) 'čreda otrok' = brood, flock; gospodinja = the mistress; hlačar = toddler; hlapec = the male servant; hudabivška žvot = the whole Hudabivnik brood; iberžnica = hired for general work, a maid, farm-hand, servant; kajžar = poor people; kravarica = the dairy maid; možnarji = the mortars; oče = father (explained in the translator's comments: 'father, mother – the terms used by servants in addressing their masters'); odrta = dissolving in tears; pankrt = bastard; pankrtnica = bitch; samobučnež = stubborn; sirotej = became pathetic, miserable man; skot = wretch; trdobučnež = they acted tough; trdovratnica = stubborn wench; the stubborn woman; velika dekla = the head maid; zamožen = wealthy.
  • The translator often resorts to describing a source language word in case of expressions for people (for example the word camar), since English does not employ one-word expressions for such dialect words. She also uses the so called hyponym (for example, poor people for kajžar). The noun sirotej is rendered as 'became pathetic, miserable man', while the translations of žvot in drosa share the English translation equivalent 'brood'.
  • Clothes: hadrca = the scarf; janka = petticoat.
  • Swear words: babe = the women, hags; cundra = whore; cundra cundrasta = whore, bloody whore; cundra prekleta = bloody whore; drosa = brood; fleka = slut; kuzla = bitch; kuzla, kuzlasta = you bitch, you dirty bitch; pankrt = the bastard; pankrtnica = bitch; ponovca = tramp; pregrešnica = sinful woman; prekleta cundra = you damn whore; prekleti hudiči = damned bastards; prešuštnica = the slut; priliznjenka = a sly girl; vlačuga = the slut, the whore; zezej = spinless rat.
  • As before, when translating swear words, the translator used Standard English expressions, which are also emotionally coloured (i.e. pejorative) and colloquial. Again some translations overlap: for instance, cundra and vlačuga are translated as the whore, while fleka and vlačuga as the slut. The translator uses the English word whore and slut for their Slovene counterpart prešuštnica.

5.6 Epithets

  • Brežna (njiva) = sloping (field); gola (sramota) = behind; okinčani (vozovi) = izpust, zapiše samo 'carriages'; nakiplo (meso) = swollen (flesh); očitna (sramota) = public exposure and abuse, public dusgrace; razorano (lice) = face; skuren = ugly (adj)/vicious (n); taloven = gloomy; žarko = intensely; žolt = sallow.
  • Prežih's style abounds in colourful epithets, which as a stylistic device enrich the semantics of a noun. During the translation, this peculiarity of his is often lost, since the translator simplifies or omits them (for example: razorano lice – face, gola sramota – behind).

5.7 Personifications, metaphors, sayings

  •  Zagnati po (poslati po) (expressive/dialectal) = sent for; sva se zvrnila na hrbet širokega gozdnega slemena = slumped down on our backs; njegov pogled je zamišljen pil borno sliko = gazed at the dreary scenery; izsula je iz sebe naslednjo zgodbo = the story came pouring out; mladi kljuni (children) = young ones; ni se mogla upokojiti (calm down) = she could not settle down; le Dobrač je še dalje živordeče žarel = only the Dobrač kept glowing red; so se dvigale podobe, ko da bi vstajale iz hladne kopeli neizmernega srebrnega tolmuna = the images rose as if out of a cool bath in an immense silver pool; ima podobo nagrbančenih korenik obirske gore = it looks as if some wrinkled roots of the Obir mountain; mož je govoril, kot da bi drva cepil (folk) = the man spoke as if chopping wood; kakor bi valil tnalo za cepljenje drv = as if he were rolling a chopping block; izlegla/zlegla je pankrta = produced a bastard, bastard was born, gave birth; njena zadnjica je bila že prekrižana z debelimi marogastimi klobasami = her buttocks were already criss-crossed with thick mottled sausages; rod se plazi po globačak, ko da bi se črvi plazili = creeo over hill and dale like worms; nakapljal se je iz neštetih postelj = they have dripped out of countless beds; se je kakor ris zakadil vanj = jumped on him like a tiger; to privrženstvo je raslo počasi, kakor prihaja rosa na travnike = the number of their supporters grew slowly, as imperceptively as dew comes over the meadows; bila je ko sonce, pred katerim se je moralo vse skriti = she was like a sun in whose light everything pales; iz stoterih oči je mogel brati, kakšen biser je Meta = he was able to read in hundred eyes – that Meta was a gem; svetila vam je strela, budil vas je grom = lightning flashed above you and thunder kept you awake; je šlo, ko da bi se plaz udrl = it went like an avalanche; so se razsuli ko mravlje po lesovih = split like ants all over forests.
  • The translator often uses almost literal translation of metaphors and personifications, whereas she only in few cases employs the English translational counterparts or near synonyms as in se je kakor ris zakadil vanj = he jumped on him like a tiger; po globačah = over hill and dale.
  • Sayings: Ko ne more biti kruha iz te moke. = This can come to nothing.; Na vojni se odpuščajo najbolj zarjaveli grehi. = In the war all your sins are forgiven, even the most tarnisched ones.

