New Neruda Poems Discovered.

Fans of Pablo Neruda will be excited by this news, quoted here from Alison Flood’s story in the Guardian:

More than 20 unpublished poems by Pablo Neruda – works of “extraordinary quality” according to his publisher – have been unearthed among the papers of the late Nobel laureate in his native Chile.

Neruda’s Spanish publisher Seix Barral called the discovery “a literary event of universal importance”, and “the biggest find in Spanish literature in recent years”. The poems, which range from love poetry to poems dealing with everyday objects, were written by the mature Neruda, said the publisher, after 1950′s Canto General. They are, said the poet and academic Pere Gimferrer, who is involved with the publication of the poems, as full of “the imaginative power, the overflowing expressive fullness and the same gift, the erotic or loving passion” as Neruda’s best works. [...]

The poems were found, said Seix Barral, in boxes of the poet’s manuscripts kept at the Pablo Neruda foundation in Chile, and they will be published in late 2014 in Latin America and early 2015 in Spain.

I look forward to reading them, but what I want to know right now (this is a question that’s bothered me over the years) is, how do Spanish-speakers say Seix Barral? Both names are Catalan, and I presume Catalan-speakers say /seʃbəˈrral/ or /seʒbəˈrral/ (depending on whether they assimilate the end of the first name to the start of the second), but do Spanish-speakers say /ˈseiks/? /seˈiks/? /ses/? Something else? If you know, please share.

Comments

  1. Rodger C says:

    I think I’ve heard it as if it were “Seis Barral.”

  2. Breffni says:

    My wife (Castilian speaker from Alicante) thinks she’d say monosyllabic /seiks/.

  3. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    I asked my wife, who is Chilean (and who had an uncle who was a friend of Neruda’s: no bearing on the question; just a spot of name-dropping). The way she said it the x was clearly /ks/, but I wasn’t too sure about whether the vowel was a diphthong or not — intermediate between /seks/ and /seiks/, but probably the latter.

  4. I asked my regular consultant on Castilian, a phonetically sensitive Spaniard who spent many years in both Madrid Barcelona and speaks Catalan well. He said that in Madrid [ks] is normally simplified to [s], as in taxi [tasi], but since Seix Barral is a learned expression, it would be carefully pronounced [seiks]. Although the diphthong ei is rare in Spanish, it appears in a few words like reino ‘kingdom’, reina ‘queen’ (cf. rey ‘king’) and so is pronounceable. In Barcelona, though, people speaking Castilian would code-switch directly to Catalan, thus pronouncing it [seʃ] (as a proper name, it has a slightly non-standard pronunciation).

    He also gave me an interesting example of Catalan to Castilian code-switching: “El president va dir que las cosas no están tan mal, i aixó es una bojería” = “The president has said that things are not so bad, and this is madness”, where the italicized clause is in Castilian. Grammatically, it is also correct Catalan, though slightly misspelled: in Catalan, the plural of la cosa is les coses /ləs cɔzəs/. But in speech you can tell the clause is Castilian because of the lack of Catalan vowel reductions. Why use Castilian for just this bit? Because it is a quotation, though grammatically not a direct one and not necessarily a verbatim one. As a result, it is “conceptually” in Castilian, since that was the language of the president’s speech, and “translating” it to Catalan is more trouble than it’s worth.

  5. Thanks to all, and JC, what a fascinating anecdote!

  6. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    JC: “In Catalan, the plural of la cosa is les coses /ləs cɔzəs/.” /ləs cɔzəs/ does appear to be the official pronunciation, but to my ear Catalan “les” sounds exactly like Castilian “las”, for example on the Barcelona Metro when they announce the station Les Corts, so I’ve tended to regard “les” as an anomaly of spelling and not as /ləs/. Is that wrong?

    Hat: a similar point about Russian that came up the other day on another group that I frequent, the use of г for the sound better represented by в, as in его. I asked about that, and a Russian participant said that historically the sound was indeed that of г, and still is in church, but in everyday language it had become more like в. I hazarded a guess that the archaic spelling was retained because the Church would oppose rationalization. He said yes, that was exactly the reason, and that the Church was still opposing it. I’m surprised that they didn’t fix it anyway during the Soviet period. After all, they rationalized quite a few other things the bishops probably didn’t like.

  7. J. W. Brewer says:

    Well, given that the core meaning of “rationalization” (at least in modern English) is something like “a transparently self-serving justification/excuse for sinful behavior,” you can understand why the Church would oppose it.

