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

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

Post by 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
Sperate miseri, cavete felices.

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

Post by 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!
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ptolemyauletes
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Re: Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in Latin: Hobbitus Ille

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

Post by 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

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

Post by 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.

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

Post by 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.

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

Post by 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.

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

Post by 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

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

Post by 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.

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

Post by 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

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