In "Speaker for the Dead" (chapter 8, p. 132 of the Author's Definitive Edition), Ender says "es solo fecundo e vou plantar jardim ai", which Novahina translates as "thou art fertile ground and I will plant a garden in thee". Given the religious themes of "Speaker" and Card's experience learning Portuguese while a missionary in Brazil, I always figured this was a quote from the Bible. However I'm not able to find any passage in the (King James Version of the) Bible that resembles this, and haven't been able to find any matches to the Portuguese phrase on Google (I do not speak Portuguese so that probably doesn't help).

Was Card quoting something else when he wrote this passage, or is that text all original to "Speaker"? If the latter, why was the English translation rendered in the more formal/scriptural style?

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It is very hard to prove a negative, but I don't see any evidence that this line is a quote. Nothing similar seems to occur in the Bible, and Novinha, being brought up in a Catholic world, would probably have recognised and noted the allusion anyway. I have also not encountered anything similar in Mormon scripture (relevant as this is Card's own religion), or in general literature. So it seems entirely reasonable to believe that Card came up with the phrase himself.

As to the scriptural style, I think that comes down to the language lesson Card gives the reader in this section. Like many Romance languages, Portuguese has two forms of the pronoun "you": the polite form "você" which takes the third person form of the verb, and the informal "tu" which takes the second person (there is also an even more respectful way of addressing someone formally, as "o Senhor").

Novinha tries to insult Ender by addressing him in the "tu" form:

"vai fora d'aqui, nao tens direito estar em minha casa!" ... she had spoken to him derisively, using the insultingly familiar tu for "you" instead of o Senhor or even the informal voce. It was the way one spoke to a child or a dog.

and Ender replies to her, also using "tu":

"Nao es estrago," he whispered, "es solo fecundo, e vou plantar jardim ai."

(i.e. using "tu es" rather than "você é").

This distinction is lost in modern English, but existed previously with the usage of "thou" as the familiar form of "you". So rendering the translation as "Thou art fertile" is a way of maintaining the usage of the informal pronoun rather than the formal one. Since "Thou" is almost only encountered these days in prayers and translations of the Bible, it has the side-effect of making the line sound scriptural.


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