My name is Adam Hickey and I am a final year student here in University College Cork studying Economics and Spanish as part of my Joint Honours BA degree. When choosing my modules, this module (Translating Business, Culture and Society in the Hispanic World) caught my eye initially because I hoped it would advance my skills in translation (which it did) and get a better understanding of the goings on in Hispanic Business, Culture, and Society either in the present day or past. This module has opened my mind to a whole new world of translation. I now know that translation is not just changing an article, text, book, interview etc. from one language to another. You have to consider many things; who you are translating for, for what purpose, you have to keep social and political contexts situations in mind and how your translation might affect others, find out if the text etc. is biased or not and many more things.
Before choosing ETA, I considered translating texts in many other topics that were of interest to me – Los Toros, Franco, La situacion en Catalunya, Los Ultras Sur de Real Madrid y El festival de Las Fallas en Valencia. But I soon remembered that Spain, the Basque Country, and Ireland have endured similar tragic times as a result of nationalist, separatist or as some may say, terrorist groups – The IRA in Ireland and ETA en el Pais Vasco en Espana. Furthermore, I asked my classmates, housemates, and friends if they had ever heard of ETA to which I got a resounding ‘no’ followed by ‘what is that’. As you can imagine, my reaction was along the lines of ‘Oh Lord’. To be fair we were only born when times were at their toughest, but some of these people have been on Erasmus in Spain or are history Gurus, yet they still haven’t heard of ETA, its significance and the effect they had on Spain and the trauma caused Spanish people over a significant period of time. A sense of relief came over me when I asked my parents about the group and they started rattling off knowledge about them embedded in their brains.
While teaching in Spain last year, my interest deepened regarding this topic after being told stories from the people I worked with (who have endured these tough times at first hand) and the family I lived with. As well as that, the group would come up often enough in the news – about raids and arrests the police made etc, and the disarmament of the group that happened while I was there.
ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) meaning Basque homeland and liberty in the Basque language, were a formerly armed left-winged Basque nationalist and separatist organization. They formed in 1959 and evolved from a minority group who promoted the Basque culture to a paramilitary group who engaged in a violent campaign of bombings, assassinations and kidnappings in the Basque country and throughout Spain. From the year 1968 to 2010 (when it announced ceasefire) they killed 820 people, injured thousands more and kidnapped dozens. Many countries and organizations classify them as a terrorist group like the UK, US, France, Spain and the European Union. There are c. 300 prisoners of the group in jails across Spain, France, and other countries. Their motto, which can be seen above, “Bietan Jarrai” means “keep up both” refers to the 2 figures in the group’s symbol. The snake represents politics and the axe symbolizes armed struggle. Even though they announced many ceasefires over the years, 2010 was the most formal and is still in place today. The group saw its disarmament only this year (the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons). In this day ETA has political figures in government like Arnaldo Otegi, the general secretary of the pro-independence group Sortu who spent 6 years in prison for being a leader of ETA and trying to rebuild the illegal Batasuna party which was taken away by the law many years ago.
They also had the support of Gerry Adams. Both the IRA and ETA had very similar views as regards pro-independence. They recognized each other and believed both could achieve what they really wanted. However, both used violence as well and killed many people and both have left a significant mark on the people of their countries.
My aim of this project was at first to generally inform university students and those oblivious about ETA and their significance in Spanish society. However, my mind changed after coming across this particular article from El Pais (see below), which captures the views of former members of ETA who have been to prison for many years for their actions and involvements with the group. I decided to put a brief background about the group in this project (see above) and if people are interested and want to delve deeper into more information, they can feel free to do some research or get in contact with me.
The difficulties began from the get-go. It took me weeks to find the right article even after the module lecturers Dr. Helena Buffery and Pedro Fernandez suggested and sent me material, I still wasn’t quite happy. Some texts I liked were already translated, some texts didn’t quite stand out to me or grab my interest, others were biased and quite controversial. I needed to find a text that genuinely interested me so I could put 100% effort into it. I came across the article on the 24th of October and got instant approval from Helena.
The first draft is all well and good; you translate words and verbs using your own knowledge and websites like spanishdict, wordreference and linguee. I even have the advantage of living with a Spaniard but I couldn’t count on him to help me all the time as he has a course of his own to do. A translation is not just understanding a word in a sentence. As Christine Nord says, we have to consider pragmatic, inter-lingual, inter-cultural and text-specific problems. This is where a whole new level of difficulty comes into play. I had to work out the deeper meaning behind the direct translation, restructure sentences so the word order is correct while still making sense and the flow was natural and proper. The use of the reflexive ‘se’ also caused some hassle for me. As I was translating incorrectly to what the article or person was saying in the original language. I did ask my roommate to take a look, and he highlighted that one difficulty for non-native Spanish people is getting used to and translating the reflexive and how it can change the entire meaning of a phrase or sentence. Grasping the feelings behind the words of these people was also quite hard but it refers back to the problems specified by Nord mentioned above.
Furthermore, Spanish verbs, in general, can have many different meanings and finding out the right one took time but when you realize what is being said the feeling of achievement is quite satisfactory.