Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dino Buddies: When your AT has OCD

Dino's tombstone, Santa Trinità, Florence

Recently I was reading an interesting blog post about Florence in Dante's time - the period I study.  I noticed a very familiar-sounding quote from someone called Dino Fellows.  I was pretty sure I'd never heard of Dino Fellows, but I did know that quote, so I went back and looked at it again.  And laughed.

The quote was from the early 14th century Florentine civil servant and chronicler, Dino Compagni.  And "Fellows" is one of the things you get if you run the poor guy's name through an automatic translation program.  (Compagni = companions = fellows)

But names are not for translating.  Not in my universe, anyway.  I can cope with writing Florence instead of Firenze, or even Saint Francis instead of San Francesco, but when it's just an ordinary name, of someone whose name doesn't need to be translated into other languages, I don't see why we can't just leave it alone.

AT (Automatic Translation) feels differently, apparently.  It doesn't always translate people's names, but when it gets obsessive and does so, the results can be somewhere between cringe-producing and hilarious.  (I wrote a couple of blog posts about this before, but I need something quick this week, so here I go again.  If you enjoy this sort of silliness, you can find more here and here.)

So I found the Italian Wikipedia entry for Dino.  I've referred to it before, but I read Italian, so I hadn't bothered to have it translated.  This time, out of curiosity, I did - and to my surprise, I got (over the course of the article) no fewer than four different versions of Dino's last name.

The first, and my favorite, was Dino Buddies.  I don't know about you, but there is absolutely no way I would write a blog post about anybody named Dino Buddies.

"Best Buddies," by Romero Britto (in Berlin)

He fared slightly better with the other three:  Dino Companions, Fellow Dino, and Dino Comrades.

Then I wondered what else AT had done to our boy Dino.  I learned, for example, that his famous work was entitled "Chronic things necessary it 'his time" (their take on Cronica delle cose occorrenti ne' tempi suoi).

Dino himself is described as a "politician, writer and historical Italian."  Love those historical Italians.

Florence's popolo grosso (the bourgeoisie) morph into the "fat people," while their humbler contemporaries, the popolo minuto, become the "little people."  Actually, that may not be too far off the mark.

We learn that Dino served his guild (his "Art") as its "console."

Dino the Console?

And he isn't the only one whose name gets bowdlerized.  The Cerchi family, who usually get translated as "the Circles," this time becomes the family of "Looking" - from the Italian verb cercare, to look or search for.

Cerchi arms (hence, "Circles")

"Looking"?  (a pastel work by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner)

Dino's work, however, inspires earnest if incoherent praise:  he focuses on "the real of what is certain."

I find this sort of thing irresistible, so I pursued poor Dino Buddies through a few more Italian sources and let AT have its way with him.

Next I learned that his great work, which was not circulated in his lifetime, "was rediscovered by oblivion until the 18th century, with the publication by the Masons in 1726..."

I think many writers today can relate to being rediscovered by oblivion, not that it isn't bad enough the first time around, but - the Masons?  Dino?  That took me aback, so I went back to the original Italian entry to see what they meant.

Masons like this?

Or like this?

No.  Not the Masons - turns out it was published by this fellow (this companion, this buddy): Ludovico Antonio Muratori, in 1843.

Ludovico Antonio Muratori

I read further, through a summary of Dino's great work (the "Chronic," remember?).  I learned that one section was devoted to "Sulking in Florence between the people and the Large."

The Large would be from another name for the popolo grosso ("fat people"):  the grandi.  But sulking?  The Italian says "malumore," which I would have translated as something closer to "bad feeling," or "ill will," but hey, for all I know they could have been sulking.

Achilles, sulking

Here's another oddity:  "The leaders of the Black Party go to Perugia to apologize to the Death of Pope Benedict XI."  Apologize?  To his death?  For his death, maybe?  But even though the Blacks' allies the French were suspected of having poisoned the pope, the Florentines had had nothing to do with it.  After all, they were back home, sulking.  (What I think was going on here was that the Black leaders were on their way to explain certain of their recent behaviors to His Holiness, only he died before they got there.)

Benedict XI

And then there was the bit about Pistoia:  "This determines the Blacks to deal with the city, which, reduced to an extreme, it is a deal, when then are not observed."  Got all that?  There'll be a quiz.

Not only Pistoia, but Arezzo came in for its share of linguistic mayhem:  "These, after tempted unnecessarily Blacks of Florence, Arezzo ago in a joined forces of white and Ghibelline, which, to his or worthlessness or sadness, goes bad, and it's the last one that the exiles do (May 1306 - July 1397)."  That was, by the way, either a typo or a very long campaign.

There's even a reference to Guido Cavalcanti's famous poem, "A figure of my woman."  Unfortunately, the woman in question is the Virgin Mary, in the form of a miracle-working image in Orsanmichele.  I doubt that Guido intended to be quite so casual about her.

Bernardo Daddi's image of the Madonna in Orsanmichele (successor to the one in Guido's poem)

Oh, and Dino's business associate Cambio Albizzi has become "Exchange Albizzi."  Naturally enough - when you get off the plane in Rome or Milan one of the first things you'll see is a Cambio, or money exchange.  Still...

"Exchange", Russian version

As for Dino himself, we learn something, at last, about his private life:

"Married firstly a Filippa unidentified, from which were born five children:  Nicholas, Ciango, Bartholomew, Tora, Maddalena, Dina, and his second wife Cecca di Puccio Welcome to Forlì."

Huh?  First, even in the Italian version there are six names for those five children, but there at least the semicolon has been retained, so it doesn't look like Filippa Unidentified also gave birth to her own successor.  But "Welcome to Forlì"?

Welcome to Forlì

That would be Cecca di (daughter of) Puccio di (son of) Benvenuto da (from) Forlì.  Yes, Benvenuto does mean "welcome," but here again, a name is being translated, with unfortunate results.

I could go on, but I think that's enough for today.  Besides, if I keep hunting for appropriate pictures to illustrate these silly things, it will defeat the purpose of having a quick and easy topic.

For anyone who's still waiting for the rest of the Medici posts, sorry - I got distracted.  I'll probably pick up at least Salvestro at some point, but I couldn't say when.

Images in this post are in the public domain, with these exceptions:  Dino's tombstone, the Cerchi arms, and Daddi's Madonna are all licensed to Sailko via the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, and the photo of Best Buddies is similarly licensed to Assenmacher.  All are taken from Wikimedia Commons.


Kathryn Louise Wood said...

This is hilarious! So good to find someone else who gets a kick out of these translation fiascos. ("Fiasco"- the Italian origin meaning "to make a bottle.")

Tinney Heath said...

Ah, a fellow aficionada! Yes, this is the only "computer game" I play. It's great fun to watch the translation program make a bottle out of Italian history.