Translation of Indigenous Words
The ST contains 36 indigenous words. Of these, 18 (50%) are translated using standard English, 4(11%) are translated using dynamic colloquial equivalents and 14 (39%) are translated using mixed strategies (borrowing together with English cultural equivalents). The following examples illustrate the strategies used by the translator.
In Example 7, the translator uses a variety of strategies to convey the meaning of the word xipoco, an informal Shangaan corruption of the English word ‘spook’ (xi-poko). Avoiding a distracting footnote, the translator first uses direct translation, translating xipoco as “ghost” and “spirit”, with internal explicitation (as in the ST). Later, explicitation is accompanied with a domesticated spelling, shipoco, for the sake
Translating Linguistic Hybridity and Indigenous Words 171 of pronunciation, italicised to denote its foreignness. Finally, shipoco appears on its own without explanation. Through this process, the translator guides the reader in understanding the foreign word. Another explanation is that the translator wanted to avoid repeating the word xipoco, perhaps for stylistic reasons, a deforming tendency which Berman (1985/2012:44) calls ‘rationalisation’.
(7) ST: Como nao me apropriaram funeral fiquei em estado de
xipoco, essas almas que vagueiam de paradeiro em despara-deiro... Mas um xipoco que reocupa o seu antigo corpo arrisca perigos muito moríais... Vocé irá exercer-se como um xipoco... Nessa mesrna noite, eu estava transitando para xipoco. (12-16)
TT: As they didn’t assign me a proper funeral, I became a ghost, one of those souls who wander from somewhere to nowhere... But a spirit that reoccupies its former body risks mortal dangers... You’ll take the form of a shipoco, a night spirit... That night, I was already on my way to becoming a shipoco. (2-7)
In Example 8, the translator uses both domesticating and foreignising strategies to translate the word halakavuma (pangolin):
(8) ST: Consultei o pangolim, meu animal de estimando. Há alguém
que desconhega os poderes desse bicho de escamas, o nosso halakavuma? Pois este mamífero mora com os falecidos. Desee dos céus aquando das chuñadas ... eu tenho um pangolim comigo, como em vida tive um cao ... perguntei ao meu halakavuma o que devia fazer. (15)
TT: I consulted my pet anteater. Is there anyone who doesn’t know of the powers of this scaly beast, the halakavuma, as we call it? Well, this animal lives with the dead. It descends from the heavens during the rainy season ... I’ve got an anteater with me, just as I had a dog when I was alive ... I asked my halakavuma what I should do. (5)
Curiously, Brookshaw translates pangolim (pangolin) as “anteater”, which is a different species, the former being covered in scales and associated with traditional religion. In the ST glossary, Couto (1996:153) describes the halakavuma as «pangolim, mamífero coberto de escamas que se alimenta de formigas» [pangolin, mammal covered in scales and eats ants] (my translation). The translator follows the ST in first providing an equivalent and then using the indigenous word, albeit in italics (exoticisation), with a comment to alert the reader. This pattern of preserving the indigenous words in italics when there is internal glossing in the ST repeats itself throughout the novel, as illustrated in Examples 9 and 10:
(9) ST: estava contaminado com um mupfukwa, o espirito dos que
morreram por minha culpa. (34)
TT: I was contaminated by a mupfukwa, the spirit of those who had died because of me. (28)
(10) ST: Nao conhecia o wamulambo, essa unta cobra gigantissima
que vagueia pelos céus durante as tempestades (90)
TT: He didn't know about the wamulambo, the huge snake that slithers through the sky during a storm. (85)
However, where no explanation is provided in the ST, the translator substituted the indigenous words with standard English, as illustrated in Example 11, or with dynamic equivalents (Nida 1964/2012:149), as illustrated in Example 12:
(11) ST: Me sigam mufanitas (143)
TT: Follow me children (138)
Mufanitas derives as a plural noun from the Nguni (Tsonga, Zulu) umfana (boy, Portuguese: menino}. It is translated into standard English, “children”.
(12) ST: Suca mulungo... (63)
TT: “Be off with you, whitey...” (57)
Mulungo derives from the Nguni (Tsonga, Zulu) word umlungu (white person, Portuguese: branco), and is associated with the white coloniser, whereas “whitey” is a colloquial pejorative term for a white person.
However, the translator sometimes used creative license, as illustrated in Example 13:
(13) ST: Olhei os mamparras (121)
TT: “I eyed those horny-handed bumpkins” (117)
An Nguni (Tsonga, Zulu) word initially used as a pejorative term for migrants and first-time miners, mamparra has come to mean ‘fool’ (Portuguese: estúpido), reflecting Naita’s snobbish attitude towards the uneducated. Substituting the word with the creative (American) equivalent “horny-handed bumpkins” conveys the sense of uneducated persons, but not the animosity towards the colonised people.
Hence, by domesticating the indigenous words in the TT, the deeper meanings and their cultural ties are erased, and thereby Couto’s expression of his Mozambican identity.