domingo, 16 de febrero de 2014


When it comes to puns, however, how should they be translated? Worth of mention is a verse in the lyrics of the Hercules song "Zero to Hero", Castilianized ("De cero a héroe"), and what the writer of this blog calls "inventive loyalty". The expression means "staying true to the cause/goal, yet without losing creativity" (The Ringstetten Saga is, at length, an ode to inventive loyalty: the dynasty's history started with an ensign using the flag he was sworn to as bandage for his shoulder wound, which led to the use of the flagpole as a weapon to lunge at the enemy leader).

The song, the most easily recognized one in the classic nineties film (the mistress of this blog grew up with it as part of her childhood soundtrack), chronicles Herc's career into stardom through monster slaying. The film is rife with puns, including the shibboleth/homographic pun in the verses this post is discussing.

ORIGINAL "Zero to Hero"
Muse I: And they slapped his face on every vase... (/vayz/, American standard)
Muse II: On every VASE! (/vahz/, RP or Queen's English)

In Disney media, RP is reserved for upper-class, highbrow characters, whether humans or animals (due to the connotation of the UK and British culture with tradition, conservatism, high culture). The first muse to sing in this fragment is younger than the second and appears to be middle-class. How to translate the shibboleth reference into Castilian? The translators of Hercules did actually manage to replace the vayze/vahze pun in a way that does, surprisingly, not betray the original:

CASTILIAN "De cero a héroe"
Musa I: Y en donde estéis, su rostro veis...
Musa II (interrupting): Hermosa faz!

The translation into Castilian focuses, rather than on the diatopic heterophony of the word "vase" (vayze/vahze), on the words for the concept of "face". The younger muse employs the standard Castilian "rostro", while her older sister corrects her with "faz", more archaic and of a higher-class diastratic variation (not to mention more frequent in classical literature).

That's what I call inventive loyalty: in this case, sticking to the form of the original lyrics (lyrics must stick to the rhythm of a song's music, and thus, they must be written in a certain form of verse... making the lyrics one of the trickiest genres in literary text to translate), and conveying the original's highbrow vs. mainstream pronunciation dichotomy, creatively altering the text to find a way to convey the source language's cultural reference (diatopic/diastratic, in this case) in the target language.

1 comentario:

  1. Interesante ese concepto de "lealtad inventiva".
    Yo también he tratado de re-escribir mi propia versión de la canción, tratando de mantener una fidelidad mayor al original, en comparación con la versión "oficial" en italiano.
    Tal vez, si hablas un poco italiano, puede interesarte: