I spent some time recently attempting to translate into English some Aesop's fables that had been translated into Spanish (from the original Greek I am presuming). Initially, I thought that this would be something that would be good for my level of Spanish. I soon discovered, however, that this translation project was a bit more challenging than I was expecting due to the phrasing of certain passages as well as some of the vocabulary.
One of the words that made me stop and think about how best to translate it was the word "zorra." I learned a while back that its predominant meaning is vulgar and not the proper way to refer to a female fox (which would be "zorro hembra"). When did it take on a vulgar connotation? I am assuming that the translations I am using for this project were made well before the word took on any pejorative meaning.
Furthermore, does anyone know why, when "zorro" could just as easily have been used for the translation of "fox" that at least one translator opted to use "zorra?" (In fact, if memory serves me correctly, the fox is often referred to as "Mr. Fox" in the English versions.) And was this translating of "fox" as "zorra" typical of other translations or just the isolated incidences of one or a handful of translators? At the page for the Aesop's fables (see link in my first paragraph), I see no fewer than 22 fables with "la zorra" in the title and those are just the ones that start with it, so it looks as if it is a pretty standard/common translation.
And while I am on this topic, let me also ask about how modern day translators deal with this type of issue today. For example, if someone wanted to write a new, revised, modern-day version of Aesop's fables, or some other work, how would a professional translator deal with words that have drifted from their original meanings? In other words, what would good translators consider good practice? Using this specific example, would a professional translator change "la zorra" to "el zorro?"
I did some cursory searching online for information on this, but what I found was rather scant and nothing that addressed this directly except for some comments that were made speculatively about it. Thanks in advance for any insight you may have on this topic.