I am to speak Spanish it good yes

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War Arrow
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I am to speak Spanish it good yes

Post by War Arrow » Fri Jul 20, 2007 5:39 am

Probably not strictly archaeology, unless you want to call it linguistic archaeology, but I've seen more tenuous threads around here and I need to vent because this is driving me nuts. I've been after a 16th century narrative from Mexico entitled Historia Eclesiastica Indiana by Fr. Geronima de Mendieta. Getting hold of a printed version looks to be out of the question unless I want to start selling my kidneys, and I've found an online version (http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/servlet ... 000002.htm), but it's in Spanish. I didn't think my Spanish was that terrible to be honest - I mean each time I've been to Mexico that's been two whole weeks without a word of English, and I've even had real (albeit slightly halting) conversations about old rocks and so on. Anyway, I figured with the help of the Babel Fish online translation tool (http://babelfish.altavista.com/), I might just about be able to pull it off.
Here's an original paragraph from Mendieta:
Por lo cual le convenia dar luego á huir con ello, sin aguardar mas razones. Hízolo Xolotl de la misma manera que se le encomendó; que fué al infierno y alcanzó del capitan Mictlan Tecutli el hueso y ceniza que sus hermanos pretendian haber, y recibido en sus manos, luego dió con ello á huir. Y el Mictlan Tecutli, afrentado de que así se le fuese huyendo, dió á correr tras él, de suerte que por escaparse Xolotl, tropezó y cayó, y el hueso, que era de una braza, se le quebró y hizo pedazos, unos mayores y otros menores; por lo cual dicen, los hombres ser menores unos que otros.
Here's what Babel Fish came up with:
Thus convenia to give soon á him to flee with it, without waiting but reasons. Hízolo Xolotl in the same way that was entrusted to him; that fué to hell and reached of captain Mictlan Tecutli the bone and ash that their brothers pretendian to have, and received in their hands, soon he gave with it á to flee. And the Mictlan Tecutli, insulted from which therefore it was fleeing to him, gave á to run after him, in such a way that to escape Xolotl, it encountered and it fell, and the bone, that was of one fathom, became broken and made pieces, greater and other minors to him; thus they say, the men to be smaller than others.
And here's what I salvaged from the wreckage:
Thus he agreed to flee with it [the bone and ash] once it had been given to him, without waiting for further debate. Xolotl then did all of this in the same manner that had been entrusted to him; which was to go the underworld and take from Mictlan Tecutli the bone and ash which his brothers were supposed to have, and he received it in his hands, and immediately made his escape with it. And Mictlan Tecutli, insulted that this person was fleeing from him, made to chase after, in such a way that in his haste to escape Xolotl stumbled fell, and the bone, that was of one fathom in length, became broken and fell into pieces, some large and some small; thus they say, this is why some men are smaller than others.
I've had to take some liberties there, so I'm curious to know (1) have I sacrificed any subtle nuances of the original; (2) is it that my Spanish is seriously crap or (3) that 16th century Spanish really is all over the place, or (4) is it that Spanish is just a lot less like English than I previously thought? The problem is I can read it in Spanish and get most of what's said but as soon as I try to translate it I find myself in the Monty Python 'my hovercraft is full of eels' sketch once again. Some of it really does seem completely nuts and I'm not even sure that Babel Fish isn't more of an obstacle than a help. Any thoughts on this any of you genuine Spanish speakers?
By the way, if you ever get bored, Babel Fish is a good way to waste an evening, just watching it turn everything into a Japanese hotel brochure.
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Manystones
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Post by Manystones » Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:45 am

WA,

I have asked a Spanish colleague of mine to translate - he says he will bring it back on Monday. It is written in "old Spanish" and therefore not necessarily straight forward. For instance where you have "without waiting for further debate" - encomendó in this sense means something along the lines of because it was the "best thing to do" (Not necessarily the thing he wanted to do - but the best nonetheless).....

Roughly it is a story of why some men are taller than others.. He ran away - being chased - with the bone and fell. The bone broke into small and big bits.. hence some men are big and some small.

Hope this helps for now.

