Textkit Logo

Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Here's where you can discuss all things Latin. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get translation help and more!

Moderator: thesaurus

Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Anthony Appleyard » Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:50 pm

Tolkien's "The Hobbit" has been published in Latin, as "Hobbitus Ille", ISBN 978 0 00 744521 9,
published by Harper Collins. I have a copy of it. Likely its translator (Mark Walter) will welcome any complains and suggestions.
Anthony Appleyard
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Anthony Appleyard » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:21 pm

One translation feature that I did not care for was translating the character name Bard (Lakeman leader) as 'Vates'. OK, "vates" sometimes means "a bard". But "bard" in this meaning is a Celtic word, and when writing this part of 'The Hobbit' Tolkien was thinking in Germanic and Old Norse, not in Celtic, and the name Bard was likelier extracted from the Germanic tribe name Langobardi, and Bard here is renowned as a warrior and dragon-slayer, and not as a singer or prophet. Translating the name as 'Bardus', or nominative 'Bard', accusative 'Bardem', etc, seems better to me.
Anthony Appleyard
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby adrianus » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:31 pm

I thought the word "bard/bardos" (bardus in Lat.) is originally Old Irish-Celtic, not Germanic.
Goidelicum vocabulum non germanicum est "bard/bardos" (bardos Graecè, bardus Latinè quod nomen jam latinè exstat, at non bard, bardis).

Post scriptum
Modo capio, Antoni. Nunc sensum tuum intellego. Licet.

I just grasped what you mean, Anthony. OK.

Forsit praeferendum est hoc ut praenomen: Barba seu barbatus
http://www.nordicnames.de/wiki/BARD
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
adrianus
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 3270
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:45 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Anthony Appleyard » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:06 am

The name Beorn (the man who can change into a bear) is translated as nominative as English and the other cases in Latin 3rd declension: Beornis etc. (This was often done in the Latin translations of Harry Potter, e.g. Malfoy, Malfonem, Malfonis, etc; Voldemort, Voldemortem, etc.) Gollum is treated as neuter 2nd decl: Golli etc.

As regards how to decline foreign words, the same happens in Lithuanian and Latvian, which have cases somewhat like Latin including nom.sg. -s: Latvians often spell Heathrow (the airport) as Hītrovas.

Another word that Mark Walter seems to have taken from the Harry Potter translations is 'hamaxostichum' for "railway train": in The Hobbit it occurs once, in a simile.
Anthony Appleyard
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Anthony Appleyard » Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:25 pm

Another example of declining foreign names occurs in the published Latin translations of two Winnie the Pooh books: the name 'Pooh' gets a somewhat surprising heteroclite declension: nom. Pu, acc. Pum, gen. Pui, dat & abl Puo; acc. pl. Puos; and 'Roo' likewise as Ru. Voc. diminutives Pucule and Rucule.
Anthony Appleyard
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Alatius » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:05 pm

As a big Tolkien fan, I very much looked forward to this translation, but after reading just a little more than the first chapter, I'm sad to say that I found just too many issues for it to be enjoyable. Just some examples of things I found dubious:

"... when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along ..."
"... quandoquidem talis ingens et stulta gens qualis tu et ego rustice errat ..." (p. xvi)
Seeing that the English obviously is about single individuals, I can hardly think of a worse word than "gens" to translate "folk".

"... although he looked and behaved exactly like a second edition of his solid and commforable father ..."
"... quamquam et in specie et in moribus editio secunda patris solidi gratique esse uideretur ..." (p. xvii)
First, I think "editio secunda" is too literal a translation, but mainly I wonder why those "in"s are needed. Why not just "specie et moribus"?

"He did not remember things very well, unless he put them down on his Engagement Tablet."
"res non optime recordatus est, nisi eas in tabula negotiorum inscripsit. (p. xx)"
The original describes Bilbo’s general character, not a single isolated instance of forgetfulness. So unless I'm mistaken, I think "... non recordabatur, nisi inscribebat/inscripserat ..." would be better.

"... but poor Mr. Baggins said he was sorry so many times...
miser autem Dominus Baggins crebro dixit se excusari... (p. xxiv)
Maybe I'm missing something, but I can only read that as "... said that he was being excused ..."?

