Award-winning author, editor, and friend Cristina Jurado asked me last year if I would translate her short story “Abrazar el movimiento.” As soon as I read it, I said yes: an intense first contact story whose beautiful images hide horror.
The story, originally published in Spanish in Spain, has been nominated for a 2021 Ignotus Award, Spain’s equivalent of the Hugo.
Clarkesworld Magazine has just published the translation in its June issue with the title “Embracing the Movement.”
Every translation has its delightful problems. Despite the joy of bringing the full reverberance of words from one language to another, many words never have exact equivalents. In this case, the challenge started with the first sentence:
No somos tan diferentes, forestera. “We are not so different…” and then there’s that word: forestera. It is used repeatedly throughout the story, and I had to get it right.
The Real Diccionario Española defines forastero/a as someone or something que es o viene de fuera del lugar: “that is or comes from another place,” a stranger, an outsider. But there’s more: forastero is male, forastera is female. In the context of the story, it matters that the person being addressed is identified as female. I needed to find a way to preserve that sense.
Thesauruses listed close-but-not-quite words like foreigner, nonnative, outlander, outsider, alien, nonresident, drifter, transient, wanderer … which led to nomad, rambler, roamer, rover, stroller, vagabond, wanderer, wayfarer … Wait. The word rover suggested something … the Mars rovers: Perseverance, Curiosity, Spirit, Opportunity, and Sojourner. The Sojourner was named after Sojourner Truth. And Sojourner Truth, born Isabella Bomfree, chose that name because she felt called to travel and testify.
“Sojourner” means someone who stays as a temporary resident, who comes from another place. The word in English has associations with space exploration and is a name still being used for baby girls today.
I decided I’d found the word for forastera, although I wanted to reinforce the female meaning in the first reference, and I could do so by introducing an important element from further within the story. Finally, I had the opening line in English:
“We are not so different, sister sojourner.”