Warwick Italian Language Workshop: Roman words in “Roma Capoccia” by Antonello Venditti

Our #transcollaborator Martina Severin tells us about her experience of projecting and conducting an Italian language workshop within the ‘language learning’ strand of the collaborative translation project.

10th May 2017

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As an Italian Erasmus student, I decided to propose a project for a workshop that would represent my nationality, in particular the part of Italy from which I come from, in order to involve all my personal experience in this project. I proposed to analyse and work on a possible translation of the text and cultural significance into the English language of a popular Italian song, “Roma Capoccia“, by Antonello Venditti. As you can already see from the title, it seems to be a very challenging song for a non-native Italian speaker. I chose this text primarily for its cultural significance, Venditti wrote it with the aim of celebrating Rome, its landscapes, its historical places, its attractions. It is a piece of Italian culture. For the context of the #Transcollaborate project, this song presents many aspects of Roman accent, so it is a good example of the many difficulties that a language such as Italian can offer to translators. The workshop aim was to work on language learning, so our audience was varied – English and Italian speakers, from the first year to the last year of bachelor, Erasmus and PhD students; all of them with an intermediate-high level of knowledge of the Italian language.

The workshop started with the viewing and listening of the musical video of “Roma Capoccia” in order to identify the different pronunciation of the words in the Roman accent, and to contextualise the song. Later, I asked the participants to work in groups, to analyse two different pieces of the song, and to identify the main difficulties, the most curious, challenging or funny words, what attracts their attention, without focusing on finding a final translation, but on the transference of the meaning into English. The most challenging discussion arose from the title “Roma Capoccia”, what it might mean, what the cultural significance might be and how it can be translated into English; and these are some of the options we devised together:

  • Rome Caput Mundi : it is a Latin sentence that stands for “Rome capital of the world”;
  • Head of the Hills : because of the fact that Rome was built on seven hills, that are also cited in the song.

Other challenging sentences are:

  • quanno l’arancia rosseggia sui sette colli: which is a metaphor for an orange-coloured sun that spreads its red colour at sunset on the seven hills;
  • la santità der Cuppolone: which means the holiness of the Vatican, in fact “cuppolone” in Rome is used only in reference to the big cupola, part of the Papal Basilica of San Pietro in the Vatican city.

Do you have any other ideas or suggestions?

It was interesting how English native speakers could recognize and interpret a different spelling of a word and surprising that Italian speakers from different cities of Italy have difficulties in understanding, demonstrating the great variety in Italian language, and the different cultural experiences. Examples are:

  • quann’è quando è when is
  • so’ sono  are
  • er/der il/del the

These are only some of the interesting points we made, but, given that there is no official English translation for this song, it is a work in progress. It has been interesting looking together at the cultural significance of these words from the different cultural perspectives. The collaborative aspect of the workshop was successful: Italian and English speakers collaborated and integrated their different cultural background. When I introduced myself at the beginning of the workshop, I stressed that I am a student, as almost all the people who were attending, and this has allowed me to arrange it in a friendly way, making students feel comfortable (I hope!), and creating an informal, but very productive, atmosphere. The experience has been really challenging and exciting for me, for the first time I was “on the other side”, not a student attending the workshop but the organizer and facilitator of it, and I had to find interesting ways to keep the level of attention high, to get people involved, without making them bored. I have really enjoyed working with all the group, and I have to thank Gioia and Georgia of the University of Warwick for having given to me this amazing opportunity. Grazie di cuore!

Look forward to share and discuss this experience in Prato. See you soon!

Martina Severin

New article: ‘Focus on language sensitivity: collaborative translation in language class’

The article Focus sulla sensibilità linguistica: la traduzione collaborativa nella classe di lingua has been published on the last issue of the journal Italiano LinguaDue. It discusses the rationale behind the series of #Transcollaborate workshops held at Warwick  in 2016 and conducted by the two co-authors.

The full article (in Italian) can be downloaded from the journal website. The abstract is available in English and in Italian.

Language Learning: Warwick Conference, 2016

Paper: “Collaborative translation and language learning: a post-monolingual approach” By Chris Griffiths and Jessica Trevitt. 
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In July 2016, Chris and Jessica presented the TransCollaborate model and some initial findings at the LLAS conference Frameworks for Collaboration and Multilingualism: Languages in Higher Education, held at Warwick University (UK).

The paper emphasised the value of collaborative translation as a method for supporting language learning, and they presented initial findings from the project’s German>English case study.

Due to a last-minute change in programming, the participants were lucky enough to deliver the paper twice. Each time they received encouraging feedback, and their session chair Kate Borthwick (University of Southampton) shared her enthusiasm on Twitter.

The conference gave TransCollaborate the opportunity to tap into a valuable network of language teachers in the UK, some of whom the team look forward to seeing again at their upcoming event in Prato, Italy.

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.

Presenting our language workshops

by Georgia and Gioia

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We will be exploring the use of translation for language learners in an informal teaching context. We are particularly interested in how student confidence and cultural knowledge impacts upon foreign language learning. In our workshop we will create a ‘translation conversation’ in the first language of the students, in which we will address the key points of the text that we will analyse. We aren’t looking to teach translation techniques, but investigate how far the collaborative translation model can succeed in promoting an inclusive ‘linguistic sensitivity’ amongst language students. We’ll be looking, for example, to tackle questions of accents, stereotypes, and to see to what extent the cultural insights this format emphasizes can impact upon language learning.

Language Workshops at Warwick Uni

gallery_5299_54_79006Struggling alone with grammar books? Looking to enhance your CV and employability? Try an innovative, interactive and creative approach to language learning!

Our collaborative translation workshops take the form of a ‘translation conversation’ and aim to offer you a broader cultural and contextual insight, develop your practical knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, and enhance your confidence in the foreign language.

No preparation is required and all materials are provided. Places are limited, so please register your interest by the 15th October.

We currently offer workshops of:

  • Beginners/Improvers ITALIAN for native/fluent speakers of ENGLISH

Contact Gioia: g.panzarella[at] warwick [dot]ac [dot] uk

  • Intermediate/Advanced ENGLISH for native/fluent speakers of ITALIAN

*Italian ERASMUS/exchange students of any discipline are particularly encouraged to attend*

Contact Georgia: g.wall[at] warwick [dot]ac [dot] uk