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Negotiating the FrontierTranslators and Intercultures in Hispanic HistoryAnthony PymS T JEROMEP U B L I S H I N G

Contents & ArgumentsAcknowledgementsIntroductionTranslators, Intercultures, and Hispanic Frontier Societyxi1If we want to know how cultures interrelate, it is worth looking closely at whothe intermediaries are and how they work in intercultures (overlaps of cultures, defined by criteria of professionalism and 'secondness'). The frontiersociety of the Hispanic reconquista contained certain kinds of interculturalgroups, the development of which can be traced through later history. Thework of such groups can be analyzed in terms of the ways cultural frontiers areagreed upon, and the modes of agreement can be approached through neoclassical negotiation theory and the general concept of regimes.1. The Abbot's Gold13In 1142 the abbot of Cluny visited Hispania and sponsored a Latin translationof the Qur'an. This set the scene for later translation activities in Toledo. Formulated on the frontier between Christian and Islamic Europe, the translationproject was justified in terms of providing information for a future disputationthat would save souls from the 'heresy' of Islam. However, in calling for opendebate on the basis of translation, the abbot risked exposing the sacred texts ofChristianity to the same examination. In effect this meant siding with the mainintercultural writers working on the project, who were more interested in science than religion. The actual translator of the Qur'an thus did a shoddy job,for which he was happy enough to take the abbot's gold. The culture of generalized disputation, which would eventually undo the authority of the church,was then used to remarkably little avail against Islam.2. Toledo and All ThatDespite all the talk about a twelfth-century School of Translators in Toledo,the scientific translating that took place there remains a poorly understoodphenomenon. Attention to its political dimension suggests that it should notbe attached to the state-subsidized work carried out under Alfonso X after1250 but is better explained in terms of Cluniac sponsorship of the first Latintranslation of the Qur'an in 1142. This approach reveals grounds for potentialconflict between the foreign scientific translators and the Toledo cathedral.Such conflict would nevertheless have been smoothed over by certain translation principles serving both scientific and religious interests. The foremost ofthese principles were literalism, secondary elaboration, the use of teamwork,34

Negotiating the Frontierthe inferiorization of non-Latinist intermediaries, the justification of conquest,and the accordance of authority to non-Christian texts. Thanks to this sharedregime, the church helped scientific translations to enter Latin.3. The Price of Alfonso's Learning56The mainly protoscientific translations carried out after 1250 for Alfonso X ofCastile are among the reasons why the king has been dubbed 'the Learned'.The translations were from Arabic into Castilian, although further translationswere made from Castilian into Latin and French. Some historians have wilfully attached these court-organized activities to the properly twelfth-centurytranslations carried out into Latin for the Toledo cathedral, as if there had beena merely logical transition from church to court. It can be argued, however,that the Alphonsine translations resulted from a nation-building language policythat opposed church power by avoiding the use of Latin for translations fromArabic. Coupled to this was a specific extranslation policy designed to win theking international prestige by translating from Castilian target texts and usingLatin when required. These two aspects of the general policy corresponded totwo teams of professional intercultural mediators, comprising mainly Jews forthe work into Castilian and Italians for translations from Castilian. The policy,and its economic results, can be compared with similarly nationalist languagepolicies operative in Europe today.4. The Importance of Paper80Since the introduction of paper-making coincided with the translation teamsof both ninth-century Baghdad and thirteenth-century Castile, one might legitimately speculate on the consequences this material technology might havehad for medieval translation processes. Attention to the translations commissioned by Alfonso X from 1250 suggests that the use of paper would haveallowed intermediary versions to be written out in full and corrected, thus promoting increased bureaucratization and state control of translation activities.Comparison with print culture also suggests that the initial use of paper extended rather than opposed oral-based translation processes, challenging theideal of the definitive target text in much the same way as computer-basednetworking is doing today.5. A Christian's Rabbinic BibleIn the early fifteenth century the Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava commissioned rabbi Mose Arragel to translate the Old Testament into Castilianand to provide numerous rabbinical glosses, to which Christian glosses wereadded. The result, known as the Biblia de Alba, is an apparently hybrid document based on a complex negotiation of cultural and religious boundaries.From the rabbi's explicit documentation of the negotiation and drafting processes, it is possible to formalize the principles used for the writing of the90

