Please help translate this line (Spanish to English)
May 23, 2012 11:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm in the process of translating a play, and am having a killer time with the second half of one line. I'm assuming it's because the language is artistic. Apologies for not including accent marks (can't figure out how to do them on my keyboard).

The line goes:

"Antes de nuestro ultimo sueno fue el tropel de su desbande."

My translation goes: before our final dream was the ? of their disbandment.

Every translation I find for tropel (mob, jumble) doesn't seem to fit the sentence. Or am I translating other words wrong?

Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by Sakura3210 to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
tropel [tro-pel']
1. Noise made by a quick movement of the feet. (m)

(S. Cone) rush to get away;
posted by Nomyte at 11:29 AM on May 23, 2012

Before our final dream was the skittering of their retreat.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:42 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

A good site for this is the Spanish-English forum at WordReference.

What is the "su" referring to? That would affect the translation for me.

The forum on the above site suggests that "tropel" is "Yendo muchos juntos, sin orden y confusamente," which could be "stampede" in English, but that might be too strong.
posted by ceiba at 11:45 AM on May 23, 2012

Well...maybe not skittering. But it's the only word I can think of that has a similar, obvious noise:feet correlation.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:46 AM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: "su" is referring to enemy invaders.
posted by Sakura3210 at 11:47 AM on May 23, 2012

Response by poster: I think part of my issue is translating the phrase vs the idea. It seems like the narrator is saying that the opposing force fled during the night, before they (the invaded people) dreamed their final dream. But any direct translation of the words sounds weird ("before our final dream" was the). So how direct should I be going with this?
posted by Sakura3210 at 11:51 AM on May 23, 2012

The line comes from José Watanabe's (very) free translation of Sophocles' Antigone. Though there is no exact equivalent in the standard English translations, the idea is that before our last sleep (i.e. yesterday), the enemy fled in disarray, so I would say something like before our last sleep, the enemy fled in disarray.
posted by TheRaven at 11:55 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Actually hundreds of years ago, humans had two distinct sleep periods, which were commonly referred to as first and second sleep. Here's an article about it.

So it makes perfect sense to refer to that time period as , before second sleep.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:06 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

In context:

Qué rápido el viento de la madrugada ha borrado las huellas de huida de los argivos.
Cuando la luz es brillante como la de esta mañana, parece que el pasado
es más lejano.
Pero no, ellos huyeron apenas anoche, no más noches.
Antes de nuestro último sueño fue el tropel de su desbande.

The last two lines could be something like:

No, they ran off just last night, not longer ago.
They fled in disarray before our last dream.

I'd pick "dream" over "sleep" since it seems like the bad guys left in the night, when conceivably people were asleep already.

More literally, maybe "Before our last dream was the stampede of their flight."
posted by ceiba at 12:06 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Or "before our last sleep," now that I see Ruthless Bunny's post.
posted by ceiba at 12:07 PM on May 23, 2012

How about scurry or scurrying?
posted by clorox at 1:46 PM on May 23, 2012

I think the sense is 'before we can realize our dreams, the enemy must be driven out.'
posted by jamjam at 1:49 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Spanish has freer word order than English, and sometimes a better translation can be had by moving phrases around to get a more comfortable fit in English. It depends on how poetic you want the language to sound (if you want more poetic keep 'sleep/dream' in the first clause) but something like "they scurried away before our last dream/sleep" is a clearer presentation of the idea in English.
posted by tractorfeed at 3:25 PM on May 23, 2012

Response by poster: Everyone was super helpful, so no best answer. Thank you all!
posted by Sakura3210 at 8:33 AM on May 25, 2012

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