O difícil é que a aparência era a realidade

English translation: The difficult thing was that appearances were in fact reality.

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
Portuguese term or phrase:O difícil é que a aparência era a realidade
English translation:The difficult thing was that appearances were in fact reality.
Entered by: Miguel Falquez-Certain

13:50 Apr 10, 2005
Portuguese to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature
Portuguese term or phrase: O difícil é que a aparência era a realidade
Tudo isso era a miniatura da igreja, da praça e da torre do relógio, e neste mapa a moça calculava como um general. Que diria então se pudesse passar, de ver os objetos, a dizê-los…Era o que ela, com paciência muda, parecia desejar. Sua imperfeição vinha de querer dizer, sua dificuldade de ver era como a de pintar.
- O difícil é que a aparência era a realidade.

(Clarice Lispector - A cidade sitiada)

Hi. I'm wondering about the best translation for this line. I'm assuming that it's dialogue, given the punctuation, and it's a phrase that it's important to the author of the piece so I want to be as accurate as possible. What I'm wondering about is the mixture of tenses here - does the combination of 'é' and 'era' sound strange in Portuguese? Or is it completely natural? Which tense would work best in English here - I can't see any way of mixing the past and present.

Thanks
Lucy Phillips
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:50
The difficiult thing was that appearances were in fact reality.
Explanation:
n/a
Selected response from:

Miguel Falquez-Certain
United States
Local time: 14:50
Grading comment
I think this is the simplest and most suitable answer as far as a translation goes, although Sormane's explanation was also very helpful. Thanks all.
3 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
5 +2The difficiult thing was that appearances were in fact reality.
Miguel Falquez-Certain
5 +2The difficulty was that appearances were perceived as reality
Sormane Fitzgerald Gomes
5 +1What is hard to accept is that appearance matched reality
Paul Dixon
4What is difficult (to be understood) is that appearance was (actually) reality
reginalobo
4The hardship is that appearance was in fact reality.
Luiza Modesto
4The difficulty is that appearance was reality.
Elizabeth Lyons


Discussion entries: 4





  

Answers


5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
O difícil é que a aparência era a realidade
The difficiult thing was that appearances were in fact reality.


Explanation:
n/a

Miguel Falquez-Certain
United States
Local time: 14:50
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in SpanishSpanish
PRO pts in category: 3
Grading comment
I think this is the simplest and most suitable answer as far as a translation goes, although Sormane's explanation was also very helpful. Thanks all.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  James Cook: The difficulty was that appearances were in fact the reality
10 mins
  -> Better yet: Problem was, appearances were in fact reality.

agree  Isabel Vidigal: yes, "Problem was, ...."
38 mins

agree  Claudia Costa
8 hrs
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32 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
O difícil é que a aparência era a realidade
The difficulty was that appearances were perceived as reality


Explanation:
Lucy,

I've seen this present + past combo many times in PT. I don't think it’s pure grammar. I would go with past + past in EN. There's jut no way around it, IMO.

Based on what I know about the book, Lucrécia, the main character, spends her life observing people, things, her surroundings, etc…and that is what she understands life is...what she literally sees.


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Note added at 38 mins (2005-04-10 14:29:17 GMT)
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Check this link out. It\'s an interesting site on Clarice Linspector and her books, main characters, etc.

http://geocities.yahoo.com.br/claricegurgelvalente

Sormane Fitzgerald Gomes
United States
Local time: 14:50
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in PortuguesePortuguese
PRO pts in category: 24

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Claudio Mazotti: I prefer your suggestion...
22 mins

agree  Lawyer-Linguist: I agree past + past here in translation - crops up all the time in PTand more often than not this is the way around it
2 hrs
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
O difícil é que a aparência era a realidade
The hardship is that appearance was in fact reality.


Explanation:
I see no problem with the mixed tenses. We often hear things like "the truth is that he was lying". IMO, if you change "was" to "is" in the sentence above, you change the idea. Another one: Mary knows that John cheated on her. We mix tenses all the time.


Luiza Modesto
Brazil
Local time: 15:50
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in PortuguesePortuguese
PRO pts in category: 7
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
O difícil é que a aparência era a realidade
The difficulty is that appearance was reality.


Explanation:
This is how I read it. Since the English is usually shorter and more concise, if I were translating this passage, this is how I would render it.

Elizabeth Lyons
United States
Local time: 11:50
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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1 day 1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
O difícil é que a aparência era a realidade
What is difficult (to be understood) is that appearance was (actually) reality


Explanation:
é como eu entendo a frase

reginalobo
Local time: 19:50
Native speaker of: Native in PortuguesePortuguese
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2 days 2 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
O difícil é que a aparência era a realidade
What is hard to accept is that appearance matched reality


Explanation:
Another option.

Paul Dixon
Brazil
Local time: 15:50
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in PortuguesePortuguese
PRO pts in category: 16

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  T o b i a s
1568 days
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