Language I – Translations

Varias (quizás demasiadas) de mis preguntas giran entorno a como nosotros usamos el vocabulario, desde costumbres hasta improperios, sin dejar de lado la relevancia de la diferencia en los idiomas (languages). En este primer post al respecto voy a discutir algunas ideas que tengo respecto a este último tema y de paso intentar desglozar de una forma racional: why do I write in english sometimes?

When I think in this detailed-centric way about people’s behavior, why light effect is beautiful or the complex system in wich a stapler works. Every moment I can think off comes with a spanish description full of english adjectives. This is my own fault (and also as any other problem in modern society: globalization’s). I like watching everything in english because (most of the times) is the original language and it is impossible to translate.

Let’s say I’m watching an Adam Sandler’s comedy (pre 2007 movies only, like Click) and the comic magician writes a phrase in wich the ‘joke’ is word confussion, the translation usally adapts to the idea of making this kind of a pun, but it changes it completely! I have seen Toy Story 1,2&3 in spanish like 20 times each, but when I did watch them on the original language – with the original script – my tears were a lot more (and the laughs too: Spanish Buzz Lightyear waaaay better in english).

This also happens in books! I’ve red the whole Harry Potter saga but only the last one (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) in both languages. The magic touch that JK Rowling adds in the english version give it another taste of humanity and realism to the description of both the environment and the action. Hogwart’s battle is a complete different monster on the original language.

Another book (or kind of a genre) in wich this happens is in the Steven Levitt’s & Stephen Dubner’s masterpiece Freakonomics. This one has a special purpose (two of them actually): make economics fun (and explain some events through the process). I have: red the book in spanish, red the book in english and seen the documentary twice (I’m not a fan, I swear… but if you need a book to read try Think Like a Freak same authors). The first time I have contact with this work was when I red it in spanish, it hooked me and it happened to be interesting in many ways (Levitt’s theory about abortion making an impact on crime rate is one of the more impactful points in my opinion about this controversial topic), but where’s the fun? That was on the original language. Dubner magic hand created a whole different way of explaining economics and the humour could be catch in some comparations or briefs opinion given by the authors.

By the way I’m not criticizing the hard work provided by translators. As a matter of fact I admired them a lot because this is a tough ass work that people – like me – love to hate. Is not their fault that the foreign language (this is a way of avoiding those “So you think english is the best language in the world?” comments) is limited. This motherfuckers need to translate the word bias in the proper context everytime. I always talk about that word being my favorite because is so useful and so hard to translate, you can say “I think you’re opinion is biased” is pretty rough to properly translate without two words (“Creo que tu opinión esta siendo afectada por _______” is a nice attempt but not accurate enough, it can be misinterpret). Not every superhero (like Deadpool… Holy fuck do you imagine Deadpool in spanish? Disgusting as hell!) wear capes.

Now I’m reading Tim Hardford’s most famous book (wich I have red by parts in college) The Undercover Economist in spanish and I feel like it could be a lot better in english, even the economical concepts could be better. I have this feeling that this book is way funnier than what I’m reading, even the translations are hinting me that this is the truth. I hope it is, because I’m planning on buying an english edition too.

By the way – el español no es tan malo, tiene grandes palabras. Pero el inglés tiene mejores adjetivos y formas de describir (además no tienes que “conjugar” ¡Puaj!) ideas. I love it and I think like that.

Freaek ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


4 thoughts on “Language I – Translations

  1. This is great. I’m cracking up at the idea of Deadpool in Spanish.

    I’ve had the opportunity to learn a few languages as well, and it’s so amazing how things translate – and how they don’t. I can’t imagine the work a translator goes through — and it’s still so very different from what the original author intended.

    Language is awesome. The differences between languages is awesome.

    Keep on being awesome


  2. Interesting read! I completely understand…. My first language is English, but I also speak German with my husband. Certain things are impossible to translate from one language to the other. Other words or phrases make absolutely no sense if you directly translate them. The struggle is real…. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!


  3. I really get you! Mi idioma nativo es el inglés, pero con padres latinos me crié hablando español en casa. It’ totally true what you say about the translations; when you read a book or watch a movie in both english and spanish a lot of expressions and words have a completely different context in both languages. Estoy orgullosa de poder dominar ambos idiomas, y tú también deberías de estarlo.


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