One possible approach to reading a novel prior to translation is to focus on cultural elements - to understand how these form an undercurrent to the narrative and contribute to its overall structure


In comparing poetry and prose translations, Basnett-McGuire observes that there is a tendency for translators of the latter to “consider content as separable from form” (1991:110). The problem is not one of translators failing to create “readable texts", rather their failure “to consider the way in which individual sentences form part of the total structure…[which is] first and foremost a deficiency in reading” (Bassnett-McGuire 1991:115-6). In other words, translations are frequently begun without a great deal of consideration of the work as a whole, with sentences “translated at face value rather than as component units in a complex overall structure” (ibid:115). With this approach there is a real danger that sight may be lost of how the text as a whole functions. Moreover, decisions are made intuitively and therefore cannot be properly explained or justified. The prime translation unit must ultimately be the entire text - not words or sentences or even paragraphs within it - and it is devices within the text that are crucial to understanding the overall text structure.

To return then to the question of ‘deficiency in reading’, mentioned above, I will now focus specifically on the issue of translating a novel. One of the reasons why reading may be deficient is quite obvious. Novels, unlike poems and many other texts, tend to be lengthy, and assimilation of overall content, therefore, is more difficult and requires time. Translators are admonished, before starting to translate a novel, to “read the entire text at least once” (Landers 2001:32), but instinctively one feels that once is simply not enough. To 'absorb' a lengthy novel, however, is difficult and potentially tedious. However, if an aim is established for each reading, not only does one read systematically, one can also read more quickly (gist reading). The aim will depend on each novel as well as on the patterns detected at the surface level in the initial sequential reading(s), but might focus on semantic, stylistic, cultural, linguistic, textual or pragmatic issues, or a combination of any of these. Logically, analysis will commence at an early stage of the entire translation process, yet will obviously be cyclical, or ‘looping’ to use Nord’s term.

Bassnett-McGuire (1991) also discusses the roles of the translator as reader and the reader as translator. Like Boase-Beier & Holman (1999), she points to the fact that the traditional sacredness of authorship has shifted in more recent times towards a gradual reinstatement of the reader, as one who translates or decodes a text. And if reading is translation, so too is translation a form of critical reading. Moreover, the concept of intertextuality reinforces this perspective on the reader, since every text is in some way a translation and consciously or subconsciously influenced by other texts in the overall system of texts. Obviously, in the case of a foreign culture, the translator’s reading will also be a form of interpretation on behalf of the ultimate reader.

Un Calor Tan Cercano by Maruja Torres

Apart from two general readings (in 1997 and prior to commencing this analysis), I made a number of gist readings of the novel Un Calor Tan Cercano by Maruja Torres (Alfaguara Bolsillo 1998), focusing on aspects such as characterisation, narrative and syntax. The focus of this paper is the reading that involved the identification and isolation of key cultural elements, which were a particular feature of this novel given its temporal-spatial setting (Barcelona 1954).

The cultural elements marked out the patterns and threads in the narrative and, apart from providing insights to the author and an understanding of the undercurrents in the novel, the benefit of this particular kind of analysis is that the overall cultural gap that has to be bridged can be gauged, and some consideration can also be given to the balance of items to be domesticated and foreignised.

Culture in translation

Malinowski coined the term ‘context of situation’, which referred to the location of a text in its environment and the need to take into account the “totality of the culture surrounding the act of text production and reception” (Hatim and Mason 1990:37).

Cultural elements are central to any translation. To quote Nord (1997:11), “….a translation theory cannot draw on a linguistic theory alone… What it needs is a theory of culture to explain the specificity of communicative situations and the relationship between verbalized and non-verbalized situational elements”.

Culture is defined by Katan (1999:17), as follows: “a shared system for interpreting reality and organising experience…a shared mental model or map…a system of congruent beliefs, values, strategies and cognitive environments which guide the shared basis of behaviour”. What is particularly appropriate in this definition is the use of the word ‘shared’, since it is precisely the non-shared elements of language and culture that create the need for transfer and translation.

