We have made a Portuguese to English Interlinear translation of a famous book by the most famous Brazilian novelist Machado de Assis.
An entertaining novella by a classical writer of Brazilian literature. Entirely in Interlinear.
The translation includes:
We have based this Interlinear translation on certain principles.
Our Portuguese book uses literal translations of individual words and expressions. There is only one exception. This is when literal translation would hinder understanding. If so, we prioritize understanding.
For example, the following phrase would be translated more literally as "And so go human affairs!" Yet, we have chosen a more literal translation. This is because we know the reader already has some prior knowledge of Portuguese. With this knowledge, a literal translation is perfectly understandable:
But try reading this phrase literally:
As you can see, if translated literally, the phrase would be difficult to understand. Thus we use a more understandable Interlinear translation:
In summary, our translations are literal, even if slightly clumsy. Unless such clumsiness hinders understanding, in which case we opt for understanding.
Yet, Portuguese and English have not only similar vocabularies but also similar word order, thus the bigger part of the translation is both literal and understandable (even though sometimes the adjective comes after the noun in Portuguese and not before it like in English).
Our Interlinear book tries to make the most of the fact that English and Portuguese share a lot of words. We highlight such common words, called cognates. We believe it helps learners remember the Portuguese word better. It also sometimes helps understand the original better too.
For example, the original text includes the word "começou." Dictionary and most translators translate this word as "began." Yet the word "começou" also has a similar English word: "commenced". And indeed, the word is simply defined in the Oxford American dictionary as a synonym of "begin." Therefore, we translated "começou" as "commenced" and not as "began" in order to show the links between Portuguese and English and to help the learners remember such words better:
Similarly, we have translated the Portuguese word "alienista" as "alienist" (and not "psychiatrist" as in many other translations), "enterro" as "interment" (and not "funeral"), "sentimento" as "sentiment" (and not the more usual "feeling"), et cetera. Unlike usual translations, this Interlinear book tries to find and highlight cognates whenever possible. We hope this will help you learn Portuguese better.
"The Alienist" is a novella written by Machado de Assis and published in 1882. Later adapted into a successful comedy film, the story is a witty exploration of the uncertainty of life and the new science in the XIXth century Brazil.
Machado de Assis was a 19th-early 20th century Brazilian writer who is widely regarded as the greatest writer of Brazilian literature. He has influenced multiple Brazilian, Portuguese and Western artists, including José Saramago, Carlos Fuentes and others. He became the first president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and the most prestigious literary award in Brazil is also named after him.
"The Alienist" recounts a story of a psychiatrist who runs an asylum in the town of Itaguaí and begins interning people there on frivolous grounds. Being a satire, the novella explores the questions of the line between sanity and insanity and the interaction between science and politics.
The novella is not only an entertaining introduction to these topics, it also serves as a good way to introduce yourself to life in the XIXth century Brazil and to classical Brazilian literature.