Friday, April 7, 2017

San Viche Was Not A Saint, The Dangers Of Literal Translations

Reminds me of an article in the old La Herencia Magazine , a few years back they had a column there dealing with "Spanglish" and translated the old Spanish New Mexican saying "tu no saves que tantos trabajos he pasado" to "you don't know how many works I have passed". While literally I find nothing to disagree with the translation, it is way off the mark and way too funny.

My grand mother, who could speak no English, used to use the term "san viche" as an "epithet" or derogatory term, but in reality I think that was the extent of her knowledge of the real English (S.O.B.) term or what it really meant. But she was well aware that it was not a term designating a nice person or a saint.

There were so many ways to misunderstand and some of them were funny, there was always someone we knew who said something stupid because they could not "translate" and the process of learning English was difficult. I personally remember asking to "borrow the restroom" and some guy telling me that "sure you can borrow it, just make sure to bring it back." He thought it was funny and it took me months to figure it out why he did so.

Another friend of mine translated "esta caindo agua" to "it is falling water" when it was raining.

I remember a friend, Manuel Lucero, getting stopped in Pueblo, Colorado by the police and being asked for his drivers licence. He told the officer to "forget it" meaning that he had forgotten it. He was asked several times and he told them to "forget it" several times. It got him a trip to the station for some concocted offence. And in the early 1960's you did not want to get stopped by the police in Pueblo if you were a Mexican.

There were many and sometimes it caused me to remain quiet when I had something to say but was afraid I did not know how to say it.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Family Lore, Oral Family History And Genealogy

It is almost worthless for genealogical purposes. There is too much embellishment by individuals who want to aggrandize one individual or another. The lure of wanting to be in the same group as one hero or another is too great to take oral histories into account as true history. It does have a way of working itself into it, but it decreases the value of the history. The truth is sometimes, no, not sometimes, almost always hard to live with.

Mediocre or nondescript lives do not make good for family histories. It is easy to add to, to embellish. It is almost too easy as other relatives chime in, also wishing to be in the glow of a heroic ancestor. it is equally easy to ignore faults, regardless of their magnitude.

It reminds me of obituaries.... They are interesting reading but not very accurate historical narratives of those being memorialized. They all went to heaven, all were taken by their lord, are now in the arms of other relatives and tip toeing through the proverbial tulips in heaven with their deity whom they served in a wonderful manner while on earth.

Here is previous post on this:

You hardly ever hear anyone speaking bad of a departed relative... The Latin phrase "De mortuis nihil nisi bonum", it is best not to speak ill of the dead, seems to apply at these events. It seems no one wants to hear anything bad once a person dies, no matter what he or she actually was.

A personal story is appropriate here. In my youth, Don Ramon Roybal from Las Colonias, New Mexico was a great speaker, he was always called on to say a few words on behalf of the mourners at funerals. I recall a story that he once blamed the drunken habits of the husband and son for the untimely death of the mother and wife who lay in the coffin. Supposedly he said it in such a way that the true meaning came out only after discussions on the eulogy took place over a period of days.

There was an amusing article from a funeral up in Rio Arriba County where the priest supposedly indicated or insinuated that there was no way that the deceased was on his way to visit with St. Peter. No way the deceased would ever even see, much less approach, the pearly gates. The priest actually got sued and requested to retract his statement and apologize to the family.

By the same token, there are some extremely beautiful rememberances of some truely great people. The one below brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.