2012/12/20

Breakfats, breakfast of the future?

Seen this morning on a bar in Barcelona's c/ Ancha/Ample (not the Snake Bar: that's on Laietana, and the menu is disappointing). Mike Abayan lexes it on Urban Dictionary as "a meal for those who are trying to lose weight. it consists of non-fatty and healthy foods or, if not, no food at all." The tens of thousands of ghits out there include a pretty fucking subliminal one in a Nestlé page URL and title tag. It's on-message and memorable, and may even become a generic mealtime term once people realise that "dinner" is also "in nerd."

 But if you're innovating then you also need to know when to stop. Yep, that's you, Finca Puig Gros in Palafrugell:
This contry house is set in forets , 5 minutes walk fron the cente of Calella drive. It ofeers a large garden with an outdoor pool , cap Roig castle and botanic graden are 200 mtrs. away . The Puig Gros serves a daily continental breakfats in the dining room , there is a porh with a table and armchirs where yiu can relax with a gring.
"Gring" must be gastric ring, and they're surely a thing of the pats, now we're all on breakfats.

If you want to be sent in a gift box

Over at PH. Dehesa de Los Llanos is one of a number of brilliant cheeses from down Albacete way that I have been trying, and generally failing, to introduce to friends whose first choice tends to be something local and expensive made by rich kids with mullets and flags out of what tastes like dog milk.

2012/12/12

Translation, a secular Pentecost

The other day some kind person passed me the memoirs of the influential moderate republican writer and politician Carlos Esplá Rizo, Mi Vida Hecha Cenizas [Diarios 1920-1965], who sees his life turned to ashes by Spain's political failure after WWI and by his long exile following the Civil War. In 1950 someone fixes him up with a cushy job as a UN translator, giving him time to reflect on the profession:
La naturaleza hizo distintos a los hombres y les dio distintos modos de expresión. El arte de la traducción es una sublime rebelión humana contra la Naturaleza y la Historia, al tratar de unir a los hombres, haciendo que los extraños sonidos que emiten los labios de un hechicero zulú puedan llegar a los oídos de un psiquiatra de Park Avenue, convertidos en los sonidos de su propia lengua que le son tan familiares, iniciando así la unificación del pensamiento a través del milagro de la traducción.
I think some of what he says should be available here - if not I'll hack something out.

2012/12/11

Rosetta Stone dumbasses

Peter < Peter. The only way of learning a language quickly and (sometimes) cheaply is with a pillow dictionary. All else is suckerbait.

2012/12/10

Jerez isn't Auswitch

Jerez is in Spain. Dickslessia is not our national sport.

Someone here thinks it sounds German, but you'd probably say "Hexe raus!" Your Ausweis is your ID.

(H/t)

Hiking with Godzilla: Camino de Ripio / I walk rubble

Anything la madre patria can do, Provincia de Río Negro, Argentina can do better, said governor Alberto Weretilneck to himself, taking a break from the commission charged with finding a spelling for his surname that was not an anagram of Erect Winkle. And so he commissioned a premium-rate translation for this walking route map:


Lacustrine does it exist, don't get me wrong. It's just that a normal human being might say "lake routes".

(Tip of the hat to Mister Ivo! I strongly recommend any Argentine readers to allow me to put them in touch with him - he is still in their splendid country - in order that they may buy him some beers.)

2012/11/13

I heat this cantrie, give me the visa

Not a Spanish, but an Algerian curiosity doing the rounds:


They've got natural gas, of course.

Things are quiet.

2012/11/12

Their downward Fernando de Andrade

Colin thinks that the Excelentísimo Concello de Betanzos, a small town in La Coruña province, may want to reconsider their self-awarded superlative. Not all friends are false.

2012/11/08

Jonhsntone


Conjecture: In writing about insidious Albion, El País and their Spanish colleagues faithfully copy-paste Wikiclichés except when they come to proper nouns including an "h", when dyslexic Anglophobia is allowed free rein:
Celtic difícilmente volverá a ganar la Copa de Europa. Ya se sabe también que últimamente no es una heroicidad conquistar el Celtic Park. No será fácil tampoco que los bhoys vuelvan a tener un entrenador como Jock Stein y un jugador de la categoría de Neal, Jonhsntone o Larsson. Ahora mismo es imposible formar una alineación legendaria con chicos nacidos en un radio de 30 millas del Parkhead como pasó en 1967. Ni siquiera se compite con el descendido Rangers. El Celtic, sin embargo, siempre será el Celtic, imposible olvidar un estadio como el Celtic Park y el verde es por definición el color opuesto al azul en Glasgow: 125 años después de su fundación, el campeón escocés sigue siendo un club reconocible y admirable, muy capaz de derrotar de vez en cuando a un equipo como el Barça.
Is "Parkhead" a refutation? Does chaos sneak more easily through the letterbox when "h" and "s" are involved? What are the diplomatic implications?

2012/10/25

Shiteways Cider Company Ltd

The first phoneme of the subject of this splendid story by the Diario de Jerez appears to have colonised the first of the (long defunct) Whiteways Cider Co. Ltd., and they probably deserved it.

For Whiteways et al in 1966 sought a ruling allowing them to market as sherry beverages that used the Jerez process but that were not specifically of that district. González Byass managed to get away with staging an initial hearing in its own bodegas by claiming that Tío Manolo was too old to travel, and Mr. Justice Geoffrey Cross, after
29 days, 74 witnesses, 3,000 price lists, 1,600 bottle labels, hundreds of bottles, glasses, advertisements, photocopies from the British Museum archives, a reproduction of a 17th century English comedy, ... letters of state between Queen Elizabeth I and her ambassador at the Spanish court, [and] a fragment of the map made in 1154 by the Arab poet and cartographer Al-Idrisi ... on which appears the town of Seris
... decided, perhaps somewhat wearily, that Shiteways could continue to ply its wherry as long as that term was prepended by a disabling qualifier, e.g.
'British Sherry', 'English Sherry', 'South African Sherry', 'Australian Sherry', 'Cyprus Sherry', 'Empire Sherry'
... as well as, presumably, Most Vomitsome Sherry, which led in one's teenage years to frightful scenes in and around a fenland discotheque, followed by rapid ascent of a wall and precipitate flight, at a moment when quite other business was anticipated of one.

(H/t to your man for all your Jerez business, in English or Spanish, should anyone be looking for such a person in these sober times.)

