On Translating the Fairy Tale: The Wording and Wonder of Translating Fernán Caballero’s Bella-Flor


  • Jacqueline Shea Arizona State University




Following in the footsteps of the Grim Brothers, a woman named Cecilia Francisca Josefa Böhl de Faber y Ruiz de Larrea set out to collect Andalusian folk tales under the pen name Fernán Caballero. Caballero was one of the first people to record folk tales—specifically those deriving from Spain—in writing, thus helping to shape the subsequent fairy tale genre that is ever-pervasive in modern-day society. However, while many translations have been derived from the collections of the Grimm Brothers and other male collectors, Caballero´s have received less attention from English translators. One notable exception to this rule can be found in the works of John H. Ingram, who translated one of Caballero’s folk tale anthologies that included the story Bella-Flor, a Spanish folk tale about the importance of (and ultimate triumph resulting from) being good. This paper analyzes the merit of Ingram’s translation through assessing both linguistic choices and cultural edits. Analyzing this specific translation seeks to contribute to the aim of discussing the wider issues of translating stories the fairy tale genre—specifically those less notorious in modern-day Western culture—as well as the linguistic and literary choices that must be made when translating works across time and space.


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Author Biography

Jacqueline Shea, Arizona State University

Jacqueline Shea is a PhD student studying Comparative Culture and Language in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University, specializing in sociocultural linguistics and affinity studies. She earned her MA from Arizona State University in Spanish (Second Language Acquisition), where she researched foreign language and mixed classroom pedagogy as well as historical and instructional pragmatics and metaphor, and her undergraduate degrees are in Sustainability and Spanish Linguistics. She currently teaches undergraduate Spanish courses while continuing to research linguistics, emotions, folktales, and translation from a cross-cultural perspective. Through her research, she seeks to better understand how cultural values are formed through language (i.e., historical language development, dialect studies, pragmatics and discourse analysis, metaphor construction, etc.) and legends (i.e., fairy tales, folklore, mythology, children’s literature, etc.). Her goal is to foster both a greater understanding of the language and context of cultural productions from English- and Spanish-speaking worlds as well as greater empathy between different cultures and species.