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Translating Is Easy If… Creating & Translating a Leaflet (II)

Here comes part number II of Creating & Translating a Leaflet. On the first release, I dealt with the creation and translation of a leaflet/brochure and provided some important tips you may want to consider when producing a marketing tool like this. If your intention is that your advertising piece attracts and engages readers, then language is key. Language used wisely is powerful.

Part II deals with five not-recommended uses of Spanish found on the leaflet I took in St. Petersburg and a summary for both parts of the post. Plus music and pics as promised 🙂

Music for Reading

While you read this entry, I invite you to listen to Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 1, by Dmitri Shostakovich. According to its Wikipedia page, it’s commonly known as Jazz Suite No. 1. It was composed in 1934 and has three movements: waltz, polka and foxtrot.

Five (Very) Not-Recommended Uses of Spanish

1. An All-Inclusive Point One: Sentences that Could Be Improved (Some, Desperately Need to Be)

  1. Guerra contra Napoleon > Guerra contra Napoleón
  2. fue trasladado a la cathedral > fue trasladado a la catedral
  3. Jinete de Bronce quarda la ciudad > Jinete de Bronce cuida la ciudad
  4. la alto mando > el alto mando
  5. donde el misterioso Grigori Rasputín fue matado > donde el misterioso Grigori Rasputín fue asesinado
  6. es el museo más grande privado de arte contemporáneo en Rusia > es el museo de arte contemporáneo privado más grande de Rusia
  7. transformaciónes políticas > transformaciones políticas; though I would rather say “movimientos” 

2. No Comma between Subject and Verb

In Spanish, it’s incorrect to write a comma between the subject and the verb of the sentence, even if the predicate includes various verbs separated by commas. For example, *Simona y Pedro, salieron de la casa, se subieron al auto y recorrieron el camino a toda velocidad. This sentence is incorrect if a comma is placed between Pedro and salieron. Sometimes, when the subject is long, we make a pause orally, but this pause should not be marked in the written form. For instance, Los viajeros que no se presenten en la plaza principal a la hora indicada || no podrán hacer el viaje a IruyaAs mentioned before, a comma between la hora indicada and no podrán hacer is not recommended and would be incorrect. Therefore, on the sentence appearing in the leaflet “El museo de artes plásticas, fue inaugurado en 1895 por Nicolás II,” the comma before fue inaugurado is incorrect.

There are two exceptions to this rule. We do use a comma between the subject and the verb a) when the subject is an enumeration that ends with etcétera (etc.) and b) when after the subject there’s an element that needs to be separated by commas from the rest of the sentence. For example, a) El director, los actores, los técnicos, etc., esperaban a la protagonista para comenzar a grabar; b) Argentina, el país donde nací, está en América del Sur.

Also, a comma is used to separate the subject from its verbal complements when the verb has been omitted because it’s been mentioned before or because it’s understood from the context. For instance, Uno de sus perros es un labrador; el otro, un pequinés. Another example: Todos los que llegaron tarde, por la puerta de atrás.

3. Days of the Week, and Names of Months and Seasons

According to the Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas (DPD), the days of the week, and the names of months and seasons should not be capitalised in Spanish. To illustrate, Este viernes saldremos de paseo y remontaremos un barrilete; Este año, el día de mi cumpleaños será un domingo. However, if such nouns are part of historic dates, national holidays or proper nouns, they should be capitalised. For instance, Primero de Mayo, Doce de Octubre, Viernes Santo y Avenida 9 de Julio. Consequently, on the leaflet, instead of saying “Cerrado: el Jueves, el último viernes del mes” it should say jueves, without the use of the capital letter at the beginning. And also, in this case, there was inconsistency in the use of capitalisation from the very beginning: Jueves and viernes.

4. The Gerund 😀

I’ve already posted about the gerund on this Blog: The Gerund (I) and The Gerund (II). Therefore, I won’t expand that much this time, and I’ll only mention the not-recommended use. Instead of saying *“las Columnas Rostrales de 32 metros de altura que en la época del puerto servían de faros señalando la entrada de los barcos, …” it would be better to say “las Columnas Rostrales de 32 metros de altura, las cuales en la época del puerto servían de faros que señalaban la entrada de los barcos, …” Using the gerund with adjectival function represents an incorrect use in Spanish and is considered an anglicism. That’s why señalando should not be used to modify the noun faros.

5. Use of Pronouns: le

Le(s) is one of the weak personal pronouns or clitics: me, te, se, nos, os, lo(s) and la(s). Since they are weak forms that require a verbal host, they should appear immediately before or immediately after the verb. When they appear before the verb, they are called “proclitic” (proclíticos) and should be written as independent words. For example, Se lo dio al guardia y corrió. If they appear after the verb, they should be attached to it. For instance, Dámelo. In its negative form No me lo des, the order changes.

The use of clitics before or after verbs follows certain rules. In this case, I’ll mention the rule related to the inappropriate use I found on the leaflet, which makes the sentence sound weird. According to DPD, clitics should be used before the simple forms of the indicative. For example, Se lo dijo sin pelos en la lengua: “Te engañé.” Hence, in the sentence “Fue construida en el lugar donde se realizó el atentado que costó la vida al emperador Alejandro II (el 1 de marzo de 1881)”,  le is required before costó. In fact, the whole sentence can be improved to favour readability: Fue construida en el lugar donde se realizó tuvo lugar/ocurrió el atentado que le costó la vida al emperador Alejandro II (el 1.º de marzo de 1881).

Summing Up 

  • Readability: When it comes to leaflets, apart from the relevant information, attractive images, strategic use of space, etc., an appropriate and effective use of language will attract more prospects and will make a huge difference on readers. And it can avoid confusion! The translated version of any copy, if it’s meant to have the same effects, requires and deserves the same care. If the reader has to make an effort to understand/follow what’s written, they’ll most probably lose interest and stop reading.
  • Process of Translation: We all make mistakes and four eyes see more than two. That’s why the whole process of translation usually involves translation, editing, proofreading and final revision. A leaflet so widely distributed like the one in question should have gone through the whole process. No, translating is not easy.
  • Honour Languages: Of course we’re all free and can use language in any way we want. However, there are certain contexts, tourist information points being one of them, which require more effort and consideration from our part. The producers of this leaflet could have been more careful, and create and distribute copies that honour all languages, in this case, Spanish.

A Promise Is a Promise

Some more pics from the trip 🙂

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Thank you for being here another time! I hope you’ve enjoyed both parts of the post. Above all, I hope I was able to help you! So don’t hesitate to leave comments or queries. I’ll be happy to read and answer them.

References & Further Readings

Uso de la coma en español

Mayúscula o minúscula en los meses, los días de la semana y las estaciones del año

Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 1 (Shostakovich)

Published by Victoria Principi

Victoria Principi

Victoria Principi is a National Public Translator of English who graduated from the National University of Córdoba in Argentina. She translates, localises and reviews texts between English and Spanish, specialising in marketing and business, information and communications technology, and social sciences and humanities. She is a member of IAPTI and has been working as an independent translator since 2012. Currently, she is based in Lucca, Italy, and helps translation agencies and end clients who need to reach a Spanish-speaking audience. She is the creator of this website and the author of the blog.

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