Vermeer (1986a:28, cited in Nord 1997) defines culture as “the entire setting of norms and conventions an individual as a member of his society must know in order to be ‘like everybody’ – or to be different from everybody” . This definition points to ‘difference’, which also marks the need for transfer and translation.

I have been referring to ‘culture-specific elements’ so far, but I would like to comment on what Vermeer calls ‘culturemes’ and Agar, ‘rich points’, both of which are of relevance to my analysis. A cultureme is a social phenomenon that is found to be specific to a particular culture, perhaps different in form but not in function (e.g. rickshaws as taxis in some Asian countries) or in function but not in form (e.g. to have tea in Spain frequently implies a herbal tea because one has a headache). ‘Rich points’ are defined as “those things that … strike you with their difficulty, their inability to fit into the resources you use to make sense of the world” (Agar 1991, cited in Nord, 1997:25). Of the two designations, the latter is in my opinion more appropriate to the task of translation, given that it both presupposes ‘difficulty’ and refers to ‘making sense’ of the world, the former affecting the translator’s task from a practical point of view, the latter representing the responsibility of the translator to the target culture reader.

1. Rich points

From the reading that identified culture-specific elements in Un Calor Tan Cercano, a list was compiled on the basis of self-defining categories (listed in full in the Appendix). This list included:

· singers, song titles, song lines and verses
· tango and lunfardo vocabulary & other non-Spanish/Catalan words
· film and radio
· publications and sport
· political and historical references
· people’s names, nicknames and jobs
· household brands and products, cigarettes, food and drink
· housing, rooms, furniture, clothes
· popular culture and religion
· obscure references
· chants and rhymes
· establishment names
· profanity
· the book title

Compiling and ordering the list provided the first insights into the novel. Particularly interesting was the distribution of profanities between languages and characters (discussed in Section 1.1). Moreover, the issue of unusual establishment names also came to the fore (discussed in Section 1.2), which needed to be assessed in the context of frequent references to sexual commerce in the novel. Working through the list systematically in a preliminary research phase also uncovered some important threads in the narrative, for example, how and where information on the political and historical situation of the period was presented to the reader (discussed below in Section 1.3).

I will now demonstrate how analysis of these particular items provided important insights to the novel. Focus is not on the actual translations as such, more on an illustration of the pre-translation process of thinking through issues and arriving at an understanding of the important elements in the novel from the perspective of both authorial intention and the target culture reader.

1.1. Spain vs. Catalonia, piety and profanity

A most interesting feature of the novel that became evident through the systematic listing of the cultural items was how strong language is distributed between characters and between languages. By far the strongest words are spoken by Ismael and only in Catalan. Ismael’s primal anger is expressed explosively against all that represses and irritates him, as can be seen when we examine context, as follows:

Explosions of anger or irritation against:
· Nationalists (in general): malparits p.27
· how the sisters are treating Manuela: cagondeu p.35
· his wife: torracollons p.39
· los nacionales (the family): que cony p.85
· the night watchman: hostia puta de deu me cago en cony p.131

In contrast with Ismael, the piety of the two sisters is evident in their own use of language, which, if at times colourful, is never profane. The sisters uphold the ruling order, cultivate the wealthy couple referred to as los nacionales and clearly respect the Francoist triad of State, Church and Army. Ismael, on the other hand, is referred to as a ‘red’ and makes his distaste for religion quite clear. Catalan is a prohibited language and by confining his profanities to this his first language, Ismael’s idiolect represents a subversion of the State, Catholicism, and his prudish wife, all represented by the dominant language Spanish. The following paragraph reveals to the reader both the significance of being Catalan and the Spanish/Catalan dichotomy established by Ismael in his use of taboo words:

