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I read the phrase

Decidió que el primer caballero andante que encontrase le armaría caballero.

I thought this meant

He decided that the first walking knight that he encountered he would make him a knight

I'm confused!

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    Welcome to Spanish Language. It indeed means that. You should elaborate more about why it's strange to you or why it's giving you trouble or why are you confused (for example, "why this choice of verb tenses instead of this other", "why is there no a preposition here", etc.). How would you have said it? You might want to take a look at the How to Ask and help center to get the most of this site. Welcome again.
    – Diego
    Jul 28, 2017 at 13:07
  • Funny, caballero andante is one of those expressions is Spanish that I have never questioned myself, specially the andante part. Does it mean "errant"?
    – Charlie
    Jul 28, 2017 at 16:39
  • He decided that the first knight errant that he encountered would make him a knight // Caballero andante - knight errant (itinerant, wanderer); le armaría caballero - the one found by don Quijote would make don Quijote a knight.
    – Rafael
    Jul 28, 2017 at 19:40
  • We now seem to have a conflict here between @Rafael in comments and Gustavson in the answer as to who exactly is going to be made a knight, the person who decided or the person who was met on the way.
    – mdewey
    Jul 29, 2017 at 13:11
  • @mdewey the quote is apparently from the beginning of the book, when the whole argument is don Quixote becoming a knight-errant. Otherwise it would need a proposition ("a") to disambiguate
    – Rafael
    Jul 29, 2017 at 14:29

2 Answers 2

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The quote is from chapter II, of an adapted version of the original don Quixote.

The whole chapter is about don Quixote's first trip out of home after becoming obsessed with the idea of being a knight. Hence the one being made a knight is don Quixote himself. That is why he is looking for someone who is already a knight. (It wouldn't make sense to confer knighthood to someone that already has it.)

A possible translation for the passage could be:

He decided that the first knight-errant that he met would confer him knighthood. [or: would dub him.]

The original text offers a more complex grammar and old-fashioned idioms, yet the fact that he is the one being dubbed is clearer:

mas, pudiendo más su locura que otra razón alguna, propuso de hacerse armar caballero del primero que topase, a imitación de otros muchos que así lo hicieron, según él había leído en los libros que tal le tenían

which, is translated by John Ormsby as:

but his craze being stronger than any reasoning, he made up his mind to have himself dubbed a knight by the first one he came across, following the example of others in the same case, as he had read in the books that brought him to this pass

This pass obviously refers to his insanity. Knights-errant were (at the time, at least) more of a matter of fiction, and knighthood is not supposed to be conferred by other knights, but by a superior authority.

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  • I appreciate the detailed response. It seems that frankly the original text isn't too clear, but this has been a very useful exercise - which is perhaps the point!
    – GaB
    Jul 31, 2017 at 14:16
  • @GaB yes. The grammar of the sentence is by itself somehow ambiguous. The word order gives a hint. The presence of le makes other interpretations less likely, but do not rule them out completely. What really gives all the needed information is the context.
    – Rafael
    Jul 31, 2017 at 17:29
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The translation into English is faulty in that it repeats the direct object (DO):

  • He decided that the first walking knight that he encountered he would make him a knight.

It would have been better to say:

  • He decided that the first walking knight that he encountered he would make a knight.

Now, is a walking knight not a knight? I find some lexical contradiction there, just as I find in a caballero andante not being a caballero.

Anyway, in Spanish personal direct objects have to be preceded by the preposition "a". Therefore, for your translation to work, the Spanish version should have been:

  • Decidió que al primer caballero andante que encontrase le armaría caballero.
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  • @walen Mi respuesta sólo apuntaba a marcar el error en la traducción y cómo debería haber sido el original para q esa traducción funcionara.
    – Gustavson
    Jul 31, 2017 at 9:55

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