2012/10/16

Una serie de articulos han aparecido

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Torygraph believes a Basque nationalist blog has misquoted a conversation between him and a Catalan nationalist journalist. Unfortunately he struggles a bit with the Spanish, and since his articles often bear a sketchy relationship to basic fact - if fisk is still a verb then maybe someone would like to employ it here - mewonders whether he doth not protest rather much.

If you want to read something sensible about Spain's constitutional crisis from a generalist, you could try Gideon Rachman, a journalist of vastly superior calibre, but I think that even he doesn't fully understand the implications of Catalan independence and exit from the EU, which would immediately be followed by the Basques.

Leaving aside the imperialist ambitions of both new entities, one aspect rarely mentioned is that, despite efforts in the past decade to increase the role of sea transport, roughly 70% of Spain's European exports continue to travel by road and to an insignificant degree by rail via those two regions, and there is no alternative to hand - central Pyrenean connections are a joke. An armed, vengeful, bankrupt, unproductive rump (when did the aftermath of 1898 cease?) being held to ransom (some of the locals have been impressed at the success of miners' blockades of motorways in Asturias and León) by an unarmed, bumptious, bankrupt, unproductive mini-state isn't exactly a formula for peaceful coexistence. Referendum or no referendum, I continue to think something rather nasty's going to happen.

2012/09/26

Dictatorship of the castriat

Don Colin, who has more members than Lingual S&M, wonders whether this is de la abeja rodillas. Just out of interest, here's the original 1st para:
Se encuentra a pie mar, sobre una pequeña península y, durante el siglo I a.C., las gentes que lo habitaron vivían en unas 20 viviendas en forma circular dentro de unas murallas con carácter defensivo. Existía también un foso. Entre ambos elementos se estructuraba el emplazamiento del castro: un cubo defensivo se encontraba a la derecha de la entrada donde al mismo tiempo se estrechaba el muro que encerraba, muy probablemente, todo el castro.
Google Translate:
Located right by the sea, on a small peninsula and during the first century BC, the people who lived there were living in 20 houses in a circle within defensive walls with. There was also a moat. Between these elements are structured the site of Castro: a cube was defensive right of the entrance where narrowed while the wall that enclosed most likely all castro.
I think their translation is GT + professional Spanglisation.:
It is by the sea, on top of a small peninsula and, during the I century before Christ, the people who habited it dwelled in around 20 circular housings inside defensive walls. There was as well a moat. Among both elements the castro's place was structured: a defensive cube was on the right of the main entrance where, at the same time, the wall which locked probably up the whole castro, became narrower.
Their version of the castro is basically dumbed-down 19th century nationalist ethnogenesis (see for example the national-catholic Leopoldo Martinez de Padin's Historia politica, religiosa y descriptiva de Galicia (1849)). This kind of thing is still pretty influential in the more lowly-ranked Spanish universities, which is to say all of them, and, depending on forthcoming elections in the three principal regions in question, may I guess even succeed in bringing down the Spanish state:
The celts came to Galicia 2800 years ago and they built their villages in the best naturally defended places. These structures, the castros, can today be "discovered" thus there are plenty of remains. The biggest was found only 100 years ago close to the city of A Guarda, in the mont of Santa Tegra, where it was attempted to build a castro image and likeness of the one it was thought to be there. One of the most beautiful places to visit a castro is may be Baroña, in the south of Noia, directly placed in a peninsula. It is known that celts had sheeps and pigs, made weapons and clay pots and in order to worship the lord of war and peace they sacrified human beings.
The Galician WP article has surprisingly few bad moments, but not many good ones, the Germans stay well clear, and you can read the rest for yourselves. Shit in, shit out.

[
It has been said that George Borrow was one of the worst translators ever to adhere to the guild, and his Gypsy bible certainly strikes me as excessively Danubian. But is there anyone here with expert knowledge who has read either that or the Bible he produced for the Basques ("a very ignorant people") who would like to give have a say?
]

2012/09/13

Shock horror! Madrid employs native speakers to kick-start bilingual education programme!

I've met quite a lot of English teachers in Spain, but of the native speakers I only know a couple who have worked in the state education system, and then as poorly paid language assistants on here-today-fuck-off-tomorrow contracts. Back in January Esperanza Aguirre indicated her intention to break what she probably regards as the stranglehold of bureaucratic and union protectionist intransigence:
"No comprendo por qué estando España en la Unión Europea no es posible que los teacher ingleses no puedan impartir clases aquí", ha dicho. A su juicio, es "muy importante que [los profesores] sean nativos, acreditados". "Si somos europeos, somos europeos", ha añadido en su discurso que ha dado intercalando español e inglés.

Por ello, la presidenta ha pedido a la viceconsejera de Educación, Alicia Delibes, que se ponga a trabajar en este asunto para lograr que se puedan contratar profesores ingleses.

Aguirre se ha referido al programa de bilingüismo de la Comunidad de Madrid del que ha dicho que es "una prioridad" porque el objetivo del Gobierno regional es "mejorar la calidad de la enseñanza y alcanzar la excelencia académica". A juicio de la presidenta, "el bilingüismo enriquece a cualquier joven".

Por otro lado, Aguirre ha manifestado que "la cultura anglosajona es fundamental para occidente". "Lo ha sido en el pasado, lo es hoy y estoy absolutamente convencida de que lo será en el futuro", ha añadido.
And now it looks like she's keeping her word:
La Consejería de Educación ha contratado a 28 profesores de Reino Unido e Irlanda a dedo para dar asignaturas en inglés pese a tener docentes propios habilitados para impartir esas materias. Los nuevos docentes, que no hablan español, comenzaron a incorporarse a los institutos de secundaria de la red bilingüe de Madrid unos días antes del inicio del curso. Pese a que Educación indicó en un primer momento que no ocuparán plazas de funcionarios, las instrucciones que ha enviado a los centros señalan justo lo contrario: sí cubren esas vacantes y forman parte de la plantilla (cupo) de profesores de los centros.
Anglo-Saxon culture continues to be something of a mystery to me, but though there will undoubtedly be problems, which syndicalist xenophobes will undoubtedly try to exacerbate, I tend to regard this as an excellent practical development for Madrid with huge symbolic value for Barcelona, where my impression is that education in one world language is suppressed and in another viewed with apathy and suspicion by the educational establishment.

2012/09/02

Francophone ticket recycling centre at Valencia Joaquín Sorolla station?

