A Review of the Castilian Translation of the Hobbit,
This review is from: EL HOBBIT (Paperback)
The Hobbit is not the easiest work to translate, and Manuel Figueroa has, for the most part, succeeded admirably. Both prose and verse have been translated in a clear, easy-to-read way, and the text is true to the original. A welcome attempt has been made to put across Tolkien's at-times-somewhat-old-fashioned style of writing by using antique Castilian words and phrases, such as the old pronoun "vos" to show formal speech, as in Bilbo's initial conversation with Gandalf, and the phrase "vuestra merced" instead of "usted". I particularly liked the old-fashioned use of an accent over "fue" on the map at the start of the book. (I cannot seem to type accents on Amazon).
Figueroa's attempt to translate proper nouns by looking at their literal meanings or etymologies is less successful. For example, Thorin Oakenshield becomes Thorin "Escudo de Roble", which is cumbersome; Mirkwood becomes "El Bosque Negro", which is simplistic; and Took becomes "Tuk" - presumably to aid pronunciation. This serves to detract from the character of the original in a way that Tolkien intensely disliked; he took issue with a Dutch translation for just this sort of thing (The Letters of JRR Tolkien p. 249-51), and it would have been better to leave the place names and names of people intact.
Moreover, the translator mistakenly translates Baggins as "Bolson", treating it as a diminutive of the English word "bag", which it is not. In fact it was derived from the Old English word "baeg" meaning ring - a reference to the ring in the story. This argues for a lack of familiarity with the cultural background of the work on the part of the translator.
Nonetheless, Manuel Figueroa's translation is serviceable and generally well executed. It should prove useful to a Castilian speaker interested in reading the story, or an English-speaking student who wants to practise their language skills by reading a familiar book in another language.