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Thread: Is this ambiguous or is it just me?

 
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    Default Is this ambiguous or is it just me?

    Hi! I'm brushing up on my pretty-long-ago-acquired Spanish by reading books by Spanish authors and then checking the English versions of those books. Below is a sentence where I have doubts about the translation as it appears in the English version of the book, focused on the word "apuntar", whose meaning I checked in multiple dictionaries. The sentence in question is:

    -Cuando es blanca y viene embotellada, suele tratarse de leche -respondió por fin, críptico, mas no tanto como para que el juez no apuntara una sonrisa.


    There seems to be two possible translations. One is:" When it's white and comes in a bottle, it tends to be milk", he responded at last, cryptically, but not so much so that the judge didn't note a smile.

    So, in this translation the person who makes the cryptic remark about the milk is the smiler.

    But here's another interpretation: "“If it’s white and in a bottle, it tends to be milk,”he answered, cryptically, at last, but not so cryptically that the judge didn’t smile slightly.

    So the second has the judge doing the smiling, if you interpret "apuntar" as meaning "suggests" or "hints at" which is included among the meanings in the dictionary,

    But I'm very unsure of this and would like the guidance of people far more fluent than I: who's doing the smiling, the cryptic one or the judge?

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    Default Re: Is this ambiguous or is it just me?

    Hola! el castellano es mi lengua materna y a mí lo de 'apuntara una sonrisa' me suena muy forzado, parece que fuera una traducción al español y no la versión original, en cuanto a cómo interpretarlo me parece que el juez fue el que sonrío xque logró entender pese a lo críptico del comentario.

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    Default Re: Is this ambiguous or is it just me?

    Hi cheuchita, si quieres que te traduzca el siguiente párrafo, sólo tienes que preguntarme:



    Thank you very much for your response. It's interesting that you would say that you felt the sentence was forced, as if someone had made a not-very-good translation into Spanish from another language. Actually, this is from El Club Dumas, written originally in Spanish, and by someone who is supposed to be a good writer. But could you try to explain exactly why you felt that it was 'forzado'? This actually is very important to me, because we're having a fiery dispute about it.



    If you're most comfortable writing in Spanish, that's fine with me.

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    Default Re: Is this ambiguous or is it just me?

    soy argentina quizás por eso me resulta extraño lo de apuntara una sonrisa, no me parece un verbo que combine con sonrisa, al menos no en mi variedad de castellano, tal vez en español esté bien

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    Default Re: Is this ambiguous or is it just me?

    Thank you very much for your explanation, cheuchita. The people who have been arguing for the interpretation that says it is the judge who is smiling explain it this way: One of the uses of 'apuntar' is to mean 'suggest' or 'to hint at'. So what is being said (in their opinion) is “the judge gave just the hint of a smile” or “the judge had the suggestion of a smile on his lips”.



    May I ask you another question, if it's not too much trouble?


    You explained that you thought that the judge was the one who smiled, (that despite the words of the other man being cryptic, the judge had understood enough to be amused). But what I want to know is this: do you feel the ONLY possible interpretation is that the judge is the one who smiled, or do you feel it's possible to translate 'apuntar' in this context to mean 'make a mental note of', or 'notice'. I know that 'apuntar' can mean 'to write down' or 'make a (physical) note of', but can it also be used figuratively, to 'make a note of, but only in your mind'? Or is that use completely forbidden, totally out of the question?

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    Default Re: Is this ambiguous or is it just me?

    sí se podría usar apuntar figurativamente para referirse a tomar una nota mental y a mí me sigue pareciendo como a vos bastante ambiguo lo del juez, habría que ver el resto de la historia para entender mejor. Cualquier cosa siempre entro a ver qué hay de nuevo, hasta pronto

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    Default Re: Is this ambiguous or is it just me?

    "Apuntar" no es ambiguo en el original. Es un verbo de tenor poético que exige un procesamiento ad hoc de un concepto léxico; la traducción, por tanto, debería conllevar el mismo esfuerzo de procesamiento. No creo que "note" sea el verbo más indicado en este caso, pues como bien señalás, implica una ambigüedad innecesaria (quien sonríe es el "judge"). Aventuro alguna posible opción: "sketch a smile". Saludos.

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    Default Re: Is this ambiguous or is it just me?

    Cheuchita, actually this quote comes from a highly-praised mystery novel by a famous author, and my reasons for believing so strongly that it is the other man who is smiling is due to a very complicated line of deductive reasoning that would take a few hundred words to explain. Cheuchita, when I was a child I read many of the classic mystery novels from the really old days (the 1930s, the pinnacle of the classic mystery)—I would buy them for a quarter in used book stores in New York, and hope that they wouldn't crumble into dust before I got home—the paper was that fragile! These classic mysteries had unbelievably intricate plots but if the reader was observant enough, and thoughtful enough (and smart enough, let's not forget that!), he would be able to figure things out, and perhaps 'catch' the murderer before the famous detective did. So I got into the habit, whenever reading a mystery novel, of carefully observing and analyzing every word and extracting every possible inference. In doing that very thing while reading the book the quote is from, I came to the inescapable conclusion that it had to be the other man who's smiling, not the judge. But the alternative is that the writer of this mystery is just not remotely on a par with the classic writers, and he simply made a stupid mistake—and he really did mean to have the judge smile, not realizing that it would create all sorts of contradictions in the scene. That's certainly possible because many mysteries I've read, including by some of the most famous authors, contain exactly that sort of mistake. That's why, now that I've read all the classics, I seldom read mysteries—I'm almost always bitterly disappointed, even disgusted.

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    Default Re: Is this ambiguous or is it just me?

    decididamente ahora me diste ganas de leer el libro, en este momento estoy haciendo una traduccion para global voices, un diario online con el que colabora y es para mañana así que me tengo que ir, un placer 'charlar' con vos, y seguí leyendo aunque no sean novelas de misterio

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    Default Re: Is this ambiguous or is it just me?

    It´s actually pretty funny because I'm from Mexico and in several times I've been in the same place as you while I'm reading a book. I believe it's a common mistake, although it isn't a big deal. The verb 'apuntar' means by definition pointing to something or someone. In the text, it means 'enseñar', like showing a smile.
    So the transcription might go like this: "When it's white and comes in a bottle, it tends to be milk", he responded at last, cryptically, but not that cryptic so the judge wouldn´t smile"
    The judge is smiling

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