Quijote in Quichua
In Azul, a city in Buenos Aires province, the 5th annual Cervantes Festival got underway this week, this time with a distinctly local twist—a translation of the iconic text into the Quichua dialect spoken in the Santiago region. ‘Don Quijotep Sancho Panzaan nisqasninkuna quichuapi Argentinamanta’ is not the first Quechua translation of Cervantes’s novel—in 2005, a version in Cuzqueño Quechua was published in Peru—but it marks a departure as one of few texts translated into the Argentinean dialect of Quechua (also called Quichua.) The idea behind the translation came from Javier Merás, who runs the online store ‘Los Injunables’, dedicated to miniature and rare editions of books.
In an interview with ‘La Nación’, Merás cited his interest in Argentinean Quichua as a ‘mestizo’ language, often not recognized as a distinct language or afforded the same status as other indigenous languages. According to scholar Lelia Albarracín, he said, the Quichua of Santiago is a hybrid of Cuzqueño Quechua spoken by the Inca and the Quichua spoken in Ecuador, as a result of colonisation schemes undertaken at the end of the Inca Empire that brought natives of the north of the empire (present-day Ecuador) to what is now northern Argentina. The low profile of the language, presently spoken by about 60.000 people, allowed it to survive the colonial period, he added.
‘Don Quijotep Sancho Panzaan nisqasninkuna quichuapi Argentinamanta’ is not a complete translation of Cervantes’s two-volume novel, but rather a collection of fragments from the text. Translated by Gabriel Torem of the University of Buenos Aires and Vitu Barraza, a native Quichua speaker, the text is instead a mélange of famous passages and phrases from the original. The idea, Merás stated, is to increase the visibility of Argentine Quichua and to disrupt the existing way the ‘Quijote’ is circulated and perceived by inserting this version of it into official locations and institutions such as the Cervantes Festival, the Real Academia Española, and the global network of Cervantes Insitutes.
Merás’s project, presented this Saturday at the festival, while limited in scale (only 300 copies were printed), speaks to the continued dominance of the ‘Quijote’ in the Hispanophone world. Azul, in fact, was chosen as recently as 2007 as one of the world’s ‘Cervantes Cities’ by UNESCO, to coincide with the quadricentennial celebrations of the book’s publication (the first volume was published in 1605, the second in 1615). The translation of Cervantes’s text into an obscure indigenous dialect, through fragmented and transformed, proposes an alternative direction of influence—the margins writing back and disrupting established colonial patterns of dissemination, 400 years later.
Otherwise: Police in Guatemala captured Audelino García Lima, the last of the group that killed singer Facundo Cabral in Guatemala City in July. The group was made of Elgin Enrique Vargas, who contracted the assassins; Wilfred Allan Stokes, who drove the car; and Juan Hernández Sánchez and García Lima, who fired the shots. The Guatemalan government believes that the group of assassins was hired by Alejandro Jiménez, who was after Nicaraguan businessman Henry Fariñas. Fariñas had offered Cabral a ride to the airport.