The iguana's tale- Portuguese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Ladino

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iguanamon
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Re: The iguana's tale- Portuguese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Ladino

Postby iguanamon » Thu Sep 02, 2021 3:39 pm

Thanks for stopping by, IronMike. Unfortunately, I have little to give in hardcopy as most of what I have is digital.

Catalan
I finished the novel "Tots els camins porten a Romania" (All Roads Lead to Romania) by Ramon Usall i Santa. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.




Those of you old enough to remember the fall of communism in the late 1980's will have noticed a portrait of Nicolae Caeucescu (former communist dictator of Romania) with bullet holes. Wéll get to that in a bit. The story isn't a "page turner" nor a gripping mystery. Although there is indeed a mystery to solve, it is more about the journey than the destination. I pretty much solved the mystery early on, but loved the journey. The author places us in foggy and misty Lleida and modern Catalunya. We learn all about Rafel Rovira, the detective, his daily routine of having breakfast/brunch at the neighborhood bar and talking about the fortunes of Barça (the author is a devotee of football/soccer). He has a friend, en Joan, who is a Mosso de L'esquadra (a member of the Catalunya Police Force) and another friend, la Txell, who is a journalist for Avui, a Catalan newspaper (if it bleeds it leads!).

We start the book learning about the detective Rafel Rovira and his life. After he's finished with one of his marital infidelity cases, his monthly classified ad (remember those!) appears in the day's edition of Avui. He's sat at the bar when the call comes in. A Romanian maid has discovered the body of one of her clients (also Romanian) at his home lying on the floor dead with blood pooled around the body. She calls Rafel. She didn't call the police because of fear of deportation (pre-EU).

Soon after, Rafel brings in his friend Joan, the policeman, to the case. They go to the home and discover communist books on the bookshelf and a portrait of Caeucescu riddled with bullit holes at his side. They contact the victim's brother with the help of the Romanian maid. The brother asks the maid about Rafel. She trusts him. The victim's brother hires Rafel to investigate the matter, i doncs... tots camins porten a Romania.

Along the way, we follow along as Joan and Rafel traipse through Lleida investigating, and la Txell does her journalism. Rafel has had a mad crush on Txell for years, well, a bit more than a crush- more like unrequited love. They talk about the case and their work is synergistic. They have a weekly dinner together and seem to grow closer. Soon, Rafel is off to Romania to investigate the case, his expenses paid by the victim's brother, Ioan Grigore, and this is where the story gets quite interesting. His friend from the Mossos puts him in contact with a Romanian cop he knows. I won't spoil the plot, but the details of life under the brutality of the Caeucescu regime are explored along with the post-Communist reality of Romania.

The first conversation of our detective Rafel with his client Ioan Grigore was by telephone. They spoke English, or as Rafel calls it "Kofi Anan" English) as a mutual language and I found this quote to be interesting
Ramon Usall i Santa wrote: De fet, a ell li agradava dir que parlava l’anglès Koffi Annan. És a dir, que es feia entendre amb tot aquell que, parlant anglès, no fos natural d’Anglaterra o dels Estats Units. L’anglès BBC, l’altra tipologia de la llengua de Shakespeare segons la divisió dialectal que n’establia en Rovira, quedava fora del seu abast i entendre’l o fer-s’hi entendre representava per a ell un esforç sobrehumà.
Per sort, la veu que parlava a l’altre costat del telèfon s’aproximava més aviat a l’anglès Koffi Annan i no va comportar cap dificultat per a ell entendre el que li volia dir. My translation: In fact, he liked to say he spoke "Kofi Anan" (Kofi Anan was the President of the UN General Assembly, a Ghanaian) English. That's to say that he could make himself understood with all those who weren't native speakers of English from England or the US. BBC English, the other type/class of Shakespeare's language according to the dialectical division that established itself in Rovira, stayed outside of his command (supply) and understanding or making himself understood in it required a superhuman effort from him.
Luckily, the the voice that was speaking on the other end of the phone was closer to Kofi Annan English and there wasn't any difficulty in understanding what he wanted to say to him.

