Language style in the negotiation of class identity in translated contemporary Spanish fiction
Vázquez Montalbán’s Los mares del sur in English and Croatian
In the early novels of the Carvalho detective series by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, set in the years of Spain’s transition to democracy, the negotiation of identities and political stance are paramount characterization resources. Given the role of speech in the construction of identity, translations may vary in the readings they afford beyond the detective aspects. We apply the sociolinguistic concepts of identity work and language style (albeit mediated by fictive orality), and the discourse analysis tools of Appraisal Theory, to analyse two working-class characters in
In Spanish the language style of both characters reflects class allegiance, involvement and tenacity, intense feelings, a direct interpersonal approach and a rejection of altercasting. Their vocabulary and quotations from external sources index their ideology. The English translation is the least aware of identity work through language style and interaction. The characters’ standardized speech shows less involvement, tenacity and intensity. The Croatian translation follows the source text literally; involvement is maintained within a fictive colloquial spoken variety. Both translations maintain directness and a contractive dialogic style, and both make references to class and ideology more explicit.