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Requesting feedback on a translation: Bobbsey Twins


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Old March 27, 2013, 06:46 PM
kimma kimma is offline
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Post Requesting feedback on a translation: Bobbsey Twins

I am just learning Spanish and for a bit of fun I am trying to translate a kids' book I have called The Bobbsey Twins in Rainbow Valley. I'm going through it page by page and would really love some feedback so I can improve as I go along. I particularly need help with tenses as in my lessons we've only covered present tense and present progressive.

The book itself is from the 1950s, which is why some of the English is a bit antiquated.

Here is the first page with my translation...

The Bobbsey Twins in Rainbow Valley

By Laura Lee Hope

Chapter One
A frisky hunting dog

“Oh dear,” Flossie Bobbsey said, “There’s nothing here but milk and eggs and——“

“Here, let me take a look,” her twin brother Freddie offered. “We just have to have some raw meat for our drag.”

Freddie and Flossie Bobbsey, six years old, were standing in front of the refrigerator in their kitchen. The big white door was wide open, and Flossie’s blonde head was poked inside. Suddenly a voice from behind them made the twins jump.

“My goodness! Why you lettin’ so much warm air in the icebox?”

Dinah, the stout, kindly Negro cook who worked for the Bobbsey family, walked up and shut the door.

“Please help us with our drag, Dinah,” Freddie said. “We need some raw meat to make one.”

Los Gemelos de Bobbsey en Valle de Arco Iris

Por Laura Lee Hope

Capítulo Uno
Un perro de caza retozón

«¡Ay!» Flossie Bobbsey dijo «hay nada aquí pero leche y huevos y——»

«Aquí, dejar me mirar», su hermano gemelo Freddie presento. «Nosotros simplemente debemos tenemos algunos carne crudo para nuestros draga.»

Freddie y Flossie Bobbsey, que tienen seis años, estaban de pie frente a el refrigerador en su cocina. La puerta blanca grande estuvo bien abierto, y cabeza de Flossie rubia estuvo asomó dentro. Bruscamente, una voz de detrás les casusaron los gemelos saltar.

«¡Dios mío! ¿Por que estáis dejando tanto aire tibio en la nevera?»

Dinah, la cocinera negra robusta amable que trabajó para familia de Bobbsey, se acercó y cerró la puerta.

«Por favor nos ayuden con nuestros draga, Dinah» Freddie dijo. «Nosotros necesitemos algunos carne crudo para hacer uno.»
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Old March 27, 2013, 11:32 PM
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Rusty Rusty is offline
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Welcome to the forums!

Some feedback:
Bobbsey Twins = Los Gemelos Bobbsey (the last name of the twins simply follows the designation)
la familia Bobbsey = the Bobbsey family

Place names may or may not need to be translated. It depends on how familiar the place is to your audience. Because Rainbow Valley ((el) Valle del Arco Iris) may not be familiar to all, you could leave it untranslated.
I'll let you in on a little secret. The professionally-translated version of the book totally skirts the question of whether to translate the place name or not by using a totally different title: "Los gemelos en las cataratas del misterio"
As you can see, the English last name of the twins is also missing from the title, as it is in the entire series.

Word-for-word translations seldom work. This is a hurdle we all must face when trying to translate. It is usually a much better idea to start with a novel written in Spanish and translate it into English. This will help you learn the flow of the language and will help you see how the words work together.
English word order seldom matches Spanish word order.

For example:

There's nothing here but milk and eggs
= Aquí no hay nada más que leche y huevos (a double negative is a must in Spanish - here 'but' is translated as 'more than')

The interjection "Here," is seldom translated into Spanish.
Let me take a look.
= Déjame echar un vistazo. (echar un vistazo) (you can use the simpler 'déjame ver' ('let me see'))

We just have to have some raw meat
= Sólo tenemos que tener carne cruda ('tener que + infinitivo' = 'have to + infinitive' - 'some' is never translated when the noun is uncountable)

I think 'for our drag' is a reference to the artificial scent trail used in a 'drag hunt'. You'll want to look up how to say 'artificial scent trail' and use the four-word translation for the word 'drag'. I'll give you a hint; the word for 'trail', in this sense, is 'rastro'. Since that noun is singular, 'our' can't be translated as 'nuestros'.

When you relate a story that happened in the past, the majority of the verb conjugations will be in the imperfect tense. That's a tense you haven't studied yet, so you're asking a lot of yourself.
The twins 'tenían seis años' (were six years old), but most would just say "Los gemelos (Bobbsey), de seis años, estaban de pie delante de la nevera."

You can usually find a synonym for troublesome words or phrases.

Technically, the '... was poked inside' clause is an example of the passive voice. The passive voice isn't used nearly as often in Spanish as it is in English and you should learn how to express the same idea using one of two methods. I won't delve into this further, but will say that a synonym of 'poke inside' is 'insert'. Using 'meter' would yield a better translation than what you tried ('asomar' = 'stick out'). It's even possible to substitute a past participle, used as an adjective: con la cabeza rubia de Flossie metida en ella (la nevera)

una voz detrás de los gemelos les sobresaltó ('voz' is the subject, so the verb will be in the singular third-person instead of the plural third-person)

That's all I have the time for now, but perhaps others will give you other things to think about.
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Old March 28, 2013, 09:23 PM
kimma kimma is offline
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Thank you rusty. This is super helpful.

I haven't studied the preterite tense either, so it's no different. I have been reading about both past tenses trying to work out which it would be. I figured there would be a convention for storytelling, I just plunked for the wrong one. I tried asking my teacher about it, but she didn't get what I was asking.

I don't have any books in Spanish, which is why I decided to do it this way, but I have ordered some bi-lingual kids' books which should arrive soon.
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Old March 28, 2013, 09:40 PM
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You've done well with what you know.
Search our forums, using keywords like preterit(e) and imperfect, or past tense, and you'll soon discover that we all struggle with those tenses. But I think it'll be much clearer once you let what you read sink in.

The bilingual books sound like they might be a good learning tool.
Remember, there won't always be a one-to-one relationship, as far as words are concerned. We use language to express an idea. Spanish has a set of words to use and English has another. The two may not be the same in every instance.
This becomes very important to remember when the little words (especially the prepositions and pronouns) don't seem to make any sense.
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