Reiss also argues that the translator of expressive texts should adopt the ST author’s standpoint (Munday, 2008). However, I believe that the translator requires a different standpoint because they cater for a different audience, and this in turn affects the skopos: ‘the aim or purpose of a translation’ (Vermeer, 2000, p. 221). Vermeer highlights that the Source Text (ST) and Target Text (TT) ‘may diverge from each other quite considerably […] as regards the goals which are set for each’ (p. 223). This rang true with my translation because the ST was written for Spanish-speakers, and perhaps even more specifically, a Chilean audience. The ST audience immediately notices that the text is Chilean, owing to the dialect employed, the turns of phrase used, and indeed the cultural references that are made. Whilst it is difficult to ‘gauge’ the effect of the ST on the audience (Hatim & Mason, 1990, p. 7), I believe that these techniques are likely to conjure up a sense of the ‘familiar’ for a Chilean audience. Non-Chilean Spanish speakers will also be immediately aware that it is a Chilean text. In contrast, I established that my TT could be aimed at anyone interested in Chilean literature, whether they be academics or members of the public. The readership might know a lot about Chilean culture, or nothing at all. Therefore, the effect on the TT audience will inevitably be different.
My skopos therefore needed to reflect this difference in readership. I firstly considered the debate of foreignization versus domestication: ‘the question of how much a translation assimilates a foreign text to the translating language and culture, and how much it rather signals the differences of that text’ (Venuti, 1998, p. 102). I decided to adopt a ‘foreignizing’ strategy in the sense that I did not want to assimilate the ST’s culture. This is because I believed that my reader, having chosen to read an anthology aiming at the exposition of Chilean culture, would want the cultural references to be preserved.
In this sense, I wanted to provide an ‘overt’ translation (House, 1997). House considers an overt translation to be one ‘in which the addressees of the translation text are quite “overtly” not being directly addressed’ (House, 1997, p. 66). She believes that the TT audience should be able to recognise that they are reading a translation because the ST is tied to the source culture. However, she maintains that the ST and TT should be equivalent ‘at the level of language/text, register (with its various dimensions) as well as genre’ (p. 112). My overall strategy reflects this distinction. I aim for equivalence in terms of register, genre, style and aesthetics (as set out in both Reiss’ and House’s strategies), however I want the reader to detect the existence of and the difference between the two discourse worlds.
2. Cultural references
2.1. Non-equivalence of culture-specific concepts
One of the challenges I faced when translating ‘El legado’ was finding an equivalent for culture-specific concepts without incurring too much loss. The narrator at one point lists the items that he took to his mother in the hospital. These items all seem run-of-the-mill for the ST audience, however it is difficult to find culturally equivalent objects in the target culture. He takes his mother colonia inglesa [paragraph 26]: a cheap body spray or splash that has a distinctive scent Chileans instinctively recognise. Mona Baker suggests that in these circumstances translators need to deal with semantic gaps by manipulating the hierarchical nature of a semantic field. If the hyponym does not exist in the TT, the translator can resort to the superordinate word (Baker, 1992). I decided to opt for a superordinate word, translating colonia inglesa as body spray. It still evokes the cheapness and use of the product, even if I had to incur loss in terms of the Chilean cultural association with it.
Another similar dilemma was how to translate povidona yodada  which also appears in the list of products. I found several brand names for povidone-iodine such as Betadine, Savlon Dry and Videne, which are sold on the UK market. However, I thought that using a brand name would contrast with my foreignization approach; it would bring the ST to the reader, and not send the reader abroad. Instead, I opted to keep the literal translation (povidone iodine) but added the adjective antiseptic and defined it as a solution, for ease of reading. As per my ‘overt’ translation strategy, the reader is made aware of the existence of and difference between their discourse world and that of the ST.