(1a) Desde que perdió la Guerra y durante décadas las calles de Barcelona tuvieron que renunciar a sus nombres en catalán, por lo que el mapa de mi niñez quedó fijado en mi recuerdo en el idioma de los vencedores. Más adelante, cuando acabó el secuestro official de la libertad, la lengua autóctona corrió a recobrar su sitio en las esquinas, en placas de metal que relucían como dientes de oro en medio de la decrepitud, y eso reforzó en mí la sensación de poseer en exclusiva el Barrio de mi infancia, mi patria charnega. Mi relación con el catalán – un idioma que nunca será como mi piel, pero sin cuya existencia no puedo sentirme a gusto en mi piel – se la debía también a mi tío, un barcelonés de quinta generación con quien Amelia había conseguido casarse, aportándolo como un trofeo a la familia de emigrantes murcianos. Ismael solía dirigirse a nosotras en castellano, trufando la conversación de tacos y blasfemias en catalán que me deleitaban. (p. 39)
(1b) From the time of losing the Civil War… Barcelona had to renounce its street names in Catalan, and so the map of my childhood was engraved in my memory in the language of the victors. Later, when the official sequestration of freedom came to an end, our native language swept back to take its place again on the street corners, on metal plaques that shone like gold teeth in the midst of the decrepitude; this reinforced my sensation of having exclusive rights to the neighbourhood of my childhood, my homeland of immigrants. My relationship with Catalan - a language that would never fit me like a second skin, but without which I could never feel at home in my first skin - I also owed to my uncle, a Catalan going back five generations, whom Amelia had persuaded to marry her and whom she had borne like a trophy to her family of Murcian immigrants. Ismael would talk to us in Spanish, but his conversation would be littered with swear words and blasphemies in Catalan that I delighted in hearing.

There are two issues here, and it is necessary to weigh up the relative importance of each: (a) the significance of the use of Catalan; and (b) the strength of the chosen expressions. Of the two, and considering the author’s intention, the former is far more important, the latter is perhaps incidental. The author is clearly marking a feature of her childhood reality. As such there is only one option, which is to retain the Catalan and maintain the language duality. There will be some loss of meaning in that the TL reader will fail to understand the words, but something of their strength may be conveyed using other devices. Were the Catalan expressions to be handled otherwise, there would be a severe distortion of the historical, political and socio-cultural reality of the novel that would represent a betrayal of both the author and text. To quote Leppihalme (2000): “The common strategy of rendering non-standard source language dialogue can lead to loss of the linguistic identity of the work and its author”.

1.2. Unusual establishment names

This is essentially a question of considering analogous effect, but, rather than marking a historical-political or socio-cultural reality, we have to consider the undercurrent of prostitution in the novel as seen through the eyes of a child. The contrast between Manuela’s innocence and her matter-of-fact acceptance of the sexual commerce that takes place in her barrio - in a way perhaps, foretelling her own loss of innocence at the end of the summer - is highly significant.

Two references are especially important, in part because they are rather unusual, but also because Manuela particularly draws our attention to them. Although these place names are only mentioned a handful of times in the book, they are central to depicting the environment in which Manuela lives and so must be translated or their function made explicit. These two references are to places: 'el bar Orgía' and 'la tienda de Gomas y Lavajes'. Manuela mentions 'el bar Orgía' (located near her house) on a number of occasions (p.62, 78-9, 85, 98), and at one point describes it in some detail, as follows:

(2a) En la acera opuesta a casa estaba el Orgía, y ahora sé que no era más que un modesto establecimiento con algunos dibujos procaces seudomodernistas moldeados en la escayola del techo, y un nombre que sugería juergas desenfrenadas, el no va más de la perdición. Allí era donde las putas del Barrio esperaban a sus parroquianos, al filo del atardecer, aunque cuando la VI Flota recalaba en el Puerto no daban abasto en todo el día. La pension adonde los conducían, cruzando la calle, se encontraba a dos portales de casa... (p.78-9)
(2b) Opposite our house was Bar Orgía, and now I know it was no more than an unpretentious establishment with a few indecent, pseudo-Modernist mouldings on the plaster ceiling, and a name that suggested uninhibited revelry and ultimate perdition. It was here that the neighbourhood prostitutes awaited the punters at the tail-end of the evening. When the 6th Fleet docked in the harbour, however, the girls hardly stopped the whole day long. The boarding-house they used was across the street from the bar, just two doors down from our house.

