Transcription and translation of the texts
The transcription of the texts found in Aimé-Adrien Taunay’s notebook was undertaken by historian Thierry Thomas; the translation by Dr. Marcia Valéria Martinez de Aguiar.
According to the transcriber, the condition of the manuscript often made it difficult to transcribe the text. There are passages where reading was presumed, others where it was possible to identify only a few letters of a word, and cases where the task was impossible.
Another aspect that made it difficult to read the text was the peculiarity of Aimé-Adrien Taunay’s syntax, as was his way of using punctuation and upper and lower case. In addition, the reading of this notebook requires a research effort, in order to identify the places that mark Adrien Taunay’s routes, as well as the animals, plants and people that populate his account. It is up to the reader to extract the content’s meaning from the textual and historical contexts.
As a textual genre, the travelogue (in French récit de voyage) allows the use of verb tenses such as the present of the indicative and the past perfect, either concomitantly or alternatingly in order to tell specific facts. This genre also admits the use of the imperfect past tense to describe circumstantial facts. Likewise, in French the genre récit de voyage also allows the use of the present (présent), the present perfect and past perfect (passé composé and passé simple) and the imperfect past tense (imparfait).
What draws attention in Taunay’s notebook is the alternating use of the present and the two types of perfect tenses, with no clear explanation for the choice. To alternate present and past tenses in a narrative is a common feature of the récit de voyage genre, yet it is interesting how Taunay alternates the two types of past tenses that are in French, the passé composé and the passé simple. This choice becomes slightly more curious in the eyes of the reader when one considers the distinctions between passé composé and passé simple. According to linguist Émile Benveniste, the main difference between these two types of past is that the passé composé is anchored to the situation of enunciation and, therefore, temporally closer both to the interlocutor and the narrated fact, while the passé simple has a temporal distance from both the narrated fact and the interlocutor. This difference is observed, in French, in the use of these two verb tenses: while the passé composé is part of the daily record of the language (in interactions, the press, etc.), the passé simple belongs above all to the written record (such as the great novels of the 19th century, for example).
Another curiosity observed in Taunay’s writing is the use of the passé composé because it escapes the syntactic parameter of the French language for this verbal tense. By definition, a sentence in the passé composé is composed of [subject] + [auxiliary verb in the present] + [main verb in the past participle] + [complement] (if any). In several occurrences, Taunay writes only the main verb, omitting both the subject and the auxiliary verb, as in the passage [je suis] parti de bonne heure.
In the entry of June 18th, 1824 (page 4 of the Notebook) it is possible to find occurrences of these three verb tenses: je m'embarquai pour Praia Grande (passé simple); couché à Praia Grande (passé composé); nous aperçûmes plusieurs bateaux (passé simple); nous arrivons à la nuit (présent).
The translator tried to follow the material reality of the manuscript, with its erasures, gaps, line breaks, punctuation, upper and lower case letters. When there were words with only a few letters, we proceeded in two ways: when it was possible to deduce the term, we tried to “translate” it. Thus, “[...]a[...]lle de riz”, will appear in the translation as “[..]a[.]lha de arroz”. When no word could be identified, the original letters were maintained; thus “[...]ul registre d’en bas” became “[..]ul registro debaixo”. On the pages where there were many gaps, and where it was not possible to deduce in which sense a certain term should be translated, the decision was for the original.
We also tried to maintain the syntactic order of Adrien Taunay’s sentences, making changes only when a sentence in the original order would prove incomprehensible in Portuguese.
In this regard, the edition was conservative, keeping the text as presented by the author; respecting the original spelling, punctuation or absence of it, the word arrangement along the page, line by line. Such are the elements of the critical apparatus:
[ ] : unreadable
[.....] : unreadable with an estimated number of letters
[no] : reading done, but still a little doubtful (to be read with caution)
(b2l) : between two lines, added.
(sic) : written like the original
Bold and italics were used when elements that not in the text were added.