Monday 18 March 2013

Pope Francis' prayers

As some of you will know, besides teaching English Phonetics at the Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Viterbo, I also teach English pronunciation at the IPASVI Nursing College of Rome. The IPASVI Nursing College of Rome is just a stone's throw from St Peter's Basilica, which allowed me last Tuesday evening to get to St Peter's Square just in time to see the black smoke billowing from the top of the Sistine Chapel, indicating that no pope had been chosen.

The next day, Wednesday 13th March, Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina became Pope Francis, the new pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. As I was watching the BBC's live coverage of the papal conclave in Rome I was taken aback by the sheer incompetence of the Italian interpreter whose task it was to translate the pope's first speech into English. The interpreter made a complete dog's breakfast of the words of the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary and the Glory be to the Father (read here and/or watch this clip). These are probably the most traditional prayers in Christianity and are usually taught to young Catholics in their childhood. 

Below you can find both the English and the Italian versions of these prayers together with one possible (mainly) phonemic transcription into contemporary RP and Standard Italian pronunciation.

[Come sapranno alcuni di voi, oltre ad insegnare Fonetica Inglese all'Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Viterbo, insegno Pronuncia Inglese presso il Collegio IPASVI di Roma. Il Collegio IPASVI di Roma è vicinissimo alla Basilica di San Pietro, il che mi ha permesso, martedì scorso, dopo le mie lezioni, di raggiungere Piazza San Pietro giusto in tempo per vedere la fumata nera provenire dal comignolo della Cappella Sistina. 

Mercoledì 13 marzo, il Cardinal Bergoglio è diventato Papa Francesco, il nuovo Pontefice della Chiesa Cattolica. Mentre guardavo, proprio quel giorno, la diretta del conclave trasmessa dalla BBC, sono rimasto completamente sconcertato di fronte all'incompetenza dell'interprete italiano incaricato di tradurre le prime parole del nuovo papa. L'interprete ha combinato un totale disastro nel riportare in inglese le parole del Padre Nostro, l'Ave (o) Maria, e il Gloria al Padre (leggete qui e/o guardate questa clip).

Qua sotto troverete la versione rispettivamente in inglese e in italiano di queste preghiere, assieme ad una possibile trascrizione (essenzialmente) fonemica in RP e pronuncia standard italiana.]

ðə ˈlɔːdz ˈprɛː

Our Father, who art in heaven,
ˈɑː ˈfɑːðə | hu ˈɑːt ɪn ˈhevn̩ |

Hallowed be thy name.
ˈhæləʊd bi ðaɪ ˈneɪm ||

Thy kingdom come.
ðaɪ ˈkɪŋdəm ˈkʌm ||

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
ðaɪ ˈwɪl bi ˈdʌn ɒn ˈɜːθ əz ɪ tɪz ɪn ˈhevn̩ ||

Give us this day our daily bread,
ˈɡɪv əs ˈðɪs ˈdeɪ ɑː ˈdeɪli ˈbred |

And forgive us our trespasses,
ən fəˈɡɪv əs ɑː ˈtrespəsɪz |

As we forgive those who trespass against us
əz wi fəˈɡɪv ˈðəʊz u ˈtrespəs əˈɡenst əs ||

And lead us not into temptation,
ən ˈliːd əs ˈnɒt ɪntə temˈteɪʃn̩ |

But deliver us from evil.
bət dəˈlɪvər əs frəm ˈiːvl̩ ||

ɑːˈmen ||

ˈheɪl ˈmɛːri ||

Hail Mary, full of grace,
ˈheɪl ˈmɛːri | ˈfʊl əv ˈɡreɪs |

The Lord is with thee.
ðə ˈlɔːd ɪz ˈwɪð ði ||

Blessed art thou amongst women,
ˈblesɪd ɑːt ˈðaʊ əmʌŋkst ˈwɪmɪn |

And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
əm ˈblesɪd ɪz ðə ˈfruːt əv ˈðaɪ ˈwuːm | ˈdʒiːzəs ||

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
ˈhəʊli ˈmɛːri | ˈmʌðər əv ˈɡɒd |

Pray for us sinners now
ˈpreɪ fər ʌs ˈsɪnəz | ˈnaʊ |

And at the hour of our death.
ən ət ði ˈaər əv ɑː ˈdeθ || 

ɑːˈmen ||

ˈɡlɔːri bi tə ðə ˈfɑːðə ||

Glory be to the Father
ˈɡlɔːri bi tə ðə ˈfɑːðə |

and to the Son
ən tə ðə ˈsʌn |

and to the Holy Spirit.
ən tə ðə ˈhəʊli ˈspɪrɪt ||

As it was in the beginning,
əz ɪt ˈwɒz ɪn ðə biˈɡɪnɪŋ |

Is now,
ˈɪz ˈnaʊ |

And ever shall be,
ən(d) evə ˈʃæl bi ||

World without end.
ˈwɜːld wɪðaʊt ˈend || 

ɑːˈmen ||

ˈpadɾe ˈnɔstɾo ||

Padre nostro, che sei nei cieli,
ˈpadɾe ˈnɔstɾo | kesˈsɛi nei ˈtʃɛli |

Sia santificato il Tuo nome.
sja ˈsantifikatol twɔ ˈnɔme ||

Venga il Tuo regno,
ˈvɛŋɡal two ˈɾeɲɲo ||

Sia fatta la Tua volontà,
sja ˈfatta la ˈtua volonˈta |

Come in cielo così in terra.
ˈkomin ˈtʃɛlo ˈkozin ˈtɛra ||

Dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano,
ˈdattʃi ˈɔddʒil nɔstɾo ˈpane kwotiˈdjano ||

