Off topic: Translation impossible (double meaning in Julio Cortázar’s short fiction) Bilingual thread Sp-En
Thread poster: A Hayes (X)

A Hayes (X)
Australia
Local time: 06:48
Jun 3, 2004

hello, everyone! It's been a long time since my last visit to ProZ. I missed you...

I’ve just finished writing a dissertation on Julio Cortázar’s short fiction in English. There is one particular sentence that caused me more trouble than I expected. I apologise for this very simplistic data presentation (it’s late and i’m tired), but I thought I’d share it with you while it’s fresh in my mind. Consider the following (interview with Perlado, 1983):

De estos ocho cuentos de su libro Deshoras, ¿qué cuento es más de su preferencia? ¿A qué cuento le tiene usted más apego, más cariño?

-Es difícil elegir un cuento. Puede haber un cuento que me interesa por la forma en que lo he escrito, es decir, ese combate que el escritor lucha consigo mismo para finalmente obtener algún resultado literario, pero también podría citar algún cuento en donde lo que me interesa es sobre todo la temática.**Entonces, empezando por la temática, un cuento como "Pesadillas" para mí cuenta mucho porque significa mucho,** porque me parece una especie de resumen alegórico, si usted quiere, de la situación que se ha vivido en la Argentina en los últimos años. Ahora, si se trata ya del lado exclusivamente literario, a mí me interesa personalmente el último cuento, ese que se llama "Diario para un cuento", porque es una especie de combate conmigo mismo para tratar de llegar a un resultado, no sé si lo comprende o no.

Here, ‘cuento’ means ‘short story’, ‘cuenta’ can mean either, ‘says/tells’ or ‘means’. In this context, both meanings fit. To make matters even more interesting, here we have ‘un cuento… cuenta’, plus the repetition of ‘mucho’. Now, how can we maintain all this in an English translation without losing the spontaneity and informality of spoken language? Let’s try…

‘Then, starting with the subject matter, for me, a short story like “Pesadillas” says a lot because it means a lot, because I see it as...’

or is it:

‘a short story like “Pesadillas” says a lot to me because it means a lot, because…’

‘significa mucho’ is perhaps not well rendered by ‘means a lot’, as this is a much used English phrase that has little to do with ‘meaning’ in a literal sense, and the Spanish seems to indicate just this.

‘for me, a short story like “Pesadillas” means a lot because it says a lot, because...’
or:

‘a short story like 'Pesadillas' means a lot to me because it's very significant, because…’

but in this version the repetition, amongst other things, is lost. So how about,

‘a short story like 'Pesadillas' means a lot to me because it represents a lot, because…’


I think a phrase such as ‘is full of meaning’ or ‘is laden with meaning’ would convey the idea better, even if this means losing the repetition of ‘mucho’…

‘Then, starting with the subject matter, in my opinion a short story like “Pesadillas” says a lot because it’s full of meaning, because I see it as a sort of allegorical summary, if you like, of the situation Argentina has lived through over the last few years …’

maybe. maybe not -

i hope you enjoy this as much as i did.



[Edited at 2004-06-03 11:40]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-06-03 17:08]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-06-05 16:54]


 

Pablo Roufogalis (X)
Colombia
Local time: 15:48
English to Spanish
Relevant Jun 3, 2004

Un saludo.

Pienso que el sentido de la frase se traslada muy bien usando 'relevant'.

Algo como 'has a personal relevance' puede ser más rico que decir 'relevant to me'.

Saludos.


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:48
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
"...means a lot to me because it has a lot of meaning. Jun 3, 2004

This retains the repetition of mucho/mucho (a lot, a lot) if you want and retains the cuento/cuenta double meaning by shifting it to "cuenta/significa" (means a lot / lot of meaning).

 

A Hayes (X)
Australia
Local time: 06:48
TOPIC STARTER
intresting suggestions! here's another one - Jun 5, 2004

Then, starting with the subject matter, for me, a short story like “Pesadillas” matters a lot because it’s full of meaning, because I see it as a sort of allegorical summary, if you like, of the situation Argentina has lived through over the last few years.’ (Readers of Spanish will have access to the full polysemous dimension to the verb ‘contar’, which can mean ‘to say/tell’, ‘to mean’, and/or ‘to matter’. It is virtually impossible to maintain both, content and form – as well as the informality and spontaneity of spoken language – in English. This is a good example of Cortázar’s complex use of language: ) “Entonces, empezando por la temática, un cuento como ‘Pesadillas’ para mí cuenta mucho porque significa mucho, porque me parece una especie de resumen alegórico, si usted quiere, de la situación que se ha vivido en la Argentina en los últimos años.”

[Edited at 2004-06-05 00:55]


 

Sol  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:48
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 5, 2004

I think the main meaning of "cuenta" here could very well be "it counts", as in the Census catch frase "everybody counts", and not so much the meaning of "telling".

“Entonces, empezando por la temática, un cuento como ‘Pesadillas’ para mí cuenta mucho porque significa mucho, porque me parece una especie de resumen alegórico, si usted quiere, de la situación que se ha vivido en la Argentina en los últimos años.”

"So, starting with the subject matter, a story like "Pesadillas" ["Nightmares"], counts a lot, in my book, for its great significance. To me, it is kind of an allegorical summary, if you like, of the situation in Argentina during the last few years."

Or in other words, "One of the main reasons I place 'Pesadillas' among my top stories is the importance of its subjet matter."


[Edited at 2004-06-05 20:08]


 

A Hayes (X)
Australia
Local time: 06:48
TOPIC STARTER
hi, Jun 6, 2004

[quote]Sol wrote:

I think the main meaning of "cuenta" here could very well be "it counts", as in the Census catch frase "everybody counts", and not so much the meaning of "telling".

yes, this is similar to "matter" in my last example. But you're right. You could also say:

'starting with subject matter, Pesadillas is a short story that for me amounts to/counts a lot because it recounts a lot, because I feel it's a kind of allegorical summary, if you like, of...'

or you could even use "account" for "short story" in an attempt to maintain some of the original form...


saludos,

alejandra


 


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