Bring out your dirty tickets:

But no:

Tickets sales, tickets sale, when all I wanted was ticket sales. Well, then, just show me the way to the next tourist office:
The latter is in Valencia's great Northern Station, which, confusingly for those with a basic understanding of conventional geography, is just outside Valencia's vanished medieval South Gate. I pointed out in the late 90s to anyone who would listen that the budget for Valencia's biggest white whale project, the City of Arts and Sciences, would be better expended, and the architects' and engineers' skills better employed, building a humungous single-span railway arch - a rising sun roller coaster - over the centre of Valencia old town to connect in a straight line the old southern and northern railways and restore to the northern station some of its dignity - it's currently a police station behind the tram stops. But the CAS now apparently costs €5 million a month to keep open, and fast trains still pull into Estación del Norte-Joaquín Sorolla and then have to reverse back out to continue their journey. Translation is not really a big deal.

2012/08/26

Chinese commercial interpretations of Spanish language and culture

For a change. The Madrid / Barça footballs are splendid. (h/t AR)

Fucked translation, the consequence of a strategic choice by the Spanish authorities?

My man in the education department of the Generalitat de Catalunya this lengthy lunchtime: "Why the fuck would we teach them English? Then all the smart ones will fuck off somewhere else to work less hours for twice the money and the Catalan economy will grind to a halt." The same applies to Spanish teaching, but there are places we don't go.

A friend from my musical days now runs SME relations for a large German bank somewhere along the Rhine, and has been closely involved in efforts to fill a wide range of vacancies at local businesses with applicants from the bankrupt periphery. The Irish: excellent; the Portuguese: poor numeracy but often good English; the Spanish: terrible English, so other skills not particularly useful, and if they fail in the particular role allotted then reassignment is difficult.

Apparently a lot arrive in the belief that German can be picked up in a few months on the (apparently excellent) intensive courses offered. But if by the age of 30 you haven't mastered the basics of the most accessible Germanic language out there, WTF hope has your ageing brain of dealing with the curious conglomerations of sounds grunted in lands where even Romans feared to tread?

[
I think the mad Chomskian doctrine that Universal Grammar means that all languages must be equally complex, or something, has been quietly abandoned, so here's Madame de Staël, De l'Allemagne:
La simplicité grammaticale est un des grands avantages des langues modernes; cette simplicité, fondée sur des principes de logique communs à toutes les nations, rend très-facile de s'entendre; une étude très-légère suffit pour apprendre l'italien et l'anglais; mais c'est une science que l'allemand.
]

Non-troglodytes welcome

Carlos < Letilubelquis < José María Inigo.

2012/08/23

Bar or in vitro fertilisation clinic?

Vino en botella = he/she came in bottle, via Carlos from En la luna de Babel, who may also have been the source of the previous post. Meanwhile Mark Liberman is moving in on the French trade in hallucinogens.

2012/08/22

Ciutadella - Historical Spanish Since 1965

Tom (who is these days blogging less and twittering more) encountered this proclamation on entering Ciudadela de Menorca, and suggests correctly that it refers to the publication in the Boletín Oficial del Estado of a fascist decree, promoted by education minister Manuel Lora Tamayo and signed off by Franco on Christmas Eve 1964, protecting the town's conjunto histórico-artístico from local patriots developers, who had been building furiously since mass tourism in the Balearics kicked off a decade earlier.

The citadel figured in the franquista imagination for one of the Civil War's more curious events, the (non-)Battle of Minorca in early February 1939, when British diplomacy facilitated a rapid Republican surrender, thereby averting some additional bloodshed, bombardment of the historic quarter, and the establishment of an Italian airbase on the island. There is obviously no mention of this quite important event in the decree, and I doubt any memorial to it exists in the town itself. An accurate and acceptable text would be quite difficult to draft, but the translation would probably give joy to many. One for the Foreign Office?

Cool iron = hierro chulo

Via someone's mobile:
Want to rent a gorgeous flat in downtown Barcelona?

2012/08/16

Singular = peculiar, parte de atrás (?) = back side

Don Colin continues his investigation of Spanish idiomcy and gents' toilets. Although I have sung with one - flight is complicated for drunken guitarrists in mock-Renaissance robes - I don't know what "poner una tuna" means. Various types of expert help required. (I get no ghits for "ruiero de combarro.")

2012/08/09

Circulate the spawns to the right, brother

Check out Lenox on the Dump in your Soup School of Translation. The belief that singular and plural, in this case anchovy and anchovies, are qualitatively distinct was also noted by early Soviet linguistic researchers as a barrier to collectivisation in the illiterate hordes of the Great Steppe. I will try to dig out the reference on my return, and compose an essay on the possible consequences for Andalusian socialism.

2012/08/07

How to comply with Catalan language police regulations without spending anything

Over at Tot Barcelona, and one of many such cases in Barcelona. As is noted, there is no proof that the motivation is this rather than, say, a sudden rush of patriotic blood to the head of the proprietor. But, as is also noted, if your shop sign is in Arabic you will be left in peace, while lingua franca, Spanish signs attract heavy fines.

2012/07/11

Nikolaos Michaloliakos mistranslates Caesar

J tells me to take a longer look at the notorious clip featuring Mr Golden Dawn, which I confess I didn't finish first time round, but which contains a nice "Veni, vidi, vici" moment:
Stuff:
  • Caesar's comment allegedly came after defeating the Greek ruler of Pontus (whose hazelnuts inspired our al-bóndigas). I don't think Hitler said anything slighting about the Greeks, so maybe he'd be a better source. Just trying to be helpful.
  •  Hitler quoted Shakespeare, but I believe he left JC for BM. Why?
  • Does "Golden Dawn" describe the situation when you wake up to find your loved one urinating on you? Crass? Us?
Anyway, here's the latest Greek vid from Human Rights Watch:

[Videos both via NRC]

Suing fucked translators

I am told that translators all used to be self-employed and not worth suing, but that the slow advance of litigation in the market is changing all that. Phrases like "you can't sue me for more than the value of this contract" won't cut it, limited liability companies will need to be considered, and liability insurance will give greedy lawyers something worth suing. That's not going to stop me translating Occitan for well-heeled loonies, but I might become even less enthusiastic about complicated medical shite. There's an old post here, and I'm sure more dedicated searchers will find ample reward.

2012/07/07

Arabitch bath

Studiolum@Poemas del río Wang visited the so-called Arab baths* at Palma de Mallorca and discovered that in some language or another they pertain to "A woman from the middle east or Arabia that is a bitch."

*Gabriel Ensenyat i Pujol of the University of the Balearic Islands, mysteriously absent from the THE's current list of the world's top 400 universities, says for reasons that are unclear that the baths are Jewish, and that if you publicly disagree with him about anything he should be able to denounce you to the authorities.

