19 ene. 2006

A translation from Paul Blackburn caught me up short. "Mis palabras--pececillos-- / nadarán alrededor." "Your words, / sinful little words--will swim around it a bit." How did Lorca's pececillos (little fish) become "sinful little words"? Did Blackburn mistake the word "pecado" (sin) for pez (fish?) Or did he know what the word was and decide to go off in a different direction? Playing off the English word "pecadilloes," maybe? Then why not say,"your words, piscine pecadillloes.." (sorry, that's bad.)

You change two little letters and get a completely different word. Imagine that.

He is wordy and wants to explain, always a bad sign. "La mar no tiene naranjas / ni Sevilla tiene amor." "Oranges / do not grow in the sea / anymore than there's love in Sevilla." Anyone with High School Spanish could understand the Spanish more easily, more directly, than the translation, which telegraphs its punches.

I have had students not recognize a word in diminutive form. They look it up in the dictionary and can't find it. It is a word they know, but morphologically transformed.

The relevant words are:

pez: fish, singular,
peces: plural form,
pececillos: diminutive form of plural.

(contrast pecado, pecados, pecadillos)