Blok in the dialect of Brescia

At Language Hat‘s, a link to and discussion of Alexander Blok in Dialèt Bresà, a translation or “transplantation” of Alexander Blok’s famous poem, Night, Street, Lamp, Drugstore, into a Gallo-Italic language, by Valentina Gosetti. The language is her native dialect, the Brescian dialect of Eastern Lombard if I understand correctly.

I read some French and Portuguese and a little Italian so the Brescian text was not a complete mystery to me; still, two or three words only became understandable from the context. The Dizionario dei Dialetti helped a lot: mia corresponds to no, amò to ancora (“again,” “more,” “still”). Listen to Valentina Gosetti’s reading the poem and its translations here and here.

In the second video, the words come across clearly despite the background music, and the translation reveals its strengths. It does not attempt to render Blok’s iambic tetrameter into a typical Romance meter such as the hendecasyllable, the octosyllable or the Alexandrine. The Brescian language seems to offer a reasonable variety of male rhymes, including those ending in consonants, making it possible – in contrast to Italian – to reproduce the Russian rhyming scheme. However, the translator decided not to take that route.

With good reason, perhaps. Instead, the translator’s ad libitum approach freed her to focus on transplanting Blok’s sound onto the Brescian soundscape. In this, I think she succeeded – listen to her read the poem again. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that Dr. Gosetti had published a book on Louis “Aloysius” Bertrand, the author of Gaspard de la nuit.

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