As for 'Gomas y Lavajes', this collocation is mentioned four times (p. 43, 137, 244, 219). On p. 43 Manuela briefly mentions the ‘tienda de Gomas y Lavajes’ as one of the places on her mother’s ‘List of Forbidden Places’. On p. 137 there is a far more detailed description of the establishment, as follows:

(3a) También tomé nota de que la tiendecita misteriosamente llamada de Gomas y Lavajes …permanecía abierta. Dentro, un hombre con bata blanca hablaba con otro mientras se calzaba unos guantes como los que se puso el doctor Morales para curarle el sabañon a Amelia. (p. 137)
(3b) I also noticed……that the little shop mysteriously called ‘Gomas y Lavajes’ was open. Inside, a man wearing a white overall was speaking to another as he pulled on gloves like the ones Dr. Morales used when dressing Amelia´s chilblains.

In considering how to deal with these refereces, we firstly need to weigh up the denotative and connotative meaning of each: 'orgía' is transparent enough, but 'gomas y lavajes' is opaque. 'Goma' (a noun, literally ‘rubber’) means condom in colloquial Spanish; 'lavaje' (a noun, literally ‘wash’) is apparently a euphemistic reference to douches. (The collocation appears in none of the dictionaries consulted, nor are any other than standard meanings given for the individual words). Interestingly, to Manuela the name would probably read “Rubbers and Washes”, and - at her age - the first word would certainly have had other, more childlike connotations altogether.

We also need to decide what contextual clues there are in the text or elsewhere that might help one understand the underlying meaning and assess the effect on the source culture reader (one important clue was obtained from the Internet; rather than a ‘shop’, what is referred to is a ‘clinic’*).

In regard to 'el bar Orgía', the transparency of the name, not to mention the details provided by Manuela, leaves the reader in no doubt as to its function. Therefore, as an element that is crucial to the narrative, there is a strong case for direct transfer.

Leaving 'Gomas y Lavajes' untranslated, however, may not be practical. Unlike 'orgía' the expression is opaque in that it does not reveal function; it is also oblique in terms of the use of euphemisms to conceal function. Moreover, Manuela has called our attention to its ‘mysteriousness’, and if it appears so to the child, then there is a strong argument for retaining this mysteriousness for the target culture reader. Finally, establishments, particularly those corresponding to the past, tend to be a closed set so we cannot ‘invent’ an establishment name that would not correspond to the target culture. These features then – opacity, opaqueness, mysteriousness and target text world reality - will mark the decision on how to deal with this item.

A possible solution is simply ‘The Clinic’ written in capitals and in apostrophes. In favour of this solution is the fact that it is has something of opaqueness and obliqueness - at the very least it is euphemistic, implying purpose without being overly explicit. Moreover, punctuation (a device already used in the novel, e.g. the ‘List of Forbidden Places’) can be used here to convey something of the mystery of the establishment. Finally, it accords with the target text world of the time, as sex shop, for example, is too obviously contemporary. There is, obviously, a translation loss, but one occasionally has to accept this fact as inevitable, and hope that an opportunity for some kind of compensation will appear elsewhere in the novel.

As an aside on the issue of non-contemporary choices of language, one final comment should be made in respect of the ‘temporal dialect’ (Hatim and Mason 1990:41) of the novel. The 'parroquianos' (literally ‘parishioners’, also ‘regular customers’) referred to in (2a) is translated as ‘punters’. Although this translation was provisionally chosen as conveying the colourfulness of teh SL term (according to the Concise OED, one of the meanings for ‘punter’ is ‘prostitute’s client’), it is not chronologically apt as the OED confirms that this particular use of the term ‘punter’ only entered the English language in 1969, which means that some other translation solution will be required.

1.3. Political and historical undercurrents

One advantage of a top-down overview of a novel is that one can decide from the outset how to deal with information that is presupposed for the source culture reader but which should be made explicit for the target culture reader. Decisions about target reader knowledge gaps therefore fall squarely in the area of tranlations, and authorial intention will, to an extent, become secondary to explicitation. Successful explicitation will require two conflicting aims to be juggled: minimal distortion of the novel and maximum information to the target culture reader.

