HomeQ&AHow could a mouse ever help a lion?

How could a mouse ever help a lion?

4
votes

How do you translate "ever" in this sentence? Should it just disappear in the translation?

How could a mouse ever help a lion?

¿Cómo podría un ratón ayudarle a un león alguna vez?

"Alguna vez" sounds odd to me.

¿Cómo podría un ratón ayudarle a un león nunca?

"Nunca" sounds even odder. :(

Is either one of them correct?

Thanks.

4642 views
updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by alba3
Ok no comment below but - E V E R as a word does not exist in Spanish. - ian-hill, MAY 21, 2010
It is the positive of the word "never" - ian-hill, MAY 21, 2010

21 Answers

5
votes

How could a mouse ever help a lion?

When the lion is computer-literate.

updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by geofc
Too bad this kind of passed unnoticed. It's very clever! - Gekkosan, MAY 21, 2010
I just saw it HA - nizhoni1, MAY 21, 2010
Best answer! - fontanero, MAY 21, 2010
:) - alba3, MAY 21, 2010
I completely missed it the first time...great answer - Izanoni1, MAY 21, 2010
4
votes

"¿Cómo podría un ratón jamás ayudar a un león?"

updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by Gekkosan
This doesn't sound good in my Spanish :) - Benz, MAY 19, 2010
Well, hey Benz! Where the hay have you been!?? Nice to see you pop up! May not sound right, but it is. At least it is the best way I can think of to express exactly the meaning of Alba's original expression. - Gekkosan, MAY 19, 2010
Hi Gekk! but it's not correct, with all my respect :) - Benz, MAY 20, 2010
The problem here is the word "jamás"... it's not correct here :)... I've never heard a native saying something like this :) - Benz, MAY 20, 2010
btw Gekk... I've been busy working... translating... - Benz, MAY 20, 2010
Sigo pensando que es incorrecto. Sorry Gekk y no lo tomes a mal, es que en este caso "ever" en pregunta no significa "jamás" en Español, sino "alguna vez" :) - Benz, MAY 21, 2010
Yo no lo tomo a mal, Benz, mas si me confunde un poco tu convicción de que está incorrecto. Tienes los ejemplos, tienes la definición del RAE, y tienes la opinión de al menos otros tres miembros hispanos. Que no lo uses lo entiendo, pero no es incorrecto. - Gekkosan, MAY 21, 2010
3
votes

Recuerdo mi leccion sobre "ever" para indagar sobre la frecuencia con que se realiza alguna accion y en la respuesta se usa never, rarely, frequently, usually, always... Además recuerdo que se omitía su traducción.

Bueno en este caso, de la conocida historia infantil, hay que traducir la idea:

¿Podría acaso un insignificante ratón ayudar al Rey de la Selva?

Si intentan seguir buscando una traducción literal nunca va a quedar bien... mi opinión.

updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by AntMexico
Excellente!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Antes de poner "jamás" es preferible omitir su traducción!! Totalmente de acuerdo Morbo!! - Benz, MAY 21, 2010
3
votes

In all fairness, I just thought that I should point something out. According to the RAE definition....

First of all, here's is what the RAE has to say about "jamás":

jamás. (Del lat. iam magis, ya más). 1. adv. t. nunca. 2. adv. t. ant. siempre. 3. adv. t. ant. Alguna vez.

...both siempre and alguna vez are listed as antiquated usages (ant = anticuado). I also checked in my 30 year old copy of Pequeño Larousse ilustrado and neither siempre nor alguna vez is listed under the entry for jamás. Of course anticuado is not the same thing as disusado, but it could explain why it might sound strange to another Hispanohablante.

It reminds me of when I first learned that the expression haber de + infinitivo could be used to express an obligation, and beaming with this knowledge, I rushed to try it out only to have my feeling of excitement quickly and thoroughly dashed when I was quite unceremoniously told (corrected) by several people that nobody ever (nunca jamás) talks like that anymore, and it sounds stuffy, stiff, etc. (i.e. the expression has become antiquated and is more often than not replaced by the tener que + infinitivo expression) Since that time, I have found many examples of the haber de expression in various written formats; however, ever since being reprimanded for sounding odd, I have refrained from employing this particular expression in conversation.

