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A Language Rich in Vocabulary

November 30, 2010 1 Comment »

“There is no so filthy as Spanish. There are words for all the vile words in and there are other words and expressions that are used only in countries where blasphemy keeps pace with the austerity of religion.”

– Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ch. 27

This quote from the famous novel by Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, gives us two powerful discussion topics. Let us leave aside the more philosophical and theological, even anthropological, line of thought resulting from the comparison between cultural tools, such as language, and the virtues of religion. We will only focus on the statement as it relates to the richness of language.

Reading between the lines, I would like to think that the famous writer, with some envy, mostly describes the abundance of colloquial . It is in Pilar, Pablo’s lover, the leader of the gang, and the true leader of the low-spirited commando group, where Hemingway found the to admire the richness of the Spanish language. The writer painstakingly tries to reproduce the superior ability of insult he found in a language he so admired after years of living in . What is striking is that he tries to personify it as a woman, which also suggests his desire to magnify the subject.

The richness of the Spanish language makes the famous author Carlos Fuentes expresses that “Perhaps Spanish is not competitive in science, but in literature and other disciplines it is clearly a growing force; a proven presence and a probable future.” This also leads to a Spanish “…embedded in the depths of the North American society, whether in , gastronomy or love.”

Those looking to translate their into Spanish must take into account this “creativity” potential that the language provides. This not only helps the translated text look more “colorfully descriptive” from a literary standpoint. It also helps to accept the necessary tedious expansion of content, which must be properly “internationalized” beforehand (another matter to be discussed in a different article.)

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