Todd’s Challenge: Portuguese Translation

Hello, hello! Today we continue our challenges inspired by the 3rd phase exams, this time with a Portuguese translation. They can be tricky if you don’t pay attention to some important details.

Are you ready to give it a try? Let me know how you fare! Tomorrow we give you the answer key and a model translation.

Best of luck!

(You can check the answer key for this challenge here)

Translate the following text into Portuguese.

A story went the rounds about a San Franciscan white matron who refused to sit beside a Negro civilian on the streetcar, even after he made room for her on the seat. Her explanation was that she would not sit beside a draft dodger who was a Negro as well. She added that the least he could do was fight for his country the way her son was fighting on Iwo Jima. The story said that the man pulled his body away from the window to show an armless sleeve. He said quietly and with great dignity, “Then ask your son to look around for my arm, which I left over there. (…)

“It was awful to be Negro and have no control over my life. It was brutal to be young and already trained to sit quietly and listen to charges brought against my color with no chance of defense. We should all be dead. I thought I should like to see us all dead, one on top of the other. A pyramid of flesh with the whitefolks on the bottom, as the broad base, then the Indians with their silly tomahawks and teepees and wigwams and treaties, the Negroes with their mops and recipes and cotton sacks and spirituals sticking out of their mouths.”

Source: Maya AngelouI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

Follow these easy steps to success in the translation sections:

1. Read the text one time through, making no marks, and determine what style of language is being used.


2. Determine what the text’s overall theme is.


3. Read the text a second time through and highlight all “lexical chunks”, that is, all groups of words that would produce one single meaning.
Ex: “draft dodger” – a person who refuses to be forcefully enlisted into the military to fight in a war

4. Translate the text, paying close attention to the following points:

Direct translation: translate word for word without paying attention to groups of words with a single meaning
False Cognates: same word in the other language, but with a different meaning
Portuguese imposition upon English
Grammar: verb tenses, prepositions, word order, word form/spelling

5. Compare your result to the model translation in the answer key to see if you avoided these pitfalls.

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