2012/07/05

Push, empujar con cariño

A divine contribution from our principal supplier suggests that the semantic range of "push" along the hardness axis is more limited than that of "empujar", which may or may not be true, but which achieves the main object - that users think critically about the door and elect a solution that will not lead to dislocated hinges or structural damage: 


2012/06/30

Mega-rich businessmen who don't pay translators

  • Carlos nominates Emilio Botín, who is spending €77 million on a cultural centre in Santander but hasn't got €77 for someone to translate his bank's ATM screens, never mind a lawyer to check that it has been done. Asked for comment, the department of equestrian psychology at Glyndwr how the fuck do you get a circonflexe on top of a w Glendower University rapidly persuaded their institution that this was an ominous omen, and that all funds should be withdrawn, tutti sweety, from Santander's separate, ring-fenced, UK entity. The power of fucked.
  • MJN, she say, what about Rafa Nadal's Facebook site. Alfonso el Idiota, he surmise, folksy Spanglish is an integral part of the brand, and the posts are actually written by a PR chappie on ten grand a month.

2012/06/28

Turismo de Mojácar: we shit on customer opinion

Admirable, artless Almerians (via Lenox - donate, you tight bastards):
From the Department of Tourism understand that dining is a cornerstone in the development of the tourist experience. The quality, diversity and professionalism of our restaurants are in themselves a good reason to travel Mojácar. Our wealth joins culinary tradition, innovation, good facilities and very special treatment, dumps on customer satisfaction. In this conference we will have the gastronomic Attempt to prove it once again. Come, enjoy and eat Mojácar.
Some will also object to "eat Mojácar", particularly as the sacred mount has been said by passing extra-terrestrials to resemble a monstrous pile of poo. But I think acquittal could be arranged on that count by citing the mini-chain of pseudo-Japanese in London called Eat Tokyo (generally cheap, often cheerful), and I suppose syntax could be pled on the first.

My experience, though, of Granada scholars - the councillor responsible is said to have a law degree - is that they place more faith in fisticuffs than in rhetoric as a means to resolving philosophical disputes.

2012/06/22

Ara.cat uses poor English to criticise schoolchildren's poor English

The sender tells me this story about the Eurobarmeter (sic) has been improved since publication, but it's still pretty crap. I think the linguistic establishment takes a quite complex view of the merits of learning a subsidiary dialect, in this case Spanglish, as an introduction to full Estuary or Hudson. [Apparently my English was crap too. It's all part of the eternal pilgrimage to meta.]

2012/06/18

Pinterest and the Five Stages of Beef

Because there is a limit to the Catalan sausage with Jews one can consume, here's the estimable Miguel Llorens on how US Facebook-bubble wannabes Pinterest have been trying, and failing, to get translation for free. On his blog, watch Sarah Tavel raft the five rivers of Hades, aka the dotbomb marketeer's Five Stages of Beef™:
  • Styx (the river of hate): Fuck off, we used pros.
  • Kokytos (the river of lamentation): It's my mum's fault (but I love her).
  • Phlegethon (the river of fire):  I am not, nor have I ever been, your fellow-twitterer - just watch me delete.
  • Akheron (the river of sorrow): Look, ignorami, "favoritos bloggers hispanohablantes" works in Latino but not in Peninsular Spanish. Honest! We'll weep a couple of tears, but don't expect a tsunami.
  • Lethe (the river of forgetfulness): What a lovely day it is today! What a great proposition I have for you!
The layout of the Greek underworld may require adjustment, but so do all geographies: never trust a hippy, they say, so in terms of the poor getting poorer working for the rich getting richer, is it fair to say that its enthusiastic endorsement of crowdsourcing makes Harvard the new capital of global hippydom?

2012/06/13

Not fucked translation

The Daily Mail and Tesco and various translation pundits just booked themselves into the nether stretches of the intestines of linguistic hell. From the Mule:
I'm not hungry, thanks! Tesco brands Finest spaghetti bolognese 'the balls of grandad'
  • Packaging features signs from an Italian market advertising 'Le Palle de Nonno' and 'Coglioni di Mulo'
  • They translate as 'the balls of grandad' and 'donkey's b*******'
  • Tesco apologises, admitting 'we didn't check translation'
Both grandad's and mule bollocks are, of course, well-known generics whose names are bestowed on morphological grounds, and you wouldn't put either in a bolognese, so it's difficult to know where to begin.

There's no mileage in commenting that the Daily Mail's exclamations ill befit a site written about monstrous tits by monstrous tits for monstrous tits, since all three parties generally appear deliriously happy with the transaction.

Nor is there in noting that, while Italy this lunchtime appears on the verge of becoming a failed state in the sense still unmentionable in Spain, at least it isn't cursed with a mafia plague of the proportions of Tesco.

But this is turning into a hateful, stupid post, so I'm going to leave you and return to a world blessedly free of retarded, ignorant, clickbait content-milling: The Guardian.

(H/t MM)

2012/06/11

Fahrenheit 451

Why's the Spanish translation not called "Celsius 233"? Because its perceived market consists not of book-devouring hermits who care about the relationship between title and text, but of exhibitionists in search of accessories symbolising of culture and modernity? Why worry about book-burning when no one reads the damn things anyway?

2012/06/10

Der Führer and I: misinterpretation as a smart career move

Unprofessional Translation, one of the most interesting translation blogs out there, has introduced me to a wonderful anecdote, which apparently comes from the German original of Dolmetscher der Diktatoren (1963), the memoirs of the Eugen Dollmann, the protagonist. Here's the late American investigative journalist, Robert Katz:
Dollmann had spent the past decade in Italy. As a young scholar he had come to Rome in 1927 with a grant to do research on a Renaissance pope. The grant ran out. The world changed. Hitler came to power. But Dollmann managed to stay in Italy, pursuing his studies. By now he spoke the language flawlessly and was known to his many friends as "Eugenio." [In 1937] his rather obscure existence had been completely transformed. He had come face to face with Hitler. They took a liking to one another. It happened this way: Hitler was to address an assembly of Italian Fascist youth. His interpreter was suddenly taken ill. Dollmann was pressed into service and summoned to Hitler's room. "Mein Führer," snapped the stiff adjutant who introduced them, "Doktor Dollmann ist da." One can still hear the heels clicking.
A figure stepped from behind a screen. It was Hitler. He extended his hand. 
"So, you are Doctor Dollmann from Rome?" 
"Hitler held my hand for several seconds," Dollmann remembers. "He stared at me intensively with those famous eyes... it seemed as if he were trying to hypnotize me."
Dollmann has never worked as an interpreter, and, believing that Hitler will just say a few words, it doesn't occur to him to take notes. However, the boss rants on for half an hour, and when it's Dollmann's turn he can't remember anything and decides makes up his own speech, which, according to UT, receives an excellent reception:
So Dollmann thought his ordeal was over, but no. To his dismay, he was told he would be driving back in Hitler's own car. He got in, wondering whether Hitler realised what had happened, and after a while, sure enough, the Führer said to him sternly, "Herr Doktor, it seems to me you didn't say quite what I said." Dollmann's heart sank to his boots. And then Hitler continued, "But never mind. They liked it."
Katz or virtually anything else available on Dollmann will leave the average interpreter virescent with envy, although Michael Salter's Nazi War Crimes, US Intelligence and Selective Prosecution at Nuremberg, which uses some archival sources, seems (page bottom) to suggest that the official involved was actually Himmler.

