Translation, a secular Pentecost

The other day some kind person passed me the memoirs of the influential moderate republican writer and politician Carlos Esplá Rizo, Mi Vida Hecha Cenizas [Diarios 1920-1965], who sees his life turned to ashes by Spain’s political failure after WWI and by his long exile following the Civil War. In 1950 someone fixes him up with a cushy job as a UN translator, giving him time to reflect on the profession:

La naturaleza hizo distintos a los hombres y les dio distintos modos de expresión. El arte de la traducción es una sublime rebelión humana contra la Naturaleza y la Historia, al tratar de unir a los hombres, haciendo que los extraños sonidos que emiten los labios de un hechicero zulú puedan llegar a los oídos de un psiquiatra de Park Avenue, convertidos en los sonidos de su propia lengua que le son tan familiares, iniciando así la unificación del pensamiento a través del milagro de la traducción.

I think some of what he says should be available here – if not I’ll hack something out.

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Last updated 12/12/2012

This post pre-dates my organ-grinding days, and may be imported from elsewhere.

Barcelona (1399):

English language (462):

Föcked Translation (414): I posted to a light-hearted blog called Fucked Translation over on Blogger from 2007 to 2016, when I was often in Barcelona. Its original subtitle was "What happens when Spanish institutions and businesses give translation contracts to relatives or to some guy in a bar who once went to London and only charges 0.05€/word." I never actually did much Spanish-English translation (most of my work is from Dutch, French and German) but I was intrigued and amused by the hubristic Spanish belief, then common, that nepotism and quality went hand in hand, and by the nemeses that inevitably followed.

Spain (1881):

Spanish language (504):

Translation (788):


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