5.8 Expressive verbs

  • Čebeziti = talk nonsense; izleči = produce; mazati s palico = whipping with a stick; mož je zalajal = barked the man; pobarati = inquire, ask; pridregniti = crowd in; skrotovičiti se = contract into a heap; svesti = concious of; zazorilo sklep = make.

6 Conclusion

Prežihov Voranc[5] (1893–1950), born as Lovro Kuhar in Kotje na Koroškem, was a self-taught writer, an author of novels, stories, short stories, sketch stories and travelogues. The short story Samorastniki (The Self-Sown) was published in the 1940 collection with the same title. It depicts the life and hardships of a farm maidservant with many illegitimate children.

Prežih's style is based on the Slovene standard language, while the Carinthian dialect features are visible in dialect lexis, set expressions and metaphors. In the novel dealt with, the translator Irma M. Ožbalt, a native speaker of Slovene, mostly preserves (1) proper names (e.g. Karničnik, Kresnik, Hudabivnik, Gav/Gal, Gaber /a tree name/, Volbenk, Meta, Ožbej) and (2) river names (e.g. Drava, Bela, Zablatniško jezero), names of hills (Obir = the Obir; Karnice = a slope, called Karnice; Podjuna = the Podjuna valley; Karavanke = the Karavanke), regions e.g. Koroška = Carinthia; belanske globače = ravines of Bela). On the other hand, the following groups of words undergo translation: (1) Carinthian names for estates, houses, surroundings (e.g. huba = homestead, estate, farm; bajta = shack, hut, cottage, house; kajža = shack, home, house, shanty, cottage), (2) objects (e.g. pipe = taterman; merjasec = wild boar), (3) units of measurement, currencies (e.g. joh = acre; rajniš = florin), (4) expressions for customs and traditions (e.g. rihta = rite, torture; tepežka = beating; Bela nedelja = Low Sunday), (5) religion-related expressions (e.g. božja martra = crucifix; martrnica/martrniški stol = torture bench/stool; žebrati = pray) and (6) food items (e.g. stolnik = brown bread; kipljenik = buckwheat dumpling). The translator furthermore translates (1) dialect pejorative names for man (e.g. iberžnica = someone hired for general work, maid, farm-hand, servant; pankrt = bastard; pankrtnica = bitch), (2) swear words (e.g. cundra = whore; vlačuga = slut, whore; kuzla = bitch). The text abounds in dialect metaphors (e.g je zamišljen pil borno sliko = gazed at the dreary scenery), epithets (e.g. žolt = sallow; taloven = gloomy; žarko = intensely), comparisons and personifications.

The short story Samorastniki (The Self-Sown) intertwines language and style, which is visible in the choice of stylistic and linguistic devices (also dialect lexis) and in the established semantic fields.

The culled data show how the translator translated dialect lexis. All vocabulary items are translated with Standard English expressions, even though some of them are colloquial and of a lower register in the source language. On more occasions Irma M. Ožbalt employs hypernyms to translate a source language word. Numerous are simplifications, while occasional omissions can also be observed. For example, okinčani vozovi is translated without the epithet okinčani, because of which the reader is deprived to imagine the beautifully adorned carriages. The omission of the sentence toda gorje ti, ubogo dekle belanskih globač can only explained by the fact that the translator simply overlooked it. Numerous words are explained with descriptions.

Taking everything into consideration, what can be deduced is that the translator used generalizations, simplifications, descriptions and omissions of the source language lexis. These are common ways to deal with translating dialect words. However, a reader is often deprived of the rich and colourful descriptions that a reader of the original text can enjoy.


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7 Notes

[1] The University of Maribor, Faculty of Arts, Slavic languages and literatures, Koroška cesta 160, 2000 Maribor.

[2] Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Section of Philological and Literary Sciences, Novi trg 3, 1000 Ljubljana.

[3] From Slovene to English translated by Alan Paradiž.

[4] »Dialect lexis, i.e. a dialectal feature/peculiarity is what is typical of a particular dialect or (local) speech. / .../ If the phenomenon stretches across more dialects, we refer to it as a regional (linguistic) feature.« (Toporišič 1992: 123)

[5] His pseudonym.

©inTRAlinea & Anja Benko & Zinka Zorko (2012).
"Translation of Prežih’s dialect lexis into English (Prežihov Voranc: Samorastniki – Irma M. Ožbalt: The Self-Sown)"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: The Translation of Dialects in Multimedia II
Edited by: Giovanni Nadiani & Chris Rundle
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