An analysis of the translation of select excerpts of La violencia de las horas: Un estudio psicoanalítico sobre la violencia en Perú from Spanish to English
Dr. Gregory Shreve
Theory and Practice of Translation
This essay provides an analysis of the translation strategy and work method I employed in translating select excerpts of La violencia de las horas: Un estudio psicoanalítico sobre la violencia en el Perú from Spanish to English. The book, written by Cesar Rodríguez Rabanal in 1995, is a psychoanalytic evaluation of case studies carried out in a Lima shantytown. It focuses on the relationship between external political violence and the community members' internal psychological realities in Peru’s sociocultural, political, and economic context. The translated excerpts belong to the book’s introduction, which presents the psychoanalytic study and provides a brief account of Peru’s sociopolitical situation and the psychology behind the most basic manifestations of violence among members of the study. I chose to translate this text for several reasons. While I am interested in and familiar with its subject matter on Peru’s sociopolitical context, I was primarily motivated to translate the text because of its genre and corresponding linguistic form. The text is an analytic report, and it provides an array of Spanish-language linguistic challenges. It is not so literary that it calls for extensive subjective interpretation on the part of the reader, nor is it so technical that it requires intensive terminology research. However, its formal, sophisticated writing and advanced vocabulary represent an interesting set of translation problems. Furthermore, the language of La violencia de las horas is highly characteristic of Spanish-language academic and scientific writing and presents syntax and cohesive elements that are quite different from those of English-language writing of the same type. Albrecht Neubert and Gregory Shreve describe a text’s situationality as its “location in a discrete sociocultural context in a real time and place” (5). When La violencia de las horas was written and published in 1995, Peru was emerging from a situation of internal conflict that had begun in 1980 and claimed nearly 70,000 lives. A political group called the Shining Path terrorized civilian populations across the country in an attempt to dismantle state institutions and install a new Maoist form of government, receiving a violent reaction from the Peruvian army and paramilitary forces. The majority of the victims were civilians from the lower socioeconomic sector of Peruvian society, half of whom were killed by the Shining Path and half of whom were killed by the armed forces and paramilitary groups. Only in this context can the intentionality and relevance of La violencia de las horas be examined. Of the three major text types identified by theorist Katharina Reiss—informative, expressive and operative—La violencia de las horas is a hybrid text. It is primarily informative in that it is content-focused and seeks to provide the reader with knowledge about the author’s psychoanalytic study and the relationship between the results of the study and Peru’s larger socioeconomic and political context. However, the book is not just a report of the study’s findings but also an analysis that involves both the objective presentation of facts and the subjective observations and professional psychoanalytic evaluation of the author. While the author sometimes communicates the conclusions of his analyses in a neutral fashion, at other times the language he uses and the connections he makes demonstrate a certain attitude regarding the content presented. This implies that there is an expressive element to the largely informative text. Subsequently, it can be assumed that the text’s expressiveness is ultimately intended to elicit some sort of reaction from the reader. The connections that the author makes between...
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