Fra le sue braccia (dell'acqua) si realizza la nostra esistenza terrena

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by MaryMe, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. MaryMe New Member

    Hello, everyone!
    I know the question might sound stupid, but... it isn't! I know "water" in English is an "it", but I have a small translation for a friend where water is "The great Mother", and the entire discourse is about water as female, mother - sometimes personified: "Fra le sue braccia si realizza la nostra esistenza terrena".
    My question is: how do English native speakers perceive water: can it be a "she"?
    Thank you for your answers!
  2. joanvillafane Senior Member

    U.S., New Jersey
    U.S. English
    Hi MaryMe and welcome to the Forum! This is a problem, because we don't perceive water as he or she. It's an "it" and that's it! :) So, in English you might have to find a way to introduce the character as female, by capitalizing She or Her, or maybe avoiding the pronoun and repeating the noun "in Water's arms..... etc."
    But honestly, "in her arms" just doesn't sound right to an English speaker.
  3. MaryMe New Member

    Thank you, joanvillafane! :)
  4. MR1492

    MR1492 Senior Member

    Newport News, Virginia
    English -USA

    While joanvillafane is correct, that's not to say we don't anthropomorphize inanimate objects! I can't think of examples for water specifically but in other ways we personalize water. Rivers, seas and oceans are often considered feminine objects, for example. Sailors who drown were said to be "sleeping in the arms of the Sea."

    So, while we don't tend to personalize water, per se, we do personalize water in other ways. There are no rules of which I am aware to guide you unfortunately. As with Italian translations, we often go by what suona bene!! :)

    Hope this helps.

  5. Gianfry

    Gianfry Senior Member

    Brighton, Uk
    Well, to me, the Italian "Fra le sue braccia si realizza la nostra esistenza terrena" sounds really awkward. I can't imagine how it may sound in English :)
  6. london calling Senior Member

    Out of context "in her arms" meaning "the water's arms" does sound very odd, I agree, Jo.;)

    However, I think in this case it might well be possible to say "in her arms", given that from what Mary says water here is female and called "The Great Mother".:) It would be interesting to read the entire text once it has been translated.;)
  7. Tegs

    Tegs Mód ar líne

    English (Ireland)
    I agree - but Mary, you need to consider how far away the reference to "Great Mother" is, in the text. If it's several paragraphs earlier, the use of her/she will still be odd. If Great Mother is mentioned a few sentences before "in her arms", then her/she is ok.

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