20 nov. 2009

Here's an example I like to use. Vallejo, like Quevedo, uses a lot of word play. The phrase "proso estos versos" plays on the antithesis "prose / verse." Literally, "I prose these verses." When a translator writes something like this, "I set down these lines," or "I write these verses," the trope of antithesis is erased. I really don't see a defense for this kind of translation. "First, do no harm" should be the beginning of the Hippocratic oath for translators.

Two other instances of dilution in the Bly translation: "aguacero," which is a sudden downpour, becomes "a rainy day." "Soga" should be noose instead of merely rope. It is true that if you look up "soga" you will get rope as a possible translation, but culturally and idiomatically, proverbially, the soga is a noose.