I am reading the dual-language (English/Spanish) version of Treasure Island / La Isla del Tesoro

There is a scene in Treasure Island where, in the English version, the principals of the ship are sitting around a table, having a glass of wine and some raisins. In the Spanish version ("La Isla del Tesoro") this is translated as "uvas" (grapes). This is on pages 180 and 181 in Chapter 12.

Why is the word not translated as raisins? Are Spaniards (I assume the translation was done by a Spaniard) unfamiliar with raisins, or what?

2 Answers 2


As 野原無 says, raisins (pasas) are well known in Spain. But thinking a bit about the context, chapter XII of that book happens while travelling aboard the ship, just before landing. I don't think it possible to have grapes aboard for a long time, as grapes get rotten easily due to its water content. Raisins are just dried grapes and last for a very long time. So I think it must be just a translator's mistake.

  • 1
    But it happens more tan once, and there are other mistakes (like translating rum as rom ...
    – user12422
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 12:18
  • 1
    Of course it happens more than once. Once you go with a translation, you have to be consistent with that translation and keep it everywhere, even if it's wrong.
    – Charlie
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 12:23
  • @CarlosAlejo: But that makes it even stranger that the Spanish translator says "grapes" ("uvas"); the original English says raisins, so why in tarnation would the impossible grapes be mentioned? Commented May 11, 2016 at 13:35
  • @BClayShannon: Mistakes just happen. One of the most famous I know is a mistranslation in The Lord of the Rings, in a poem describing Strider/Aragorn, that starts with not all the gold does glitter and the translation says no es oro todo lo que reluce (not all that glitter is gold). Probably the translator saw raisins and just went for uvas without noticing. But maybe you think that raisins were unknown in Spain then. Well, grapes have been cultivated in Spain for millenia, so I find it hard to believe that raisins were not known in Spain before the XIX century.
    – Charlie
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 14:11
  • @BClayShannon: Searching a little, in the web page of Seville's Aquarium says that Magallanes had raisins aboard his ships when departing from Seville in 1519 (the start of the first trip all around the world). Aquarium web page
    – Charlie
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 14:25

Raisin's translation into Spanish would be uva pasa or simply pasa. Raisins are known in Spain, and eating raisin stems is a folk remedy to improve your memory (http://forum.wordreference.com/threads/comer-rabo-de-pasa.1682011/). By the way, why are you assuming the translator is a Spaniard?

  • My assumption is based on the fact that Spain is part of Europe, and it's a European story; Spain is also mentioned quite a bit in the book. I reckon there's more interest in Treasure Island in Spain than there is in Mexico, for example. Also, because it was translated in 1886, three years after the original in English. Compare Spain's wealth/influence in 1886 to other Spanish-speaking countries. It could have been translated by a Mexican, Argentinian, or otherwise, but I think Spaniard is a good guess. Commented May 10, 2016 at 18:37
  • @B. Clay Shannon : Indeed it is a good guess that the first translation was done by a Spaniard. But surely it has been translated more than once in these years !
    – user12422
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 18:45
  • Tal vez, pero este es por Manual Caballero, 1886 Commented May 10, 2016 at 18:51

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