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Post by Minimalist » Fri Jul 20, 2007 10:02 am

I've had some howls with Babel-Fish myself....but it's better than nothing and much better than Internet Explorer's "page translation" service.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Post by War Arrow » Sat Jul 21, 2007 2:49 am

Thanks Manystones, that's hugely appreciated. I kind of guessed that it wasn't completely down to my poor Spanish. In some ways it helps that I know enough of the accounts involved to have an idea of what's being said in the more archaic and less easily translated (by me) passages (I knew this was the bones of different sizes = big and little blokes version of the story in advance) but of course that creates another problem of me losing any subtle but relevant points by superimposing my own interpretation on them. Having said that, I had a crack at the second page today and found it a little easier which I'm hoping is down to practice reather than falling standards. Of course the whole thing would be easier if I could find an English translation, though I'm not even sure there is one. There's a much shorter account called Histoyre du Mechique - a French translation (authorship uncertain) of an earlier presumed lost text and, so far as I can tell, that's never made it into English, and the most recent Spanish version was printed in 1973! Anyway, until my Spanish reaches expert level (current estimate year 2160) I can at least roughly work out which passages contain the stuff I really need to know about.
Anyway, I look forward to your friend's verdict and thanks again.
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Post by Manystones » Tue Jul 24, 2007 2:50 am

"Because of that, he should then run away without waiting for any other reason. Xolotl did it in the same manner that had been entrusted to him. He went to the underworld and took from Captain Mictlan Tecutli the bone and the ash that his brothers wanted. Having received it, he made his escape with it. And Mictlan Tecutli, feeling insulted started to chase after him. Xolotl in his haste to escape, stumbled and fell, and the bone, that was from an arm, become broken in several pieces, some large and some small; that is why it is said that, some men are smaller than others."

WA, hope this helps.

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Post by War Arrow » Tue Jul 24, 2007 5:22 am

It sure does, thanks. The 'arm' rather than a 'fathom' translation is more consistent with the overall text for starters - i had figured the former might be a legitimate interpretation based on a general mythic idea of the previous race of humanity being quinames (giants) hence a massive bone. Although said myth doesn't seem to figure within this particular narrative so it might be best to avoid the eventuality of accidentally putting it in there. Anyway, either Mendieta gets easier as it goes on, or my meagre translating skills are picking up somewhat as I'm finding fewer truly incomprehensible passages in the later bits. I'm up to chapter 10 now (keeping in mind that no chapter seems longer than two pages. I've realised Babel Fish is only really good for the donkey work, and double checking even those words which initially look quite acceptable seems to be paying off. Whilst I'm here I might as well ask, could your associate recommend any good source of archaic Spanish? There's a few words such as relej (something like a wall?), lebrillo and barrenon (earthenware vessel?) which I'm unable to track down, and although their context has thus far allowed me to make what I think is a reasonably informed guess, it wouldn't hurt to check up. Oh... and anyone here conversant with Latin beyond what's in the usual online dictionaries? I've been stumped by "Altare infinitæ magnitudinis".
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Post by Beagle » Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:55 am

"Altare infinitæ magnitudinis".
In this case W/A, it means what it sounds like - altar of infinate magnitude. In meaning, that would depend on the context in which it's used. Does it refer to a mesoamerican pyramid?

I'd like to be of more help, but the context will probably make the meaning clear.

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Post by Starflower » Tue Jul 24, 2007 10:21 am

Altare infinitæ magnitudinis translates altar of great immensity, sorta kinda. Literally altar of infinite hugeness or just really huge altar. Don't know exactly cause my mom is no longer with us and she was the Latin specialist. If this was written by early monks your best bet is to find a translation of the Latin Vulgate bible as the Latin we use today and the Latin they used then don't really qualify as the same language. The spelling is way different, as you also find with Ye Olde Englishe. Anyway sounds like a great read to me and I hope I helped. I'm off on vacation tomorrow so I'll see you when I get back.

Star

Oops, got side tracked while trying to post and didn't realize Beagle had already answered your question. :oops:
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Post by Minimalist » Tue Jul 24, 2007 10:23 am

Enjoy yourself, Star.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Post by War Arrow » Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:35 am

Yup have a good time, SF.
Thanks all for pointing out what was staring me in the face. It's basically a Latin rendering of the Spanish sentence which immediately precedes it, though being unable to find two of the words (at least by the exact spelling) I imagined it was some pertinent comparison of the greatness of the star, Altaire, assuming there really is a star called Altaire and I haven't just picked up the name from Star Trek.
As an aside (and as my Spanish slowly improves) I'm starting to realise that Babel Fish might actually create more problems than it solves. There's a few sentences which even I can read without the aid of a dictionary, with words in an order that remains unchanged when translated into Spanish, yet stick them through Babel Fish and you get things like "The happy fish it she he had the to eat good". Oh and it insists that the past imperfect of to have is tapeworm for some reason, as in, They used tapeworm impressive buildings.
Still, rubbish in rubbish out as they say.
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Post by Digit » Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:03 pm

Have you seen the list of new 'Wonders of the World' WA? It includes Macu Piccu and Chichen Itza.

