My friends and family members roll their eyes when I correct their grammar or point out a mistranslation. Instead of faking awe, they usually make fun of me for being so picky. On a summer day, a family member stumbled upon this sign at a laundry mat in Connecticut. This time, they could not just laugh at the “mistranslation”. With much fervor, they told me about what happened when they spoke to the supervisor about changing one of the most hideous (translation wise) signs they had ever seen. Like most people do, he simply shrugged them off, but he made a big mistake in the process. “Oh, it doesn’t matter. That isn’t Spanish, it’s some sort of language from a country called Ecuador”. That was definitely the wrong thing to say to Ecuadorians.
As you can tell from the title of this blog post, each word is in lower case. Don’t worry, it is a one-time thing in honor of one of my favorite poets: ee cummings.
The moment I read Four by him, I was instantly hooked. My amazement with him became even more profound when I learned he had gone against all the conventional and accepted forms of writing.
His poems aren’t made up of usual stanzas or strophes. Cummings adopted free verse in an unprecedented way: capitalizing words that didn’t need to be, starting each line with a lower case word, dividing whole words into different lines, etc.
Let’s just say that if you wrote like he did for a school paper, you would most likely fail.
Last year I came upon something I never thought possible: an anthology of poems by ee cummings in a book store in Guayaquil, Ecuador. To my surprise, each of the poems was written in the original English language with the Spanish translation next to it by Jose Casas.
I have enjoyed reading both the Spanish and English versions. To be able to read how the translator interpreted many things and compare them to my own opinion has contributed to my belief that literary translators have it even more difficult than you would think.
Remember, poems are so intricate that there can be a wide range of interpretations. Also, you could never again think or feel the same way as the original author while translating a piece of work in another language.
So, I give Mr. Casas props for his work and leave you with XLV, the original and the translation (Click on the image to see it large):
Translator = Traitor
Many believe that once a text undergoes translation, especially when it comes to literay texts, the essence of the original author and his/her intentions are lost. Have you ever thought about how you would have interpreted a certain scene from a book if you have read it in the original language? Remember that Leo Tolstoy’s books were originally written in Russian. The much acclaimed 100 Years of Solitude was originally written in Spanish. As an english reader, do you believe that there are certain puns, references or anything that you are at a loss at against someone that can read the work exactly how it was written by the author?
Like I said before, JUST by living abroad for a semester doesn’t mean that you can interpret or translate, but that doesn’t mean it can’t help you in the long run.
At UEES, you can go abroad for a semester or a year to many parts of the world. You can pick among many locations, such as Mexico, United States, Canada, Australia, Korea, France, Japan, and others.