Tuesday, August 09, 2011

How safe is Portuguese?

My best, oldest Brazilian friend, her fiancé and her mother came for lunch on Sunday. It's their first time at the new place and they were a little shell-shocked. Coming from their last visions of me in a pea-in-a-pod house to this monstrosity...that's to be expected. We had a phenomenal time, and at one point, my friend picked up "The Lonely Tourist..," my poetry book.

Not being an English-speaker, she asked me what some of the poems were about, and as I started to narrate, both she and her mom chipped in with:
"Oh, I know that person..." or "I remember that, don't you? It was Fulana's friend they chopped up and put in the sofa. No one noticed until it started to smell..."

I am currently working on translating at least a portion of the poems into Portuguese, specifically for my friends. But I'm a little worried that I've been too literal. I don't want to get banned from the favela if these get in the wrong hands. Being in a foreign language, I'd never really considered much more than changing names and obvious identifying factors, but forgot that collective memory is pervasive.

So now I have to weigh each translation with the relative safety of producing it in Portuguese. On one hand, it's probably not an issue. On the other, if it ever became one, it could be really bloody problematic.

Censorship. It's a b@*!%.

1 comment:

anne said...

yikes! go slowly and carefully!