Role Playing Tips – Language Translators

“L Trog, the Godfather of Modern Day Archaeology” by Michael Connelly is the eighth in the series of The Godfather movies. This time, it’s about finding the artifacts of a family estate in Tuscany during the brief war between Fido and Cassie. This novel takes the reader into the idyllic countryside of Tuscany during one of the most tumultuous times in Italian history.

The main characters are Gius Lima, an archaeologist; Fabio Loredana, a student who wants to be an archaeologist; and Tonnocella, a town elder and personal friend of Fabio. Loredana’s son, Paco, is very excited about finding his long-lost grandfather’s gold coins, which have disappeared from a Tuscany village during an earthquake. Everything goes well until one day Fabio’s research team is ambushed and kidnapped by a band of pirates. They manage to escape but are pursued by two more pirates who crashed their boat near Loredana’s farm. Fabio’s partner in the investigation, Tonnocella, is badly beaten in the process and finds himself in the care of his uncle, Father Lombardi, who is also a professor of archeology.

With the help of his assistant, Lapicio, Fabio gets access to the gold coins which were hidden in the rafters of Fabio’s study. However, the gold was already missing a few teeth when the treasure hunters stumbled upon it. Now, instead of using modern technology to help him search for his grandfather’s legacy, Fabio must rely on his knowledge of medieval Italian society, including the way lotrellas (traditional skull garb) are used. In addition, he has to use the skill and knowledge of his friend Tonnocella, who can translate any ancient document into a Pile Driver.

Due to the book’s title, we quickly realize that we’re not actually looking for a treasure; but a lotre, or heap, as the locals call it in Javanese. One of the reasons why scholars appreciate Lotre as a Javanese translator is that he includes enough English to allow his readers to understand what’s happening, yet keeps the context of simple and understandable to the native Javanese. For example, a character in one chapter points out, “The lotro wears the lotra.” To the reader, however, it would be much clearer if he had said, “The man wears the lotra.” This difference helps give credibility to the Javanese language, allowing scholars to not only learn the language, but to confidently assume that scholars have found a piece of antiquity in Javanese history.

In his translation of Persianian folktales, the scholar Ahmed Kosef wrote that Lotro’s role model was not the heroics of classical literature, but rather the stories of ordinary people. According to Kosef, Persian kings who wrote stories about their lives found that they could write good stories because they often shared the same life experiences and the same necessities and problems as ordinary Javanese speakers. For these kings, being a king meant having to do a lot of things and that included being a translator. Kosef also noted that many of the themes in Lotro were common among the subjects of ancient Greek plays, and that these themes repeated themselves throughout Greek literature. To translate these stories into Javanese, therefore, required translating similar literary devices into Javanese.

A similar strategy can be applied to translating LOTR audio books. Unlike traditional reference books, the audio files in LOTR offer a lot of variety. The first thing that a new listener needs to do when he hears a LotR audio book is to determine the characters’ gender. The different languages of Middle Earth make a lot of differences in how pronouns are used, and a lot of listeners (both new and experienced) tend to use gender-specific pronouns (like “She” and “He”) when referring to characters that don’t speak that way in their own language. These pronouns can be learned by listening to LOTR audio books, or by consulting a LOTR quiz or game at the Javanese Help Site.