I have set myself the challenge of translating ‘Storia di una Capinera’ by Giovanni Verga into English at the rate of one word a day.
Avevo visto una povera capinera chiusa in gabbia . . .
The story so far
Storia di una capinera
Avevo visto una povera capinera chiusa in gabbia: era timide, triste, malaticcia ci guardava con occhio spaventato; si rifuggiava in un angolo della sua gabbia, e allorché udiva il canto allegro degli altri uccelletti che cinguettavano sul verde del prato o nell’azzurro del cielo, li seguiva con uno sguardo che avrebbe potuto dirsi pieno di lagrime. Ma non osava ribellarsi, non osava tentare di rompere il fil di ferro che la teneva carcerata, la povera prigioniera. Eppure i suoi custodi, le volevano bene, cari bambini che si trastullavano col suo dolore e le pagavano la sua malinconia con miche di pane e con parole gentili. La povera capinera cercava rassegnarsi, la meschinella; non era cattiva; non voleva rimproverarli neanche col suo dolore, poiché tentava di beccare tristamente quel miglio e quelle miche di pane; ma non poteva inghiottirle. Dopo due giorni chinò. . .
Today’s new word
chinò (verb) = he/she/it bent, bent over, bowed
chinò is the 3rd person singular indicative form of the simple past tense of the verb chinare (= to bend)
Il Passato Remoto: The simple past or past definite tense
Il passato remoto is a ‘simple’, that is one-word, tense used to report single, ‘one-off’ events in the past.
Il passato prossimo is used for events that happened once in the past and imperfetto is used for events that happened more than once in the past. Another past tense, passato remoto, is used for events that happened in the distant past. It is used mainly in more formal writing.
Passato remoto is used in written Italian, except for some areas of Southern Italy where it is used in spoken language. When spoken, the emphasis is put on the first vowel of the ending. When we translate a sentence into English that is written in the passato remoto, it is the same translation as a sentence in passato prossimo.
Example of use in a sentence:
Margherita piangeva con il capo chinò per la vergogna.
Margherita was crying with her head bowed in shame
Story of a blackcap
I had seen a poor blackcap locked in a cage: it was timid, sad, sickly it watched us with terrified eye, taking shelter in a corner of its cage, and when it heard the joyful song of the other small birds that were singing on the green of the meadow or in the blue of the sky, followed them with a gaze, that one would have been able to say to oneself, full of tears. But she dared not rebel, she dared not try to break the iron wire that held her imprisoned, the poor prisoner. Yet her gaolers loved her, dear children that amused themselves with her suffering and paid her for her sadness with bread crumbs and with kind words. The poor blackcap tried to resign herself, the pathetic little wretch; she was not bad; she did not want to reproach them not even with her sadness, since she tried desperately to peck that millet and those bread crumbs, but she was not able to swallow them. After two days she bent. . .
Here is an alternative translation that I am working on:
The Story of a blackcap
I have seen a poor blackcap locked in a cage: shy, sad and sickly, she watched us with terrified eyes. She cowered in the corner of her cage and on hearing the joyful singing of the other small birds in the green meadow and in the blue sky, her gaze followed the sound with an expression that one would say was full of tears. But she dared not rebel, she dared not try to break the iron wire that held her captive, the poor prisoner. And yet her wardens, dear children, loved her. They amused themselves with her suffering and rewarded her for her distress with crumbs of bread and kind words. The poor blackcap was trying to adapt, pathetic little wretch; she was not bad; she did not want to reproach them not even with her distress, after all she was desperately trying to peck at the millet and the bread crumbs, but she could not to swallow them. After two days she bent. . .
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