"Then Gandalf’s smoke-ring would go green and come back to hover over the wizard’s head. He had a cloud of them about him already ..."
"tum corona Gandalphi, in uiridem uersa et regressa, super caput magi pependit. iam nubem quarum circum eum habuit ..." (p. xxvi)
Several issues here. First, (this may be debatable), but I don't think "corona" is the best word: the thing with a smoke-ring is that it is round, like an "anulus", not that it surrounds or crowns something like a "corona". Second, the position of "quarum" is very atypical: to the best of my knowledge, such relative pronouns should always begin a sentence; yet, the translator uses this kind of construction a lot. Third, "eum" should of course be "se".

"... he can’t have used it for years and years."
"... multos annos illo uti non potuit." (p. xxxiv)
But since he still can't use it, it should be "potest" in place of "potuit", I think.

"I didn’t get your note until after 10.45 to be precise."
"epistolium tuum non accepi quoad decem atque quinque quadraginta, exactum esse." (p. xliv)
Really? I honestly don't know what to say about this sentence.

Edit: Some more for your amusement(?):

"Dwarves can make a fire almost anywhere out of almost anything, wind or no wind."
"paene in aliquo loco paene ex aliquo, cum uento aut nullo, nani ignem accendere possunt" (p. xlvvi)

"Silly time to go practising pinching and pocket-picking..."
"tempus stultum fuit ad exercendum furantem et subripientem e sinibus" (p. lvi)

"Then the stone door swung back with one big push, and they all went inside."
"tum ianua saxea ab una pulsa magna retro uersata omnes introierunt." (p. lvii)

"This won't do at all!"
"hoc non prorsum bene facit!" (p. lxxi)

"touch and go!" (An idiom meaning "precarious" -- I had to look it up.)
"tange et i!" (p. cvii)
Alatius
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 268
Joined: Mon May 14, 2007 11:21 am
Location: Upsalia, Suecia

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby thesaurus » Mon Sep 24, 2012 3:39 pm

You all are crushing the excitement I had about acquiring this book...

Alas, I guess a good Latin translation is a lot to ask for in this day and age. I fear that a lot of translations will suffer from being too literal to the English phraseology and syntax, as these examples seem to indicate.

How does it compare to, say, Harrius Potter or Willie Ille Pu with regards to Latinity?
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
thesaurus
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 988
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 9:44 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby thesaurus » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:53 pm

Alatius, I just read your review on Amazon, which was tough but fair.

It occurs to me that the book probably had no real editor. I'm guessing that he worked on his translation more or less in the dark until it saw the light of day. It sounds as if the whole text should be carefully revised and peer reviewed by other experienced Latinists, which would have been a normal event in the case that it wasn't written in Latin.

I don't suspect that any new editions of the text will come out, but it sounds as if your help could be much needed, Alatius.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
thesaurus
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 988
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 9:44 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:25 am

Salve Thesaure!

Having just finished Stevenson's Insula Thesauraria (in the translation of Arcadius Avellanus) I've now started to read Hobbitus ille (which, judging from the first few pages, is somewhat easier than Insula Thesauraria).

In my opinion, Thesaurus, I would not worry too much. I am certainly not proficient enough to judge the quality of the translation effort, but I am quite sure that it is reasonably error free, and whatever "errors" in construction or grammar seem to appear will be mostly an idiosyncrasy of the translator. A few real errors will be present, of course, but that's probably to be expected in any not completely trivial piece of translation. And as far as the right translation is concerned, well, that does not exist, anyway. Much of that is a judgment call.

Plus: you can analyze almost any text to death. I am quite sure that if you applied this critique to some of the ancient Latin authors you could clobber them just as well. And if you apply such stringent standards to the whole body of literature in Latin, then you will probably have to chuck out most of medieval literature and sooner or later find yourself confined to Cicero.

So relax. As the translator himself states in the introduction:
<The Latin Hobbit> is nothing more or less than a novel - but a novel in Latin. Which is to say, it is a Latin text whose principle aim is to be read solely for the pleasure of reading. <...> This is not "The Hobbit" as if written for the Emperor Augustus; it is simply "The Hobbit" for anyone who has sufficient Latin grammar and a good dictionary.


I am glad that someone took the pains to translate the book. A continuous narrative, which is not too difficult (the translator stresses its importance as intermediate reading material), is very helpful in learning a language. And there is not a huge choice of such books in Latin. There are selections of short texts, of course, but not that many long ones. Any addition is welcome, in my opinion.