But se non è vero, è ben trovato, and Dollmann's memoirs sound like a marvellous read, and I'll happily report back if someone sends me a copy. (Years ago, recovering from hangovers in a bedroom in Freiburg full of diplomatic memoirs, I waded through chunks of the recollections of Paul Schmidt, who ran the German Foreign Office's translation service through the 1930s to the end, but they were dreadfully dull. Life is short.)

The contemporary interpreter-to-superhero whose tale everyone wants to hear is of course José Mourinho, who worked in that role at Barcelona for Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal before being reincarnated as Beelzebub. With Robson dead and van Gaal ... absent, it is difficult to imagine José taking a humble view of his role, but I doubt he will come out with any revelations as startling as Dollmann's "Hitler was gay."

A German interpreter once told me that Churchill once said that leaders most feared interpreters and dentists, which I can't substantiate but which sounds about right.

2012/06/08

They want our money but they don't want our participation

Lenox's take on the tourism department in Mojácar, where, including unregistered residents, there are probably at least as many British- as Spanish-born, but where it doesn't occur to the (ruling) Spanish-speakers to ask the (generally leisured) English-speakers for paid or unpaid help with tourist promotion.

Some of the German press this morning are probably reaffirming that same conclusion - that northerners are seen as a financial, but not a human resource - re what seems to be the proposed bailout of Spanish banks without external oversight. We may look back and conclude that actually it is all dear old Helmut Kohl's fault for saying 1 Ost-Mark = 1 D-Mark without asking an economist, or that the whole situation would never have arisen had it not rained on the night of September 4 1944, but we are where we are.

[
Official demography for Mojácar / sex / birthplace for 2011 here. One trawl:


Total Población Nacidos en España Nacidos en el Extranjero Reino Unido
Ambos sexos



  04064-Mojácar 8.090 3.062 5.028 2.884
]

2012/05/26

Bankia says sorry

Go here and enter "Why did you lie to everyone, you bastards?" [Apologies: At the time of writing Bea did indeed say "I'm sorry," followed by something about not speaking English yet.]

Most of their site is well translated, and apart from English it's available in Catalan and Valencian, so no money wasted there. However times have changed and will not change back until each and every Spaniard stumps up €400 and then forgets about it. And so you get intriguing (but still perfectly intelligible) stuff like:
More than 7 million clients in Bankia wake up sweating with fear in the middle of the night they benefit from the Programme WITHOUT Commissions. 
Just as long as its salary or pension is domiciled in Bankia you, be person under 26 years old or it has 1,000 actions of Bankia deposited in our company, will not pay commissions of service* 
[...]
The exemption is applied automatically, it will not have to request nor to fill no document.
Where did they get the name from? Perhaps
  • The UN's Ban Ki-moon, whose often mysterious ways haven't quite yet succeeded in saving the world.
  • The Norwegian bank previously acquired by Santander, who have kindly decided not to sue.
  • A genus of ship-worms, little beasties capable of sending large vessels to the bottom.
The latter is my favourite, and I hope yours. The WP entry mentions in this connection a chilly gem of Thoreau's:
Though all the fates should prove unkind,
Leave not your native land behind.
The ship, becalmed, at length stands still;
The steed must rest beneath the hill;
But swiftly still our fortunes pace
To find us out in every place.
The vessel, though her masts be firm,
Beneath her copper bears a worm;
Around the cape, across the line,
Till fields of ice her course confine;
It matters not how smooth the breeze,
How shallow or how deep the seas,
Whether she bears Manilla twine,
Or in her hold Madeira wine,
Or China teas, or Spanish hides,
In port or quarantine she rides;
Far from New England's blustering shore,
New England's worm her hulk shall bore,
And sink her in the Indian seas,
Twine, wine, and hides, and China teas.
It is often said that we arty-fartys should learn basic arithmetic. In order to offer us some kind of return, should literacy be required of bankers?

2012/05/20

Invest in Spanish public debt

German-English translator John Bunch on a bad idea whose time has passed. (H/t MM)

Me speakee inglés

Carles Miró's new blog links to the defunct fum i estalzí, which I also used to read, and which carried Johnson's salutory tag: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money."

Money also drives translation projects, and only thieves and fools cost and conduct them in a way that lacks clear and defensible commercial goals. Unfortunately, a recurring trait in the publicly-funded and -run sector of the Spanish tourist industry, one which is only explicable in terms of larceny and lunacy, is the use of the local language and local media to promote local wonders to outsiders who neither speak that language nor consume those media.

My impression is that this is particularly prevalent in Catalonia - see for example a couple of rants re Ripoll Council - but embezzlement and imbecility are not imprisoned by the waters of the Ebro or the Noguera, and those of you resident outside of the Promised Land will probably be able to rattle off dozens of other such cases.

Now Lenox has come up with an intriguing variant: tourist advertising in the local media in the expat language:
... a full-page advert from the tourist division of the Diputación de Almería, advertising the delights of our province. Worse yet, it was in English! 'There's a lot to find when you get lost in Almería'.
This will do nothing to increase tourism, and demonstrates, perhaps in a way that even a Spanish libel judge could understand, that the budget is in the hands of thieves and/or fools.

What it may, however, demonstrate is some dawning in the collective consciousness of the Andalusian mafia of the notion that, with a view to maintaining the status quo, expats qualify for emotional and, for the fortunate few, financial kickbacks in the same way as other interest groups, and the hell with the economy. Perhaps that's the closest to progress we're going to get.

2012/05/17

A fencer called Fencer

Check out fellow-moaner, Malaprensa. Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, will need it, and if John Baker is permissible, then why not the other way round more generally - Ayudaporelamordedios Rajoy, for example?

