2011/04/24

Generalitat de Catalunya: St George is Susanowo in Japanese

Yesterday the Catalan government mounted some kind of co-branding (brand leeching, if you prefer) spectacle with the Japanese ambassador to Spain, which seems to have been designed to encourage the local public to contribute money to Japanese reconstruction and the Japanese to empathise with Catalan nationalist aspirations. Much was made of the virtues of industry and parsimony that unite these two massively indebted Völker, and, says Avui (echoed unquestioningly by El País, skirted subtly by La Vanguardia), an elderly soap actress, Montserrat Carulla, was given a text to read which included the following classic:
Catalonia and Japan share the myth of St George, who is called Susanoo in Japanese.
(Catalunya i el Japó compartim el mite de sant Jordi, que en japonès duu el nom de Susanowo)
Are the Japanese really celebrating the god of the sea and storms at the moment? Is the Catholic church aware that tsunamis are also St George's vocation? (At least Gibbon's St George, George of Cappadocia, had some connection with the sea, in which he was drowned by his followers.) Is Shintoism a Christian sect or vice versa?

(H/t: DN)

2011/04/23

Chinese overseas aid for Spain?

Victor Mallet has a good piece on Spain's damagingly mistaken claim that Zapatero had successfully begged $9 billion from China. Chinese state media seems now to be hinting that, while some bucks may be on offer, Spain needs to present some bang asap - usufruct of the Balearics as latter-day Deshimas, proposes a mischievous voice. More constructively but also with the slightest hint of schadenfreude, Charles Butler suggests that Spain-trashing Zapatero, whose "Pavlovian reaction to an opportunity to resume his hard-wired good-news-all-the-time mindset", might feel at home at Greece-trashing Citigroup.

2011/04/14

The japanish writer Haruki Murakami awarded with the 23th Premi Internacional Catalunya

We're talking the front page of the website of a Catalan government whose words consist of endless recycling of the cliché about taking its rightful place among the family of nations (its deeds are something different), which spends millions employing friends and relatives in "embassies" around the world, and which has just given a celebrated (anti-nationalist) writer and translator €80K and a little trophy to demonstrate that it, too, counts in international terms. And the best headline their translation service can come up with is "The japanish writer Haruki Murakami awarded with the 23th Premi Internacional Catalunya." Jesus wept.

In other news, the Goethe-Institut (which is to say the German government) recently requested Spain's autonomies to start teaching German in schools, presumably because they believe that Spain's comparative underdevelopment is here to stay. (The OECD says that unemployment in Germany is less than a third of that in Spain, and increasing numbers of Spaniards are retracing the route taken by impoverished ancestors to the land of plenty big sausages.) Given that the post-1986 boom saw only a modest expansion of quality English teaching in schools, and that this was overshadowed by a shift away from Spanish in favour of regional languages of little commercial relevance, Berlin's request does sound rather like that line in Neil Young's Ambulance Blues (hint: 06:37):

2011/04/09

Montserrat -> Monsterrat

Catalonia's Holy Mountain becomes a giant rodent in the day-by-day fold-out menus at a competitor, Explore Catalunya.

(H/t Shazza.)

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