This is part of what I have discovered to be true traveling in Europe wherever a multinational mix is present. Once when I was in Lisbon with my Brazilian traveling partner, she wanted to go to Bairro Alto, a bar district chock a block with Northern Europeans of various nationalities. My friend couldn't speak English very well, but she could speak it with these L2 speakers just fine. Well, good enough for them to understand. I couldn't deal with it and ended up speaking with a Brit and an Australian, with whom I was more at ease despite our own varieties of English! The only Portuguese were behind the bar slinging drinks. They were too busy to engage in conversation.

As far as I know, "Tots els camins porten a Romania" has not been translated. Speaking of translation, and this being an original Catalan novel, I actually found it significantly easier to read than the translated Hammett novels. Maybe that's because there weren't a thousand variations of "smash, crash, punch" and overly descriptive phrases about someone's eyes or face. That, and translating 1920's urban American slang into Catalan. Still, I do believe that all my reading of the Hammett novels helped to make this book so much easier to read. I didn't have to look up many words, but I did make notes of turns of phrase I found interesting and useful.

I ordered the second, and only other, book in the series in hardcopy. It's called Seixanta-vuit. It's about a mystery Rafel Rovira must solve involving the 1968 uprising in Paris. That will take some time to arrive.
.

So, I started the next novel in Catalan, a translation of the novel Hammett by Joe Gores. I wanted to keep my momentum going. It was made into a movie, directed by Vim Wenders, of the same name. It is written in the style of Dashiel Hammett. He's a character in the book- the reluctant, out of retirement, detective mucking about in corrupt and fuggy prohibition era San Francisco. The novel explores Hammett's post-detective writing and his relationship with writer Lillian Helmand. While a knowledge of Hammett's works isn't critical to enjoy the story, I'd say that a reader would get much more enjoyment out of it if they had. I'm a third of the way into it.



Spanish
I finished "El señor de los cielos". It is an interesting behind the scenes look at the inner workings of a drug cartel, in addition to things getting blown up and revenge attacks. What a shame these people turn their talents to crime instead of more useful endeavors. Still, it does dovetail with the Hammett novels in prohibition era America. While prohibition (the outlawing of alcohol) didn't create organized crime, it certainly helped it to blossom and expand its operations. The same has happened with illicit narcotics. The repeal of prohibition in the US helped to greatly diminish the lawlessness and violence it spurred. Narcotics still remain illegal in most of the world, so another organized criminal industry is flourishing as a result... leading us to "El señor de los cielos".

The next Spanish book will wait a little while. Maybe a week or so.
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Re: The iguana's tale- Portuguese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Ladino

Postby Le Baron » Thu Sep 02, 2021 11:47 pm

I scanned the plot details with one eye closed, in case I ever read the book in some form. :) That thing you said about English being spoken like that is so true. When the Syrians came to the neighbourhood and I visited them with my other neighbour, they couldn't understand a word I said, but could (or one of them at least) talk with my neighbour in L2 English! I was rather put out at the time.

I was actually surprised by how much I could read of that Catalan passage.

The Paris 1968 book sounds interesting. I always like to read about famous events from another language perspective. I'll check your review when it arrives.
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Re: The iguana's tale- Portuguese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Ladino

Postby iguanamon » Thu Sep 09, 2021 3:32 pm

Catalan
Another book is in the bag. I finished "Hammett" by author Joe Gores. Gores, like Dashiell Hammett was a private detective in San Francisco turned writer. The "Hammett" novel was inspired by a musing from one of Gores editors who while strolling through the city wondered what a book with Hammett as the detective would be like.

The book takes place in the "roaring twenties" of prohibition era San Francisco. "Speakeasies", illegal gambling dens, and houses of prostitution were ubiquitous. The cops were crooked, the government was corrupt. "Anything goes" was the motto.

Hammett was living alone in an apartment building in SF at the time. His writing career was starting to bloom. He had retired from detective work... or so he thought. One of his best friends, Vic, a former colleague from the famous Pinkerton's Detective Agency, was hired by a "reform committee" of the city government looking to end the corruption.

Hammett's friend, Vic, ends up being brutally murdered in a back alley and Hammett finds himself drawn into taking up his former role as a detective again. The story takes into account Hammett's fiction and parallels it many times- the characters, situations and settings so prominent in Hammett's novels are skillfully, and pleasantly, interwoven into the very foundation and background of Joe Gores' novel. Elements of all Hammett's works are present and recognizable to those who have read his work. This makes the work so much more enjoyable for people like myself who have read Hammett's novels and short stories. Still, if one has not read Hammett's books, I can see how Gores' novel would inspire readers to seek them out.

