Equiprosodic translation method in Estonian poetry


  • Maria-Kristiina Lotman University of Tartu




Equimetrical translation of verse, which conveys the metre of the source text, should be distinguished from equiprosodic translation of verse, which conveys the versification system of the source text. Equiprosodic translation of verse can rely on the possibilities of natural language (for instance, when presumably Publius Baebius Italicus created the Ilias Latina, he made use of the quantitative structure in Latin), but it can also employ an artificial system (cf., for example, the quantitative verse in Church Slavonic or English). The Estonian language makes it possible to convey the syllabic (based on the number of syllables), accentual (based on the number and configuration of accents) and quantitative (based on the configuration of durations) versification systems. In practice, combined types are most frequent, for instance, the ones in which both the syllable count and the configuration of accents is relevant; in Estonian, versification systems with the participation of all three principles are possible as well. Despite the contrast of quantity in Estonian, the transmission of the quantitative structure of ancient metrics still involves a number of difficulties which result from differences in the prosodic structures. The transmission of purely syllabic versification system has also been problematic: it is hard to perceive such structure as verse in Estonian and therefore it has often been conveyed with the help of different syllabic-accentual or accentual-syllabic verse metres. Although equiprosodic translation is not necessarily equimetrical, in actual translation practice it usually is so.


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Author Biography

Maria-Kristiina Lotman, University of Tartu

Institute of Germanic, Romance and Slavonic Languages and Literatures, University of Tartu




How to Cite

Lotman, M.-K. (2012). Equiprosodic translation method in Estonian poetry. Sign Systems Studies, 40(3/4), 447–472. https://doi.org/10.12697/SSS.2012.3-4.10