6

In the children's book Alexander y el día terrible, horrible, espantoso, horroroso, translated by Alma Flor Ada, Alexander is describing the events of his really bad day:

Entonces fuimos a la zapatería a comprar zapatos de gimnasia. Anthony los escogió blancos con rayas azules. Nick los escogió rojos con rayas blancas. Yo los escogí azules con rayas rojas, pero entonces el vendedor dijo: Se acabaron.

My understanding is that this use of "los" in three sentences here, e.g., "Yo los escogí azules," is redundant, but I'm not sure if it adds any connotation to the text. Would the meaning be any different if it were rendered "yo escogí azules"?


En el libro infantil Alexander y el día terrible, horrible, espantoso, horroroso, traducido por Alma Flor Ada, Alexander describe los eventos de su día terrible:

Entonces fuimos a la zapatería a comprar zapatos de gimnasia. Anthony los escogió blancos con rayas azules. Nick los escogió rojos con rayas blancas. Yo los escogí azules con rayas rojas, pero entonces el vendedor dijo: Se acabaron.

Entiendo que este uso de "los" en tres frases aquí, por ejemplo, "Yo los escogí azules," es redundante, pero no sé si agrega alguna connotación. ¿Sería diferente el significado del texto si fuera "yo escogí azules"?

5

I would say they are definitely redundant, which is not to say that they are meaningless. It's hard to pinpoint it exactly but I think it has to do with definiteness.

... zapatos de gimnasia. Anthony los escogió blancos... Yo los escogí azules...

To me this redundant (and repeated) use of the pronoun los emphasizes the fact that the writer is referring to those shoes in particular, the sports shoes that they went to buy, and not just any shoes (sports ones or any other kind) that they happened to see on display. It's very subtle; someone else may tell there's no difference in connotation or emphasis whatsoever.

In any case, as you already know, you can leave the pronoun as it is, or drop it.

Note that this definiteness I'm talking about is not the same kind of definiteness as the one that would be conveyed using a definite article before the adjectives like this:

Anthony escogió los blancos... Yo escogí los azules...

That would make sense only if the writer had already established that there were certain shoes on display and that they came in a few different colors.

  • Definitely not redundant. As @aparente001 points out correctly, it is perfectly idiomatic and fulfills a deliberate attempt to convey the concept and idea of the sentence in the original language. Besides, it is classically literate. – palopezv Jul 3 '18 at 14:48
2

The original text in English:

So then we went to the shoe store to buy some sneakers. Anthony chose white ones with blue stripes; Nick chose red ones with white stripes. I chose blue ones with red stripes, but then the shoe man said, we're all sold out.

Note, the translator could have gone with the simpler expression

Anthony escogió blancos con rayas azules

I think she wanted to get across the idea of white ones with blue stripes. By including the optional object pronoun (los), she was able to convey several implicit bits of additional meaning:

  • each child was going to go home with a pair of athletic shoes;

  • the children were, in theory, permitted to choose the colors of their shoes; and

  • each child was following instructions, fitting into the somewhat rigid expectations that had been laid out.

The expression "los escogió" shows that the degree of free will was limited. Writing "escogió negros" suggests a slightly greater degree of free will than Alexander had in this situation.

Let's look at another example of this. Comparing two people's preference in beer temperature: a. Daniel la tomó fría. | Daniel took his cold. b. Raúl la tomó al tiempo. | Raúl took his room temperature.*

What's implicit in these sentences is that both people were having a beer, just as in Alexander's story, what's implicit is that a pair of shoes was being bought for each of three children.

Additional note: This part of the story is "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" turned on its head. In Goldilocks, the protagonist, Goldilocks, tries out three variants of something. The first variant is off from the ideal in one direction, the second is off from the ideal in the opposite direction, and the third fits her preferences just right.

In this story, there are also three versions of something, but here, the first child gets exactly the colors he wants, the second child does too, but the third, our protagonist, gets some random leftovers, that couldn't be farther from what he wanted.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.