Vale,

Carolus Raeticus
Carolus Raeticus
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 210
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:46 am

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Alatius » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:14 am

I do wish that I was only overtly critical, but I really do not think that I am. Thesaure, you asked about how it compares to books like Peter Needham's translation of Harrius Potter: well, while Needham can be accused of occasional Anglicisms ("classem habere" of a student having a lesson scheduled comes to mind), and possibly occasional sentences which to a Roman would seem awkward or heavy-handed, over all it is a good grammatical text made by a competent translator; Hobbitus Ille is of a completely different nature. My complaints are not about mere deviations from a Ciceronian style, it is about violations of basic grammatical rules common to all of Latinity.

Carolus Raeticus wrote:I am certainly not proficient enough to judge the quality of the translation effort, but I am quite sure that it is reasonably error free, and whatever "errors" in construction or grammar seem to appear will be mostly an idiosyncrasy of the translator.

You would think so, because that is a reasonable expectation to have on a printed book from a respectable publisher. Of course, the publisher has the ultimate responsibility, not only towards the consumers but also, I would argue, towards the author/translator, to ensure that the work is of the highest quality; unfortunately, it seems that Harper Collins has completely neglected to do any quality control at all. (I'm just speculating, but one reason for that may be that the work was rushed to be published in time to celebrate The Hobbit's 75th anniversary, and also in advance of the upcoming movie.)

The translator wrote:This is not "The Hobbit" as if written for the Emperor Augustus; it is simply "The Hobbit" for anyone who has sufficient Latin grammar and a good dictionary.

That is all well and dandy; I am not expecting a Ciceronian style. The problem is that it seems that the translator himself has not got a sufficient Latin grammar or a good dictionary, or at least not the knowledge or time to use them properly.

I feel slightly embarrassed going on flogging this horse, but in case you want further examples of the kind of things I have problems with, I just opened the book where I happened to be at the moment and noted the worst things I could find. What do you say of these examples? In what kind of Latin are things such as these reasonable constructions?

He is very fond of forming compound nouns based one the English pattern:

"... quickly laid [bowls etc.] on the trestle-tables."
"... cito in mensas-fulcimenta posuerunt." (p. cxxxvi)

"... [the moon] was peering down through the smoke-hole in the roof."
"... [luna] per foramen-fumum in tecto despiciebat." (p. cxxxix)

On several occasions he reveals a confounding of the English gerund and the present participle:

"... he heard the same scraping, scuffling, snuffling, and growling as before."
"... radentem eandem, rixantem, odorantem atque frementem ut ante audiuit." (p. cxlii)

I'm not sure what to say of this:

"... twice-baked cakes that would keep good a long time, and on a little of which they could march far. The makeing of these was one of his secrets; but honey was in them, as in most of his foods, and they were good to eat, though they made one thirsty."
"... liba bis cocta, quae longum tempus bonum [sic!] condi possint, et in paruo cuius [sic!] longe iter facere poterunt [sic!]. de faciendo [sic!] quorum [sic!] fuit una rerum arcanarum eius; sed mel in eis inerat, sicut in plurimis cibis suis [sic!], et bona edi [sic!] erant quamquam effecerunt ut quidam [sic!] sitiat." (p. cxliii)

(Perhaps you could find mediaeval examples to justify some of it, but it is certainly not what a modern reader would expect.)

And I could go on...
Alatius
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 268
Joined: Mon May 14, 2007 11:21 am
Location: Upsalia, Suecia

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:42 pm

Hello Alatius!

I have to admit that you raise some valid points. Still, I will continue to read the book. However, I will take care to read critically and heed the points you raised (and beware of even more). Sometimes you can learn from other people's mistakes.

Thank you for you in-depth look at the book.

Vale,

Carolus Raeticus
Carolus Raeticus
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 210
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:46 am

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby ptolemyauletes » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:31 pm