Gores ends the novel with a detailed description of, a "making of", behind the scenes of writing it. He goes into Hammett's biography a bit and his research, how he approached writing the novel as both a former detective himself and noir author. I found it very interesting. It was almost reading a detective's file on a person of interest.

I found the novel quite satisfying and a good read. I'd recommend reading it in any language. Though I find translations of these 1920's prohibition era noir novels at times frustrating to read, due to what can be overly descriptive language and difficulty in translating the slang of the era. I mean, how many times does Gores have to describe someone's "sparkling eyes with a hint of deviousness hidden in a black pool of depravity" (for example) or the "flivver" parked out back. It can be hard enough deciphering in the original English, let alone in a Catalan translation. Still, I feel like the Hammett novels have been a big help in my Catalan learning.

Thus, my Dashiell Hammett reading in Catalan is over. I had always wanted to start reading him, but now thatI am in my language-learning life, I couldn't justify reading him in my native English as that would take time away from my learning. These are some of the sacrifices language-learners make, and yes, a lot gets lost in translation- a lot of the flavor, and joy in my native language well mastered by a good writer falls by the wayside. Still, I've now read all of Hammet's novels in Catalan, except for one- "The Dain Curse" for which I cannot find a Catalan translation. Well, I can always read it in Spanish or Portuguese... or even English if I want.

There was a thread about whether reading translated novels in TL was a detriment to language-learning. The thread became derailed and the original topic was not fully explored. I can say that in my case in Catalan, it has helped. I find that the stories hold my interest. They have definitely increased my passive vocabulary. I'm able to pick out idioms translated from my own language and how to say those things in Catalan, that I would like to say in English. So in that regard, they are highly useful and not detrimental. Actually, I find reading original literature in Catalan to be easier than the translations... which I'll get to in a moment.

So these translations of noir literature in Catalan (La Cua de Palla, with distinctive yellow and black covers) were an important part of keeping reading in Catalan alive during the Franco dictatorship in Spain.
Noir in Catalan wrote:Starting in Barcelona in 1963 and directed by author and translator Manuel de Pedrolo (1918-1990), La Cua de Palla (meaning The Tail of Straw, i.e the guilty one) is the first series of Crime fiction translated into Catalan. Published by Edicions 62 a publisher whose activity had been launched on Sant Jordi’s day (i.e World Book Day) the previous year, it has proven successful in instrumentalising the mass market appeal of Crime Fiction in order to promote a linguistic agenda. It translated the best and most popular Crime novels published in America, but also in England, in France (with representative authors such as Véry, Kassak, Japrisot, Stewart, and of course Simenon) or elsewhere (such as novels by Swiss author Dürrenmatt). In doing so, it effectively created a thrilling collection of books in Catalan, encouraging reading in that language. Whatever the political content of the books translated ( the series comprises many classical detection novels as well as noir novels) the series had a counter-cultural impact under the Franco Dictatorship, as a defense and an illustration of the Catalan Language.

So, it's not just me who found and finds the series useful. Translations that native-speakers actually read are, indeed, useful, and should be used when wanted or needed with no stigma. Obviously, not used to the exclusion of native literature.

Now, my next (native) Catalan book has just arrived- "Seixanta-vuit" by Ramon Usall-a case tied into the May, 1968 Paris uprising, complete with chapter names reflecting protest placard slogans of the time.


The book was not available as an ebook, so I have the actual printed book to read. I'll be taking notes in a notebook. I was reading that the author plans more books in the series of detective "en Rafel Rovira" in the future. To my knowledge, the book has not been translated. It should be.

Fins aviat, amics!
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Re: The iguana's tale- Portuguese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Ladino

Postby iguanamon » Thu Sep 16, 2021 4:33 pm

Catalan
I am 70% finished with the 356 page novel "Seixanta-vuit". This novel is a bit more of a 'whodunit' than the last Detectiu Rovira novela. Still, it's a good book and holds my interest well. This is important when reading for both pleasure and language-learning.