2.1.1. Criminal jargon
Isidora Aguirre used a variety of police and criminal jargon in ‘El apuntamiento’ for which it was at times difficult to find a translation and a cultural equivalent in English. Ratis , tiras , and la pesca  are some examples of this. However, I would like to focus on the short story’s title. Collins Spanish dictionary provided several translations of apuntamiento, such as aiming, noting down something and support. However, none of these suited the explicitation of the word given in the story as what ‘le hacen los tiras a los ladrones: cobran al mes, como condición para dejarlos tranquilos, porque suponen que uno sigue robando’. I eventually found a definition in the Diccionario del habla chilena as a ‘cita en la cual el delincuente paga al policía para que le permita trabajar’ (1978, p. 53). Once I had a definition for the term, I considered and discounted various English equivalents. Whilst I thought that hush money or bribery might work, they both suggest that the person willingly pays money to ensure that the receiver will not disclose their illegal behaviour. However, in the story, the police demand this payment at regular intervals, blackmailing the protagonist. I also considered protection money but that is normally paid to a criminal, not vice versa, and so this could confuse the reader. I instead decided on a literal translation of apuntamiento as appointment. This decision was informed by my foreignizing strategy which favours calquing or literal translation as a means of allowing the style of the TT to retain an ‘exotic’ sense. Furthermore, appointment worked perfectly with the definition of the interaction being a cita, and the collocation to make + appointment is the same in Spanish. I realise that I incurred loss in the fact that appointment has no connotations with the world of crime in English. However, I wonder how many ST readers would have heard of an apuntamiento in this context. In fact, the translation might have an equivalent effect on the TT audience as the original had on the ST one; this particular use of the word apuntamiento in the Source Language (SL) also seems unusual and exotic.
2.2. Connotative meanings
Another issue when translating cultural references are connotative meanings: associations which ‘over and above the literal meaning of an expression, form part of its overall meaning’ (Haywood, et al., 2009, p. 171). One example is the word Patria  in the short story ‘Bzzz’. The Spanish word is ideologically charged since it played a key role in the rhetoric of the Pinochet regime. The word is etymologically linked to ‘padre’ and thus Pinochet often used the term ‘patria’ (as opposed to nation) to evoke the image of him as father of the nation (McClennen, 2004). I simply could not evoke the historical context associated with Patria, however I translated it as fatherland to evoke this sense of parentage and emotional tie. Furthermore, by using a literal translation of the word, I remained faithful to the ST culture.
2.3. Historical context
I departed from my foreignizing strategy when I considered it necessary to provide the reader with more contextual information. ‘Bzzz’ is set in the period of Pinochet’s military dictatorship and the protagonist refers to el General  on several occasions. I decided to opt for an exegetic approach by specifying General Pinochet the first time that he is mentioned so that the reader can associate the protagonist’s behaviour with a specific time and location. In this instance, I believe that ‘there has been no actual adding to the semantic content of the message’, because my addition consists ‘in making explicit what is implicit in the [ST]’ (Nida, 1964, p. 231).
2.4. Names and forms of address
Character nicknames presented a problem when trying to adopt my foreignization approach; I wanted to preserve the cultural associations linked to the nickname without alienating the reader. One of the greatest challenges was deciding how to translate La Negra  in the short story ‘El apuntamiento’. La Negra or simply Negra is used throughout Latin America as ‘a common term of endearment, frequently, if not necessarily, detached from any direct identification of race’ (Nunes, 2002, p. 52). While I was tempted to either leave La Negra in the Spanish (as an exoticism) or leave it in Spanish and explain the nickname’s roots in a footnote, I ultimately decided against these two options. Firstly, if I were to leave it in Spanish, I would have lost the fact that the name is a term of endearment. In fact, readers with an elementary knowledge of Spanish (or other Romance languages) might identify the nickname as meaning black which evokes different connotations. Secondly, if I were to provide a footnote, this would distract the reader from the text, as I discuss further on. Instead, I decided to use an equivalent term of affection when the protagonist was addressing or talking about his girlfriend: babe and my girl respectively.
Similarly, I found it difficult to translate the protagonist’s description of the old lady from the flat below as la vieja, la vieja flaca, and la vieja de mierda at various points in ‘Bzzz’. This is because it is common in Spanish to describe and address people based on their physical characteristics (Landers, 2001), whereas this is not the case in English. However, I decided to follow my foreignizing strategy and opt for a literal translation. The protagonist first refers to her as la vieja flaca esa . In this instance, the demonstrative adjective esa is used and placed after the noun to be critical or derogatory (Steel, 1985). Therefore, I translated the phrase as: that skinny, old woman.