  8. He’s not a poet at her level, but there’s something so Dickinsonian about the poems being discovered in a box. In the future, will the equivalent be somebody stumbling upon a forgotten thumb drive?

  9. The man has been dead since 1973 yet it’s only now that they’ve discovered what’s in the boxes of the poet’s manuscripts? Color me very skeptical as to the unveiling of these supposed lost treasures. This sounds like a publishing public relations campaign on the part of the Neruda industry insiders. The gushing encomia is all of a calculated piece.

  10. Yes, I have to agree with all you say, and yet if they are genuine Neruda poems from that period they’ll definitely be worth reading despite the excessive hype.

  11. the use of г for the sound better represented by в

    I suspect Lunacharsky et al. didn’t consider it worthwhile to press the issue. The rule, after all, is entirely exceptionless. Per contra, the elimination of ѣ in favor of е removed a substantial hardship in learning to spell Russian, and one that had become politicized as well.

  12. Usually Spanish-speakers tend to pronounce words literally, so we say /seiks/ although, as John Cowan says, normally we simplify /ks/ to /s/ or something similar and not only in Madrid.
    Another example of Catalan surname is Puig that is pronounced literally in Castilian but /puʧ/ in Catalan.

  13. Mr Cornish-Bowden, you are apparently missing some context and your Russian acquaintance did not fill you in. The Russian Orthodox Church has not changed the pronunciation of его to reflect contemporary Russian pronunciation, because the Russian Orthodox Church does not use the Russian language. Instead, it uses a whole other language, Church Slavonic.

    Now, there have at times been calls for the ROC to change from Church Slavonic to Russian, most prominently just before the Bolshevik Revolution. However, the October Revolution with its new religious policy caused the Russian Orthodox Church to turn increasingly conservative as a defensive reaction. When the Communist government eased up on the Church during World War II, it did so to use the Church’s conservative orientation to its own advantange. (One sees the same thing now with the alliance between Putin and the ROC). So, of course there was no real push from the Communists to tinker with the formula.

  14. Oops, my mistake, I apologize. I misunderstood your post as concerning the pronunciation in the church, not the spelling outside of the church.

  15. J. W. Brewer says:

    I’m trying to figure out if the “after 1950″ is supposed to mean the poems are believed (on whatever grounds) to have been written comparatively soon after 1950 or just “no earlier than 1950 but possibly as late as right before his death in ’73.” The relevance is understanding whether they were not published during his lifetime because he didn’t have time to get around to it but had he lived a bit longer and not been distracted by political difficulties he would have had them included in whatever his next volume would have been, or whether he didn’t think them good enough to be published. It may still be perfectly legitimate to put out discards/outtakes/demos/incomplete works etc. posthumously, but Neruda wasn’t someone like Dickinson/Hopkins/Traherne/whoever who was notably shy of publicity and publishers while alive.

  16. I’ll add that we would say /seˈiks/ if the “i” had an accent mark.

  17. The man has been dead since 1973 yet it’s only now that they’ve discovered what’s in the boxes of the poet’s manuscripts? Color me very skeptical as to the unveiling of these supposed lost treasures. This sounds like a publishing public relations campaign on the part of the Neruda industry insiders. The gushing encomia is all of a calculated piece.

    Gotta be so. The poems may indeed not have been discovered for some years after Neruda’s death. But there’s no way they were discovered even as little as a year ago, for it would take at least twice that time for Neruda’s literary executor, official groupies and so on to prepare and release the works for publication. (Ever notice the abiding collegiality among literary confreres? No? Neither have I.) The reason for the announcement now is so that bookstores can order now for late fall sale (i.e., Christmas gifts).

  18. David Marjanović says:

    Why use Castilian for just this bit? Because it is a quotation, though grammatically not a direct one and not necessarily a verbatim one. As a result, it is “conceptually” in Castilian, since that was the language of the president’s speech, and “translating” it to Catalan is more trouble than it’s worth.

    This happens in my native diglossia, too.

  19. I’m a native Spanish speaker (native bilingual in Spanish & English) and I read “Seix Barral” as /ˈseiks ba’rral/ (I hope I did that correctly). The diphthong “ei” comes up in words like peine (comb), veinte (twenty), and treinta (thirty), too.

