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Quel ramo del Lago di Como che volge a mezzogiorno

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by Lariana, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. Lariana

    Lariana Senior Member

    Scotland
    Italy - bilingual French/Italian
    Hello, dear all.

    Yesterday, during a conversation about my dear lake, I was trying to translate this famous sentence written by Alessandro Manzoni in his novel "The Fiancés" (in Italian: "I promessi sposi").

    "Quel ramo del Lago di Como che volge a mezzogiorno..."

    To my immense confusion, I wasn't able to find a translation as elegant as the original phrase.

    My take was: "That branch of the Lake Como, due south..."

    Notice the comma, to avoid referring "due" to "Lake Como". It's just one of the branches that points to south, right?

    I'm not happy about my translation, though.

    Can you help me? Thank you in anticipation.

    Gio
     
  2. elfa

    elfa Senior Member

    Bath, England
    English
    Isn't mezzogiorno north? I might say

    That tributary of Lake Como that heads north/branches off north

    I don't like 'branch' - although I think it's OK to use it - and Lake Como doesn't have an article.

    Incidentally, I think I promessi sposi is generally translated as 'The Betrothed' in English.
     
  3. King Crimson

    King Crimson Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    Italiano
    See here. By the way, the English title is known as "The Betrothed".
    Ciao
     
  4. elfa

    elfa Senior Member

    Bath, England
    English
    Thanks, KC - much better than mine! I still don't understand how it can be 'south' though. If both hands of a clock are pointing to the figure 12, that's north, isn't it? Or am I really missing something here? :confused:
     
  5. Lariana

    Lariana Senior Member

    Scotland
    Italy - bilingual French/Italian
    Thank you!


    "Mezzogiorno" means "midday," which is hardly a northern concept ;), geographically speaking.

    So, no. It's south.

    "The Fiancés" is another accepted title (I verified before posting).

    Ack. Of course there's no article before Lake of Como.
     
  6. Lariana

    Lariana Senior Member

    Scotland
    Italy - bilingual French/Italian
    I don't like "branch" either, but "tributary" is a river that flows into another river; therefore, the term doesn't apply in the context.

    The lake of Como (the article is necessary here--"lake", lowercase, is the subject) is shaped like an inverted "Y" (see my avatar).

    By the way, the branch belonging to Lecco, the city where Alessandro Manzoni's novel is set, continues with the Adda River, the river that creates the lake (Como is a "dead branch" of almost stagnant water--that's why Clooney is selling his villa--kidding).
     
  7. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Italian
    The sun rises in the East, at midday it's in the South and sets in the West :)
     
  8. elfa

    elfa Senior Member

    Bath, England
    English
    I suppose that's why 'extends towards the south' works so well in this context.
     
  9. Lariana

    Lariana Senior Member

    Scotland
    Italy - bilingual French/Italian
    You're right, Paul! Silly me. The Lecco branch follows the movement of the sun. Of course *headdesk*

    But, for the sake of exactitude, "mezzogiorno" does mean "south."
     
  10. elfa

    elfa Senior Member

    Bath, England
    English
    Yes, thanks, Paul, for clearing that up! :)
     
  11. giovannino

    giovannino Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Archibald Colquhoun's 1951 translation of I promessi sposi is highly regarded. There are some excerpts here. And here is his translation of the opening sentence:

    That branch of the lake of Como which extends southwards between two unbroken chains of mountains, and is all gulfs and bays as the mountains advance and recede, narrows down at one point, between a promontory on one side and a wide shore on the other, into the form of a river;
     
  12. Lariana

    Lariana Senior Member

    Scotland
    Italy - bilingual French/Italian
    Thank you for posting the translation, but Paul just gave the interpretation we learn in school (forgetful me had...forgotten). Both branches head south, so what makes a difference between the two branches is that one points to east (Como), while the other points to west (Lecco).

    Our sophisticated Manzoni used the metaphor of the setting sun, which appears to move toward the western part of the sky. So does the Lecco branch (where the novel is set).
     
  13. Lariana

    Lariana Senior Member

    Scotland
    Italy - bilingual French/Italian
    I should clarify that you see the orientation toward west when you look south from Bellagio, on the spot where the two branches form...