When considering other terms of address, I followed by ‘overt’ translation strategy where I thought the reader would recognise the Spanish word. For example, I culturally ‘borrowed’ the word Señora  in ‘Bzzz’ so that I could draw the reader’s attention to the source culture. Furthermore, in English Mrs denotes a married woman, whereas this is not necessarily the case with Señora. In Hispanic culture, women keep their own surnames and therefore Señora denotes age and status more than marital status. By leaving the word in the Spanish, I did not incur this loss of meaning and remained faithful to the ST culture.
2.5. Swear words
Translating swear words was particularly challenging because I had to consider the differences in swearing behaviour between the source and target culture: the prevalence of swearing and the levels of acceptability of taboo language. Landers suggests that the translator should seek ‘emotional, not literal, equivalents’ when translating swear words (2001, p. 151). In ‘El apuntamiento’, I translated swear words based upon the emotional force that I detected behind these expletives, as opposed to translating each swear word literally and pairing it with an equivalent in English. Early in the story he uses the phrase no me jodan  to indicate his exasperation. In this instance, I thought the emotional equivalent in English would be you must be joking, as opposed to the more literal fuck off. In other instances, I translated the verb joder as to screw [150, 176, 183, etc.].
3.1. Dialect strategy
One of the greatest challenges when considering cultural equivalence on a linguistic level was the use of dialect in ‘El apuntamiento’. Dialect has been defined as ‘a language variety with features of accent, vocabulary, syntax and sentence formation […] characteristic, and therefore indicative, of the regional provenance of its users’ (Haywood, et al., 2009, p. 271). I contended with all of these features (accent, vocabulary, syntax and sentence formation) when translating Aguirre’s short story, as I will demonstrate.
However, I firstly had to decide on an overarching strategy for translating dialect. One option was to find an equivalent dialect in English that had a similar socio-cultural background to the dialect used in the story. However, by using a specific dialect, such as Cockney for example, I would have culturally transposed the story, situating the story in East London. As I stated in my introduction, this anthology’s aim is to provide a new perspective on Chilean society; by transposing this story, I would disregard this aim. Also, my reader is unlikely to expect a story set in London when they chose an anthology of Chilean short stories.
Newmark suggests that the translator needs to decide on the functions of the dialect that has been used because this will help inform their approach to dialect translation. He considers that these functions will usually be: ‘a) to show a slang use of language; b) to stress social class contrasts; and more rarely c) to indicate local cultural features’ (1988, p. 195). I decided that dialect in ‘El apuntamiento’ was used to emphasise both a slang use of language and social class contrasts. For example, the protagonist’s use of dialect contrasts with the standard Spanish used by characters such as the gil de plata.
I also decided to adopt Levý’s strategy of using unmarked features of language. He suggests using phonetic, lexical or syntactic features that are used in various regional dialects, since they do not evoke a specific region but instead more general notions about socio-economic background (2011). I thought this would be the best solution: it would highlight to the reader that the characters were not speaking in standard Spanish in the original, but it would not localise the translation either.
3.2. Morphological and syntactical features
In order to assimilate the nonstandard phonological and grammatical features of dialect, my next step was to research morphological and syntactical features that were shared by the majority of urban dialects. Contractions such as I’ve and ain’t, the nonstandard was (for example was used with a plural ‘notional’ subject), the double negative, the unaspirated ‘h’ and dropping the ‘g’ in words ending in ‘-ing’ are all features of non-standard English which are used in dialects throughout the English-speaking world (Haywood, et al., 2009). I employed these syntactical features at various points in the TT to compensate for the loss of the specific Chilean dialect used in the original. I translated the phrase no he hecho ná  by using the double negative, I ain’t done nothin’, and si uno no les causa problemas  as if you cause them no problems. To emphasise a nonstandard use of phonology, I also dropped ‘h’s at the beginning of words and ‘g’s at the end of words. For example, I translated andando, entonces  as get goin’ then and páselo p’adentro  as take ’im inside. As the latter example highlights, I could not indicate each non-standard use of a Spanish word in the equivalent English word. Here, I compensated for the contracted para in Spanish with the unaspirated ‘h’.
