Thursday, 25 July 2013

Hola! The Housemaid's Daughter in Spanish

It's arrived!
La Hija de la Criada... The Housemaid's Daughter in Spanish.
An impressive tome, with a beautiful cover portraying the iconic acacia tree set against an African sunset, and bearing the faint watermark of a musical score to highlight the role of music in the book.
I'm thrilled with it!

Whenever a new translation arrives, I always turn - not to the first page - but to the last, looking for the glossary. How will the translator have chosen to interpret the evocative Xhosa and Afrikaans words that are scattered throughout the book? I may not understand their translation, but is it possible to glean something about their country from the elaboration in the glossary? A wholly unscientific and subjective notion, of course, but nevertheless rather intriguing. How, for example, do they treat the word doek - the headscarf that Ada and her mother Mirian wear?

In the original English version, a doek is simply described as a scarf or cloth tied about the head. In other languages, however, such a definition has proved to be too brief, or insufficient. I noted in a previous blog that the Italian version described the humble doek as foulard o pezzo di stoffa da legare attorno alla testa. In my comparisons between the various glossaries, this turns out to be the lengthiest translation to-date. Fully justified, I think you'll agree, given the Italians' flair for fashion and design.

The Spanish translator has been equally conscientious but a little more concise w.r.t. number of words used: tela o panuelo anundado en la cabeza.

Meanwhile, Icelandic readers don't have to page to the end of the book to find their glossary, it sits up front, directly after the Title page and before the Prologue. Surely the mark of a practical nation. Their rendition of doek is klutur sem bundinn er um hofudid .
(You will have to excuse the lack of speech marks in all of these, can't quite fathom how to add them)

I await with interest to see how Ada's humble doek appears in German, Polish, Croatian, Turkish, Bulgarian, Chinese...
Buena suerte!

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