This post was originally posted on Babelhut.
This past Christmas, I received Huevos verdes con jamón, which is the Spanish translation of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. I’ve read the book a few times now, but I just read it again, this time adding quite a bit to my SRS as I went. By total coincidence, this post is in time for Dr. Seuss’s birthday.
The first Wikipedia article I linked to above says that the book came about as a bet by Dr. Seuss’s editor that he couldn’t write a book with only 50 unique words. The original English version of Green Eggs and Ham uses 50 unique words exactly, making the book one of the easiest to read for new readers while remaining entertaining.
I was curious if the Spanish version of the book kept a similar principal, but it does not. My count has 96 unique words. I expect that keeping the rhyme and the tone of the story in the translation was far more important than keeping the number of unique words low. The translation is not exact because of this, for instance, Sam-I-am is replaced by Juan Ramón. Some of these interesting sentences from the book also demonstrate this:
No los como en un barco, ni navegando en un charco. This translates to I do not eat them on a boat, nor sailing in a pool. Wordreference.com tells me that charco can colloquially refer to the Atlantic, even though it means pool or puddle.
No los quiero en la tormenta, no me tientan, ni en el túnel ni en el tren me sientan bien. This one took me some time to translate:
I do not want them in the storm, they don’t tempt me, nor in the tunnel nor on the train do they agree with me well.
En la tormenta o en el tren, ni por asomo. Translation: In the rain or on the train, not a chance. It took some googling for me to discover that ni por asomo is an idiom meaning something like “not a chance.” Literally it seems to mean “not for show.”
For the curious, here are the 96 words used in Huevos verdes con jamón:
allá aquí árbol asomo barco basta bien cabra cajón caserón charco coche cómelos comeré comería comerías comerlos como con déjame dejas después dime dirás doy el en enfrían ese esta gracias gusta gustan gustarán gustarían huevos jamón Juan la lo los más me menos mucho nada navegando ni ninguna no noche o ocasión palabra paz podría podrías probaré pruébalos pruebas puedes pues que querría querrías quieres quiero quizás Ramón ratón ricos ridiculez rincón se si sientan son soy tal también tampoco te tientan tormenta tren túnel un una vaya verás verdes vez y ya yo zorro
While googling, I did find a PDF containing the entire text of the book, though without the matching illustrations. You can find that here.