Translating differences

Adelaida Jaramillo will participate to #PetitPrince from Ecuador, using Spanish language. We interviewed her to talk about the power of words and literature.

Dorso El Principito
#PetitPrince has started on March, 2nd and you decided to try to rewrite it in Spanish. For you, a different language is only a different way to communicate the same content or could add something new to the original book? For example, the Spanish title El Principito seems very different from the original one (Le Petit Prince): is it true or only my impression?

Paul Valéry said that “the translation must produce an effect comparable to that of the original work”, and I think he was right. A translation should be able to capture the essence of a text, and not be measured by the accuracy of its words. As readers we can disagree with a translation, but I think this field, since our judgments are subjective, should be analyzed by a critic. The translation renews the word, but not always fulfill with the premise that Valéry proposes. In my opinion we get into a complex literary semantic argument, because a diminutive, in terms of El Principito can refer to both: a child or a little prince, depending on whether it was used, was it used to refer size or was it appreciative?

You are the director of Palabra.lab, “un espacio cultural dedicado a generar actividades literarias como deporte extreme” (a cultural space dedicated to generate literary activities as extreme sport): what are the tools and the projects that you are using to reach this target and why you consider literature so important?

This cultural space will soon be five years producing changes in the ways that we use words and literature; changes that’ve been risky and not always well regarded, but in the end, it seems to me that were necessary. The word also was, is and will be renewed in time and so it deals with literature and different movements. To explore new ways to communicate and approach literature, this space’s explorers use new platforms like social networks to read and share readings, and to write and rewrite texts. In addition to that efforts we merge activities from different fields of art, but the most important achievement is palabra.lab’s festival Ciudad Mínima that has been held in three annual editions, and that celebrates short fiction in literature, films, theater and music, always emphasizing literature and words.

Palabra means word, and the first question I made you is about different languages: how important are the words, not only as part of a book but as a way to live in this world, in which misunderstanding is often used as an excuse to create conflicts? And how can we overtake these misunderstandings?

I think that lack of reading, of all kinds (fiction and nonfiction), move us away from vocabulary, and that lack of knowledge in vocabulary move us away from choosing the precise words to express ourselves properly. Everyday we reduce more and more the number of words with which we speak, so much that it has been proved that we, in Spanish, speak with a maximum average vocabulary of 2000 words; but back to the subject of misunderstandings, these can be caused by simple things and in any type of relationships: work, love life, family, and often by the inability to understand another person point of view. This is when I think a good reader of fiction has an advantage over a non-reader.

We met for the first time few months ago, for the festival Ciudad minima: in its website, the festival is described as “la ciudad que entra en 140 caracteres” (the city that enters in 140 letters). Is this festival a way to focus on our human environment and background? How can a city enter in a tweet and why?

When I said “the city that fits in 140 characters”, what I meant was that we, the citizens of “The world Republic of letters”, can converge in a virtual city with our own laws and services, and everything that we need to be a real city but a geographic boundary, like Casanova proposes. Ciudad minima is a virtual festival, but it also takes places in several cities in the world with citizens that we met in this virtual space.

Adelaida_JaramilloAdelaida Jaramillo (@adeljar) – She lives in Guayaquil (Ecuador) and she defines herself as eternal student. She believes in Jorge Luis Borges.
Since 2010 she directs the cultural space palabra.lab, physical and virtual space that promotes reading as an engine of culture. She is a cultural agitator, creative writing workshops’ instructor, and in 2012 she opened the door to flashfiction when he founded the festival Ciudad Mínima.
She writes due to her insomnia.

Foto: The Little Prince, Barbara M. (Creative Commons).