In general I am pretty forgiving of Latin Translations of English books. Many allowances have to be made. At first I thought that Alatius was being overly critical, but after reading his second post I am not so sure. Some of these grammatical constructions are just not Latin. I would mark them wrong if my students came up with them. I am thinking in particular of some of the participles and the use of an Infinitive for purpose. However, could it be that the translator is attempting to capture some of the idiomatic and improper 'Hobbit' language with some equally improper Latin? Is that being too generous? The present Participles certainly have no excuse.
I myself, in my own MASSIVE translation exercise (I will leave it up to you to work out what it is, but my obvious hint is that this particular publication is of great interest to me), have found endless problems and have had to make all sorts of allowances and have written some Latin that I know is wrong. Does one go to archaic Latin, such as Plautus or Terence for inspiration when trying to translate rustic Hobbit English?
A big problem to be sure is that the translator here is not publishing a book that will make a lot of money, and consequently the editing process is not going to be a thorough one. Add to this the scarcity of Latin editors period, never mind finding those competent enough and willing to take on such a task... I have had my own difficulties. I certainly know people who are qualified to edit any text I might ever consider publishing, but to find any that are willing? There just isn't a big enough market in Latin translations to pay someone to edit properly. Latin translations of The Hobbit or Harry Potter are largely novelty items. Very few are read beyond a few pages.
I have a copy of Hobbitus Ille, and I will read it, and give my opinion at some later date. MY biggest problem is that I had only just finished reading the Hobbit in English a day before I discovered it in Latin!!! I will have to wait until I am back in the mood.
BTW I thought the Harry Potter translation was fantastic. I have only ever read Harry Potter in Latin!
The only thing we can guarantee when communicating via the internet is that we will be almost completely misunderstood, and likely cause great offence in doing so. Throw in an attempt at humour and you insure a lifelong enemy will be made.
User avatar
ptolemyauletes
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:26 am

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby ptolemyauletes » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:41 pm

'The making of these was one of his secrets'

'de faciendo [sic!] quorum [sic!] fuit una rerum arcanarum eius'

surely

quo modo ea facta essent

and

"... he heard the same scraping, scuffling, snuffling, and growling as before."
"... radentem eandem, rixantem, odorantem atque frementem ut ante audiuit."

sonum eundem radendi, rixandi, odorandi, fremendique ac antea audivit.
Although I am not convinced that 'scuffling' should be translated with the verb rixor. I don't think her heard a fight...
The only thing we can guarantee when communicating via the internet is that we will be almost completely misunderstood, and likely cause great offence in doing so. Throw in an attempt at humour and you insure a lifelong enemy will be made.
User avatar
ptolemyauletes
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:26 am

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby thesaurus » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:48 pm

If we all had unlimited free time for such projects, I'd say that Textkit Forums should produce an edited version of the whole book. You two both have good suggestions for improvements and a keen eye.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
thesaurus
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 988
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 9:44 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Alatius » Sun Sep 30, 2012 12:42 pm

ptolemyauletes wrote: However, could it be that the translator is attempting to capture some of the idiomatic and improper 'Hobbit' language with some equally improper Latin? Is that being too generous?

I think it is too generous. Most of the book is narrative, and the voice of the narrator is that of a modern adult (if not Tolkien himself) telling the story to a child. Nothing rustic or ungrammatical there. (Besides, I don't think there is any rustic about Bilbo's language, is there? He is, after all, an upper-class gentle-hobbit.)
thesaurus wrote:If we all had unlimited free time for such projects, I'd say that Textkit Forums should produce an edited version of the whole book. You two both have good suggestions for improvements and a keen eye.

Even time permitting, I wouldn't be interested; it would be much more rewarding to do a new translation from scratch.
Alatius
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 268
Joined: Mon May 14, 2007 11:21 am
Location: Upsalia, Suecia

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby rustymason » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:11 am

Thank you for your reviews. I think it would be interesting to read a daily blog from a professional translator, explaining himself as he translates a work into Latin or Greek.
User avatar
rustymason
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 218
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:26 pm
Location: Sugar Land, TX

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Nesrad » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:55 pm

Alatius wrote:I do wish that I was only overtly critical, but I really do not think that I am. Thesaure, you asked about how it compares to books like Peter Needham's translation of Harrius Potter: well, while Needham can be accused of occasional Anglicisms ("classem habere" of a student having a lesson scheduled comes to mind), and possibly occasional sentences which to a Roman would seem awkward or heavy-handed, over all it is a good grammatical text made by a competent translator; Hobbitus Ille is of a completely different nature. My complaints are not about mere deviations from a Ciceronian style, it is about violations of basic grammatical rules common to all of Latinity.


*Gasp* I'd hate to read worse Latin than Harrius Potter. Harrius is gramatically correct, yes, but still poor Latin and unfit for advanced students. The words are Latin, but the style is English. Definitely not as good as Avellanus.
Nesrad
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:10 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Interaxus » Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:30 am

I notice that some people (at Amazon for example) have written glowing reviews of Hobbitus Ille, undisturbed by the many glowing grammatical errors in the book.

