January 13, 1948

That’s the date on a letter I’m translating. It was written in Italian by a woman from Salerno, to my grandmother. She has never been able to read it, nor anyone else in the family. My dad scanned in a whole bunch of pictures and documents while staying and caring for her, and my mom requested that I translate the letter. I’d say I’m about half way done.

Hardest thing is the handwriting! The difference between c, e, u, m and n are minimal, especially when found in combination; s, o and a are like pulling teeth; and sometimes it is really just a guess. So it’s more than just translating, it’s figuring out what in the world was written in the first place. Seriously, I spent half an hour trying to parse fino ad oggi “to date, up to today”, which I originally read as fuis sol aggi…(no actual meaning in Italian, to my knowledge). And this is all Roman script! Gives you some feeling for the difficulty involved in parsing a handwritten text in a language that is not as familiar, say Hebrew or Greek or worse…

Right now one particular problem is a word that looks like scrisli. Although it could easily be something else, maybe snisfi or suisfi? The curves on the middle letters are not distinct enough to my limited ability to read them. The ‘l’ has a tail, like it was a mistake (or I’m just wrong), and doesn’t have the features and directionality of any of the tailed letters in the rest of the letter. In context, it should probably be something like, “You were sent”, “I sent”, or “I wrote.” It needs to be verbal for sure, and is preceded by the word vi “you”, crying for, “I verbed (to) you.”

Once I’m done I’ll probably put the letter online, with my translation.


About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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One Response to January 13, 1948

  1. Nathan Stitt says:

    Sounds like fun. Even if you don’t put the whole thing online, some excerpts would be nice.

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