Dialogue inside a dialogue (Romance languages)
Thread poster: Macià Planas

Macià Planas
Local time: 18:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jan 12, 2007

I need to translate a dialogue from English into Portuguese in which the character is telling a story based on a dialogue. Here's a simplified example of the source text:

So that her idea of the tale was something like this:

`Fury said to a mouse, That he met in the house, "Let us both go to law: I will prosecute YOU. --Come, I'll take no denial; We must have a trial: For really this morning I've nothing to do." Said the mouse to the cur, "Such a trial, dear Sir, With no jury or judge, would be wasting our breath." "I'll be judge, I'll be jury," Said cunning old Fury: "I'll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death."'

I just want to know what kind of punctuation is needed for Spanish, Portuguese or Catalan, as they usually use dashes to introduce a direct speech, but i don't know what happens when there's a dialogue inside a dialogue.

Thank you in advance.

[Edited at 2007-01-12 21:55]


Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:29
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Unusual case Jan 13, 2007

Let me preface this by saying my native language is English, so a native speaker may be able to give more solid advice. But here are my thoughts:

If you're translating "The Mouse's Tale" and the surrounding text, you're not just dealing with quotations within quotations. They're nested quotations within a poem.

If you're translating the whole chapter, I suggest using dashes to introduce the dialog among the Wonderland characters, but quotation marks instead of dashes in the poem. This is because the use of dashes is a convention of prose narrative, but is less common in this type of short comic poetry.

For Spanish, probably the best option is to use Latin "pointy" quotation marks for the main speeches in a poem and English-style double-quotation marks for quotations within those speeches.

Another option in this case: Since this poem is almost always printed with such distinctive typography, in the shape of a mouse's tail, you can probably omit the outer quotation marks entirely. The typography clearly sets it off from the narrative around it.

Good luck with the project!

[Edited at 2007-01-13 18:37]


Aïda Garcia Pons
United States
Local time: 09:29
English to Catalan
+ ...
The publishig house will tell Jan 13, 2007

Hola a tothom,

According to my experience in literary translation mainly from English into Catalan I can say that the publishing houses I've worked for have always given me some style guidelines . They all seem to have different ways of introducing a dialogue, with - being the most commonly used. As for a dialogue within a dialogue, I've seen « & » being used.

I hope this helps.


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Dialogue inside a dialogue (Romance languages)

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