Ille Alatius, who pointed out a plethora of flaws in the book, is made to seem mean-spirited and pedantic. But as far as I can tell, Alatius - like most of us here – merely pleads for some minimum level of ’correctness’ in Latin materials published even in this late day and age.

There is nothing new under the sun. A Renaissance humanist, Leonardo Bruni, having been similarly criticized for criticizing a bad Latin translation of Aristotle’s Ethics, defended himself against his detractors in a letter to a friend. Here’s his Latin from 1535 together with an English translation. For Aristotle, substitute Tolkien. For Greek, substitute English.


I said the books were clumsily translated: who could deny it? - Dixi libros illos inepte traductos: quis negare potest?

I said that Greek words had been left in through ignorance of the Latin language, - Dixi graeca verba ob ignorationem latinae linguae ab eo relicta,

words for which we had quite excellent words in Latin, - pro quibus latina vel optima haberemus,

and I not only said it but proved it, and cited the actual words. - nec dixi modo, sed probavi, et verba ipsa ostendi.

I showed up the other mistakes too, and they are neither few nor slight. - Cetera quoque errata, nec ea pauca, nec levis redargui.

.......................

For my part, if someone were throwing filth at a painting of Giotto's, I could not tolerate it. - Equidem si in picturam Jocti quis faecem projiceret, pati non possem.

So what do you expect me to feel when I see Aristotle's books, finer than any painting, being defiled with such filth of translation? - Quid ergo existimas mihi accidere, cum Aristotelis libros omni pictura elegantiores tanta traductionis faece coinquinari videam?

Should I not be roused ? Or disturbed?-
An non commoveri? an non turbari?

Yet after all I kept back my curses and argued the case itself, and did so openly. - Maledictis tamen abstinui, sed rem ipsam redargui, ac palam feci.

Cheers,
Int
Interaxus
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 509
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 1:04 am
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Nesrad » Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:59 am

It's well-known that negative reviews are not appreciated by Amazon users. I wonder how many of these "users" are real people and not just accounts set up by the author or editor of the book.
Nesrad
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:10 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby thesaurus » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:52 pm

Great quote from Bruni, Interaxus. Very fitting.

I don't think publishers/authors need be suspect, because the fan base for Tolkein is quite large and fierce. Many people who can't or won't ever read it are probably just happy to see that this book was published, and they aren't necessarily thinking about or interested in Latinity, Leonardo Bruni's comments not withstanding. A negative review is akin to a negative review of The Hobbit and series itself.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
thesaurus
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 988
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 9:44 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Placidus » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:50 am

Indeed the Tolkien harcore fans will buy anything that comes out on Middle Earth and other works of his.
Placidus
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:10 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby scotistic » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:01 pm

I wrote the review under my own name - Michael Sullivan - and I stand by it. I did indeed read the entire book from cover to cover over a couple of days, and enjoyed it. As I noted, it is not at all without its flaws, both minor and major; there are many things which might have been done differently or should have been done better. But rejecting it as worthless is silly. The Latin is inelegant but never unintelligible. I found it thoroughly easy to read and understand throughout, and I believe the Latin got more correct as the book went on (even as the style of the original becomes higher and more formal towards the end). With more revision it could certainly have been improved.

I would reiterate what I wrote there about the greater affinity of Hobbitus to medieval books of tales than to classical or Renaissance humanist texts. Indeed bringing up the humanists is amusing, since their attitude would have excluded most of medieval Latin too. Not that Hobbitus' Latin is medieval, but rather its attitude towards Latin is more like what one finds there than in the humanists. For myself I see no reason to complain about it. But then I learned Latin in the first place not primarily to read the classics but to read the medievals, and though I do love the classics I have read far less of them than of their successors. Weird Latin doesn't bother me so long as it is intelligible. My complaint with Hobbitus would not be that it is "incorrect" so much as that it is frequently clunky and uneuphonious, while "bad" medieval Latin was frequently charming, beautiful, and easy.