3.3. Use of dialect vocabulary
However, while I could convey dialect usage in terms of nonstandard grammar or phonology, I found it harder to highlight that Chilean, as opposed to standard Spanish, vocabulary was being used. The English vocabulary I used either seemed too culturally-specific or too standard. One such example is lacazos  which I translated as truncheon blows. It was very difficult to find the origin or meaning of this word, which in turn highlights how infrequently the word is used. Without finding the word in any standard Spanish dictionary, I assumed from context that it might be an action noun related to beating someone with a heavy instrument. I searched for the word truncheon in standard Spanish, and found cachiporra or porra. I then searched for a Chilean synonym which would start with ‘lac’, the root of the action noun lacazo. I found the word laque, which derives from a Mapuche word and is used in Chile to denote a ‘especie de porra de fierro o de madera recubierta’ (Real Academia Española, 2017). Once finding the definition, I had to assimilate this action and its context into English. I decided that I could not express this word in dialect, without localising my TT, and so I incurred translation loss. I instead focused on the ST meaning, adopting a foreignizing strategy by providing a literal translation, at the expense of a more fluid rendition in the TT.
Another example of dialect was the use of the word grupos [115, 171] which was given a footnote of ‘de engrupir: mentir’ in the ST. This footnote immediately indicated that the word would be unknown to a large part of the ST audience, because of it being used exclusively in dialect. In this instance, I followed Newmark’s approach to translating dialect and decided that grupos was used to convey a ‘slang use of language’. Thus, whilst I was unable to convey the fact that dialect was in use in the ST, I translated it as crap to imitate the type of language used.
The register of the three stories contrasts dramatically. ‘El apuntamiento’ is replete with swear words, expletives and slang, whereas ‘El legado’ employs poetic, symbolic language. The register also differs quite dramatically within the three stories: just in the first paragraph in ‘El legado’, the register switches from formal, poetic to colloquial. Take the following two sentences as an example: ‘Un manotazo fiero le estrujó las vísceras y se mareó. Pero no como si fuera a descomponerse’ . We are presented with the incongruous juxtaposition of a blow which can squeeze his gut, emphasising the poetic nature of Basualto’s narrative. The use of the latinate adjective fiero also raises the register of the sentence. However, swiftly following this image, we are presented with the verb descomponerse which is a Chilean dialect word, lowering the register of the phrase from the literary to the colloquial. Whenever I was faced with these swift changes in register, I tried to mirror the ST in terms of word choice as much as possible in order to achieve an equivalent aesthetic effect.
The register often changes dependent upon whether we are reading the third-person narrator or the interior monologue. I found it useful to use contractions to highlight this change. In ‘El legado’, I used contractions for the interior monologue and for the free indirect discourse because these present the thoughts that cross the mind of the protagonist, and so the tone is more familiar, colloquial. In contrast, I did not use contractions when presenting the voice of the third-person narrator since it provides more formal, poetic descriptions. In ‘El apuntamiento’ and ‘Bzzz’, in contrast, I used contractions throughout the story because of the colloquial style adopted by the first-person narrator in both stories. SL speakers commonly use contractions in everyday speech and so I thought that the narrative would seem stilted without them.
4.2. Impersonal pronoun
Throughout ‘El apuntamiento’, the first-person narrator uses the indefinite personal pronoun uno. While Butt and Benjamin suggest that the impersonal pronoun is used in much the same way in Spanish and English (2013), I decided that translating uno as one would create a stilted TT. This is because of the discrepancy in register that the readers would note from one sentence to the next, or even within the same sentence. For example: ‘es el truquito para que no lo pasen a uno a la “pesca” donde están los tiras’ . In this instance, uno is surrounded by words in the diminutive (truquito) as well as dialect (pesca and tiras) which both indicate a colloquial register. By translating uno as one, I thought that this would change the register of the sentence. Instead, I translated it using the impersonal pronoun you. Steel also highlights that uno may be used to refer to the speaker in popular speech (1985). This renders in my handkerchief the most appropriate translation for el mismo pañuelo de uno .
