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Calalp Wednesday 4th June 2014 12:16

Montézuma and "his" Oropendola …
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Here´s another little translation, or explanation, task for our French knowing readers!

This time regarding Montézuma in Montezuma Oropendola (Gymnostinops) Psarocolius montezuma LESSON 1829–1832 (four different years claimed!? of whenver it was described) … concerning who he was.

This species was described by Lesson as "Le Casique Montézuma; Casicus Montezuma" in his Centurie zoologique, ou, Choix d'animaux rares, nouveaux ou imparfaitement connus : enrichi de planches inédites, dessinées d'après nature par M. Prêtre, gravées et coloriées avec le plus grand soin: 33-35 + Plate (Attached). Link to full volume here.

And what does that last sentence (in French) tell us:

Ce beau cacique habite le Mexique. Il se trouve maintenant dans les galeries du Muséum et dans le cabinet de M. le duc de Rivoli. L’individu que nous avons figuré, nous a été communiqué par M. Florent Prevost, et rappelle le nom d’un casique mexicain que l’histoire a rendu célèbre”.
With only limited knowledge (close to none!) of French I hope that any of Bird Forums readers feel like translating this quote for me!? If so, please as accurate as possible, as I would like to quote it myself in Swedish. And don´t hesitate to remark on any errors that I might have done transcribing it.

Anyone feel up to it?

l_raty Thursday 5th June 2014 10:06


Originally Posted by Calalp (Post 3002927)
”Ce beau cacique habite le Mexique. Il se trouve maintenant dans les galeries du Muséum et dans le cabinet de M. le duc de Rivoli. L’individu que nous avons figuré, nous a été communiqué par M. Florent Prevost, et rappelle le nom d’un cacique mexicain que l’histoire a rendu célèbre”.

"This beautiful cacique inhabits Mexico. It is now found in the galeries of the Museum and in the cabinet of the Duke of Rivoli. The individual that we have figured, was communicated to us by Mr. Florent Prevost, and recalls the name of a Mexican cacique, that history made famous."

(The French spelling is "cacique" for the Amerindian leader, but can be either "cacique" or "cassique" for the bird [the latter is officially used in bird lists, but the former remains accepted by dictionaries--eg. Larousse; in French, "cassique" covers birds called caciques and oropendolas in English]. Both have the same pronunciation in French; "casique" would sound different.)

nartreb Thursday 5th June 2014 14:42

"We have figured", in more native-sounding English, would be "we have pictured" or "we have illustrated".

(Nothing to do with the much more common usage of "figured" meaning "calculated". In the sense of "featured prominently", you'd say "it figures in the book" but not "we figure it".)

Peter C. Thursday 5th June 2014 15:12

To be sure, I am less qualified in French than the above respondents!

But, I think that a more natural-sounding version of l_raty's translation of the final sentence would be "The individual depicted was sent to us by M. Florent Prevost, and it was named in honour of a Mexican cacique, who was made famous by history."

Of course, if you are just going to be translating into Swedish, the precise English phaseology is not very important...

nartreb Thursday 5th June 2014 16:59

Indeed, it's always a balancing act between staying close to the original phrasing, and rendering the same meaning in a way that sounds natural in the new language. "Depicted" is a perfect translation of "figuré and more natural than "figured" or even "pictured", but notice that you've also subtly changed some meanings:
- you put "depicted" in passive voice, so you've lost the information that "we" depicted the bird
- "named in honor" is a reasonable interpretation, but neither word "named" nor "honor" actually appears in the original.

l_raty Thursday 5th June 2014 17:18

Usually I try to stay as literal as I can in this type of situation; if Björn wants to take liberties with his Swedish text, I think it's up to him.
Here, the French original text actually sounds quite unnatural as well (to a modern ear), for more or less the same reasons. (Ia, I would not use "que nous avons figuré" either, but rather "que nous avons illustré"; and I would not expect "communiquer" to have a specimen as object.) But I guess that translating literally French archaisms into English does not necessarily produce something that sounds like archaic English... ;)

Incidentally, I had found "figure" defined in a way that sounded similar to how I used it in the Oxford Dictionary ("VERB" "4. [WITH OBJECT] Represent in a diagram or picture" [here]), which is in part why I used it. Not too sure what the difference is?

Peter C. Thursday 5th June 2014 17:53

Quite correct, all! I was going for the "sense" of what I think the author was saying, and putting that into contemporary English, and absolutely admit that this is not literally accurate. However, I do believe that this is a rough way to say the same thing, if this were written now. (I suppose I could have used "which we have depicted here" instead.)

The phrase "made famous by history" while being both grammatical and accurate, is not one that I imagine a native English speaker using, but messing with that would be really be straying far...

To translate, plainly, I would agree that the literal (post #2) one is closer.

Xenospiza Thursday 5th June 2014 20:16

And Montezuma is of course:

nartreb Thursday 5th June 2014 21:04

Looking at those Oxford examples, all of them use "it figures" not "we figure it". (when using "figure" in the sense of "depict"). Logically, "we figure it" should be correct too, but sounds even more unnatural. (I had not seen "figure" in the sense of "depict" [as a verb] before, but I eventually found it in an etymological dictionary. It apparently dates to the 14th C. Interestingly, the sense of "to calculate" [to work out using "figures", i.e. numbers and/or algebraic symbols] started in the 19th C and rapidly took on related meanings ("oh, that figures" for "that makes sense"; "I figured" for "I planned or intended"), but apparently remains rare outside of North America?

Calalp Saturday 7th June 2014 13:42

Thanks Laurent, "nartreb", Peter, and Jan …
This is more than enough, more than I need to close my entry regarding this man and this "his" Bird …

= the Aztec ruler (in Swedish transcription) Motecuhzoma II Xocoyotzin (born either in 1466 or 1468 * … that died in 1520) a k a (still in Swedish interpretation) Moctezuma II Xocoyotzin or Montezuma II. You will have no trouble finding him in any language of your own!

*According to Nationalencyklopedin – the most comprehensive contemporary Swedish language encyclopedia (that I normally trust and rely on). But also compare with various Wiki-pages (in different languages) or with Jobling (2014), on HBW Alive. I´m no Historian, so you´ll have to decide for yourself whom to trust …

To add my view on the issue of quotation, I prefer the old-school, literal version, as true to the original as ever possible. I think it does add a certain flavour, a scent of history gone by, of Time itself and in some cases even gives us a hint of the respective personality/ies or/and the academic alt. literary tradition of the person/s of that particular Era. Even if ever so awkward, linguistically or philologically entangled, sometimes, or close to, impossible to understand, we always have the option of adding that little line; "in a modern translation", "which means" or "today interpreted as …" (or like-worthy phrases)", indicating it´s an up-dated (more understandable, but still truthful) version of the original quote.

I use both versions, preferably the former (as far as possible), depending of the quote and what is needed to be understood from it. Naturally various handwritings and older (or too Foreign) typefaces does force us, by necessity, to use the latter.

That´s it!

montezuma … over and out!

PS. Jan, I sure appreciated that you forwarded, the Swedish Wiki-link!

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