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Author Topic: Isn’t it wrong to translate the Pinoy “pandesal” into “bread of salt”?  (Read 4114 times)
Miss Mae
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« on: May 30, 2015, 08:00:54 PM »

Is a "bread of salt," which in Filipino means "pandesal," the same as a "salt bread"?

I had come across this passage and felt that it was wrong -

"Aside from rice, one of the foods that are a mainstay in the Filipino diet is the pandesal (literally, "salt bread")."

I don't think focaccia bread could be also referred to as a bread of focaccia...
« Last Edit: May 31, 2015, 09:09:22 AM by Joe Carillo » Logged
Joe Carillo
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2015, 08:11:23 AM »

Yes, the Filipino term pandesal, which is a direct translation of “bread of salt” in Spanish, is often conflated with the English translation “salt bread”; this makes both English terms mean exactly the same thing—pandesal. A more precise English translation of pandesal is, of course, “bread with salt” or “salted bread” (in the same way that “salted beef” is better known as “corned beef”—”corned” in British English means “preserved or seasoned with salt in grains”), but translations from one language to another can’t always be very precise or direct. As we often hear, something is often “lost in translation” because a word or phrase in one language may have denotations or connotations that can’t be understood or appreciated when directly translated into another language.

Take the particular case of the Spanish preposition de. It could mean “of” to (a) indicate connection or belonging, as in “el rey de España” (the King of Spain); (b) to indicate a quality or condition, as in “una niña de cinco años” (five-year-old girl); (c) to indicate content, material, or quantity, as in “una casa de madera” (house made of wood, or “wooden house” for short); and (d) to indicate several other shades of meaning that I’ll no longer enumerate here. These various denotations and shades of meaning of the Spanish de often prove so troublesome that they get lost or are glossed over in translation into English or Tagalog, resulting in terms like “salt bread” that, when we come to think of, just doesn’t seem right, much less denote something that‘s edible or fit to eat.

You’re right, of course, in thinking that “focaccia bread” shouldn’t likewise be referred to as “bread of focaccia,” but then “focaccia” is Italian and I’m afraid that the denotations and shades of meaning of the Italian preposition that translates into the English “of” could be as multifarious as those of the Spanish de, so I won’t even attempt going into them and will stop on my tracks right now…
« Last Edit: May 31, 2015, 09:09:48 AM by Joe Carillo » Logged

Miss Mae
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2015, 02:51:04 PM »

Thank you.
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