Warwick English Language Learning Workshops: Idioms, Proverbs, and Ciao (but only for now) Transcollaborators!

by Georgia

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Image: Jacopo Auriti

Our first series of collaborative translation workshops has come to a close, and as coordinator of the English language-learning element, I owe a big ‘grazie’ to all the transcollaborators: Alessia, Argentina, Arianna, Caterina, Chiara, Daniele, Davide, Debora, Erica, Federica T., Federica S., Lisa, Martina, Monica, Sabrina, Sara, e Simona, grazie mille! I have really enjoyed working with you to explore the value of translation in the language learning process. I hope it has been as stimulating – and productively challenging – for you as it has for me.

Particular thanks to Emily for her invaluable contribution as a facilitator and inspiring ideas for engaging material. A proposito di material…I’ll leave you with some of the examples of our creative approach to idioms. This is very definitely a work-in-progress (but as you know, we’re all about the process rather than the product!), and it was really interesting contemplating together the cultural implications of these idioms and proverbs from different perspectives: thinking about what is ‘lost in translation’, as well as what is perhaps gained. After all, sciuscia e sciurbì nu se peu!

Some #transcollaborate idioms and proverbs: do you have any alternative suggestions?

nella botte piccolo sta il vino buono / they don’t make diamonds as big as bricks; good things come in small packages

gallina vecchia (fa buon brodo) / cougar (female); silver fox (male)

chi dorme non piglia pesci / the early bird catches the worm

tanto va la gatta al lardo che ci lascia lo zampino / curiosity killed the cat

sciuscia e sciurbì nu se peu; non si può soffiare e succhiare / have your cake and eat it; juggle too many balls at once

una volta ogni morte di papa / once in a blue moon

can che abbia non morde / his/her bark is worse than his/her bite

non dire gatto se non ce l’hai nel sacco / don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched

non fasciarti la testa prima di cadere / we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it; don’t cross your bridges before you come to them

gatto ci cova / I smell a rat!

Language Learning: Basic German

by Jessica Trevitt

I recently undertook a German>English collaborative translation with Dr Madeleine Bieg, and a prominent part of the experience was the opportunity it afforded me to learn some basic German. We translated 155 items proposed for a survey in the field of educational psychology, and with each item we took it in turns to read the German aloud. When Madeleine read I listened carefully to her pronunciation, and when I read I would emulate her and she would correct me where necessary. She would then explain roughly in English what the item meant, while I typed out a suggested revision of her translation on a shared screen. We would then negotiate a final version by clarifying for each other the nuances of the source and target items to ensure we were both satisfied. Over time, this process helped me learn some basic elements of German grammar, such as the capitalisation of nouns, and I began to recognise repeated vocabulary and sentence structures. Toward the end of the four months I found I was able to start suggesting rough English translations myself.

Literary Context: Survey for Educational Psychology

by Jessica Trevitt

Dr Madeleine Bieg and I have completed a translation from German into English for Madeleine’s research in the field of educational psychology. Working via Skype between Germany and Australia, we met for one hour every week for four months; this was enough time to move through 155 items proposed for a survey of secondary school students. The survey is intended to investigate the students’ emotional attitudes toward their choice of subjects at school, and while it will be conducted using the original German items, our English translations will be used as the research team’s official translation for the purposes of dissemination in Anglophone contexts. We are in the final stages of finalising the target text, and will share more news once it’s ready for circulation!