Someone earlier in the thread mentioned Arcadius Avellanus. I note that his translations were also criticized by several of his contemporaries as evincing incorrect Latin, for example, here: http://books.google.com/books?id=holJAA ... al&f=false

Apparently Arcadius had no patience with the insistence that one stick to classical norms, whether in the grammar or in the dictionary. Given that his books are enjoyable and useful to read, why should we complain about this? Now his Latin is certainly closer to being "correct" than that of Hobbitus; on the other hand, it's much more difficult, both more syntactically complex and having a much larger and more obscure vocabulary. Hobbitus is expressly meant for learners to have something fun to divert themselves with. I think it would serve that purpose just fine, despite its faults, for people not yet at a level sufficient to enjoy Insula Thesauraria or Fabulae Divales.
Last edited by scotistic on Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
scotistic
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:15 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby adrianus » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:46 pm

Bonam apologiam seu patrocinium!
That's a very good defence!
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
adrianus
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 3270
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:45 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Nesrad » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:51 pm

There's no doubt that it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to employ a perfectly Ciceronian style to translate the Hobbit, but there's a huge difference between easy Latin and gramatically incorrect Latin.

Avellanus had excellent style. Though not classical, it could certainly be called proper Latin. That's not the case for Hobbitus which could more appropriately be called kitchen Latin (latin de cuisine).
Nesrad
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:10 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby adrianus » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:20 pm

Culinarii latini quidem est illa apologia, at bona. Meâ parte, latinitatem operis de quo tractamus non admiror, non minùs si tirones videamus.
Michael's is indeed a defence of kitchen latin but a good defence at the same time. Personally, I can't look up to the latin of the work this discussion is about, even for beginners.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
adrianus
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 3270
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:45 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Interaxus » Fri Jan 18, 2013 1:53 am

scotistic:

“Hobbitus is expressly meant for learners to have something fun to divert themselves with”


Unlike yourself and other apologists who already know Latin, the learners you and the publishers claim are the prime target group are unlikely to be able to read the book in a couple of days and divert themselves with skipping over patches of dubious Latin. Those kids or adults attempting to read the book at all are likely to have a genuine interest in Latin and will struggle to read a bit of the book at a time, hoping to improve their Latin in the process.

But they cannot trust this text. It contains too many outright/outrageous errors to stand as a model.

How then might this book serve the interests of such learners? Conceivably by reinforcing some basic vocabulary. But surely immersion in a sea of syntactic howlers with the attendant risk of contamination is too high a price to pay.

Nobody is asking for Ciceronian Latin. Or perfection. Just a minimum level of correctness.

Mistakes are inevitable when we try to speak Latin or send emails or post something on the Internet in Latin. But that’s informal Latin and totally in order.

However, when a respected company (HarperCollins) publishes a Latin translation of a modern cult classic, we are entitled to expect more than kitchen Latin.
.
I see Hobbitus as symptomatic of our commercialized, media-dominated age. It offers a tattoo and T-shirt version of Latin while revealing a less fortunate aspect of the Empowerment of Amateurs (yes, I’m one of those!).

.....

As for the link to Avellanus, just go there and search in the box for ‘Avellanus’. You’ll see that the reviewer, no less an authority than the renowned W.H.D. Rouse, cordially recommends Latin teachers to read Avellanus aloud in class.

Cheers,
Int
Interaxus
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 509
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 1:04 am
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Nesrad » Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:23 pm

Interaxus: I agree with your entire post, especially:

Interaxus wrote:Nobody is asking for Ciceronian Latin. Or perfection. Just a minimum level of correctness.
Nesrad
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:10 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Anthony Appleyard » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:33 pm

"... when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along ..."
"... quandoquidem talis ingens et stulta gens qualis tu et ego rustice errat ..." (p. xvi)


I got the impression that that is not a good use of "quandoquidem". Virgil reserved "quandoquidem" for a very special and grand use in the Aeneid, for "inasmuch as" in a speech by the god Jupiter giving a judgement.
Anthony Appleyard
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Nesrad » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:52 am

Really now is that the only difficulty you see with this sentence?
Nesrad
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:10 pm

Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

Postby Alatius » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:00 am

Anthony Appleyard wrote:
"... when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along ..."
"... quandoquidem talis ingens et stulta gens qualis tu et ego rustice errat ..." (p. xvi)

I got the impression that that is not a good use of "quandoquidem".

Yes, there is no question about that. I would think that the most likely explanation is that the translator intended "quandocumque" but mixed the words up in his mind. (Of course, anyone can make such mistakes, but the chance for such blunders grow the less your active knowledge of the language is...)
Alatius
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 268
Joined: Mon May 14, 2007 11:21 am
Location: Upsalia, Suecia


Return to Learning Latin

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot], Lord_WayneY and 44 guests