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Post by War Arrow » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:48 am

Er... not yet but I'll check it out (though I've yet to make it so far east as Chichen Itza) my brain is presently fried from a morning of pasting 4 million Spanish paragraphs and raw Babel Fish translations from one place to another. So far I've got first drafts of chapters I - X, of Libro Segundo de los Historia Eclesiastica Indiana into readable form with XI - XLI all pasted up and ready to dePythonise at my leisure. So far the weirdest moment has been coming across several instances of "flower" being translated as "fragmentation hand grenade". Luckily all the other books (Libro Primero, Libro Tercero etc) seem to be mainly to do with the sometimes less than noble conduct of the conquistadores, so I don't feel quite so compelled to translate them.
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Post by Digit » Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:03 am

The title sounds like a bloody book on its own! :lol:

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Post by War Arrow » Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:16 am

It's not so huge as to give me second thoughts about attempting a translation, in fact it's about the size of what you'd call a chapter in a modern book. Mind you I went a bit pale when I clicked on the link at the bottom of the already lengthy page and realised that Libro Primero and Libro Tercero and all the others (not sure how many - I stopped looking after about seven of them) were also there. From what I can see though they deal mainly with the conquest and so aren't of such immediate interest for my purposes. I'll leave the rest to someone else, although an English version must exist somewhere, I would have thought. Unless it's the case that most people who go so far as wanting to read this thing will probably not need a translation.
Uh... sorry, Beagle. I've just realised you asked a question. For what it's worth, and because it's been a bit quiet around here. Here's the passage in full, in rough form, from the opening of Capitulo VII:
The way in which the temples these Indians built to their Gods, was never witnessed nor I believe heard of in the Scripture, if it is not in the book of Joshua, which made mention of a great altar which was built by the tribes of Ruben and Gad, and the average tribe of Manassés, when later they conquered the land for missionary reasons, the spoils of which they returned to their houses and possession, built near the Jordan: Altare infinitæ magnitudinis [the altar of great magnitude].

La manera de los templos que estos indios edificaban á sus dioses, nunca fué vista ni creo que oida en la Escritura, si no es en el libro de Josué, que hace mencion de un grande altar que edificaron los tribus de Ruben y de Gad, y el medio tribu de Manassés, cuando despues de conquistada la tierra de promision, á la vuelta que se volvian á sus casas y posesion, edificaron cerca del Jordan: Altare infinitæ magnitudinis.

This was the way of those of this land. And then that one single [great altar] is so named in the Holy Scripture, it will be well to make mention here of so many and as great as were ever built in this land which were so innumerable, for the memory of those who will come here after: because already all the old temples are crumbling to the ground.

De esta manera eran los de esta tierra. Y pues aquel solo es tan nombrado en la divina Escritura, bien será hacer aquí mencion de tantos y tan grandes como hubo en esta tierra que fueron infinitos, para memoria de los que á ella vinieren en lo de adelante: porque ya cuasi todos los templos antiguos están por el suelo.

The temple of the demon was in the Mexican language called "Teucalli", a word composed of "teutl", which means God, and of "calli", that is "house": so that it means house of God, or Gods. In all the towns of the Indians it was found that in the optimum place they made a great square, which was from corner to corner nearly [the distance of] a shot from a crossbow in the great towns and capitals of provinces; and in the more modest towns they built [the distance was of an arrow] fired from a bow, and in the small [towns], much smaller squares: and these were surrounded by a wall leaving only gates to the main streets and ways, and all of these which they made were given over as a courtyard of the demon.

El templo del demonio en la lengua mexicana llamaban Teucalli, vocablo compuesto de teutl, que quiere decir dios, y de calli, que es la casa: de manera que quiere decir casa de dios, o de dioses. En todos los pueblos de los indios se halló que en lo mejor del lugar hacían un gran patio cuadrado, que tenia de esquina a esquina cerca de un tiro de ballesta en los grandes pueblos y cabeceras de provincias; y en los medianos pueblos obra de un tiro de arco, y en los menores, menor patio: y cercábanlo de pared dejando sus puertas á las calles y caminos principales, que todos los hacian que fuesen á dar al patio del demonio.
The biblical references are a bit lost on me, though I've got an old 1936 bible my granny left me which has cleared a few things up.
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