5. Syntax and grammar
I tried to reflect English-language punctuation norms in my TT unless I believed that the ST punctuation had been used for specific artistic or aesthetic reasons. This is the case with punctuation of dialogue and exclamation marks, for example. However, the use of the comma is one example of where I sometimes followed Target Language (TL) punctuation norms and other times remained faithful to the ST punctuation, dependent upon whether it has been used as part of the text’s aesthetic function. To avoid hypertaxis, I often replaced commas with full stops, semicolons or used a conjunction to connect the two phrases together. For example, when translating ‘era una afeitadora eléctrica, de eso estaba seguro, se escuchaba igual a la suya’ , I replaced the comma in the Spanish original with because: ‘He was sure that it was an electric shaver because it sounded exactly like his’. However, the comma is often used to increase the tempo, and thus suspense, of the narrative, or to imitate the narrator’s uninterrupted train of thought [e.g. 15]. In these instances I have kept the SL punctuation, such as:
Su cabeza zumba y una plancha de plomo se le pega a la frente, se ahoga, el infarto acecha, abre la boca y por más que trata, el oxígeno se niega a socorrerlo.
His head rings and his forehead turns leaden, he chokes, a heart attack lurks, he opens his mouth and for all that he tries, the oxygen refuses to help him.
5.2. Sentence structure
A further challenge that I faced as translator was that sentence structures vary greatly between Spanish and English with regards to their length and complexity. Spanish tends to favour hypotaxis whereas English prefers parataxis. Haywood et al. define hypotaxis as the use of compound sentences containing subordinate clauses which modify the preceding clause. Parataxis in contrast is the use of clauses or sentences that are placed next to one another without an explicit connection (Haywood, et al., 2009). One example of this comes from ‘Bzzz’:
Era una afeitadora eléctrica, de eso estaba seguro, se escuchaba igual a la suya, sólo que allá abajo, en el 205, no había hombres hacía por lo menos dos años, desde la muerte del marido de la vieja.
He was sure that it was an electric shaver because it sounded exactly like his. Only a man hadn’t lived downstairs in 205 for at least two years, since the death of the old woman’s husband.
Here, I tried to avoid replicating the Spanish sentence structure by splitting the sentence in two. I also rearranged the clauses at the beginning of the sentence so that there was a coordinate, not subordinate, relationship between the clauses.
Having said this, colloquial Spanish sentence structure is often more elliptical, paratactic and laconic than its English counterpart. Thus, instead of always favouring parataxis in the TT, at times I compensated by adding details so that the narrative was more idiomatic. One such example is when the verbs are omitted in the following sentence: ‘Y otra vez ¡dénle duro! Y yo: “¡No he hecho ná!”’ . I decided that omitting the verb in English would not reflect the author’s aesthetic style so much as confuse the TT reader. Instead I tried to match the colloquial style by inserting the verb ‘go’ which is commonly used when describing a conversation: ‘And again, they go: “give it to ‘im hard!” And I go: “I ain’t done nothin’!”’.
However, I tried to mirror the author’s syntax when I believed the structure of a sentence was a deliberate stylistic choice. This is in line with my goal of achieving ‘equivalent aesthetic effect’. In ‘El legado’ the author often uses long sentences for dramatic effect to mirror the character’s stream of consciousness, to increase the pace or to imitate the character’s mood. In the following example, I kept the sentence length the same because the long list is used to highlight how overwhelmed the protagonist feels. When reading it in the original, I imagined that every chore was slowly weighing him down. I did however add a verb, colon and semicolons to provide clarity.
Luego del viaje, la hospedería cercana a la estación de ferrocarriles, para no molestar a los parientes con un allegado intempestivo; las carreras al hospital; las excusas falsas delante de su madre; la fila de los desamparados en la puerta de la farmacia; y los ojos de las vecinas.
The journey was followed by: the inn close to the train station, so that he would not trouble his relatives with an untimely visit; the rushes to hospital; the false excuses made to his mother; the queue of defenceless people at the pharmacy’s door and the stares of the women from down the street.
