For the Spanish-speaking world, the game in which the champion of a league or tournament is decided is known as la final.
In the United States, where P.R. is an art and a science, baseball since 1901 has had its “World Series”, a somewhat immodest name.
And for nearly a half-century now, the NFL’s final game has been known as the Super Bowl. Further marketing brilliance: numbering them with roman numerals: last Sunday’s edition was Super Bowl XLVII… letters that announce an event of historical, or imperial, dimensions.
“Bowl” originally meant just a stadium (first, apparently, was Yale’s), due to the hemispheric, amphitheater shape.
Beginning in 1923, the term names a championship game, the Rose Bowl. The Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl followed, and dozens more; and in the ‘60s, the NFL’s Super Bowl. (Curiously, the first two Super Bowls, in which the Green Bay Packers defeated first the Kansas City Chiefs and then the Oakland Raiders, were not called by that name; the term “Super Bowl,” and the corresponding roman numerals, were applied retroactively in 1969, the year the New York Jets shocked the sports world by defeating the mighty and heavily-favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.)
Spanish-language contact with American football is recent; only in the ‘80s did Super Tazón come into use: tazón,augmentative of taza (cup), refers to a deep plate or bowl. But Super Tazón is not nearly as widely used in Spanish as the direct calque from English, “Super Bowl”, with its prestige and powerful connotations.
Both Super Bowl teams’ names have a Hispanic connection: the Ravens (Cuervos), allusion to Edgar Allan Poe, who deeply influenced Spanish American literature, and the Forty-Niners (almost never translated into Spanish), reference to the Gold Rush that descended on California after Guadalupe Hidalgo, the treaty that ended the US-Mexican War.
Copyright 2013 by Pablo Julián Davis. All Rights Reserved. This essay was originally written for the Feb. 10-16 edition of La Prensa Latina (Memphis, Tennessee), as part of the weekly bilingual column “Misterios y Enigmas de la Traducción/Mysteries and Enigmas of Translation”. Pablo Julián Davis (www.interfluency.com) is an ATA Certified Translator (English>Spanish) and a Supreme Court of Tennessee Certified Court Interpreter for Spanish and English.
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