Contents & Argumentsviiglosses and, on the basis of selected passages, for the actual translation itself,where key terms are invested with double meanings. The result is a frontierwhere a profoundly Rabbinic bible was effectively concealed beneath a Christianized surface.6. From traslad- to traduc-109In the course of the fifteenth century the Spanish names for translation changedfrom the morpholpgy of traslad- (trasladador; trasladacion, etc.) to variousforms of traduc- (traductor, traduccion, etc.). This transition would seem tohave occurred between the time of the Biblia de Alba and 1455, when PeroDiaz de Toledo produced the first vernacular translation of Plato. The reasonsfor the change can be associated with the Italian Leonardo Bruni, who notonly provided the Latin Plato that the Castilian translator worked from, butwas also engaged in a well-known debate with Alonso Cartagena about thenature of translation. It is thus in terms of the cultural relations between Castile and Italian humanism that the change in the names for translation is to beunderstood. Although many of the conditions that informed Italian humanismdid not obtain in Castile and the values of newness and cross-cultural prestigeeffectively covered over those differences, Spanish thought underwent significant sea-changes with respect to the medieval hierarchy of languages andthe use of translation from Latin to develop the vernacular.Entr'acte: Imaginary Ships132On 3 August 1492 Columbus left Spain in search of the New World. Theprevious day, ten ships set out from Barcelona carrying expelled Jews to arather different kind of cultural expansion. In both cases, the frontier that haddefined medieval Hispania moved outward, and various intercultures were displaced accordingly.7. The Language of EmpireThe colonial expansion of Castilian was by no means automatic. It followedsignificant standardization of the language and its expansion within Spain inthe late fifteenth century. More important, it was only one of a number ofpossible solutions to the problems of colonial domination. The use of interpreters in the initial voyages of conquest gave way to the presence of missionaries,who actively learnt and described some of the Amerindian tongues. The considerable debate over the status of these languages can partly be understood interms of the medieval hierarchy of languages, although what was at stake wasmore particularly the standardization of languages like Nahuatl. Attempts todevelop intercultural groups using standardized Amerindian languages wereassociated with the use of translation, but the various groups of active and134

viiiNegotiating the Frontierpotential translators failed to supply lasting solutions to the demands of domination. In terms of regime theory, this was largely because the missionarieswho were intent on protecting languages were at the same time engaged in theideological transformation of those same languages. This ideological contradiction became untenable, eventually giving way to the use of Castilian as thelanguage of empire.8. The Language of Exile164Virtually in parallel with the imposition of Castilian in the colonies, the CounterReformation in mainland Spain forced many members of intercultural groupsto take the paths of European exile. This particularly concerned scholars influenced by Erasmus and inspired by projects such as the Complutense PolyglotBible; it meant that representatives of Spanish protestantism entered themainstream of northern European learning; translating the Bible accordingly.Within Spain, the triumph of Castilian was accompanied by cultural closureand a relative distancing of humanist translation practices. The differencesbetween translation within Spain and translation as carried out by Spanishexiles would then inform the various waves that were forced to leave as aresult of subsequent expulsions, right through to the many translating exiles ofthe twentieth century. In effect, Spanish intercultural history over this periodcan be approached in terms of a profoundly divided translation culture thatwas nevertheless able to agree on some points.9. A Volcano Unbaptized185Ruben Dario's 1907 poem 'Momotombo' cites and translates a line from Victor Hugo that helps the Nicaraguan poet to understand his pre-Columbianhomeland ('Momotombo' is a volcano that refused to be baptized with a Christian name). The reasons for this very marginal translation practice can be tracedto the way colonial frontier society constructed cultural value in terms of passages to and from what was perceived as the centre of development, in thiscase Paris. In Dario, such practices allow a tragic form of mutual exoticization,in which both the centre and the periphery are denied substance. Symbolictranslations, at once allowing and covering the presence of French, nevertheless permitted Dario and other Modernista writers to furnish markers of culturaldistinction and upward mobility to privileged social groups in the colonies.This in turn fed into the notion of a supranational 'Latin' America as part of adecolonizing development ideology.10. Authorship in Translation AnthologiesIn the early twentieth century the minor intermediaries Fernando Maristanyand Enrique Diez-Canedo produced Castilian anthologies of translated po-197

Contents & Argumentsixetry. Maristany approached his anthologies as a private mode of retreat andrefinement, whereas Diez-Canedo worked with other poets, using the anthology form as a mode of cultural socialization. Despite these differences, bothintermediaries worked within an international network of nontranslational anthologies, based on the British publishers Gowans and Gray. The principles ofthe translational and nontranslational regimes may thus be compared, revealing that the use of translation paradoxically allowed the Spanish intermediariesa more authorial status than was the case for the compilers of nontranslationalanthologies.11. The Symbolic Olympics211The 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona had four official languages (English, French, Castilian, and Catalan), although the role of translations to andfrom Catalan was progressively reduced in the course of the Olympiad. Infact, the Catalan translators may have symbolically made up for the absence ofa properly Catalan Olympic team. Although the use of translation for suchsymbolic purposes may be questioned in financial terms, it does achieve certain goals when limited by a fixed timeframe. In long-term scenarios, however,serious questions must be raised about the ideological returns on such material investments.12. Training for Globalizing Markets220If globalization is understood in terms of cross-cultural distance increasinglyentering the production of cultural products, many of the models we use toexplain translation are of limited value. In particular, the development of professional cultures that habitually cross the boundaries of territorial culturesmeans that communication may take place wholly within those professionalcultures, and that intermediaries may themselves become members of thosesame professional cultures. The resulting image is one of a very segmentedlabour market for translators, where much 'pragmatic' translating remainspoorly remunerated and unprofessionalized, whereas the most globalizing sectors require and pay for skills that are in short supply. Within this context, therapid growth of translator-training institutions in Spain since 1991 cannot beseen as a wholly positive response to market demands. That growth has instead had much to do with the internal demands of the Spanish universitysystem. The structural interculturality of translator-training institutions maynevertheless yet allow those institutions not only to adjust to the demands ofglobalization but also to promote critical thought on the nature of globalization itself.References241Index259