I wonder if a similar situation is occurring here with the use of the word jamás in this way. Of course, this is all just conjecture on my part (and all based upon its listing as antiquated by the RAE), and in such matters, I will of course defer to the true experts to sort it out, such as yourself, Benz and the rest of the hispanohablantes here who actually have an ear for such things. smile

updated MAY 21, 2010
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
Interesting, Iaznoni. I learned that "hay que usar..." (for example) meant that one should use... (no specific person in mind) and that "Tengo, tienes, etc. que usar..." meant a specific person. About the "jamás"question, I have no opinion. lol - Delores--Lindsey, MAY 21, 2010
So I have used it not knowing that it was not in popular use. Of course, I do that with a lot of things. :-) - Delores--Lindsey, MAY 21, 2010
not "haber que" but "haber de." As far as opinions go as to lo que me suena bien, no tengo ni idea porque no tengo bastante experiencia con el idioma para justificar una respuesta - Izanoni1, MAY 21, 2010
3
votes

I think the posts from Izanoni, Heidita, Nila, Geof, and the moral support from Hecho en Mexico go a fair way into explaining why "¿Cómo podría un ratón jamás ayudar a un león?" is correct.

Under other circumstances, I might agree with Charlius and Morbo that it may be more comfortable (and even appropriate) to try and find an alternative construction that offers a similar meaning.

In this particular case, however, Alba made it very clear that she wants to use the expression: "How could a mouse ever help a lion?"

Even in English, it is a bit of an odd construction, although not uncommon.

And here comes one of those decisions that translators need to make every now and then: Literal translation, liberal interpretation, or faithful translation?

In this case, whether we feel comfortable with it or not, there happens to be an exact, faithful translation to the expression that Alba used. It is "¿Cómo podría un ratón jamás ayudar a un león?" It means exactly the same thing that Alba wrote, and there is sufficient grammatical and usage evidence to support that claim. The original sentences does not really mean that we should explore the ways in which a mouse may be able to assist a lion. No. It is a statement of skepticism. It expresses the most serious doubts and reservations as to the capacity of a measly, insignificant little rodent to be able to do anything useful at all for the mighty lion. It dismisses the mouse altogether. So we use "jamás", which in this case serves the purpose precisely. Ain't no way lil' buckteeth there's gonna be able to help Mr. Lion! The gall of the lil' fellah!

Note that what I wrote is in fact not a "literal translation". A literal translation would be: " ¿Cómo podría un ratón alguna vez ayudar a un león?". But there are two problems with that option: First of all, it is awkward, and second, it just doesn't convey the same exact meaning.

As for "liberal interpretations"; a number have already been offered. Same problem: they fail to convey the exact meaning of the original expression, at least in a simple, compact construction.

So, after thinking about it for a while, I chose to put on my Faithful Translator hat, and went for the one construction that exactly replicates the meaning and intention of the original sentence in the most economic and elegant form.

This time around, I'm digging my heels, and sticking to my guns:

The best and most faithful translation for Alba's sentence is:

"¿Cómo podría un ratón jamás ayudar a un león?"

For me, one "liberal" alternative would be:

"¿Cómo pretendería jamás un ratón ayudar a un león?"

updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by Gekkosan
2
votes

Alba, I think that I would go with "alguna vez. smile

updated MAY 22, 2010
posted by Delores--Lindsey
2
votes

Well, I think in this case, we should not be trying to find an exact translation for each word and instead, try and convey the spirit of the entire sentence.

Why not: En qué circunstancia podría un ratón ayudarle a un león?

I think this is exactly what we´re trying to say in english.

-Charlius-

updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by Charlius
2
votes

Hi Gekk! but it's not correct, with all my respect smile - Benz

My dear friend Benz: when I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and I have no compunctions admitting it.

This time, however, I am not wrong. Not only do native speakers use jamás in this sense, they do it frequently, and it is widely used in literature as well.

As odd as it sounds, "jamás" can, and is, used to mean "ever".

First of all, here's is what the RAE has to say about "jamás":

jamás. (Del lat. iam magis, ya más). 1. adv. t. nunca. 2. adv. t. ant. siempre. 3. adv. t. ant. Alguna vez.

I will now provide a few examples I found quickly on the net:

From education.yahoo.com:

ja·más

adv.

  1. never jamás lo creeré I'll never believe it
  2. ever el más grande que jamás haya visto the biggest that I have ever seen

From Wikipedia:

para siempre jamás

* for ever and ever

From Amazon.com:

El Hombre Mas Rico Que Jamas Existio/ The Richest Man Who Ever Lived

From [alibris.com][4]

El Sandwich Mas Grande, Jamas (The Biggest Sandwich Ever)

From torretz.com

La historia mas grande jamas contada

From businesspanish.com:

JAMÁS/ Ever

Jamás is used as a superlative and is equivalent to ever.

EXAMPLE:

* Este projecto es el más intenso que jamás he empredido./ This project

is the most intense that I have ever undertaken.