    My native variety is Mexican Spanish so I hear the “x” pronounced all sorts of ways starting with the word Mexico itself. For example, my mom pronounces “nixtamal” (the corn used to make masa and tortillas) as /nista’mal/ usually but I could swear I’ve heard her say /niʃta’mal/ as well. I’ve heard other people say /niksta’mal/ instead. I take after my mom and use the /s/ or /ʃ/ sounds. Another example is “ixtle” (the agave fiber used to make rope, twine, scouring pads, etc.) which we pronounce as /’istle/ (although I may have been known to say /’iʃtle/ for the fun of it).

  20. Pancho, how do you pronounce the Catalan name Puig? In Catalan it’s pronouced like ‘puch’.

  21. Y, not knowing any Catalan I would pronounce Puig as I would as if reading Spanish/Castillian like “poo-eeg” or “pweeg” (would that be /puig/ or /pwig/ ?) with the accent on the i.

    It’s a last name I’ve across before and the times I’ve heard it, like on t.v., it’s been pronounced that way but I assume I’ve never heard it pronounced by native Catalan speakers before. I had no idea they’d pronounce it like ‘puch’.

  22. marie-lucie says:

    Puig : On the French side of the eastern Pyrenees, where Catalan is still spoken (though not officially), there is a town called Puigcerdà, obviously a Catalan name. In French I have always heard this name pronounced as if the g was absent (but I have never been in the area or heard the local Catalan equivalent). In Auvergne (South-Central France) there is a town called Le Puy, and puy is also used in the names of some mountains, the most famous of which is probably le Puy de Dôme, one of the many extinct volcanoes in the region. The word is also found in the fairly common last name Dupuy. There is also Puech, which I know as a last name, but which seems to be the cognate word in an Occitan dialect.

  23. I wonder if the family name of Ferdinand Piëch, chairman of the supervisory board of Volkswagen Group and a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, is somehow connected to Dupuy, Puig, etc.

  24. marie-lucie says:

    PO: Ferdinand Piëch

    I am not in a position to know for sure, but Piëch sounds plausible as a cognate of Puech in one of the dialects, or an adaptation of it to (I presume) a German regional pronunciation. It could have been the name of a Huguenot ancestor. Protestantism was widespread in Southern France (more so than in the Northern part) before Louis XIV tried to eradicate it from the country by making life impossible for the adherents, causing those who could afford it to emigrate, especially to Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as England and its then colonies. In the Northern part, most Protestants were engaged in industry or the professions and many were able to leave, but in the South, there were many among the rural population, who could not leave so easily (those included some of my ancestors). Nevertheless, a few people of Southern origin must have managed it.

  25. David Marjanović says:

    or an adaptation of it to (I presume) a German regional pronunciation

    For what it’s worth, the few times I’ve heard that name it was given a German spelling pronunciation: [ˈpiːɛç].

  26. Rodger C says:

    I can’t resist asking something that’s bugged me for forty years: How did the religious historian Henri-Charles Puech pronounce his name then?

  27. marie-lucie says:

    RC: How did the religious historian Henri-Charles Puech pronounce his name then?

    When I was a child my parents were friends with a couple called Puech, who said /pɥɛʃ/ (in one syllable, as in nuit /nɥi/), and I am pretty sure that this is the Southern pronunciation. Most people of this name on Wikipedia, including the historian, are or were from Southern France. But given the variability in the pronunciation of diphthongs starting with u or ou in French it is possible that some people outside the South use two syllables. I think that a person of this name, pronouncing it carefully for someone who had never heard it, would say “Pu-ech” even though they would normally say it with one syllable.

  28. Rodger C says:

    Marie-lucie, thanks.

  29. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Marie-Lucie: “Puig : On the French side of the eastern Pyrenees, where Catalan is still spoken (though not officially), there is a town called Puigcerdà, obviously a Catalan name. In French I have always heard this name pronounced as if the g was absent”.

    I think Puigcerdà is just on the Spanish side, though it goes right up to the border and touches Bourg-Madame on the French side. But no matter, I had a colleague called Puigserver when we were first in Marseilles (not the same name of course, but similar, and with Puig- at the beginning). I think everyone pronounced the g in his name, but that could (a) because I wasn’t then attuned to subtlties of French pronunciation and just “heard” the g that I saw written, or (b) because Marseilles is well away from the Catalan-speaking area and people just used a spelling pronunciation. I don’t know how he pronounced it himself, but in any case despite the Catalan name he was a Pied-Noir and had probably never learned Catalan.

