Tuesday, June 15, 2010

English Translations of the Spanish Dialogue in McCarthy's Western Novels

One of the distinctive (and idiosyncratic) elements of McCarthy's style is his untranslated Spanish discourse. This feature is especially pronounced in his western novels (i.e., Blood Meridian and the Border Trilogy).

In some cases, the dialogue is simple and easily contextualized by readers with minimal familiarity with the language. Many times, though, the Spanish dialogue is extensive and integral to the meaning of the narrative.
Nadie sabe lo que espera en este mundo.
De veras. 
The Crossing, p. 332.

Thus, the translations provided by the Cormac McCarthy Society are a great help to readers of these works. They have made PDFs of translated dialogue for the following novels:

  1. Blood Meridian (pdf)
  2. All the Pretty Horses (pdf)
  3. The Crossing (pdf)
  4. Cities of the Plains (pdf)

24 comments:

  1. Thanks, this is helpful.

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  2. Thanks, I always forget about the Spanish within those books.

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  3. Linguanet they provide any language Translations also, If you look for translator that can translate any language Linguanet will be suitable for you, they provide any kind of language by the help of their young translators.

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  4. Thanks, they are very helpful. But in The Crossing, pg 289: "Persinese" is not translated and won't work on any translators.

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    1. Persinese=What a Christian do when he/she sees a dead body(?)

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  5. the pdfs have been removed

    as if the crossing isn't inscrutable enough to begin with... now i have to learn archaic spanish to get it?

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  6. Thanks for the comment.

    The cormacmccarthy.com website was redesigned and so all the link addresses changed. I've corrected them now and they should work.

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  7. thanks, though it must be said, if only to have a good gripe, that i find this wildly irritating, pompous and pressumptious of mccarthy. i live in africa, little to no spanish here, and find this sort of indulgence to be verging on insulting the reader, but to hell with intellectual ethics, how about, 'i bought your book pal, try and be a little less, you know, up your own arse, won't buy more, despite hi obvious brilliance, not that he cares, quite obviously'.
    aaaah, that feels better.

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  8. my apologies for all the poor grammar and spelling, above gripe still stands though.

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  9. youre entitled to your opinion but I dont think it's pompous. it adds to the authenticity of the world he depicts. the pdfs are great though.

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  10. I found these PDF translations extremely unhelpful.

    Why don't they include the Spanish as well as the English? Incredible, considering that presumably the point of the whole thing was to help those who haven't a word of Spanish...

    Also, the page numbers referenced don't correspond with my edition of Blood Meridian.

    Not useful at all.

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  11. It is amusing to read the preceding comments but there the intention has been missed. Literature is not necessarily meant to be easy, rather a journey for the reader to explore the thoughts of the writer in the world the writer creates . I am hugely enjoying these sparse, deep stories. With an on-line translator and a somewhat sketchy translation by lt Jim Campbell my work and homebound train commute is a welcome challenge. Still, I can't say what Persinese means

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    1. Adrian,

      Thanks for adding your perspective. Nice reflection!

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. "Persinese" or "persignese" (more correct) means "cross yourself" or ''bless yourself", it's a Catholic ritual. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sign_of_the_cross

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  12. Why are there many mistakes in the Spanish? Deliberate? Doesn't look like mistakes people speaking Spanish as a first language would make. Look more like errors by the author.

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  13. Thanks so much for the translation; i have been wondering what the lyrics of the song about the 'guerito' are at the end of The Crossing.
    Love Cormac so much, Richard Roehl

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  14. I think the novels would seem ridiculous without the Spanish. Furthermore the Spanish spoken is Mexican Spanish.

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  15. I think the Spanish in the novels is beautiful and I support McCarthy in putting it in there without translating it. However, it seems utterly ridiculous for the people who created the pdf only to translate some of the spanish. Its only about 60% of the spanish is translated, the rest is just left for us (monoglot english speakers) to guess. If you offer a pdf with translations of the spanish, you can obviously translate spanish, so why not translate it all!?

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  16. I am not by any means bilingual. But I have studied enough Spanish in high school and Duolingo to be able to follow most of the conversations. It strikes me that McCarthy has written dialogue that is close to that which would occur between Mexicans and border area english speakers. Happily most of it occurs at about a level of difficulty that I can read. So, McCarthy, in writing at a realistic level the knds of conversatons we would have heard between the two cultures around the border, has also written dialogue that a good many others would be able to understand. I read on Kindle. Thus an English-Spanish dictionary is always close at hand. For my own reading level in Spanish, I am glad that he has given me an opportunity to use my Spanish language skills, even though limited.

    One quiestion I have for anyone who may know the answer:: Why does McCarthy capitalize Spanish but not english? I have encountered this twice in The Crossing and he is consistent.

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  18. Brilliant. Mi español es muy oxidado pero esto me ha obligado a trabajar duro y amar el idioma de nuevo.

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