    A traveler coming from Switzerland would see the Lecco branch turned to the left (west).

    Fifteenth/sixteenth-century Italian maps of the world (mappamondo/i) were drawn upside down. So I guess that's where the tradition comes from.
     
  14. Akire72

    Akire72 Senior Member

    Florence, Italy
    Italian - Italy
    That branch of the lake of Como which extends southwards between two unbroken chains of mountains

    I really like this, yet, doesn't "volgere" mean "turn"? It doesn't really "extend", it forks and one of the branches goes south-west.
     
  15. furs

    furs Senior Member

    Lombardia
    Italian - Trieste dialect
    Lariana, you must have inverted the branches -- Lecco is actually on the SE, Como on the SW.
    Old Alessandro wasn't very accurate in saying that the Lecco branch 'extends southwards'; but poets are not expected to be proficient in geography (remember, Carducci made the sun set behind Mt. Resegone (which is NE of Milan)!
     
  16. Lariana

    Lariana Senior Member

    Scotland
    Italy - bilingual French/Italian
    Please re-read my posts. Or read them for the first time.

    I said that Lecco (my hometown, thank you very much) is on the SW, on the left, if you look from north to south (from Bellagio or the Switzerland).

    And Manzoni was perfectly right in saying that the two branches extend southward (because they do: one SE and the other SW).

    Please read the explanation Paul gave us: Manzoni used the metaphor of the sun which, from midday (mezzogiorno), turns toward west. It's subtle, yes. Repeating myself: I had forgotten what I'd learnt in school, from first grade to graduation. I'm getting old. ;)
     
  17. Teerex51

    Teerex51 Senior Member

    Milan, Italy
    Italian
    Sorry Lariana, I live pretty close to our beloved lake and I guarantee you that, if you stand on the lake shore at Colico and look due South, Lecco will lie to the SE and Como to the SW. I kid you not. ;) http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lago_di_Como
     
  18. furs

    furs Senior Member

    Lombardia
    Italian - Trieste dialect
    I am appalled. SE remains SE regardless of the point where you are standing. Lecco is SE of Bellagio; Como is SW. You seem to be a living example of the damage done by canceling Geography from Italian school programs. By the way: I myself live not far from the lake (unless they moved away from Milan last night!). But what counts more, I can read a map.
     
  19. Orkneysprings New Member

    USA english
    I have another question about the translation of this passage - the meaning of the word "seni" as in "tutto a seni e a golfi". This is usually translated as something like "all bays and gulfs". Aren't these more or less the same? I see that "seno" is translated as "breast" and I wonder if Manzoni is using these as contrasting forms, evoking the outward-swelling land between the bays/gulfs - is this possible?

     
  20. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Italian
    You can also call breasts "curves" and seni a golfi gives the idea of something curvy :)
     
  21. Orkneysprings New Member

    USA english
    ha-ha -
    of course! thank you.
     
  22. Eroi Del Mare Banned

    Italiano
    Se dovessi avere problemi nella lettura de "I Promessi Sposi" (è scritto in un italiano del 1800),forse potresti utilizzare ,nel caso in cui trovassi dei termini "oscuri",il TLIO ,che è un dizionario di Italiano Antico,realizzato dal Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche in collaborazione con l'Accademia della Crusca.

    TLIO link --->http://tlio.ovi.cnr.it/TLIO/
     
  23. Lariana

    Lariana Senior Member

    Scotland
    Italy - bilingual French/Italian
    In my time, geography was hammered in our heads. I was distracted (and far away from my hometown on Lake Como).

    "Seno" has two meanings: 1) breast and 2) cavity (anatomy).

    "Seno," in the context, means "small gulf" (Insenatura marina di piccola estensione). Seno and insenatura are synonyms.

    Colquhoun's translation may be highly regarded, but it's also inaccurate. I've found these kinds of mistakes in other highly regarded translations (Buzzati's "Il colombre," for instance).

    Thank you, Eroi, but, in my time (;-), we used to read I promessi sposi in school ad nauseam.

    An example of "seno" used as an anatomical term is "seni nasali (sinuses)."
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2011

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