Uncles and Uncles

I am struggling a bit with the challenge of Turkishisms. There are lots of them in Rod, regionally specific words that derive originally from Turkish and retain something of their Ottoman-era stylistic aura. Sometimes they are referenced explicitly, sometimes they pass by without comment, but any reader of the original work will be aware of them, even if only dimly. How to bring them out without simply using an italicized foreign word in each case has to be part of a global approach to the whole translation, it seems to me.

A good example is the chapter entitled “Stričevi i amidže,” which means “uncles and uncles,” the first word deriving from “stric” or “strik” (father’s brother), while the second is the plural of “amidža,” which according to the Hrvatski jezični portal, means “stric.” A bit more searching will make it clear that amidža is the word used by Muslim families for uncle, and this is what the chapter is about. The ending is poignant:

When they found themselves all together, they always knew exactly, and never did any child mistake, who was called amidža by whom and who was called strik by whom.

The wars of the nineties were needed for the Rejc children and grandchildren to understand the nature of the difference.

Our Auntie Marica, Uncle Eda’s wife, a good cook and a simple-hearted woman, with a big heart and a stormy disposition, was born in Vitez.

Nieces and nephews did not call their uncle amidža there.

Except among the Muslims.

This kind of example is simpler than those in which the words are used without comment, for here the text teaches readers to read, making it possible to simplify the chapter title to “Uncles” without fear that the significance of the word “amidža” will be lost.

Elsewhere I need to think and choose carefully. There are so many examples that I’ve started keeping a list. It will be something I talk about with my author–for we are at least in contact about such things–when we discuss the text at length.

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