Translator's notes

The Good Life (La Bbonja Famijja) into Yorkshire dialect

By Giuseppe Belli

The Romanesque sonneteer, Giuseppe Gioachino Belli (1791-1863), wrote some 2,279 sonnets in the Romanesque dialect and was probably prompted to do so after meeting and reading the work of the Milanese dialect poet Carlo Porta. The beauty of Belli’s sonnets is that he uses the classical sonnet setting, but sends them up by couching them in dialect. So in order to come anywhere close to appreciating Belli in English, this rebellion has to be seated within the traditional English framework: the Petrarchan scheme of the original has to be transposed to the Shakespearean. Moreover, to translate Belli’s Romanesque into Standard English is, in my view at least, to miss the most essential ingredient of his rebellion against the aulic high style, and so I think his dialect has to be transported into an English dialect with similar characteristics. I believe the varied assonance of the Yorkshire dialect goes some way to creating an equivalent of the coarse, double consonants of Belli’s Romanesco.

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