    Only marginally relevant, but there are two different Spanish surnames that are probably unrelated, Cerdà from Catalonia, and Cerda from southern Spain. My wife’s second surname is Cerda (no accent, and stressed on the e), and when I went on a commission to assess research units in chemistry in Portugal some years ago there was another member called Cerdà. I don’t think the Portuguese people who prepared the previous documents bothered with the accent, so I thought it was the same name. However, he was from the Balearic islands and was certainly a Catalan speaker. I think if the Castilian equivalent existed it would probably be Cerdán or Cerdaña, as it refers to the region of Cerdanya, where Puigcerdà is located.

    I went to that region about 25 years ago (when there were still border controls and customs between France and Spain), but after studying the map carefully I decided that I would be able to get into the Llívia enclave on country roads. I succeeded in getting there, but wasn’t able to retrace my steps to get back into France: there were no direction signs whatsoever for Llívia on the French side, and, correspondingly, no signs whatsoever for France in Llívia. So I found myself willy-nilly in Spain, and had to explain to the French officials how long I had been in Spain (about 30 minutes) and what I had bought there (nothing: I had no pesetas). I told them that I had got into Spain by mistake along a country road.

  30. Wikipedia gives the pronunciation of Puigcerdà as “[ˌputʃsərˈða], informally: [ˌputʃərˈða], locally: [ˌpujsərˈða]“.

    The reason for the Llívia exclave is that although the villages of norther Cerdanya/Cerdagne were transferred to France in 1569, Llívia as the former capital was considered a city and therefore excluded, though it is not and never has been a “cathedral city” (the bishop’s seat is in Urgell, making it perhaps the only diocese with territory in three countries).

    The present population of Llívia is about 1600, making it somewhat smaller than St. David’s, the UK’s smallest city, though nothing close to the city of Adamstown on Pitcairn, population 56 (everyone on the island), or the former city of Maza in North Dakota, population 5 as of the 2000 census (one of eight places of that size), founded in 1893, dissolved in 2002.

    An Irish friend of mine came to the U.S. in the 1970s to study for a few weeks at the James Joyce Archive, which is at the University at [sic] Buffalo. One fine night he took it into his head to walk across the Peace Bridge. The Canadians, then as now more sensible (or lackadaisical, depending on your point of view) about casual immigration, were happy to let him in on the strength of his Irish passport, but warned him that he might have trouble getting back into the U.S., as he had not officially left it.

    Indeed, on walking back he was promptly arrested and thrown in jail, where he called my father, who was fortunately able to put him in touch with a Buffalo lawyer who got the matter straightened out. These days I suppose they would have deported him to Ireland on the spot, at best. However, it is still possible to freely re-enter the U.S. from Canada when the border crossings take place within a single building, as at the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, Stanstead PQ / Derby Line VT, which is at once the only library in the U.S. with no books and the only opera house in the U.S. with no stage, both being in Canada.

  31. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    I had better luck at the Peace Bridge than your Irish friend did. In 1977 I also took it into my head to walk across (starting on the Canadian side). I don’t remember all the details (which just shows that it wasn’t a very dramatic event), but I think the US border guard said it was OK as long as I didn’t go far beyond the end of the bridge. Another time I was allowed to cross on foot into Mexico at Tecate (possibly the most dismal place in California) without my passport. I asked the guy if he would still be in duty half an hour later and would let me back in, and he said yes.

  32. >Athel Cornish-Bowden
    You are lucky because you met some members of “customs officers without borders”, a new NGO.

  33. marie-lucie says:

    Names:

    Puech : On second thoughts I wonder if the two-syllable pronunciation might be the Southern one. Searching for the name I also ran into the name “Jouet” (a word meaning ‘toy’) and realized that Southerners pronounce such words with two syllables. The Puechs I knew were not from the South, so their pronunciation was not a guide. The two-syllable pronunciation also agrees better with the German adaptation.

    JC, Athel: Puig…:

    I was glad to learn the Catalan pronunciations of Puigcerdà. I have only heard the French pronunciation.

    Cerdà would be the equivalent of French Cerdan (the name of a famous boxer, who died young), like català ‘Catalan’ (person or language). Catalan words ending in a stressed usually indicate a lost n which is preserved in other forms of such words, such as the feminine form catalana.

    The forebears of Puigserver in Marseille via North Africa were probably among the many immigrants from Spain whose descendants became a large part of the “Pieds-Noirs”, officially French citizens most of whom had never set foot in France. Even if his parents or grandparents spoke Catalan, later generations would have encountered a French spelling pronunciation in school and adopted it.

  34. marie-lucie says:

    Oops: Catalan words ending in a stressed vowel usually indicate …

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