2012/05/16

Steakholders

In comments, from the excellent Pueblo Girl, a not uncommon Spanglish eggcorn, and one previously much enjoyed in English too. For example:
Stake versus Steak.
On one occasion, Garrick dined in the beef-steak room at Covent Garden, ready dressed in character for the part of Ranger, which he was to perform the same night at the other theatre. Ranger appears in the opening of the comedy; and as the curtain was not drawn up at the usual time, the audience began to manifest considerable impatience, for Garrick had not yet arrived. A call-boy was instantly dispatched for him, but he was unfortunately retarded by a line of carriages that blocked up the whole of Russel Street, which it was necessary for him to cross. This protracted still further the commencement of the piece; and the house evinced considerable dissatisfaction, with the cries of "Manager, manager!" When Garrick at length reached the green-room, he found Dr. Ford, one of the patentees, pacing backwards and forwards in great agitation. The moment the doctor saw him, he addressed him in a strong tone of rebuke. "I think, David, considering the stake you and I have in this theatre, you might pay more attention to its business." "True, my good friend," returned Garrick, "I should have been in good time; but I was thinking of my steak in the other." The appearance of their favourite soon pacified the audience, and Garrick went through the character with more vivacity than ever.
Ha ha, boom boom.

In Spanglish a steakholder is obviously the person left holding the buey, and life would have been simpler and less amusing had the English not renounced the pronunciation which gave the Spanish their estaca, the stake to which their steak could be conveniently tethered.

If Mateo Alemán had spoken English he might have made terrible corn with this passage in Guzmán de Alfarache, which compares the rewards of the cleric to those of the humble ox:
El religioso por El ha de serlo, tomándolo por fin principal y todo lo más por acesorio. Que claro está y justo es que quien sirve a el altar coma dél y sería inhumanidad, habiendo arado el buey, después del trabajo atarlo a la estaca sin darle su pasto.
 Someone remind me what this blog is about.

2012/05/14

Fear escape

From a Barcelona tech company, with offices on c/ Blames (or whatever it's called), an emergency sign that people will actually read and remember:


If substituting "fire" with "fear" has interesting consequences, the reverse is also consequential. Thus treated "The Faerie Queene", for example, may recall for some Quake on acid:
Next him was Fire, all arm'd from top to toe,
Yet thought himself not safe enough thereby,
But fire'd each Shadow moving to and fro:
And his own Arms when glittering he did spy,
Or clashing heard, he fast away did fly,
As Ashes pale of hue, and wingy-heel'd;
And evermore on Danger fix'd his Eye,
'Gainst whom he always bent a brazen Shield,
Which his right Hand unarmed, firefully did wield.
Coming confusions in this class:  "dear"/"dire", "ear"/"ire", "leer"/"lyre", "spear"/"spire", and "tear"/"tyre." Imagine, if you will, Dowland's "Flow my tears" recast as the wail of a Berber trucker marooned in rubber-melting heat in Hispaniam desertam:
Flow, my tyres, fall from your springs!
Exiled for ever, let me mourn;
Where night's black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn.
In the land of the one-eyed, the king is blind. We wouldn't want it any other way.

(H/t Alex K at the excellent tech/weird blog, A bite of...)

2012/05/02

Artur Mas: only the filthy Spanish are stopping every Catalan owning a farm right now

In a number of posts (see below) I've suggested that rather than use cheap, crap human translators customers should consider free, often-not-so-crap machine translation, so it was only a matter of time before someone called my bluff.

Tom has sent over a lovely piece from Ara re the use by the Catalan regional government of Google Translate to provide the English and Spanish versions of Govern.cat, which, aka President.cat, and in conjunction with a considerable international PR campaign, appears to be designed to pave the way to full independence, or at least create that impression for nationalists open to more radical political options.

The link to the English version has this very moment disappeared from the site, but Ara has a fine collection of pearls (e.g. "Joseph and Mary Pilgrim" for "Josep Maria Pelegrí"), and I loved the vaguely Rhodesian bit here about "raise our taxes, own a farm and have been able to modify the laws in Parliament."

So... Do we only care about the economic stats, or do words, well-considered and -translated, have some residual worth? Should the state economise on translation for non-voters and play to the gallery by for example reducing motoring costs? What is the implication of also using MT to provide a version of the site in Barcelona's lingua franca, Spanish? Would Merkel finance a farm for every Catalan?

I haven't got the answers.

[
More MT posts
]

2012/04/11

Fucked translation, literally: Tot un futut junts

Carlos Ferrero < Miguel Llorens < Miquel Strubell < Bankia. This sounds to me less like a mistake than like ironic comment from members of staff at Caixa Laietana, one of a number of bankrupt regional minnows swallowed up by Caja Madrid to form Bankia. Many of their colleagues will have lost their jobs during the fusion.

("Futut" rather than "fotut"? I saw an "opurtunitat" the other day in Masnou.)

2012/04/07

Indian spammers masquerading as incompetent Spanish translators?

Lenox points me to an article called "Hotels In Benalmadena, Mojacar And Vera – Spend The Amazing Night Life!", which returns ca. 1800 ghits for me this morning. That level of distribution kind of surprises me, because fucked Spanish translation tends to be the work of artisans apparently innocent of the benefits the age of mechanical reproduction could bring to their works of art. This latter, hand-made approach to the production of low-value goods is the kind of thing that should be giving Luis de Guindos sleepless nights, and I fear that we must look to a more advanced economy for the author of these abominations. The tag on all of them is "jiyajeni", who appears to be an unusually shy Rajasthani content farmer from the great city of Jaipur, rather, unfortunately, than the free-floating Pakistani model, Jennifer Jiya.

2012/03/21

The economic case for fucked translation

Via LS an anonymous cartoon of the gulf between what we (would like to) think we have said and what we (are understood to) have actually said:


Why don't we say what we think? Why do the inventors of magnificent flying machines gibber like madmen? Why, in our case, do excellent Spanish bars produce hilarious English menus?

I think the local branch of the Habermas sect would preach to me that we are victims of a capitalist conspiracy, which actively seeks to do down richly deserving (although admittedly slightly whiney) literary-sociology PhDs and instead pays top money to people who invent cool stuff. I don't buy this. For one, Genesis 3 seems to suggest that communicative incompetence predates modern bovine economics.

Instead, as millions of first-year economists and linguists will have explained elsewhere, it's a simple question of resource allocation. On the one hand, for lonely inventors or cooks the proof's in the pudding, and elocutionists and translators who seek to gild these particular lilies do so at their financial peril. On the other, the higher the risks and rewards in a particular line of business, the greater the value we place on people's ability to wriggle effectively in both thought and speech. There's a direct relationship between proximity to the killing, stealing and fucking Commandments and the importance of getting one's words right. That's why politicians are generally pretty fluent, and why (except in weird markets like the English courts) interesting legal translation commands a 100% markup over the best of the rest. Brian Steel's Soapbox documents some of the relatively scarce failures to obey this rule.

