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Thread: The Crossing, by Cormack McCarthy

  1. #16
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Good ones

    Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había de recordar aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo.
    Or

    Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
    Cien Años De Soledad
    or
    One Hundred Years Of Solitude

    by Gabriel García Márquez

    I read the English translation of the García Márquez book. My Spanish is only good enough to get what I want in a Mexican restaurant about 3 out of 4 times — Hey, what the heck is that stuff in my burrito?

    The Border Trilogy uses a lot of untranslated Spanish in the dialogue. Both John Grady Cole and Billy Parham grew up speaking both languages. And while it helps to have a little Spanish, it’s not necessary. You can usually suss it out through context. Or if he uses an less common word you usually get it in English in the next paragraph.

    McCarthy broke from that in the encounter between John Grady and a shoe-shine boy in Juarez. Their interaction is too lengthy and nuanced to be written in Spanish for most of us ‘Mercans. At any rate it’s a wonderful little exchange. The two sort of playfully joust with words. Also I’m sure there’s some sort of literary device or another going on there. The boy’s words turn out to be somewhat prophetic. Or perhaps, Danik, in keeping with your idea, it signals the change of an era. When asked, John Grady can’t imagine ever wanting to be anything but a cowboy, a vaquero. The shoe-shine boy decides he’d prefer to be rich or maybe an airplane pilot:

    He brushed the boot and put away the brush and got his cloth out and popped it. John Grady watched him. What about you? What if you could be anything you wanted?
    I’d be a cowboy
    Really?
    The boy looked at him with disgust. Sh*t no, he said. What’s wrong with you? I’d be a rico and lay around on my asss all day. What do you think?
    What if you had to do something?
    I don’t know. Maybe be an airplane pilot.
    Yeah?
    Sure. I’d fly everywhere.
    What would you do when you got there?
    Fly somewhere else.
    Uhhhh...

  2. #17
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Yes, an impressive beginning!

    I read Spanish quite well, though when speaking I'm reduced to a rather awful variant of Portuñol (Many Brazilians believe that they speak Spanish from the cradle, because they understand, what the Spanish speaking folks are saying).
    I don´t know so much about US history, but I couldn't help noticing how many cities in some states have Spanish names and how big the group of US Latinos has become. I think there must have been plenty of Spanish settlements in US in the past, namely in some states like California and Texas, for example.

    To me that haven´t read the book, this short but otherwise charming dialogue points again to the reality of displacement of the cowboys. The protagonist, who somehow represents the boy of the past, exalts the cowboy as an ideal. The boy of the present reacts with horror. The grand thing now is just to have a lot of money and no occupation. Yes, but if you have to have a job? I´ll fly here and there (because I don´t feel at home any more, anywhere).



    Maybe the Latino group is becoming more relevant in, for example, politics these days. So no wonder, there appears that sort of mixed lingo in Cormack´s trilogy.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  3. #18
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Q. What do you call someone who speaks two languages?
    A bilingual.

    Q. What do you call someone who speaks three languages?
    A trilingual.

    Q. What do you call someone who speaks only one language?
    An American.

    Yuk-yuk-yuk.

    We’re getting better.

    And correct-a-mundo, Danik, just about everything in the southwestern U.S. has a Spanish name, probably on account of it used to being part of Mexico, and in fact that area had been a part of Spain only a few years prior to that. The USA got most of it as spoils of the Mexican-American War in the 1840s.

    Texas, then as now, went their own way. They’d earlier seceded from Mexico to become The Republic of Texas. Its geographical remoteness from Mexico City made it difficult for Santa Anna to govern it anyway. What made Texas so remote aside from distance was the difficulty of the terrain in Coahuila and Chihuahua, the same terrain Billy and John Grady traveled through in the novels. A few years after the Mexican-American War, Texas threw in with the U.S. of A. and became a state, mostly I for protection I think.

    You know, most of the names in the middle of the U.S. up and down the Mississippi River from Marquette to New Orleans are French. President Jefferson bought that area outright from Napoleon in 1801 or there abouts. He got a steal. In a very bloody uprising, sugar-plantation slaves in what is now Haiti had thrown out the French making Port Au Prince unavailable to them as a sea port. And since the shipping of the day couldn’t make it to France from New Orleans without stopping somewhere, all of a sudden the territories in the Mississippi River valley were worthless to the French. Hooray for the people of St. Louis; if not for that event they’d still be wearing stripy shirts and berets, smoking cigarettes, sipping burgundy wine, and smearing stinky cheese on crackers.

