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THE ITALIAN LINGUISTIC CONTINUUM ON THE STAGE: THE CHALLENGE OF TRANSLATING CARTA CANTA BY RAFFAELLO BALDINI

  • Author(s): Boselli, Stefano
  • et al.
Abstract

The origins of theatrical Italian are rooted in literature rather than orality, and this has regularly been at odds with any demands for realism. At the same time, the unique and broad assortment of regional dialects that actively interact with Italian offers a great opportunity for dramatists who wish to endow their plays with a closer connection to everyday life. Unfortunately, these dialects are often mutually unintelligible and represent a risky choice for authors aiming at a general circulation of their plays in regions other than the one a particular dialect belongs to. While the traditional choice in implementing dialect has been to simplify it and make it more understandable, thus unavoidably losing some of its visceral power, in his monologue Carta canta, Raffaello Baldini adopted a more effective and functional solution through the frequent code-switching between Italian and an underlying dialect. This process makes his monologues both extremely realistic and understandable outside his native Romagna.

In this essay, Boselli takes a closer look at the development of Italian for the stage, and analyses Baldini's play to highlight its originality, maintaining that Baldini's language provides the Italian theatrical tradition with a definitive blueprint for tapping into the powerful resources of dialects and it gives them an opportunity to survive. Boselli also takes a close look at Adria Bernardi's translation of Baldini's play, mostly based on the Italian translation of the play made by Baldini himself, and as a 'translation of a translation' forgoes some important details of the original. Boselli concludes by saying that the fact that the work has indeed pierced the linguistic barrier is a point of merit for both translator and editor, but that clearer intentions and tighter collaboration, as well as the participation of professional performers are needed to translate for the theatre. Otherwise, the playtext does not enter the canon of actually performed plays in the new culture and remains, at best, opaque literature.

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