Implicit references to the historical and political situation in Spain and Catalonia in the 1950s are made relatively early on in the novel, and it seems appropriate to consider these as opportunities for explicitation. Although there are no direct references to the dictatorship as such, a neighbouring family is referred to as 'los nacionales' (becuase they support Franco) and there is a mention of the Francoist eagle on the flag hanging from their balcony. Other such references are to the Falangist hymn 'Cara Al Sol' and to the Blue Division (volunteers from Spain who fought with the Germans on the Russian front). The reference to the Blue Division raised a particular problem, as it was officially disbanded in 1944, yet the book, set in 1954, refers to it, as we see here (Manuela is in the port):

(4a) … cuando …las tres fuimos a recibir el Semíramis, que llegaba de Rusia cargado de españoles de la División Azúl. Casi me arrolló la muchedumbre histérica que lloraba y cantaba el Cara al Sol con los brazos en alto y las manos extendidas …(p. 48)
(4b - LITERAL) … when… the three of us went to meet the Semíramis, which was bringing Spaniards from the Blue Division home from Russia. I was nearly trampled underfoot by the hysterical, weeping crowds singing Cara al Sol, with their arms raised and fists open ……
(4b - ADAPTED) … when… the three of us went to meet the Semíramis, which was bringing Spanish prisoners-of-war from the Blue Division home from Russia. I was nearly trampled underfoot by the hysterical, weeping crowds singing Cara al Sol, with their arms raised and their fists open in the Fascist salute ……

Investigation reveals that the Spaniards referred to are in fact prisoners-of-war, probably not knowledge that can be presupposed for the target culture reader (especially as the novel unfolds in 1954, some years after WW2 has ended), nor that can be deduced from context. The important issue is to convey why these Spaniards had been unable to return before, and why their return was so significant, hence the explicitation with ‘prisoners-of-war’. Also in the same paragraph, an adaptation that adds the word ‘Fascist’ clarifies both song and salute. Some questions remain however: will the explicitation be adequate from a target culture adult perspective, and will it be obtrusive from the authorial perspective? The former is self-explanatory, referring as it does to the extent to which the added information is enough to bridge the cultural knowledge gap; the second refers to the fact that maybe the author specifically wishes to convey that the child herself did not understand the significance of the song or the salute. These are issues that would be resolved at subsequent stages of the 'looping' translation process.


Reading through a novel at least a couple of times prior to translation is an essential part of the process itself, but gist reading is particularly useful as another approach to obtaining an overall vision of the novel structure and parts.

In this case an approach to gist reading was suggested by a single outstanding feature of the novel itself: its wealth of culture-specific references, or ‘rich points’. Listing and categorising the items revealed both patterns (such as the Catalan/Spanish dichotomy) and sub-currents (such as the importance of music, especially tango). Carrying out some preliminary research highlighted particular translation challenges (such as the unusual establishment names) and possible knowledge gaps (the historical-political situation of the time). This kind of analysis can be compared to the creation of a geographical relief map, in that one thus depicts a whole range of distinctive features that identify the ‘terrain’ of the novel - and prior to commencement of the actual translation.

In the three items analysed above, I feel that, in general, I was able to apply principles that took account of both text sender and receiver, but where it was a question of favouring one or the other, primacy was given to the sender’s intention and to non-distortion of the overall narrative. I see these as two related but distinct issues. For example, handling the Catalan/Spanish duality in the novel responded entirely to authorial intention. The approach to explicitation in respect of the political-historical situation, even though performed for the benefit of the target reader, took into consideration the need to minimise interference with the existing structure of the novel.

Overall then, primacy has been given to the author and her text, in view of the marked temporal-spatial setting of the novel and the first-person narrative, both elements which will not be transferred or adapted and which, therefore, should not be reshaped if at all possible.

