Dialect Translation

martinezg martinezg at KENYON.EDU
Thu Dec 9 22:01:53 UTC 1999

Hello All,

A student of mine is currently working on translating an early twentieth
century Mexican text in which the characters use a "campesino" dialect. I have
told her that the fact that these characters use this dialect is crucial to
the meaning of the text. However, I am at a loss to suggest ways in which she
might deal with it. The question that I would like to pose is: are dialects
translatable? Could she use some vernacular, low prestige English dialect to
translate the speech of these characters? If so which one? One example from
the text is when a character says: "jayar trabajo". The pronunciation of /h/
in words like 'hallar', 'humo' etc, is considered to be an archaism, and more
particularly it is associated with rural folk. Could this be translated as
"git a job" where the raising of /e/ bears a similar social stigma?

The main problem that I see is that by altering the dialect she would, without
a doubt, be altering the character.

Thank you for your suggestions.

Glenn Martinez

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