Did Don Juan speak Spanish? (Carlos Castaneda)
Thread poster: Stephanie Wloch

Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:49
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
May 23, 2005

Hi all Spanish translators out there!
When I first read a book of Castaneda it was nothing but absorbing and I really thought that all encounters with Don Juan were real.

But if you read about Castaneda there are some doubts about that.
Maybe it is interesting enough to focus on the language aspects

1. What are the Spanish translations like? Are they (linguistically) consistent?
I remember the dialogues (German version) as a bit overblown.
2. Did Don Juan spoke Spanish?

Last question because of this conclusion:
"Castaneda has Don Juan employ English/American slang and English/American idioms that have no equivalent in the Spanish language, which is indeed a serious problem if Don Juan only spoke Spanish to Castaneda, which is what Castaneda himself tells us. The absence of original field notes is also a problem for those of us who like to have something called evidence."
http://www.occultforums.com/showthread.php?t=8614

I am looking forward to your answers.

Con gracias anticipadas

Stephanie Wloch



[Edited at 2005-05-23 21:23]

[Edited at 2005-05-23 21:55]


 

Tsu Dho Nimh
Local time: 19:49
English
Don Juan probably spoke simple Mexican Spanish May 26, 2005

If Castaneda's account is to be believed, Don Juan was from the Yaqui tribe. They have two main groups, one in Mexico and one near where I live in the US. They do speak Spanish as well as their native Yaqui. The younger members of the tribe in the US also speak English, because they attend American schools. The USA Yaqui version of Spanish may have English words mixed in. Usually these are names of common objects or concepts, but only the young ones know and use English slang.

In 1960, when Castaneda claimed to have met Don Juan, an old Yaqui man from the border regions would be very unlikely to speak fluent Spanish - that generation had not been forced to go to school and had never been formally taught Spanish. In the 1980s, an old Yaqui man I was talking to spoke only simple Spanish and we had to use his grandson to translate some of the Yaqui words into Spanish or English for me.

***********
I am one of those who thinks Castaneda invented the sorcery and drugs.

As anecdotal evidence, I can provide some information: I asked an old Yaqui healer about Castaneda and he dismissed it as "cuentas de hadas" (fairy tales). The old man was an acquaintance of mine for more than five years before he would talk about healing practices with me. Even then he discusses them only in general terms, never mentioning specific ceremonies of his tribe, and never asking me about specific ceremonies - we trade herbal remedies and he has never mentioned the religious herbs, just the medical ones.

That makes me doubt that Castaneda could meet a Yaqui in 1960 and have any sort of knowledge about hallucinogenic drugs or sorcery by 1965. Shamans don't acquire apprentices in bus stations, they carefully evaluate them over a period of years before issuing the invitation.


 

Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:49
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
TOPIC STARTER
very pleased with this insider's comment Jun 1, 2005

Muchisimas gracias, Tsu!icon_smile.gif
I am very pleased with your answer. More than I hoped:
the view of someone who met Yaqui people AND
asked them about Castaneda.
"Cuentas de hadas!"

Shamans don't acquire apprentices in bus stations.

That one convinced me!

The same unbelievable situations like in "Mutant Message from Down Under" (Marlo Morgan). A very interesting critique:
http://www.creativespirits.de/resources/books/mutantmessage_chrissitka.html

In conclusion; Marlo Morgan, you owe the Aboriginal peoples of Australia a big apology accompanied by the donation of all your considerable income from this venture to the cause of Aboriginal Health and Land Rights.
Chris Sitka
PS: In 1996 a group of Aboriginal elders, seriously disturbed by the book's implications, received a grant to travel to the States and confront Marlo Morgan about her book and to try to prevent a Hollywoodisation of it. She admitted publicly that she had faked it but this received little publicity in the USA. The Aboriginal people are very angry that this book continues to be promoted and sold widely because it gives a very false picture of their traditional culture and of their current political and social status. This is very damaging to their very real struggle for survival.


 
Something is wrong with those critics of Marlo Morgan Nov 8, 2017

Stephanie Wloch wrote:

Muchisimas gracias, Tsu!icon_smile.gif
I am very pleased with your answer. More than I hoped:
the view of someone who met Yaqui people AND
asked them about Castaneda.
"Cuentas de hadas!"

Shamans don't acquire apprentices in bus stations.

That one convinced me!

