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James Ascher's picture

Your Old Books = ¿Tiene libros viejos? : the Spanish Translation

Continuing a project identified by the RBMS Executive Committee, endorsed by the RBMS Diversity Committee, and organized by the RBMS Publications and Communications Committee, we now have a Spanish translation of Your Old Books.

The text was translated by Cecilia Bonnor and Verónica Reyes-Escudero based on the most recent English langauge Your Old Books. Donald Farren organized an editoral process in which Matilde Farren graciously volunteered to professionally edit the text and Everett Wilkie also read the text. The editing was no more than can be expected for a translation that goes through an editorial process. The goal of the editing was to produce a text as if Your Old Books had been written in Spanish -- what an educated native speaker of Spanish would have written, and the editorial team remarked on the excellent of Bonner's and Reyes's work.

The main editorial changes were in language that was unidiomatic in relation to what an educated native speaker of Spanish would have written. The editorial changes to the document are of form, not essence, but they are essential to delivering the message authoritatively and convincingly in Spanish. 

For example:· A problem arises immediately with the title Your Old Books. While "old" in English covers a broad range, the seemingly most obvious equivalent in Spanish, "viejo," has a narrow meaning akin to "past-its-prime." The way Spanish works there is a gradation of value from "viejo" through "antiguo" to "precioso." (The Spanish word "raro" of course means "strange.") After cogitation, during which Matilde considered "Sus libros viejos o antiguos," she settled on rendering the title as the question "¿Tiene libros viejos?" to imply a range of meanings. 

Further examples of editorial changes:

Elimination of the passive voice, common in English but rare in Spanish.

Combination of short sentences that convey parts of the same concept. English often employs short sentences in such instances. Spanish customarily uses in a sustained locution.

Suppression of "editor/a" and "autor/a". The Spanish words "editor" and "autor" are understood to comprise both genders.


The final fair text document is endorsed by Matilde Farren and Everett Wilkie and is attached. We can vote to approve at Annual, but please join me in thanking our extremely hard-working volunteers on this project.


James Ascher's picture

However, there is one point raised late by Everett: In the two documents I sent you, where in one place in each document the reading is "deterioro," change to "daños."