The other day Mark Liberman posted an Italian aphorism (which for a long time was popular in Spain as the theme of a gerontophobe sex comedy, Quien puede no quiere, o el viejo burlado):

Chi po non vo,
chi vo non po,
chi sa non fa,
chi fa non sa
et così il mondo
male va.

A number of the examples on this blog have been sent to me by Spaniards embarrassed by their own organisations. Several could do far better themselves, but their allocation to other tasks both demonstrates David Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage and refutes those smart-arse Italian proverbialisers.

Sometimes the world is actually better off when the best-qualified are kept clear and the fuckers get the translation.

2012/03/19

Cokkoutlet

Once again we stray from the straight and narrow of our mission onto the great scrubby heath of linguistic hilarity. The double airco and window/door configuration here clearly forms an elephant's eyes and trunk, suggesting a menagerie shared with the one-eyed trouser-snake, but this is an MOR clothing retailer in Manresa, not a boutique dedicated to camp double entendre, to the basic freedoms of the tool used to wean and convert lesbians and virgins into useful, productive members of society:


So who knows what a cokk is. Outlet, on the other hand, is the Spanish crisis synonym for shop. Anything that doesn't call itself an outlet is clearly overpriced, although price comparison now reveals little or no difference.

2012/03/14

Naming rigths @ Sol Galaxy Note

As in El Mundo:

La nueva campaña publicitaria de Metro de Madrid no sólo se limitará a la estación de Sol, ahora rebautizada Sol Galaxy Note (como el móvil de Samsung) en una campaña denominada 'naming rigths' (derechos de nombre).

This incredibly common misspelling (ca 19.2 million ghits) is not confined to native speakers of Spanish and other Romance dialects, and frequently occurs alongside correct versions.

I suspect some kind of sub-conscious rationalisation: "gh" is silent before "t", so they're not important, so I'll just spray them in there somewhere, & who gives a $hit what grouchy bloggers think.

If one of you could fix me up with academic respectability and finance I'd manacle journalists J. G. Treceño and R. Bécares to a long bench, pour boiling oil over them, and ask them how they pronounce "rigths", but I know times are hard.

(H/t Lenox, to whom donations should be directed, preferably this very minute. Scum we may be, HuffPost scum we are most certainly not.)

2012/03/12

Plato cheese

The diaspora and its hangers-on don't often show here, but Studiolum@Poemas del río Wang's found a cool menu from a vaguely Hispanic-themed bar belonging to the Café-Café chain in Lvov, Ukraine.

Given the man's clever-bastard reputation, Plato cheese is clearly a witty reference to some elite type of head cheese. Sophist is Plato's fish and rich young meat special, where anglers hunt the former and sophists the latter, but I don't get the joke.

2012/03/07

When did you born? Birth, agency and Whorfian politicology

Wine-buff Víctor de la Serna (via Carlos Ferrero) has nailed Domecq Bodegas for an amusing slip on the otherwise impeccable site, "When did you born?" I haven't really looked for literary or scientific evidence, and I'm pretty ignorant of non-me dialectal forms, but I'd hazard that this form is actually quite common among some groups of native and non-native English speakers. I can't work out, though, whether the interrogative classifies the child as object ("When did your mother bear you?") or subject ("When, ignoring your mother's groans and your father's tears, did you decide to leap into this dangerous world?").

[
BTW, "did" doesn't preclude the former - take this intriguing census-operative/citizen exchange from 1970s Gambia:

Q. When did you born this child?
A. "Digi".
Q. What is "Digi"?
A. Month before "Gamo"?
Q. When was that?
[Ends]
]

For me this confusion remains in some affirmatives:

I did born blonde & light ash blonde its like a strawberry blonde which i DONT want at all i want a light pretty blonde so should i use a different dye to do after? Not only that the ash i think kinda made it like a little green weird lol. So what dye do i get to take out the strawberry look and greenish lol

However I feel on slightly safer ground in the conversation between Balu and a ghost in I Am Not Intelligent, an extremely curious novel written in Indian English by Oscarbond:

"Who are you?"
"I am Arinchar Anna, the former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu."
"When did you born?"
"I born on 15-09-1909 in Kanchipuram..."

In various traditions future leaders take charge before they are born. Here's Joan Baez singing the Cherry-Tree Carol:


Then up spoke Baby Jesus,
from in Mary's womb:
"Bend down the tallest tree,
that my mother might have some."
And bent down the tallest branch
till it touched Mary's hand;
Cried she, "Oh look thou, Joseph,
I have cherries by command."

Unfortunately no one seems to have studied extensively the infant utterances of superheroes and other chief ministers, and Keith Chen has more serious business at hand. But I wager that sooner or later maternity wards will fill up with a swollen sect muttering grammatical instructions to their unborn - "Say 'I born myself' to the nurse, and who knows where you'll end up!" And at night missionaries of the Church of Chomsky will emerge from the shadows to bore and distract.

2012/02/14

"Placed with an international criteria in the market", but to whom does this refer?

In a world of staggeringly incompetent amateurs the website of Textiles Athenea is just run-of-the-mill hound-dog, so I wouldn't even mention it if someone hadn't wept an empathic tear at a job ad of theirs that came flashing past. Hmm, to be the sparkling hub of their textile pattern design, collection formation and trend spotting they're looking for a Fine Arts graduate with at least two years experience and

Portafolio Artisitico
Dominio de photoshop,illustrator y Corel
Orientacion a la moda y búsqueda de tendencias
Ingles nivel alto

The lucky applicant will start on 15K€ gross, which is to say roughly 1K net/month, or just above 7/hour worked, at a time when babysitters and cleaners are making 10. And all that to put up with an organisation which can't (be bothered to) spell "artistic" in a desolate village in Alicante province. London, here comes someone, and it probably ain't Athenea.

2012/02/08

Facebook: if you form a civil partnership you must be gay

Chez Lexicool, via MM, Katia, who, using Facebook in English, described herself as being in a civil union with Juan, only to have a lucky escape from her mother-in-law, who, using Facebook in Spanish, had understood that this was in some sense a homosexual union, and was just about to order some educational literature from Amazon.es when light dawned.

