Quandu da la forza à la raghjoni cuntrasta Tandu vinci la forza è la raghjoni ùn basta

Quandu da la forza à la raghjoni cuntrasta
Tandu vinci la forza è la raghjoni ùn basta.

This is a rare Corsican proverb. In French, litterally: “Lorsque la force et la raison s’opposent, alors la force gagne car la raison ne suffit pas” (When strength and reason are opposed, then strength gains because reason is not enough).

But it seems better translated in French, as: “La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure.” (Jean de la Fontaine). Litterally: the reason of the strongest is always the best. This is semantically equivalent to: might makes right. This is the first verse of the fable of Jean de La Fontaine, The Wolf and the Lamb. To be compared with Aesop, from which this fable originates ; the conclusion of the story, in Aesop’s terms, was: This fable shows that with people decided to do the most righteous evil, defense remains without effect.

This rare Corsican proverb is a small wonder (heard from people of Laretu di Tallà). The proverb is in poetry, with the main rhyme cuntrasta/basta, but there is also a secondary rhyme at the beginning of the verses: Quandu/Tandu.

More generally, this raises the problem of the equivalence of meaning and the translation of the proverbs from one language to another. If one considers that Quandu da la forza à la raghjoni cuntrasta Tandu vinci la forza è la raghjoni ùn basta is semantically equivalent to “La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure” in French, it is somewhat surprising since there are several differences between the two versions:

  • The Corsican proverb is poetry while the French version is in prose
  • The phrase is longer in Corsica, and contains more words than the French version (the English version being even more concise but sense-preserving)
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