Hispanic Studies Review, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2020.

The Representation of Modern Tragedy and Ancient Storytelling in Jorge Volpi’s El jardín devastado

By George A. Carlsen, Pepperdine University

Hispanic Studies Review – Vol. 5, No. 1 (2020): 1-11


Jorge Volpi's 2008 novel El jardín devastado is an exploration of empathy between a male protagonist in Mexico and a female refugee from violence in Iraq. In this article I discuss how the narrative evokes its Middle Eastern setting through what Roland Barthes calls “realistic effects” as well as through references and appropriations of classic Islamic texts and artworks. The atmosphere is created through the use of Islamic narrative gestures such as language that evokes Sufi poetry, the Quran, the Arabian Nights, and pages illustrated with Islamic calligraphy. The novel is also effective in demonstrating the power and limitations of empathy in the face of tragic events. I will explore how the text avoids Orientalizing, to use Edward Said’s framework, as it positions itself to speak from the “West” while imagining the "East."

Julio Llamazares and the Lyrical Novel: Memory and Metaphor in Las lágrimas de San Lorenzo (2013)

By David Richter, Utah State University.

Hispanic Studies Review – Vol. 5, No. 1 (2020): 12-25


From his earliest poetic collections, La lentitud de los bueyes (1979) and Memoria de la nieve (1982), Spanish writer Julio Llamazares’s work exhibits a profound interest in time, memory, and natural landscapes. In his 2013 novel, Las lágrimas de San Lorenzo, Llamazares returns to consider these themes through the narrative genre, albeit infused with a persistent lyrical consciousness. This fragmentary post-modern novel relates a series of entangled memories wherein the meta-fictional protagonist, a self-conscious scholar attempting to write a novel titled Las lágrimas de San Lorenzo, recalls the stories of his youth while watching the shooting stars on the night of San Lorenzo with his son. Following a discussion of the primary motivations of Llamazares’s earliest poems and novels, this paper examines Las lágrimas de San Lorenzo’s lyrical imagery and how, through a series of metaphors, metonymies, and symbols related to the stars, the moon, and the landscape, the novel’s structure challenges the generic boundaries of poetry and prose.

The Acquisition of Subject-Verb Inversion and Preposition Placement in Spanish Wh- Questions

By Kathryn Bove, New Mexico State University, and Philip P. Limerick, Eastern Kentucky University/New Mexico State University.

Hispanic Studies Review – Vol. 4, No. 2 (2020): 26-46


The present study examines two syntactic properties of wh- questions in second-language Spanish: subject-verb inversion and preposition placement. Specifically, we examine difficulties that native English speakers have in acquiring feature strength and sentence structure in Spanish that differ from English, and we also examine the degree to which L2 speakers improve their question formation. We included three L2 speaker groups (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and a control group (native Spanish speakers), employing both a written production task and an acceptability judgement task. Results indicate that participants at all levels did not have problems with the placement of the interrogative element. However, difficulties arose with subject-verb inversion and preposition placement. Despite such difficulties, L2 speakers showed an improvement as their levels increased, particularly in the case of preposition placement. With regard to theoretical positions within the generative framework, the current data lend support to the Full Transfer/Full Access Hypothesis (Schwartz & Sprouse, 1996).

What got lost in online machine translations? Effects on Aspect and Passivization from a literary corpus

Isabel Repiso, Salzburg University

Hispanic Studies Review – Vol. 5, No. 1 (2020): 47-66


Aspect is a crucial ingredient of temporality, which reflects the speaker’s internal perspective on a given situation (Ayoun 2013). This article compares human translations and online machine translations (MT) with the purpose of describing how the distinction between perfective and imperfective aspect is realized in Spanish when translating from English. Our results come from 1.6 million-word Social Sciences corpus from which 82 perfective get- passive constructions (e.g., I got saved) were elicited. Although the general pattern is for atelic predicates (states and activities) to occur with the imperfect tense and for telic predicates (accomplishments and achievements) to occur with the preterite, in Spanish all the aspectual predicates can be expressed with preterite and imperfect, depending on what the speaker wants to convey (Montrul & Slabakova 2003: 357). The results show that Spanish imperfect readings were largely preserved in human translations compared to online machine translations. This study discusses the machines’ overextension of the preterite as a systemic regularity that bring MT’s outputs close to L2 learners’ grammars. Key-words: Grammatical aspect, get passive, machine translation, Spanish.