I learned an interesting phrasing in Catalan for "scapegoat"- "cap de turc". Literally meaning a "Turk's head". A check of the dictionary confirmed my guess.
Gran Diccionari de la Llengua Catalana wrote:Persona a qui hom fa acusacions de les quals no és responsable.
The etymology of this phrase should be interesting.

One of the things I find notable is how I am managing to read this book in hardcopy without referring to a dictionary so easily. My prior reading in Catalan has definitely helped me to get to this point where I can read a native Catalan novel comfortably without a dictionary. All those look-ups, highlighting, review of notes, is paying off. I knew it would, eventually. I still have a long way to go. I don't usually count these things with progress bars or any written record. I know I would be about halfway through the super challenge in reading by now.

I'll save my review of "Seixanta-vuit" for after I finish reading the book. If anyone wants to sample the book. Casa de Libro in Spain has a free pdf sample of the first chapter about 19 pages of which are available for free download.

The book ties in the May, 1968 Paris student uprising as the basis of the mystery. The chapters of the book have titles taken from protest placards of the time:
Ramon Usall wrote:Els qui prenen els seus desitjos per realitats són
els qui creuen en la realitat dels seus desitjos........... 7
Les reserves imposades al plaer exciten el plaer de
viure sense reserves................................................... 35
Sigueu salats, no ensucrats!...................................... 65
La mort és, necessàriament, una contrarevolució.... 93
Un policia dorm en cadascun de nosaltres, cal ma-
tar-lo......................................................................... 127
El deure de tot revolucionari és fer la revolució..... 159
Corre, camarada, el vell món és darrere teu!.......... 189
Estimeu-vos els uns sobre els altres!........................ 217
Descordeu el vostre cervell tan sovint com la vos-
tra bragueta!.............................................................. 247
La imaginació al poder............................................ 277
Somio ser un imbècil feliç....................................... 307
Oblideu tot el que heu après, comenceu a somniar!. 335

The author also has a "banda sonora/sound-track" which ranges from Portuguese fado and Catalan rock to French chanson. All in all, fi i tot, I have chosen well for a native book to read in Catalan.

Spanish
Baseball season is heating up in the Major Leagues of North America. I watch some games (at least every other day) in Spanish and quite enjoy it. In two weeks the playoffs and league championships leading to the World Series (Major League Baseball) championship will take place in late October... and I can watch it all in Spanish.

Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Ladino/Djudeo-espanyol
I maintain contact by reading/watching/listening to something every day. For the beginners out there who dream of being a "polyglot"- know that it's a lot of work and sacrifice to build and then maintain.
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Re: The iguana's tale- Portuguese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Ladino

Postby greatSchism » Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:23 am

iguanamon wrote:Spanish
Baseball season is heating up in the Major Leagues of North America. I watch some games (at least every other day) in Spanish and quite enjoy it. In two weeks the playoffs and league championships leading to the World Series (Major League Baseball) championship will take place in late October... and I can watch it all in Spanish.


This is a brilliant idea. I usually don't watch a lot of baseball games during the regular season. But I like to watch the playoffs. Now I have an excuse to watch more baseball. Have you watched any football games in Spanish?
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Re: The iguana's tale- Portuguese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Ladino

Postby IronMike » Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:27 am

iguanamon wrote:I maintain contact by reading/watching/listening to something every day. For the beginners out there who dream of being a "polyglot"- know that it's a lot of work and sacrifice to build and then maintain.

So true. And understatement of the year. ;)
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Re: The iguana's tale- Portuguese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Ladino

Postby iguanamon » Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:41 am

greatSchism wrote:This is a brilliant idea. I usually don't watch a lot of baseball games during the regular season. But I like to watch the playoffs. Now I have an excuse to watch more baseball. Have you watched any football games in Spanish?

I have the MLBtv app. Most games have a Spanish broadcast available on the app, synced with the video. Plus ESPN Deportes has a game of the week on Sunday night (Eastern Time) in Spanish. I posted some links a few pages back in March/April to a site with baseball vocabulary (and other béisbol sites) in Spanish (and the following post to that one too). I'm sure MLBtv.com has a special low offer now that the regular season is almost over.