The same unbelievable situations like in "Mutant Message from Down Under" (Marlo Morgan). A very interesting critique:
http://www.creativespirits.de/resources/books/mutantmessage_chrissitka.html

In conclusion; Marlo Morgan, you owe the Aboriginal peoples of Australia a big apology accompanied by the donation of all your considerable income from this venture to the cause of Aboriginal Health and Land Rights.
Chris Sitka
PS: In 1996 a group of Aboriginal elders, seriously disturbed by the book's implications, received a grant to travel to the States and confront Marlo Morgan about her book and to try to prevent a Hollywoodisation of it. She admitted publicly that she had faked it but this received little publicity in the USA. The Aboriginal people are very angry that this book continues to be promoted and sold widely because it gives a very false picture of their traditional culture and of their current political and social status. This is very damaging to their very real struggle for survival.



Marlo Morgan stated very clearly that it is up to the reader to believe or not their story. You can think of it as fiction if you so desire. So why insist?


 

Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 03:49
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Sounds artificial Nov 9, 2017

As a fluent Spanish speaker, I remember reading the Don Juan series and having a funny sensation that all (Mexican) Spanish-sounding elements were forced in the text with just a superficial knowledge, much in the same way us Westerners interested in Buddhism use Pali or Sanskrit terms without really grasping their full significance. Certainly not what one would expect from an allegedly native Spanish speaker.

 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:49
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Don Juan spoke whatever you want him to speak.... Nov 9, 2017

.... because he never existed.

Castaneda made the whole story up. He even lied about his own date of birth (or his incarnation as he puts it). According to him he was born in 1935 in Saõ Paulo, Brasil, but his birthpapers state 1925 in Cajamarca, Peru.

Nevertheless, he was an intriguing writer. Also I read all his books (Journey to Ixtlan was my absolute favourite). I believed it by then, but know better now.

@Stephanie
I see you speak Dutch, so have a look at this article: https://www.nrc.nl/.../het-succes-van-carlos-castaneda-een-uitgekookte-sjamaan-7391

[Edited at 2017-11-09 16:05 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-11-09 17:03 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Truth and fiction Nov 9, 2017

This exchange of views is disappointing me. I read those books (in English) back in the day (and all my friends were reading them too). Whether or not they were absolutely true, partly true, or whether Castaneda was embroidering what he knew, the point was that we *wanted* them to be true- just as Christians want their Bible to be true, or just we we believe we know the definitive truth about (say) the Holocaust. Without wishing to make Kant (or Wittgenstein) turn in their graves, things are true if we want them to be true. What is truth?

 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:49
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
What is truth? Nov 9, 2017

Tom in London wrote:

This exchange of views is disappointing me. I read those books (in English) back in the day (and all my friends were reading them too). Whether or not they were absolutely true, partly true, or whether Castaneda was embroidering what he knew, the point was that we *wanted* them to be true- just as Christians want their Bible to be true, or just we we believe we know the definitive truth about (say) the Holocaust. Without wishing to make Kant (or Wittgenstein) turn in their graves, things are true if we want them to be true. What is truth?


Truth is in the eyes of the beholder and sometimes a bitter pill to swallow, but I do agree with you till a certain extent. Whether or not Castaneda was embroidering what he knew, as you put it, we wanted it to be true!


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Yes but... Nov 10, 2017

Yes, but it is true what you've heard about Castaneda? Is it true that his stories were not true?

 

Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 03:49
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Fiction is a relative concept anyway Nov 10, 2017

Tom in London wrote:

(...) the point was that we *wanted* them to be true- just as Christians want their Bible to be true, or just we we believe we know the definitive truth about (say) the Holocaust. Without wishing to make Kant (or Wittgenstein) turn in their graves, things are true if we want them to be true. What is truth?


Exactly: truth is just what a large majority agrees upon, like a flat Earth for centuries or some dude turning water into wine and coming back from the dead fresh as a rose. Everything you're told in a convincing enough manner, that's your truth.

Who's to say that our sacred books, and more mundane information we receive every day, are less fictional than The Teachings of Don Juan?


 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:49
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Is it true? Nov 10, 2017

Tom in London wrote:

Yes, but it is true what you've heard about Castaneda? Is it true that his stories were not true?



Ah, is that what you mean. My answer is "I honestly don't know". The only person who can tell you is Castaneda himself, but he is not amongst us anymore.

Actually you should read the link I published specifically for Stephanie. Unfortunately for you it is in Dutch, but check the internet, lots of information about the subject.

To answer your eventual next question: "Can you trust the media?" Not always, but it is the only source we got!


 


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Did Don Juan speak Spanish? (Carlos Castaneda)

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