5.2.1. Word order
Spanish and English differ greatly in terms of the flexibility of word order. Whilst English sticks to the strict subject + verb + object word order, Spanish word order is more flexible and does not determine meaning. Instead, it varies depending on other considerations such as rhythm, emphasis and relevance (Haywood, et al., 2009). Therefore, when I was translating the ST, I was aware that I had to assess the word order choices made by the authors to detect which part of the sentence they were putting emphasis on. I wanted to compensate for the translation loss incurred by not being able to imitate the flexibility of the Spanish syntax. For example, in ‘El apuntamiento’, capaces is placed at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis: ‘Capaces eran de volver al día siguiente’ . I decided to adopt standard English word order but add more than to compensate for the loss of emphasis in the word order, translating it as: ‘they were more than capable of coming back the next day’.
6.1. Past tense
While the Spanish and English tense systems are very similar, one major difference is the fact that there are two past tenses in Spanish (the imperfect and the preterite) and only one in English. This in turn means that the Spanish writer can be more nuanced in their expression of the past. Translation loss is inevitably occasioned because of the loss of the precision in the English. To compensate for this loss, I often used structures such as used to/would + verb in the infinitive to demonstrate the continuity an action when translating the imperfect. Furthermore, the imperfect is sometimes used in literary styles instead of the preterite to create a dramatic effect (Butt & Benjamin, 2013). This is the sense in ‘El legado’ in paragraph 5: ‘una protuberancia rojiza crecía y crecía […] hasta que los poros se le dilataban tanto que la piel se abría y quedaba en carne viva’. The literary association with this use of the imperfect is lost in the English translation as I could only use the simple past.
6.2. Tenses changes for dramatic effect
In both ‘El legado’ and ‘El apuntamiento’ the narrative changes from past to present tense for dramatic effect. For example, in ‘El legado’, the whole narrative is set in the past with the protagonist reflecting back on all that has happened to him. This changes right at the end of the narrative, immediately creating suspense. The reader is no longer relaxed in the knowledge that all of these events have passed; they are abruptly brought into the present and made to experience events at the same time as the narrator does. I deliberately mirrored the change in tense so to preserve the dramatic effect.
7. Stylistic Editing
I originally overlooked the importance of deixis when drafting my translation. However, when editing, I realised that I needed to alter the deitic perspective of my TT in order for the text to be both coherent and idiomatic (Richardson, 1998). As Haywood et. al note, the deitic elements: ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘the’ and ‘a’ are all ‘involved in subtle and complex collocational euphonics’ (Haywood, et al., 2009, p. 260). By simply using the indefinite instead of the definite article, the text can lose its idiomatic quality. I therefore changed the indefinite article to the definite in the following example:
Se había colocado a un costado del lavabo
He stood at the side of the sink
Whereas in this example, I found it more appropriate to do the opposite:
me volteo con el jarro de cerveza en la mano
I turn round with a mug of beer in my hand
By evaluating the differences in the deitic perspectives between the ST and TT, I was able to achieve equivalence of aesthetic effect and an idiomatic translation.
There were many instances in which I considered using a footnote. Footnotes would have helped bridge the gap between source and target culture by providing explanations for terms for which there was no cultural equivalence, such as in the translation of la Negra and el apuntamiento. Footnotes would have also allowed me to provide historical context, providing the TT reader with information that is automatically part of the ST reader’s discourse world (such as in the case of Patria). In fact, in ‘El apuntamiento’ footnotes are used for words in Chilean dialect. However, my translation aims first-and-foremost to be read as a publishable piece of literature and therefore, I wanted to preserve the reader experience. The reader allows themselves to be drawn into a new world, suspending their disbelief in the process, and I did not want to disrupt this experience.
The translation presented a variety of cultural, stylistic and syntactical challenges which in turn challenged me as a translator and challenged the translation strategy I had adopted. While I tried to adopt an ‘overt’ translation strategy throughout, I nevertheless found myself constantly torn between choices that would sound more idiomatic or that would be more faithful to the ST. I wanted to express the poetic nature of Basualto’s ‘El legado’, the incredible use of slang and dialect by Aguirre and the suspense in ‘Bzzz’. However, I also wanted to introduce the TT reader to a foreign culture, I wanted them to know that my translation was, in fact, a translation of another language and another culture. Yet, I always managed to reach a compromise: a compromise between individual word choices and my translation aims. I believe that by compromising, I have both managed to provide a translation that has preserved the ST’s artistic form and cultural references and that is, most importantly, an enjoyable read.
...(download the rest of the essay above)