The Lord of the Rings: what will be different in Ottavio Fatica’s Italian translation?

A few months ago, Gualtiero Cannarsi’s Italian translation of Neon Genesis Evangelion was at the centre of numerous debates. Fans openly criticised his “overly literal” translation of the famous Japanese anime series (if you would like to read our article, follow this link: The debate about the Italian dub of NGE).

After Cannarsi, over the past few weeks Ottavio Fatica has been in the spotlight, translator of the new Italian version of “The Lord of the Rings”, also famous for his translations of – among others – Melville and Kipling.

It all started when the Italian Association of Tolkien Studies published a preview of the first verses of the “Ring Poem” translation: “Un Anello per trovarli, Uno per vincerli / Uno per radunarli e al buio avvincerli”, which translates the English verses “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them / One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

If you are acquainted with the previous Italian editions of the work by Tolkien, these verses will sound “off key” while the old version “Un Anello per domarli, un Anello per trovarli / Un Anello per ghermirli e nel buio incatenarli” will sound much more familiar.

In fact, considering fans have been used to reading the translation by Vittoria Alliata for the past 50 years, it is inevitable that these changes can sound confusing, especially for aficionados.

What will be different in Ottavio Fatica’s Italian translation?

The language register

According to various articles published on the web, Fatica has stated that he wants to remain as faithful as possible to Tolkien’s original style. This is why he has chosen to diversify the language registers according to the various characters: thus, the Elves are distinguished by a high register, the Ogres by a rougher language and the Hobbits by a more vernacular lexicon, just like in the original text.

Names and place names

Apart from the terms in Elvish, the names of characters and places have also been modified: for example, according to an article published on the website of the Italian Association of Tolken Studies, “Hobbiville” will become “Hobbiton” and “Samwise” (Frodo’s right hand man) will become “Samplicio”.

The original hobbit name of this character is Banazîr, which means “half-wise, simple” conveyed by Tolkien with “Samwise” (which comes from the Anglo Saxon “samwís”). Fatica has chosen “Simplicio”, an actual Italian name which was once widely used, changing it to “Samplicio”, thus achieving a translation closer to the original meaning.

Why translate the Lord of the Rings again?

Many fans have been asking why “The Lord of the Rings” has been re-translated after 50 years. There isn’t one answer, but according to some aficionados, the Italian translation of this milestone of Fantasy literature needed to evolve to keep it relevant and able to dialogue with an increasingly diverse and transversal audience.

And are you, friends of STUDIOTRE, “Lord of the Rings” fans? What is your opinion about this new translation? Leave a comment on our Facebook ( page.


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