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Criteria for English translations of document summaries

The English language version of the site extends not only to the basic search functions and guidance texts, but also to the individual document summaries. A specially customized program was devised to produce semi-automatic translations of these Italian regesti. Further modifications permitted a reduction of the awkward and ungrammatical results and factual errors that such programs tend to produce. It nevertheless seemed advisable to preserve word order close enough to the original Italian to permit comparable alphabetical/hierarchical groupings. These decisions were taken case by case, evaluting their effect on similar summaries and word strings through the functions of the translation program.

The translation of the document summaries raised numerous problems regarding specific technical and historical terminology. We wish to alert the user to a few general guidelines which directed our choices.

  • Translations have been supplied for almost all Italian words, including some often left untranslated in scholarly English-language texts, even at the expense of precision. The bilingual user always has the option of switching back to the Italian version for clarification.
    • capomaestro = master builder
    • maestro = master
    • operai = wardens
    • Signori = Priors, etc.
    • Signori = Signori for the Florentine office high office and related topographical indications
    • Podestà = Podestà (as accepted English usage)
    • catasto = catasto (maintained as proper name of tax)
    A few Italian terms have been left untranslated because of uncertainty or special context. These appear in quotation marks.
    • Accantonato, cherica, chiavatoi, stella, vernie, etc.
  • When an exact, technical term was not available for the Italian word, a more generic English translation has been preferred.
    • contado = countryside
    • macigno (pietra serena) = sandstone
  • Circumlocutions have been adopted in case of necessity.
    • giornata = day's work
    • gravamento = demand of payment
  • Close adherence to the Italian texts, which in turn reflect the expressions of the original documents, has generated results which call for special attention. For example:
    • calcina = mortar
    The original texts do not distinguish between calce (quicklime) and calcina (slaked lime), which mixed with sand becomes malta or calcina (mortar). Vernacular texts consistently give calcina for all these stages, and Latin texts use calx and calcina indiscriminately. All of these have been rendered as calcina in the Italian regesti and translated as "mortar" in English.
  • The specific terminology for bricks and tiles encountered in the documents often has no English equivalent. The following choices have been made, subject to verification upon further study of the documentary corpus and other contemporary usage.
    • embrici - roof tiles
    • mattoni - bricks
    • mezzane - flat bricks
    • pianelle - flat tiles
    • quadri - square bricks (sometimes a synonym of quadroni)
    • quadroni - broad bricks (of which the cupola was constructed)
    • quadrucci - narrow or small bricks
    • tabelloni - alternative term for the largest broad bricks
    • tegoli - roof tiles
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