Antiikvärsimõõdud eesti tõlgetes 19. sajandi lõpul – 20. sajandi esimesel poolel / Ancient Meters in Estonian Translations at the End of the 19th Century – the First Half of the 20th Century

Maria-Kristiina Lotman


Although ancient verse has also been translated into Estonian with different non-equimetrical strategies, from the very beginning the equimetrical way of translation has prevailed, the purpose of which has been to convey the meter of a source text in the target text. Ancient meters are found in the Estonian tradition of translation from the end of the 19th century, when several authors undertook the translation of voluminous hexametrical texts. During the following decades, hexameter became an important meter both in original and translated poetry, first in accentual-syllabic or syllabic-accentual versification systems, later different quantitative forms were added. In the case of Estonian quantitative hexameter, a two-way evolution can be observed: the aim of the first direction is to accommodate hexameter in the prosodic reality of the Estonian language and develop a form that allows licences in the metrical structure rather than deform language, the aim of the second is to create a verse form, which, first of all, follows the patterns of ancient verse and, if necessary, forms artificial rules of quantity in order to accommodate Estonian language with the structure of hexameter.The incidence of other ancient meters, including different Ionic and Aeolic verse forms, is  considerably  lower.  During  the  obser  ved  period,  Aeolic meter s  are  conveyed  in  two  dif  fe -rent forms: in syllabic-accentual verse, where quantity plays only a rhythmic role, and syllabic-accentual-quantitative form, where the number of syllables is always strictly fixed, the distribution  of  accent s  is  governed  by  cer tain  rule s,  while  quantit y  is  more  impor tant  in strong positions and less regulated in weak positions.At the same time, we come across non-equimetrical translations as well, where instead of the original meter some other verse form has been chosen for the translation. Such rendition can be a functional equivalent, but sometimes it is just the result of a random choice. On the other hand, mostly in the case of poems in hexameter or elegiac distichs, the verseto-prose translation strategy is also used.Therefore, we can see that during the observed period ancient meters were translated with a variety of strategies. There were many different experiments and some of these resulted in a vital and sustainable tradition still viable in Estonian poetry translation.

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