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In Itlani it is often impossible or at least inelegant to translate English sentences just as they are, especially if they contain a lot of embedded clauses. Some non-colloquial English sentences can go on for quite a while and even for native speakers it can be a challenge not to get lost in exactly what the writer/speaker is aiming at. When I am attempting to translate a sentence like this, I sometimes have to split the English sentence into two or even three separate sentences.

If it is a particularly thorny sentence, there are times when I back away from “translating” it at all and take refuge in trying to think about how a native Itlani might originally think about, frame and form a vocal expression to get the same thought across. Interestingly, the same works in reverse. Tony Harris (a fluent Itlani speaker) has often pointed out to me that when I speak in Itlani and give my own translations the two versions are not always exact. I have found that my English translations, if based too closely on the Itlani original do not make good English at all.

Simple and clear is always a good choice.

Itlani Jim

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

From: Mark J. Reed
Sent: Saturday, April 20, 2019 1:47 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: As simple as possible, but not too simple.

Sure. You can render pretty much any idea in any sufficiently complete
language, at worst losing some nuance. As an example, Klingon has very
limited support for complex sentences; if you look at, say, Hamlet, you
find single Shakespearean sentences becoming two or three or more short
sentences in the Klingon rendition. But the meaning still carries through.


On Sat, Apr 20, 2019 at 13:07 Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> The idea of having very simple rules for the construction of sentences has
> always had a certain appeal to me. But I always end up devising formal
> grammars that work well for the most basic of sentences, but fail utterly
> when encountering real-world sentences. But what if a language was built in
> such a way that complex sentence were not even possible. Would it still be
> possible to translate complex sentences from other languages into this
> conlang? I'm thinking rather than Toki Pona simple, something more like
> Turing machine simple. Simple, yes, but still capable of expressing
> anything that can be expressed in any other language. I recall having
> posted a similar idea a long time ago. (see link at the bottom)
>
> So since I'm trying to translate Alice in Wonderland, why not start with
> the very first sentence, which puts the whole idea to the test.
>
> Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank,
> and of having nothing to do.
>
> A very complex sentence, but containing three very simple ideas:
>
> Alice was sitting on the bank by her sister.
> She had nothing to do.
> She was beginning to become very tired of that.
>
> And there we have the same idea expressed with three simple sentences. Now
> each of those sentences could be translated into the conlang using some
> simple set of formal grammar rules.
>
> [noun phrase] [conjugated verb] [prepositional phrase] [prepositional
> phrase].
> [noun phrase] [negation] [conjugated verb] [noun phrase].
> [noun phrase] [conjugated copular verb] [adj phrase].
>
> The last [adj phrase] might also contain a prepositional phrase as an
> object of the adjective, i.e. [tired [of that]].
>
> At any rate, it seems like the formal grammar rules could be very simple
> indeed and still allow for capturing the complex ideas expressed in other
> languages.
>
> FWIW: I found my original post from 2012: Ignore what I said about word
> derivations. That was a dumb idea! :)
>
>
> https://listserv.brown.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind1206C&L=CONLANG&P=R7355&X=O1C19D9D36F29167D33
>
> --gary
>
-- 
Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>