The mistranslation is not secret; it’s the point. In the original Spanish poem, a mermaid comes onto land and is maimed by a man; in the English translation she is grateful for the maiming, seeing it as an operation performed by a benevolent surgeon. Deliberate mis-translation is an interesting idea for a ficcion a la Borges and is by itself not a problem.
The problem is a person in the comments, a self-identified “Latina woman,” who goes off on a mind-blowingly hypocritical leftist appreciation of this work, praising it for calling out the translation into English as the language of the oppressor, and an act of “colonization” and “violence.” REALLY!? Are you fucking kidding me? You’re actually saying that Spanish is the language of VICTIMS of colonialism? What the fuck? You are aware that Spain is a country in EUROPE, right? Hey, since you’re so interested in calling out colonialism, a question for you:
Why is Spanish the language of the vast majority of the Americas?
Why do they speak Spanish in Mexico?
Why do they speak Spanish in Argentina?
Why do they speak Spanish in Bolivia?
Why do they speak Spanish in Chile?
Why do they speak Spanish in Colombia?
Why do they speak Spanish in Ecuador?
Why do they speak Spanish in Paraguay?
Why do they speak Spanish in Peru?
Why do they speak Spanish in Uruguay?
Why do they speak Spanish in Venezuela?
Why do they speak Spanish in Panama?
Why do they speak Spanish in Honduras?
Why do they speak Spanish in Costa Rica?
Why do they speak Spanish in Guatemala?
Why do they speak Spanish in El Salvador?
Why do they speak Spanish in Nicaragua?
These are all countries in the Americas in which Spanish is the official language (excepting Mexico, where Spanish is the majority language, though apparently it’s not official). I checked.
The answer to all these questions, of course, is that the Spanish conquistadors went on a raging frenzy of genocide, slaughtering their way from the middle of North America to Tierra del Fuego, and turning an entire hemisphere into an abattoir.
The population of South America is 385.7 million, the population of Central America is 42.7 million, and the population of Mexico (which is in North America) is 119.5 million. That gives us a total of population of more than 547 million in Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas.
The two majority-English language countries in the Americas are the US and Canada, with a combined population of 360.2 million. This is rough-cut, but the difference is almost 200 million, so a more precise comparison is not going to change the elemental fact:
SPANISH IS FAR AND AWAY THE LANGUAGE OF COLONIALISM IN THE AMERICAS.
This is simply a fact. There’s no way to even argue it.
Yet all the bloodletting by the conquistadores, all the slaughter by Spain in its colonization of vast swathes of the Americas: South America, Central America, and North America – all that murder gets pushed down the memory hole by this hypocritical attack-bot and a billion other vile assholes just like her.
She’s the descendant of genocidal Spanish colonizers (self-identified “Latina”)… and she dares to complain that English is the language of colonial oppression of her country. Un Fucking Believable.
This is the thing about the Left: No matter how brazenly hypocritical they are, they can always get worse. Just when you think they’ve explored the very last splinter of the absolute bottom of the barrel of hypocrisy, you get a wail of self-pity from the descendants of genocidal invaders, whining on behalf of the invaders’ descendants because “translation into English can be an act of colonization and violence.”
These people defy belief.
And not only does she take this sly, affecting, and interesting work of art and turn it political, she turns it political in the most stupid, tunnel-visioned way imaginable. Aside from the sheer stupidity of translation being an act of “violence”: Really? Translating into other languages can’t be “an act of colonization and violence”? Only English? Ugh.
You see why we can’t reason with the Left. There’s nothing to reason with; no part of them is even interested in getting at the truth. They’re all just violence, aggression, lying propaganda, projection, and blood libels that blame others for their own sins.
This is a good example of that fact that the alleged badness of the US is not something that has anything to do with actual facts of the US or English. In these psychopaths’ minds, it is OK for Spain to conquer, rape, and murder its way across several continents in a raging apocalyptic slaughterfest. But not okay for the English to do so across part of one continent. Oh. Why? Oh, you know, just because. I’m Spanish-speaking, so I’m axiomatically oppressed and virtuous. Symmetrically, all English-speaking people are axiomatically oppressors, just because. Just remember: Spanish speakers are axiomatically virtuous, even when they’re genocidally slaughtering their way across a couple of continents.
An extended quote from this psychopathic hypocrite, interpolations by yours truly:
The reason this mistranslation is so brilliant is that it takes a story about a mermaid trying to forgive a man who’s committed senseless violence against her, and turns it into a story about a man who uplifts a woman to a better life out of the kindness of his heart. And the thing is, that’s exactly what happens to so many stories from colonized cultures, LIKE THOSE GENOCIDALLY COLONIZED BY SPAIN, when they’re adapted by the oppressor, I.E. THE MASSACRING CONQUISTADORES AND THEIR DESCENDANTS. Translation into SPANISH, and further the cultural language of the oppressor, THAT IS, SPANISH, can be an act of violence and erasure rather than one of respect.
This is why I have worked so hard to translate poetry from Spanish to English that has previously only been translated by white Americans who learned Spanish in college. I can bring something to the translation that they can’t: A DEGREE OF HYPOCRISY HERETOFORE ACHIEVED ONLY BY SATAN.