Um canadense interessado no assunto me pediu uma opinião sobre a tradução para o inglês de Grande Sertão: Veredas. Eu não quis explicar em termos gerais; achei que era melhor simplesmente tomar um trecho da tradução e fazer uma avaliação detalhada. Escolhi o óbvio, a abertura do livro.
A abertura do livro no original:
Nonada. Tiros que o senhor ouviu foram de briga de homem não, Deus esteja. Alvejei mira em árvore, no quintal, no baixo do córrego. Por meu acerto. Todo dia isso faço, gosto; desde mal em minha mocidade.
A tradução para o inglês:
It’s nothing. The shots you heard were not men fighting. God be praised. It was just me there in the back yard, target shooting down by the creek, to keep in practice. I do it because I enjoy it; have ever since I was a boy.
Os comentários [estão em inglês porque eu não ganho dinheiro escrevendo blogue, mas acho que dá para entender]:
1. Nonada is old Portuguese; it means trifles. The translator explains the term in standard English instead of looking for some equivalent.
2. The second sentence is non-standard Portuguese again, this time taken from the vernacular in Minas Gerais [literally something like “shots you hear were from men-fighting not” but part of the local vernacular]. The sentence ends with a “Deus esteja”, one of typical ellipsis that are either created by GR or adapted from spoken language or both. It means literally “God be”. The “praised” is only implied, and it could be “with us” or something else as well. An example from everyday language: in Minas Gerais the famous catholic interjection “Nossa Senhora!” [Our Lady, i.e. Virgin Mary] is turned into only “Nó!” [literally also “knot”]. The translation again fills in the blanks, smoothes what is odd and unusual, turns the sentence into standard everyday English.
3. “alvejei mira em árvore” is local vernacular – odd sounding to urban Brazilian from other parts of the country – the whole sentence means more or less “I was target-shooting on a tree, in the yard, at the bottom, on the creek.” The punctuation and syntax articulation of GR’s sentences are alternately or even simultaneously derived from poetry and from oral non-standard Portuguese.
4. “Por meu acerto” was incorporated into the last sentence in the English version. It is again unusual Portuguese. Literally it means “By my account”, also “By my right” also “To get it right”, and perhaps even “To get me right.” There is a difference between what the narrator means and how he says what he means. This gap the translation invariably erases, opting usually for spelling out what the narrator means in “plain English”.
5. I’d translate the last sentence in this opening as “Every day I do it, I like it; since I was barely into my young age”. I am doing it to get as close as possible to the feel I get it when I read it in my own language. This language is understandable with an effort on my part, it is from time to time even recognizable as bearing traces of the vernacular I speak, but it is a kind of “new language”, unique.
Meus alunos começam hoje a ler The Devil to Pay in the Backlands...