Thursday, June 15, 2006

Duelos y Quebrantos

I posted late last night, I've got a mountain of work to do today, then I have to take my boy for a haircut and a swimming lesson before we mosey along to the ColourHouse for the football and a Trinidanian barbeque.

As I'm in a hurry I thought I would tell the world what I had for breakfast - 'duelos y quebrantos' from Elizabeth Luard's invaluable "Saffron and Sunshine". It's really just fried chorizo, ham and garlic scrambled into eggs, but I was drawn to it by her melodramatic assertion that:

The name literally means "wounds and suffering", perhaps because the pink of the ham and the scarlet juices from the paprika sausage which "bleed" into the eggs.

Googling it this morning I was delighted to find a reference that told me it was:

Mentioned by Cervantes in the opening lines of Don Quixote de la Mancha, 'duelos y quebrantos on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays' it is usually translated into English as 'hash,' losing the charm of the Spanish, which literally means 'sorrow and sadness'.

"Wounds and suffering" or "sorrow and sadness"? Both sound a touch melancholy for the "most important meal of the day", though "hash" I discard with nary a backward glance.

Google Language Tools, my favourite obfuscator, render it as "Duels and Breaks". All are good but which is right, or does it just illustrate the hazards of translation?

Aesthetically I prefer "wounds and suffering", but that probably says more about me than linguistic rectitude. Go figure.

All of which reminds me of reading the preface to a Harlan Ellison book years ago where he translated the British English "I'm all right Jack" into the American English "screw you baby I got mine".

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