Football in Spanish? Here in the Virgin Islands we often get hosed on the NFL app and TV because we are "outside the US". Don't get me started. I follow the New Orleans Saints because my neighbors are Saints fans. If I can't find a stream, I can listen to the New Orleans Saints radio stream in Spanish. SAP doesn't work on my cable provider. Most likely the NFL app will have links to Spanish broadcasts for many teams in major urban areas of the US. There are NBA games in Spanish on ESPN Deportes. I'm not a huge football fan myself- mostly baseball and NCAA basketball (no Spanish).

Yesterday was "El Día de Roberto Clemente" in MLB. Earlier this year I finished the book "Clemente; la pasión y el carisma del último héroe del béisbol' by Dave Maraniss in Spanish, hardcopy- loved it. I also have in hardcopy- "El cerrador" by longtime NYY pitcher Mariano Rivera and "Me dicen Pudge"- by Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez. I'm saving them for winter (relatively speaking here). All can be bought for under $5.00 US apiece (used) on Abebooks or Amazon. Mine were/are in great condition. With over a third of MLB players being Hispanic (and the game being very popular in Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, the Spanish-peaking Caribbean), baseball in Spanish is a natural.
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Re: The iguana's tale- Portuguese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Ladino

Postby SCMT » Fri Sep 17, 2021 10:59 pm

iguanamon wrote:.

Football in Spanish? Here in the Virgin Islands we often get hosed on the NFL app and TV because we are "outside the US". Don't get me started.


My favorite protest of all time:

https://www.tennessean.com/story/life/2 ... /12036543/

This guy, who I met just before the pudding strike, is now a political and sports commentator and probably the largest syndicated radio host in the USA. Who knew?
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Re: The iguana's tale- Portuguese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Ladino

Postby iguanamon » Fri Sep 17, 2021 11:36 pm

It's not that way now... and I'm not that much into the NFL to eat nothing but pudding. Still, nice story!
Last edited by iguanamon on Sat Sep 18, 2021 12:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The iguana's tale- Portuguese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Ladino

Postby greatSchism » Sat Sep 18, 2021 12:07 am

iguanamon wrote:I have the MLBtv app. Most games have a Spanish broadcast available on the app, synced with the video. Plus ESPN Deportes has a game of the week on Sunday night (Eastern Time) in Spanish. I posted some links a few pages back in March/April to a site with baseball vocabulary (and other béisbol sites) in Spanish (and the following post to that one too). I'm sure MLBtv.com has a special low offer now that the regular season is almost over.


At one time I had a subscription to MLB TV but, now that I have Hulu I can watch the Philadelphia Phillies games. Thanks for sharing a link with the "baseball vocabulary."

iguanamon wrote:Football in Spanish? Here in the Virgin Islands we often get hosed on the NFL app and TV because we are "outside the US". Don't get me started. I follow the New Orleans Saints because my neighbors are Saints fans. If I can't find a stream, I can listen to the New Orleans Saints radio stream in Spanish. SAP doesn't work on my cable provider. Most likely the NFL app will have links to Spanish broadcasts for many teams in major urban areas of the US. There are NBA games in Spanish on ESPN Deportes. I'm not a huge football fan myself- mostly baseball and NCAA basketball (no Spanish).



iguanamon wrote:Yesterday was "El Día de Roberto Clemente" in MLB. Earlier this year I finished the book "Clemente; la pasión y el carisma del último héroe del béisbol' by Dave Maraniss in Spanish, hardcopy- loved it. I also have in hardcopy- "El cerrador" by longtime NYY pitcher Mariano Rivera and "Me dicen Pudge"- by Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez. I'm saving them for winter (relatively speaking here). All can be bought for under $5.00 US apiece (used) on Abebooks or Amazon. Mine were/are in great condition. With over a third of MLB players being Hispanic (and the game being very popular in Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, the Spanish-peaking Caribbean), baseball in Spanish is a natural.


I am going to see if I can find a used copy of "Clemente; la pasión y el carisma del último héroe del béisbo." I like reading biographies in general, and for the most part, sports biographies are usually written on an accessible level for the average reader. So, they may be closer to my level once I learn the baseball terminology. I'm sure "El cerrador" by longtime NYY pitcher Mariano Rivera and "Me dicen Pudge"- by Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez will be fun to read since they were both great players.
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