I briefly summarise the benefits of an analysis such as this as follows:
· It is a systematic and focused approach to pre-translation reading, based on identifying patterns and tracing and retracing them as they occur throughout a novel.
· It provides a top-down perspective that focuses on patterns and so counterbalances the bottom-up approach that essentially operates on the smaller translation units as they occur. An ad hoc approach to decision-making is thus avoided.
· Issues such as authorial intention, potential equivalence or adequacy, cultural gaps and assumptions about presupposed knowledge are constantly brought to the fore.
· On a practical level, the thornier translation issues may be highlighted from the outset, research can be got underway at an early stage of translation, and assessment of workload is easier once some perspective has been obtained.

*Note: A check on the Internet to obtain more context produced just 2 hits for the collocation 'gomas y lavajes'. The following is information extracted from the sites (my translations): (1) “In the 1980s Lleida lost its only shop specialising in ‘gomas y lavajes’..... the ‘Higiénica’ on Dolors Street” (2) “The most famous of the flamenco bars ... the Villa Rosa .... at No. 3, rubbed shoulders with other infamous establishments in the area: a brothel at Arc del Teatre No. 6 called Madame Petit’s, La Sevillana at No. 13, and a ‘clínica de gomas’ and a ‘clínica de lavajes’, as they were called then, at No.3. This will give you a fair idea of the atmosphere...”

APPENDIX : Rich Points in 'Un Calor Tan Cercano'

The items listed in each of the categories below have only been investigated superficially, and so may require substantial further research. Explanations and/or possible translations are provided or commented on.

a. Singers, song titles, song lines and verses: José Iturbi (pianist in the film Anchors Aweigh, 1945, by George Sidney), Conchita Piquer (Spanish popular folk ('copla') singer), Pepe Blanco (Asturian singer), Por una cabeza (tango by Gardel), Silbando (tango by Gardel), single lines and whole verses from songs p.99, 102, 102, 103-104, 106, 118, 119.

b. Tango and lunfardo** vocabulary & other non-Spanish/catalan words: recamier, étoile de niege (French) / boliche, macana, bacán, yirar, bulín, engrupir, mina, pollera, grela, piantar, malevolo, pebeta, fané, descangallada (Lunfardo).

c. Film and radio: Pepe Iglesias “el Zorro” (actor), Juan Manuel Soriano (dubbing actor), el programa de Señor Dalmau y el Señor Viñas (radio programme of the period for children), Levando Anclas (Anchors Aweigh, 1945, film by George Sidney), La Hermana San Sulpicio (a classic of Spanish cinema, 1934, by Florian Rey), El Manatial (The Fountainhead, 1949, by King Vidor).

d. Publications and sport: Piel de Asno (story by Charles Perrault), TBO, Florita and El Guerrero Del Antifaz (all comics), frontón jai-alai and pelotari (**),¡Hola! (the original Hello magazine: see p. 174 for a reference to an ¡Hola! feature on Pope Pius XII ‘at home’).

e. People’s names, nicknames and jobs: Perla Antillana, el Paisano, la Murcianeta, el Rey de las Maracas, el torero y su cuadrilla, el Conjunto Frenesí.

f. Cigarette brands, household products, specific food and drinks: Ducados (cigarettes), Anís del Mono (Pernod-like drink), jabónes Lagarto (carbolic soap), Heno de Pravia (perfumed soap), carejillo (coffee with brandy), barrechas (a cheap aniseed alcoholic drink?), llonguet (a kind of bread), pimiento morrón (sweet red pepper, usually fried), gachas (a kind of pudding), gomas de pan (a kind of bread?), fuet (Catalan sausage), mojama (dried salted tuna), alli-i-oli (garlic mayonnaise), monas de Pascua (kind of Easter cake), chuscos de pan (breadcrusts), ristra de bizcocho (a kind of/collection of sponge cake(s)?), emulsión Scott (Scott’s Emulsion/cod-liver oil).

g. Housing, rooms, furniture and clothes: comuna (shared WC?), zapatos/tacones topolino (**), pendientes ‘tú y yo’ (a style of earrings), mesa camilla (small round table which accommodated a heater underneath), torre/finca (country house, usually of the well-to-do).

