Translating Proper Nouns and Place Names
Thread poster: translation1201
Jun 8, 2011

Hello all,
I'm translating an internet series as part of my MA thesis. The series contains a linguistic variation (Sevillian urban dialect/sociolect) which is very important as regards the humoristic effect it creates. I have decided to replace this variety with a TL variety that conjures up similar connotations in an effort to preserve this effect. The problem I now have is what to do with the characters names (The majority of the characters have nicknames which translate into English, e.g El Negro- Nigger but there are one or two characters with normal spanish names e.g Pedrito. I would appreciate your opinion as to how you would translate these bearing in mind that I am using a TL linguistic variety and the names of the majority of the characters have been translated (nicknames). I would also appreciate your opinion as regards the translation of place names. The name of the "barrio" where the action takes place is "Los Banderilleros' which as far as I know does not have a translation into English.
Thanks to whoever responds to this post.


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Sandrijn Van Den Noortgate
Local time: 00:34
English to Dutch
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Domesticate Jun 30, 2011

I would definitely translate the names, since the others are all translated. As for the name of the "barrio", find a neighborhood in (I'm assuming Ireland) that has a reputation similar to Los Banderilleros and substitute. It is very strange if you go as far as to substitute a dialect not to change the location of the story. Unless the fact that it is in Sevilla is essential, of course.

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translation1201
TOPIC STARTER
cultural transplantation Jun 30, 2011

Hello, thanks very much for responding. I carried out a cultural transplantation of the text as an experiment, changing the action from Seville to a comparable Irish setting. As the ST contains numerous references to Spanish culture, places and famous people, this involved a large amount of rewriting (whole paragraphs at times). Although I found suitable alternatives for the majority of these concepts, I'm concerned that the overall result is somewhat implausible. It seems unlikely that some of the action that takes place or some of the characters that exist would exist in an Irish context.Another factor dissuading me from wholesale cultural transplantation is the fact that so little has been written about it apart from those who recommend that it be avoided. On the other hand, preservation of the original setting results in the incongruence of having an Andalusian character speak in a Hibernian-English sociolect. To be honest, I am a bit of a pendulum at the moment, swinging between both options and struggling to make a definite decision. Any thoughts? I appreciate your thoughts on this.

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Sandrijn Van Den Noortgate
Local time: 00:34
English to Dutch
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Depends on text function Jun 30, 2011

I would go for cultural transplantation only in very specific texts. To me, this depends entirely on the function of your text. If, for example you're translating a children's book about a gang in Brussels into English, whichis partially meant to educate, I would definitely domesticate as much as possible to enable the target audience to pick up the message more easily. On the other hand, if you're translating adult literature, I'd be tempted to just keep the setting, first of all in order not to stray too far from the source text, and because adults will be able to look past cultural differences more easily than children. It also depends on the subject of your text of course, if it's a text on the life of homeless children in the Brazilian favelas, it would not make any sense to change the setting. You have to see what you want to do with it, but if you believe it sounds implausible, then just keep the Spanish context.

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 06:34
Chinese to English
Foreignize! Jul 1, 2011

Just to balance out what FF says

I'd be worried about whether it was still a translation if you transplant to Ireland and replace the cultural references. There's a distinct possibility that it would turn into a remake - which is fine, remakes can be great, but they're not quite the same thing as translations.

In general I think the issue you're worried about isn't such an issue. People are pretty good at reading past these funny inconsistencies. When I read in a translated novel that Yamako yells "wanker!" at his rival, I don't for a moment imagine that the original Japanese meant "masturbator"; I suspend my disbelief. Likewise, if you have Pedrito talking to a guy called Donkey, I can see through, neutralize and forget the dissonance before my eyes have even got to the end of the line.

Seriously, though: Nigger? I dunno what El Negro sounds like in Sevillian, but is it that? That's a chunky four hundred years of history to throw on the back of someone who might just be a bit dark skinned...


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Sandrijn Van Den Noortgate
Local time: 00:34
English to Dutch
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You're right. Jul 2, 2011

I think you're right Phil, domestication to this extent does obscure the fact that it still is a translation. I hadn't thought about the fact that you do read over discrepancies in the text. Which is strange, because now you've said that, I can recall quite a few books that have those. Still have a lot to learn

And the "El Negro" thing does seem to be an issue in translation. I think that in Spanish it is a lot less harsh and does not have the same historical connotation that it does in English. Especially in the US, you'd get in serious trouble (there are even school banning Huck Finn because it has the n-word), but I'm not sure it's all that appropriate iin British English either. Can't you substitute that with a different nickname?


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Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
agreement with FlemishFlounder Sep 13, 2011


And the "El Negro" thing does seem to be an issue in translation. I think that in Spanish it is a lot less harsh and does not have the same historical connotation that it does in English. Especially in the US, you'd get in serious trouble (there are even school banning Huck Finn because it has the n-word), but I'm not sure it's all that appropriate iin British English either. Can't you substitute that with a different nickname?


In British English it is just as offensive as in American. Lexically it would be the correct translation, but culturally I personally would also advise you look for an alternative that matches the level of "offence" that is implied in the Spanish equivalent.

Good luck


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