Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Quadrinhos em Português 3: Scott Pilgrim

To conclude my look at the Portuguese-language comic books I've been using to help me study the language, I turn to the other comic I found for sale at Amazon.com. Surprisingly, it's Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim!

As a Canadian who elected to learn Portuguese, why not turn to a Canadian story which has been given a Portuguese translation? Of course, Scott Pilgrim was a big-time/small-time hit in the English-speaking world and led to a modestly underperforming motion picture. How well can a series steeped in North American pop culture references translate to an audience in Portugal? Good question!

Off the bat, you may notice the first volume "Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life" in English became "Scott Pilgrim na Boa Vida" in Portuguese. There may be connotations to the phrase local to Portugal which I don't understand, but the literal translation is "Scott Pilgrim: the Good Life," which really does a disservice to the original title. "Precious Little Life" speaks to Scott's sense of entitlement and lack of introspection, informing you a bit about his character before you ever read a page of the story. The Portuguese version lacks this subtle effect.

Scott Pilgrim indulges in a lot of slang which is muted in the translation: where Kim calls Stephen a "pussy boy" in English becomes "maraquinhas" (sissy); the meaning is similiar, but inexact. Fortunately, Sex Bob-Omb is intact; Crash & the Boys become "Crash & os Rapazes." This was probably a very challenging book for the translator to work on.

Of course, many recent additions to the English language such as "internet" have no Portuguese equivalent and use the same words. It's also interesting to note that the joke about Amazon.ca wasn't changed to a local version of the site, keeping the Canadian humour. Man, if the jokes about Toronto were arcane to readers in the US, I can only imagine how people in Portugal responded to this book!

Thank gooodness Scott Pilgrim became a large enough hit to warrant a Portuguese language version, one which can be easily obtained by anyone with internet access. And thus I take my leave of this subject, having reached this point where I'm puzzling through comic book pages, slowly translating them and trying to recognize the words and phrases by sight. Sometimes I succeed!

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