Loss in Translation: Ayotzinapa and Mexico’s More than 27,000 Disappeared


dorset chiapas solidarity

Loss in Translation: Ayotzinapa and Mexico’s More than 27,000 Disappeared

by Maggie Ervin
At its best, a translation can be sublime and elevating. I dare say Edith Grossman’s English version of One Hundred Years of Solitudeis almost as stunningly delicious as Garcia Marquez’s original. And I wonder if Rilke’s original Sonnets to Orpheus could possibly be more transcendent than Stephen Mitchell’s take on it. At its worst, translation can be awkward and disappointing. When trying to convey the layers of Portuguese’s saudade, or those long, precise German nouns stuck together to make one single word.
Translating certain words from Spanish to English can be complicated too. In English, “disappear” is not normally a transitive verb. Something or someone disappears by its own will, or by negligence, but it’s not something you do to someone else. There are plenty of cruel things you can do to people in English…

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