Rimetti a noi i nostri debiti,
ɾiˈmettianˈnoii nɔstɾi ˈdebiti ||

Come noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori,
kome ˈnoi li ɾimetˈtjamai ˈnɔstɾi debiˈtoɾi ||

E non ci indurre in tentazione,
e non tʃinˈdurin tentatˈtsjone |

Ma liberaci dal male. Amen.
ma(l)ˈlibeɾatʃi dal ˈmale | ˈamɛn ||

ˈave (o(m)) maˈɾia ||

Ave, (o) Maria,
ˈave (o(m)) maˈɾia |

Piena di grazia,
ˈpjɛna di ˈɡɾattsja |

Il Signore è con Te.
il (t)siɲˈɲoɾɛkkon ˈte ||

Tu sei benedetta fra le donne,
tusˈsɛi beneˈdetta fra le ˈdɔnne |

E benedetto è il frutto del Tuo seno, Gesù.
e beneˈdettɛl ˈfɾuttɔ del two ˈseno dʒeˈsu ||

Santa Maria, Madre di Dio,
ˈsanta maˈɾia | ˈmadɾe didˈdiɔ |

Prega per noi peccatori,
ˈpɾɛɡa peɾ ˈnoi pekkaˈtoɾi |

Adesso e nell'ora della nostra morte. Amen.
aˈdɛssoennelˈloɾa della ˈnɔstɾa ˈmɔɾte | ˈamɛn ||

ˈɡlɔɾjal ˈpadɾe ||

Gloria al Padre,
ɡlɔɾjal ˈpadɾe |

Al Figlio
al ˈfiʎʎɔ |

E allo Spirito Santo.
e allo ˈspiɾitɔ(s)ˈsanto ||

Come era nel principio
koˈmɛɾa nel pɾinˈtʃipjɔ |

E ora e sempre,
e ˈoɾaesˈsɛmpɾe |

Nei secoli dei secoli. Amen
nei ˈsɛkoli dei ˈsɛkoli | ˈamɛn ||


  1. Just a couple of comments on your English transcription of the prayers, which are, as always, wonderfully accurate. The comments have to do with accentuation and weak forms. I am crossing my fingers that no-one asks me WHY I think what I do...
    "The Lord is with thee"
    I feel it has to be ðə ˈlɔːd ɪz ˈwɪð ðiː
    Similarly, and ever shall be → ənd evə ˈʃæl bi
    (here the future tense contrasts with the preceding past and present tenses)
    Finally, "blessed art thou". I see John Wells in LPD mentions an occasional weak form for "art", but I am pretty sure I have never heard it used in the Hail Mary, so ˈblesɪd ɑːt ˈðaʊ

    1. John, thank you so much for your comments!

      "I feel it has to be ðə ˈlɔːd ɪz ˈwɪð ðiː": I was a bit unsure this morning about "The Lord is with thee" because I've heard English native speakers stress both the preposition and the pronoun, but the version you propose is probably the commoner of the two.

  2. I think the Lord's Prayer has unique int·rest from the linguistics and phonetics point of view. Much of this is on account of its being acquired by all (excepting infant prodigies) before one's able to read it — by hearing it repeated. This means that some words and some of their pronunciations may retain archaisms that have not persisted in more revised versions. This is cert·nly so in my case. I was given a Book of Common Prayer in 1932 when I was only six years old and wou·d not have yet learnt to read. The version I thereafter retained was 'Our Father 'which' not 'who' art in Heaven'. Also I acquired the pronunciation of hallowed which inste·d of the modern regularised /`haləʊd/ is the form unchanged from Middle English /`halwɪd/, tho I'd say this is very prob·bly a small-minority usage nowadays. The other way my spoken version differs from your (perfec·ly correct) one is stylistic. No dou·t from a feeling of preference for what seems more dignified, my generation and praps most of the present one still opt for the strongform of 'as' on both occasions of the word's occurrence which both seem to lend themselves to rhythmic break from what precedes them. A modernisation long gen·rally made has been to replace 'in earth' with 'on earth'. In the UK, GB speakers have almost all retained /trespəs/ but in GA /trespӕs/ seems to be establishing itself. Finally, I think I (used to) say “them that trespass a`gainst us” but praps now “them that trespass against `us” is commonly used.