    Voila!

    I’ve often wondered what would have happened if Jefferson had bought Cuba as well. He wanted to badly, and in fact tried to buy it several times from the Spanish, but no dice. Havana was a powerhouse back then and had Cuba become a state of the U.S., it seems to me, everything changes. The power dynamic between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking North America is upended. We might even be a bonafide bilingual country today, people speaking equally fluently with a southern drawl and a rapid-fire, rat-a-tat-tat Caribbean Spanish.

    Boggles the mind.
    Uhhhh...

  4. #19
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    We had a similar case here. Until 1825 when the territory got its independence, Uruguay was called Provincia Cisplatina and part of Brazil. Seemed a good solution after all as their identity was closer to Spanish America. But in the South the lingo still is full of Spanish words.

    If there aren´t more old Spanish settlements, this is because of a curious treaty Portugal celebrated with Spain in 1494 called Tordesillas which divided the then known world like it was a birthday cake:
    "The Treaty of Tordesillas,[note 1] signed in Tordesillas, Spain on 7 June 1494, and authenticated in Setúbal, Portugal, divided the newly-discovered lands outside Europe between the Portuguese Empire and the Spanish Empire (Crown of Castile), along a meridian 370 leagues[note 2] west of the Cape Verde islands, off the west coast of Africa. That line of demarcation was about halfway between the Cape Verde islands (already Portuguese) and the islands entered by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage (claimed for Castile and León), named in the treaty as Cipangu and Antilia (Cuba and Hispaniola).

    The lands to the east would belong to Portugal and the lands to the west to Castile. The treaty was signed by Spain, 2 July 1494, and by Portugal, 5 September 1494.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tordesillas"

    The treaty was largely respected, but they forgot the Bandeirantes about it, groups of armed men that where sent to the interior in quest of Indians and precious stones. These groups didn´t set limits to their expeditions and ended up by enlarging Brazil´s borders thus giving the country the form it has today.

    Maybe another dominating country would have been better for Brazil. Portugal was to interested in her riches to care for her development.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  5. #20
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    It does seem that foremost on the minds of the early explorers was riches, getting the goods from the new world back to the old world. The Spanish in particular were always looking for El Dorado - the City of Gold. The native peoples were attuned to this fixation of the Conquistadors and kept telling them - Oh yes, City of Gold, I’ve seen it with my own eyes, it’s over there, on the other side of those mountains, just keep going, that way, long ways away, happy travels. Coronado chased all over the terrain of the Border Trilogy novels looking for El Dorado.

    But it wasn’t just the Spanish. As you mentioned, Danik, it was the Portuguese as well…and the English, and the French, and the Dutch. So when the Europeans built infrastructure in the Americas it was all pointed towards the ports, aimed at exporting stuff, not at staying and building a society. There were exceptions, the pilgrims in Massachusetts for instance. They planned to stay. They couldn’t go back on account of they’d been run out of Europe because of their odd religious beliefs. So they stayed to enjoy religious freedom, and of course to enjoy imposing their religious beliefs on anybody else who wanted to live there, but that’s another story. The point is they built their cities and roads to interconnect and self sustain on the North American continent.

    I think a lot of the newly independent countries in the Americas struggled to build a stand alone society in part because the infrastructure wasn’t built with that purpose in mind. Anyway it’s a theory. I didn’t think it up on my own. I read it somewhere.
    Uhhhh...

  6. #21
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    You are quite right, Sancho, specially in regards to Latin America. I think, US was more lucky in that aspect, because the Pilgrims that arrived there, were badly in need of a new home. For the Indians that was bad as what happened anywhere else, because they lost their domains anyway. But the forefathers built a solid beginning to what became US.

    Our beginnings are more problematic. It is said the Portuguese landed here by accident. They wanted India, in fact, because of its spices. There is a classic picture of the celebration of a first Mass, with the Indians assisting in the background(and probably thinking what the heck these people are doing there). Pero Vaz de Caminha, a sort of ship secretary wrote home and told the king that "in that soil everything you plant will grow" to justify the landing and, of course, to ask a private favor of the king. So there we were. Portugal became interested in the riches promised by Caminha´s letter and began to send people to populate the new found domains. Some of these peoples had to chose between prison and Brazil, or maybe even the gallows and Brazil. So there we were. Other countries became also interested in Brazilian riches, France and much later Holland, but the Portuguese managed to throw them all out again with the help of the Indians.

    And, it´s not an accident that, for a long time the only educators in the new country were the Jesuits. So there we were again.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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