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El pasado se nos muestra rico...

 

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  #1  
Old August 18, 2012, 01:14 PM
BenCondor BenCondor is offline
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El pasado se nos muestra rico...

Hi,
Okay, given the following text
Quote:
En este caso, el pasado se nos muestra rico en conflictos, pero no es fácil contabilizar en él demasiados logros, ni siquiera en las épocas de vigencia formal de la democracia, en las que pueden percibirse, in nuce, las practicas que llevaron a la destruccion de un sistema institucional.....
The core problem is the expression "vigencia formal"

vigencia - validity, force, effect; also norm, convention
formal - formal; also reliable, dependable

Translation so far:
In this case, the past shows us to be rich in conflicts, but it is not easy to count among them too many achievements, not even in the times of [reliable conventions? formal effects?] of democracy, in those which one can perceive, in a nutshell, the practices which come from the destruction of an institutional system...

I've stopped quoting from there because the rest of the sentence (for the most part) makes sense to me. But I can include it if more context is needed.

How would "vigencia formal" be translated? Is the rest of the translation okay?

Thanks for any input

Ben
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  #2  
Old August 18, 2012, 02:06 PM
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aleCcowaN aleCcowaN is offline
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el pasado se nos muestra rico en conflictos: the past shows it to be one plenty of conflicts

ni siquiera en las épocas de vigencia formal de la democracia: not even in periods of constitutional representative democracy

which Argentines try to mean by "vigencia formal de la democracia" is that all the chapters in our constitution that relate to separation of powers plus the use of some kind of electoral law offering two or more alternatives to the citizen in order to elect president and congress are being respected in the letter (not necessarily in spirit). In fact, periods of "vigencia formal de la democracia" are not plenty democratic nor other periods are completely undemocratic (or better said, antirepublican). Anyway, those immature periods of democracy -including the present one- have been more democratic than the others, though the aspirations for a true republic and a true democracy are yet to be fulfilled (unless you have "la sartén por el mango y el mango también", then we're in glory).
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Old August 18, 2012, 03:40 PM
BenCondor BenCondor is offline
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Hi,
Thanks for the reply.
1)

Quote:
el pasado se nos muestra rico en conflictos: the past shows it to be one plenty of conflicts.
Not quite right in English. You could say: "the past shows it to be one with plenty of conflicts." But more likely "the past reveals itself as being rife with conflict". In either case I'm not quite sure where the "nos" is being rendered, if at all. Perhaps in English it is assumed that in showing, it is showing us. Or at least this assumption is more likely to be made. Not sure.

2)

Okay, the "vigencia formal" makes more sense. I've seen this:

Quote:
(la ley) goza de plena vigencia formal y material > (the law) is in full force and effect
which might mean vigencia "distributes" to formal and material, or at least that is one way I've tried to understand the translation. That is, it could also be written as:

"(la ley) goza de plena vigencia formal y vigencia material."

In which case, "vigencia formal" combined could mean "force". But I'm still feeling there is something Aristotelian that's not perhaps quite translatable, or is it mere coincidence that "formal" and "material" are the first two of Aristotle's causes.

Last edited by BenCondor; August 18, 2012 at 03:43 PM.
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Old August 18, 2012, 04:00 PM
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chileno chileno is offline
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vigencia formal = formally in force

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Old August 18, 2012, 04:46 PM
BenCondor BenCondor is offline
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Thanks, chileno, that does make sense.

A new attempt:

Quote:
In this case, the past has shown itself to be rife with conflicts, but it is not easy to count among them too many achievements, not even in the times when democracy is formally in force; in those which one can perceive, in a nutshell, the practices which come from the destruction of an institutional system...
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Old August 18, 2012, 04:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenCondor View Post
In either case I'm not quite sure where the "nos" is being rendered, if at all. Perhaps in English it is assumed that in showing, it is showing us.
I think this is one of the not uncommon cases where Spanish typically uses a reflexive and English typically uses a passive: the past is shown to be rich in conflict. If you take that route you have to take for granted the object of that demonstration, because there isn't a natural way of working it in, but I think the objectification universalises it, so we are shown just as everyone else is shown.

If you're willing to take a more dynamic approach to translation then you could perhaps make it explicit with we see the past to be rife with conflict.
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Old August 18, 2012, 05:13 PM
BenCondor BenCondor is offline
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Yes, that could also work. I agree that, once rendered in passive, you can't really get the "us" incorporated without an unintended sense that we, personally, are involved. In this case, my initial translation seems to suggest that the author and the reader are personally involved in the conflict, which I don't think was intended.
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Old August 18, 2012, 06:13 PM
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aleCcowaN aleCcowaN is offline
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Well, the nos gives a twist of "it is apparent to us" with "us" being the author/s. I'm sure all those subtleties are carried in English by means of vocabulary.

And don't infere from my lack of proficiency in English that I can't see the differences between the real meaning of the original texts and their intended translations. It's not my expectation to see those paragraph laid out and worded that way when translated into English.

About "vigencia formal", there's a mix-up there of vocabulary level. The concept there is "vigencia de la democracia", then it is modified to "vigencia formal de la democracia" with and adjective added not to mix it up with legalese "vigencia formal" but to understand that "formal" adds a nuance about the depth, colour and circumstances of that "vigencia". Besides "vigencia formal de la democracia" is a set phrase in sociology and political science in Argentina for more than half a century and it doesn't need to be reduced to its atoms to know what it means.
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Old August 19, 2012, 03:24 AM
BenCondor BenCondor is offline
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Hi,
Yes, one possible translation of "En este caso, el pasado se nos muestra rico en conflictos" is "In this case, the past shows us that our history is rife with conflict" which renders the sense that we as a people are involved, which may be the most accurate way to express this. The only problem here is that we're having to introduce "our history" to deflect, from the reader & author, a personal involvement which is probably not intended.

@Alec Yes, I read with great interest your comments about the history of "vigencia formal de la democracia" but I'm not sure how to render that. The gist of it, if I am understanding you, is that there were periods of democracy, including the present one, which were to some degree truly democratic, but not as much so as, say, France or England, due to more widespread corruption, or "cross contamination" between the legislative, judicial and executive branches. All of that noted, "formally in force" is actually a pretty good expression in English. "Formally" alerts the reader that something is a bit fishy about this democracy, without coming right out and saying it is null and void. Which isn't too far off, is it?

Last edited by BenCondor; August 19, 2012 at 03:52 AM.
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Old August 19, 2012, 04:14 AM
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You are pretty right. It's difficult to render what our democracies lack, but in the end is about a democracy for everyone and all of us and also a democracy which inspires to be more democratic, without forgetting a democracy that looks after the common good without setting aside minorities and with plenty respect of the peculiarities of every group involved. So far, not very distinctive from what happens everywhere. But this is said from a position of being far from reaching it and with internal disturbances about what it is and how to get to it.

This is the paragraph as author/translator James P. Brennan translated into English in 2006:

"Above all, there is the question about what characteristics the political system should have to ensure democracy and make of it a practice with some social meaning. In this case, the past reveals itself rich in conflicts, but it is not easy to find in it very many accomplishments, not even in periods of democratic rule, when there can be perceived in nuce practices that carried to destruction institutions that had never fully matured and whose reconstruction appears now a Herculean task. Perhaps for that reason the last question is today the first one: What is the future of our democracy and of the tradition that nourishes it? We must return to Sarmiento and Alberdi and a task that we a bit naively considered to have been finished and whose accomplishments today seem fragile and vulnerable"
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