h. Popular culture and religion : petardos, cohetes, benagalas, buscapiés, mistus garibaldi (firework types: rockets, shells, fountains, sparklers, bangers, roman candles and wheels), verbena (fair or open-air dance), fogatas callejeras (street bonfires), pregón de las fiestas (festival eulogy/opening speech), Pilar de Zaragoza (important Spanish saint), lenguaje zarzuelero (colourful, picturesque language? **), No-Do (Noticiarios y Documentales, Francoist propaganda in the form of cinema news releases).

i.Obscure references and miscellaneous: Alquiler libros p. 24 (to ‘rent’ books? Is this a reference to a kind of library?); cobrar los puntos p. 133 (a reference to Franco’s policy on large families?); la custodia dorada bajo palio p.150 (perhaps a reference to the Host being carried in procession?), el mihura (not in dictionaries or on Internet except as a surname).

j. Chants and rhymes: (1) ‘Al pasar la barca me dijo el barquero las niñas bonitas no paguen dinero’ (skipping chant p.139, considered incidental to text, hence functional equivalent suggested: “Teddy-bear teddy-bear turn around, teddy-bear teddy-bear, touch the ground”.(2) ‘Manuela bonita, Manuela solita, atrévete a abrir la puertecita.’ (p.212, crucial to text; suggested translation “Lonely Manuela, Manuela inside, open the door and come outside”).

k. The book title
A line from Poem 1568 by Emily Dickinson, translated by Silvina Ocampo. It is doubtful whether the title would work in English (ending as it does in a comparative).

To see her is a Picture
(Verla es un cuadro)
To hear her is a Tune
(Oírla es una melodía)
To know her an Intemperance
(Conocerla una intemperencia)
As innocent as June (Inocente como junio)
To know her not – Affliction -
(No conocerla – una aflicción –)
To own her for a Friend
(Tenerla de amiga)
A warmth as near as if the Sun
(Un calor tan cercano como si el sol)
Were shining in your Hand.
(Brillara en la mano.)

k. Profanity (see body of text).

l. Establishment names (see body of text).

m. Political and historical references (see body of text).

** Notes on Internet leads/information:

1. Lunfardo dictionaries: &

2."jai-alai (hì´ lì´), noun, Sports. Also called pelota, handball-like game of Spanish Basque origin. It is played as either singles or doubles on a three-walled court (fronton) with a hard rubber ball (pelota) that is hurled with a wicker basket (cesta) attached to the player's arm. The sport is popular in Latin America and is played in some states (e.g., Florida and Connecticut) where jai alai betting is legal". "Fronton (fròn´tòn´, frôn-tôn´) noun, Sports. "An arena for jai alai." [Spanish frontón, wall, fronton, augmentative of frente, forehead, face, from Old Spanish fruente, from Latin frons, front-.], "Pelotari. Persona que tiene por oficio jugar a la pelota en un frontón".(Definitions from; and

3."Zapatos transparentes y con una suela enorme que unía todo el zapato que motivó el que se las llamara las "chicas topolino ", nunca supe el por qué de ese nombre en relación con un coche que salió en Italia y que se llamó así, TOPOLINO…. Hubo canciones al respecto de las topolino … ". From

4. "Zarzuelas, named after the Zarzuela Palace where they were first performed in the 17th century for the entertainment of Philip IV, are a kind of Spanish comic folk opera. They are usually in three acts, and their chief ingredients include stock characters, traditional scenes and a mixture of dialogue, music and traditional song. After a decline in popularity in the 18th century, interest in this very Spanish genre was rekindled as part of the 19th century revival of Spanish nationalism". From

Special thanks to Maruja Torres, Antoni Flos and Vicente Moret Bonillo for their insights.

Copyright shared by and the author, 1999-2006. All rights reserved. -
An Approach to the Translation of Literature: Rich Points & What They Reveal
Author: Lia Fail (X)
Spanish to English translator 
By Lia Fail (X)
Published on 10/8/2004
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