una identità pendolare

lylicagalatea

Member
Italian
Hello, I'm translating an essay about the relationship between Jews and Germans in the 20th century.
The author says that the second generation of Jews (after the holocaust) has complex identities that, as I interpret it, go back and forth from feeling German to feeling Jewish, because they don't seem to be able to feel both at the same time.
She calls this having "una identità pendolare", because a commuter (un pendolare) goes back and forth from his house to his workplace and can't be in both places at the same time.

I don't think "commuting" would be a good translation here, but I can't find a good way of saying it either.

Here's the sentence:
L’antica identificazione totale con la Germania è sostituita da identità composite, pendolari.

So far, I've translated it like this:
The old total identification with Germany is replaced by composite ... identities

I've found references online for both total identification with someone and composite identity so I'm ok with them, but the pendolari adj, it beats me.

thanks!
 
  • tonko

    Senior Member
    Italian
    If I understand you correctly the meaning you are trying to convey would be
    "...by alternating composite identities" ?
     

    tonko

    Senior Member
    Italian
    The origin of pendolare is pendulum. I'd go with "pendulum identity". :)
    Exactly I think even in Italian that is actually the meaning, not a commuter. Anyhow using an allegoric expression like it is in the original text, a further explanation should be given.
     

    lylicagalatea

    Member
    Italian
    tonko and teerex51, I searched for both of your suggestions on google, they both exist. One in maths, the other in physics :D

    I like them both but I'm not sure about using a term from science in this context. What do you think?
     

    Teerex51

    Senior Member
    Italian, standard
    By the way, the expression "pendulum migration" is technical and is used to describe people who never settle in a given country but keep going back and forth from their native land. The analogy with the Jewish identity is obvious.
     

    lylicagalatea

    Member
    Italian
    I'd agree with you if she was talking about physical movements of people. She's talking about German citizens, children of those Jewish-Germans who were killed by the nazis.

    About ricercando's suggestion, I can suggest it to her and see if she agrees, but I suspect she liked the metaphor :D
     

    lylicagalatea

    Member
    Italian
    Maybe that's it... even in Italian it is a metaphor.

    So it wouldn't be stretchy to "invent" a metaphor and say pendulum identity, right?

    edit: yeah, I'll go with pendulum identity. I don't know if she meant the pendulum or the commuter but the idea is similar, and the metaphor works. Thank you all, you were very helpful :)
     
    Last edited:

    Teerex51

    Senior Member
    Italian, standard
    I understand what you're saying and it's ultimately your decision.
    You can use a very effective metaphor (which is also borne out by sociological studies) or settle for a wishy-washy paraphrase. No offense meant, but I don't even know what Ricercando was trying to say.
     

    lylicagalatea

    Member
    Italian
    I think he was translating the meaning of the metaphor, it was correct but it didn't translate the actual metaphor.
    Anyway, I had edited my previous message to say I would use your suggestion, so all's good :)
    thanks
     

    TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    In AE we often use "dual identities", but there may be many ways to handle it.

    L’antica identificazione totale con la Germania è sostituita da identità composite, pendolari.

    The old complete/total indentification with Germany has been replaced with a dual identity.
    ...........................................a compound, vacillating one.
    ...........................................a compound, alternating one.
    ...........................................a composite, interchangeable one.
     

    Teerex51

    Senior Member
    Italian, standard
    I agree with you Tim. That sentence can be translated in several ways, all of them close to the original. But why waste the excellent metaphor the author chose?
    (The same sentence could have been rendered in Italian with "identità alterna", "identità intermittente" but wasn't)
     

    Tonza

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I don't mean to jump in at the last moment, but I really like Tim's suggestion of "vascillating", which of course literally means to sway or swing (just like a pendulum!), and is commonly used in a figurative sense as well. Because we don't have the exact equivalent of "pendolare" in English, "pendulum identity" doesn't make immediate sense to me. I think it's tricky to invent a metaphor, and in this case "pendulum" doesn't grab me but "vascillating" does, and also preserves the physical imagery of the original Italian term.
     

    byrne

    Senior Member
    English - UK (Londoner)
    I don't mean to jump in at the last moment, but I really like Tim's suggestion of "vascillating", which of course literally means to sway or swing (just like a pendulum!), and is commonly used in a figurative sense as well. Because we don't have the exact equivalent of "pendolare" in English, "pendulum identity" doesn't make immediate sense to me. I think it's tricky to invent a metaphor, and in this case "pendulum" doesn't grab me but "vascillating" does, and also preserves the physical imagery of the original Italian term.

    I think (but that's just me) the a choice between pendulum and vacillating depict two different images, and would depend on what the author is trying describe. Vacillate makes me think a person is undecided between which group he/she belongs to while pendulum makes me think that they don't have conscious control so are one thing in one context and another in a different context...

    I liked pendulum:)
     

    TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I agree with you Tim. That sentence can be translated in several ways, all of them close to the original. But why waste the excellent metaphor the author chose?
    (The same sentence could have been rendered in Italian with "identità alterna", "identità intermittente" but wasn't)
    Languages are funny aren't they...:D

    I'm sure you can use "pendulum identity" or "pendular identity" or "an identiy that is pendular" or "an identiy that swings like a pendulum".

    But the use of anything with "pendulum" didn't sound natural to these ears (and only to these ears).

    I often try to give a list of possible translations, first because in Italian I like to see different possibilities while I'm learning to say something, and second because I like to give the translator a series of possibilities and let them choose what they think sounds the best, given the "larger" text that we can't see.

    All I can do is give Lylicagalatea a big "in the mouth of the wolf" on choosing the right one!:)
    (Does that translate?:D)
     
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