Can Literature be lost in translation?

pexels-photo-784707.jpegLiterature is a form of intimate gateway from the author’s personal world to the reader. I believe that there is some connection on whether a translation of a piece of literature can be “lost” by how it could not be translated 100% to the core.

As I was reading “Signs Preceding the End of the World” , I understood that this novel was originally written in Spanish. Being bilingual, I would try to compare how the author read the novel in Spanish while I read it in English and there are a variety of differences. The Spanish version of the novel was more emotional and had a more intimate tone. I say this because the author would use words and phrases that don’t exactly translate directly to English 100%. Although the English version was mostly spot on in translation, the Spanish version grasp my attention more.

I felt that in Signs Preceding the End of the World, the story of Makina would be better understood to Spanish speakers as well. As a Spanish speaker, I would understand the struggles that Makina would go through as she entered a new world in the United States. It is a country where people of Latino descent face many struggles and Makina explained that when she wrote a poem to an officer that was acting condescending towards her. In Spanish, the poem felt more emotional and more in depth with Makina’s personal feelings about Americans and how they mistreat Latinos. The English version of the poem was also emotional but I personally felt that because Makina’s native language was Spanish, her thoughts shown in the novel was a direct connection from her thoughts.

We are to blame for this destruction, we who don’t speak your tongue and don’t know how to keep quiet either. We who didn’t come by boat, who dirty up your doorsteps with our dust, who break your barbed wire. We who came to take your jobs, who dream of wiping your shit, who long to work all hours. We who fill your shiny clean streets with the smell of food, who brought you violence you’d never known, who deliver your dope, who deserve to be chained by neck and feet. We who are happy to die for you, what else could we do? We, the ones who are waiting for who knows what. We, the dark, the short, the greasy, the shifty, the fat, the anemic. We the barbarians.

Herrera, Yuri. Signs Preceding the End of the World (Kindle Locations 761-765). And Other Stories Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Overall, I do believe that Literature can lose it’s original tone and emotion when being translated into another language. The original language can have certain aspects where it cannot be translated 100%.



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