TM2: Lili Atala

A Mexican Translation of Aristophanes: Sociolect Used for Comedic Effect

Lili Atala

University of Ottawa

Abstract: For a long time, the Spanish language publishing industry has espoused the concept of a global or neutral Spanish, hand in hand with ideologies such as the unity of the Spanish language, Hispanism, and Panhispanism. The concept remains prevalent, even though it has been contested and criticized for privileging a version of Spanish that is mostly Eurocentric. Against this background, I present the case of a translation that falls out of this norm: the Mexican translation of Aristophanes’ comedies published in the Book Series Sepan Cuantos in 1967.  The translator, Ángel María Garibay, a priest and an academic who is famous for translating Nahuatl literature into Spanish, offers a translation that exhibits an unprecedented inclusion of Mexican idioms and of borrowings from Nahuatl. This is rare even within Mexican translation history, where translators often prefer to avoid localisms. As a prominent translator and advocate of Nahuatl culture, Garibay’s use of this resource could be perceived prima facie as a way to legitimize Mexican linguistic identity through translation. A closer look at his work shows that his choice of a particular Mexican sociolect, employed to give voice exclusively to servants and lower rank characters in the comedies, is instead primarily a device to exaggerate the comedic effects of Aristophanes’ plays.

Keywords: Global Spanish, panhispanism, Mexican Spanish, sociolect in translation, theatre translation.

Bio: Lili Atala is a fourth year PhD student in Translation Studies at the University of Ottawa with a background in Hispanic Literature. Has worked on the assimilation of French Symbolism in Mexican literature at the end of the 19th century as observed in the periodicals Revista Azul (1894-1896) and Revista Moderna. Arte y Ciencia (1898-1901) and on the role of specific translators in this process. Her current work revolves around translation in 20th century Latin American book series.