Don't take my word for it, of course! Have a look for yourself, I'm sure you'll find loads more examples... or find a refutation and then please let me know! grin

[4]: http://www.alibris.com/search/books/qwork/1975871/used/El Sandwich Mas Grande, Jamas

updated MAY 21, 2010
edited by Gekkosan
posted by Gekkosan
Ninguno de estos ejemplos se parecen al de Alba Gekk. Supongo será otra de las tantas diferencias culturales. Tal vez en tu país se diga, en Argentina nadie lo expresaría así. Saludos!! - Benz, MAY 21, 2010
Ah bueno... ya si los ejemplos no te parecen pertientes, pues de verdad no tengo más argumentos, amiga. Tendremos que acordar a estar en desacuerdo. Donde yo vivo tampoco es una construcción de uso común, mas eso no significa que sea incorrecta. - Gekkosan, MAY 21, 2010
No, no se parecen en nada al de Alba Gekk.. :) - Benz, MAY 21, 2010
Muy bien Benz. En este punto yo realmente no tengo más argumentos, y ya sería cuestión de conseguir una autoridad de més peso que otorgue un veredicto basado en alguna regla que uno de los dos desconoce. - Gekkosan, MAY 21, 2010
Yo estoy seguro de estar en lo correcto, y tú también lo estás. Yo puedo vivir con eso. Si encuentras prueba irrefutable de que estoy equivocado, con gusto la acepto aquí mismo. :-) - Gekkosan, MAY 21, 2010
2
votes

Hola,

Maybe change the word a little...

¿Cómo podría el ratón, alguna vez, ayudarle a un león?

updated MAY 19, 2010
posted by LuisaGomezBartle
Nice! Could it be 'un ratón' to stick closer to her 'a' - margaretbl, MAY 19, 2010
1
vote

Alguna vez.....I think

updated MAY 22, 2010
posted by CharlyInCharge
1
vote

This has given me another idea:

Ever:

   1. (as intensifier): when will you ~ learn? 

¿cuándo vas a aprender?;

¡Pero cuándo vas a aprender!!!

updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by 00494d19
1
vote

From WordReference:

Ever:

  1. (as intensifier): when will you ~ learn? ¿cuándo vas a aprender?;

Another use of "ever"... Would you translate "ever" as "jamás"?

confused shut eye

updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by Benz
Aquí no, porque no aplica. Es otro uso distinto de "ever". El ejemplo correcto en este caso es el que publicó Heidita. - Gekkosan, MAY 21, 2010
1
vote

Then, it would be: ¿cómo podría jamás ayudar un ratón a un león?.

Ok, that makes, 3 - 1raspberry

How could a mouse ever help a lion?

Charlie said:

Why not: En qué circunstancia podría un ratón ayudarle a un león?

I think this is exactly what we´re trying to say in english.

I don¡t agree with this, I think what we read between the lines is this, exactly what Nila said:

With that question you are almost denying the fact that it can be possible. Then, it would be: ¿cómo podría jamás ayudar un ratón a un león?.

updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by 00494d19
1
vote

Hi Gekk! but it's not correct, with all my respect smile The problem here is the word "jamás"... it's not correct here smile... I've never heard a native saying something like this smile - Benz

Siempre un placer verte amigasmile (a thread was opened the other day asking for you, I sent the owner a Pm telling him that you are with us but very busywink )

Pero a lo que iba. pues no estoy de acuerdo. En España se diría justo así.

Yo lo considero también correcto. Vamos a votar:

tres nativos: 2 - 1

A ver lo que dice Morbo, jeje, le llamaré al hilo. Y NIla claro!!

updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by 00494d19
1
vote

I don't see the problem.

Do you ever get up at seven in the morning?

(¿Te levantas alguna vez a las siete por la mañana?)

They are asking if you do something that perphaps it is frequent or not.

In your sentence, however, it is clear that it cannot be very frequent that a mouse can help a lion in case that it can be possible for any odd circumstance.

How could a mouse ever help a lion?.

¿Cómo podría un ratón ayudar a un león (alguna vez)?. It sounds odd. It can't be very frequent. Then, I suppose it sounds better "jamás". With that question you are almost denying the fact that it can be possible. Then, it would be: ¿cómo podría jamás ayudar un ratón a un león?.

And also, what you said at the first, Alba. It would be very useful if you ignore "ever" and you say: ¿cómo podría un ratón ayudar a un león?. With that, all your problems will have dissapeared.

updated MAY 21, 2010
edited by nila45
posted by nila45
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