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I'm simultaneously reading "The Grapes of Wrath" in English and Spanish ("Las Uvas de la Ira").

I came acorss this translation for "film of dust":

"pelicula de polvo."

Is this accurate? I know that "film" can mean "movie" in English, but is it also true of Spanish?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Yes it is. It means both movie and coating.

  • Vamos a ver una película - Let's watch a movie.
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The phrase which you are looking for, "film of dust," can use both "película" AND "capa," the latter being the better choice. It refers to a light coating of dust on something (remember that The Grapes of Wrath is set during the Dust Bowl).

Thus, one rendering in Spanish of "film of dust" would be "una capa de polvo." Todo estaba cubierto por una ligera capa de polvo.

Remember to consider the context of the word/phrase, then cross-reference your rendition in the other language to be sure.

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That's the reason for my question - it didn't seem to make sense to me. I know exactly what the original sentence means (I know what a film of dust is; my maternal grandparents lived in the Dust Bowl area and era). My question is, is that a correct translation? Is "pelicula" really a valid translation of the word "film" in this case? Your example ("una capa de polvo") makes a lot more sense. – B. Clay Shannon Jun 30 '14 at 16:21
Película is also a correct translation for coating read def 1 y 2, in this case the most used is capa but pelicula is perfectly a valid choice. – Emilio Gort Jun 30 '14 at 16:50
Thank you, Emilio. I fell for my own trap and did not cross-reference and have edited my previous posting. Yes, "capa" is the best choice in this case. Would "película" more often be used with regard to a "liquid film," such as a "film of oil on the surface"? Una película de aceite sobre la superficie. – Diego San Luis Jun 30 '14 at 22:12
película también es muy usada para referirse a metales, pero ya el uso depende más de la zona o país, esto varía grandamente depende del país. – Emilio Gort Jul 1 '14 at 2:51

The spanish word 'película' means any thin coating or thin layer.

So, as in english a celluloid film is the transparent layer used to record a movie (in its original form), in spanish the word 'película' was used for "movie" by metonymy from "film".

But the original meaning "film" is in perfect usage, like in this 'película de polvo'. See also 'película de jabón'.

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In English, the word "film" may mean a thin layer covering a surface (such as "a film or dust") or movie.

Similarly, in Spanish, the word "pelicula" may mean a thin layer covering a surface (as in "una película de polvo") or movie.

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I checked three online translating sites, and it seems could be the most useful: says "movie"

bing translator gives "feminine film; movie; ..." says: film, thin coating, thin layer; membrane; thin flexible material coated with light sensitive emulsion (Photography); motion picture, movie

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