This minor disaster is an unfortunate side effect of an initiative this time last year which, with the aim of doing well by doing good, broadened the repertoire of relationships available to include the options "in a civil union" and "in a domestic partnership." In many jurisdictions same-sex marriage may be the most common end facilitated by civil union legislation, but being able to form a legally recognised, affectionate partnership without taking on board marriage's historical baggage is valued by a wider public. So it's curious that the translation "unión civil" was rejected.

How does Facebook translate its UI? Is there some element of inverse correlation floating out there between the profitability of an enterprise and its willingness to pay for translation?

2012/01/29

Galician gastronomy for people with false teeth, cats and dogs: chack it out!

From Don Colin and the Xunta de Galicia, some gruesome translation with the splendid tagline "Flavour Routes, chack them out!":


"Check them out" would be far too unenterprising for a region whose private-sector, while Catalonia was spending €150M of public money trying to turn Barcelona Airport into a global hub, quietly forged a privileged relationship with Colombian farmers. So "chack" it must be, but in which sense of the verb? Here's the OED ($ or British public library card ID):
1. Chiefly Sc. To snap with the teeth; to squeeze or crush with a snap of the jaws or by the sudden shutting of a window, door, drawer, or the like; also to make a noise like that of snapping teeth, to clack, clatter, click. Also gen., of the cry of a bird.
a1522    G. Douglas tr. Virgil Æneid (1960) xii. xii. 152   With hys wyd chaftis at hym makis a snak, The byt oft falȝeis for ocht he do mycht, And chakkis waist togiddir hys wapynnys wycht.
c1540    J. Bellenden tr. H. Boece Hyst. & Cron. Scotl. xiv. xi. f. 213/1,   Ye cais chakkit to suddanlie but ony motion or werk of mortall creaturis.
a1689    W. Cleland Coll. Poems (1697) 35   Some's teeth for cold did chack and chatter.
 2. ‘Used of a horse that beats upon the hand when his head is not steady; but he tosses up his nose, and shakes it all of a sudden, to avoid the subjection of the bridle’ (Bailey Vol. II. 1731; and repeated in mod. Dicts.). ? Obs.

Opinion here is that the smart money is not on the horse but on 1. What I think the would-be Celts are trying to convey is that chattering of teeth which, in anticipatory delight and in some cases poisoned retrospect, accompanies the thought of small organisms scraped off rocks, garden birds and lame rabbits. Here's one video they might want to consider for the TV/online campaign:


And another:


There are rather less human than cat recordings on YouTube, but I found and liked Spookie Boogie. Chack it out:

2012/01/23

Spaced out

Peter Harvey has discovered two spacious rooms, lightly high in the Alhambra.

"Room of the beds" is the literal translation of "Sala de las camas," which must lead not a few visitors to giggle and wonder what the difference is between a "room of the beds" and a bedroom. Traditional use in English for such spaces, often assumed by orientalists with imperialist agendas, pace Edward Said, to be regal knocking-shops, favours the evocative "chamber of repose," although you'd still have to drop "real," royal, in this layout.

How did the hall acquire its name? I don't think Washington Irving bothered about it, although he rather liked the view of the Vega from the tower-top. But a brief trawl fails to discover it in pre-mid-19th century Spanish. So were its name and function in fact dreamed up by an English-speaking tourist or a French army captain, translated poorly into Spanish once they realised there was money to be made and then back again? Is all human communication in fact an out-of-hand game of Chinese whispers? Etc etc.

2012/01/20

English proficiency of the Spanish relative to other nations

La Información's reporter says that this publication by Education First, a teaching multinational with an interest in making target clients nervous, shows that of the European countries examined, only the Russians and Turks had worse English skills than the Spanish. He then left to finish his primary school geography class, and so didn't have time to wonder about the validity of a study which appears (p20) to have been based on the performance of relatively small minimum numbers per country (400) of self-selecting participants in online English tests, of which few details are given; a few more words about how the experiment functioned in say Kazakhstan as against Norway might have also been in order.

But never mind: there is praise (p3) from Dr. Napoleon Katsos of the "University of Cambridge Research Centre of [sic] English and Applied Linguistics," without it being mentioned that Education First seems at that stage to have been providing funding to the RCEAL. For whatever reason, RCEAL was merged in August 2011 with another group to form the university's Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics. Amidst some less than impeccable German, Education First claims to have set up this department ("An der University of Cambridge haben wir das Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics eingerichtet"), but the DTAL is churlish enough not to mention this generosity, and at pixel time the only ghits for Education First on their site lead to dead pages.

So, two mysteries. But, while all this may look like nothing more than a scattershot marketing stunt, in the case of Spain the old smoke/fire adage may also hold true.

2012/01/07

Unnacompanied into the woods?

The other day someone gave me the (impeccable) English translation of Gabriel Tortella's classic El desarrollo de la España contemporánea. Historia económica de los siglos XIX y XX. I don't really understand why he uses 1900 to divide the period in two - on the basis of most of the indicators he cites, a tripartite split around 1875- and 1950-ish would make more sense. And it strikes me that better organisation of his statistics might have saved him a considerable amount of explanation. But in general it is extremely informative and entertaining, so by all means buy it via one of the links above and earn me 5% at no extra cost to yourself, etc etc.

Anyway, one of his early points is the long subsequent drag on economic development caused by low literacy rates. He worries that even now that most people can read they choose not to - the following may not have raised a great number of hackles:
Modern Spain is a country that is poorly understood, even by Spaniards themselves. Not generally studious by nature, they distrust the official versions of history (and they are right to do so), but this distrust has often led them to approach history with an attitude of repudiation (and they are wrong to do so).
If the proprietors had attached any importance to the written word, they could surely have had this sign (thanks Anon!) from their hotel near Valencia, a coast stuffed with Brits, fixed for free in five :

A Spanish problem? Well... for even though native English speakers generally can read and do so with apparent gusto, it is sometimes hard to believe that they profit greatly from the experience - contrast, for instance, Amazon's US sales and the grinding stupidity of American electoral discourse. One minor phenomenon flitting through marginal vision recently (numbers are lacking) has been the misspelling of the negation of a word which is itself correctly spelled, often in the same sentence. Take unnacompanied / accompanied, and then perhaps take pity on the Valencians.

[
If someone can deal with all this incoherence, maybe they can also explain the historical development of the Three Kings such that, opening their treasure chests, they now offer gifts of underpants.
]

2012/01/04

The Alhambra as the opening titles from Mission Impossible

1966, and here's series 1, episode 1 of the Strine Bond:


Let's rewrite that:

Good morning, Mr. Irving,

Your mission, Washington, should you decide to accept it, is to compile a series of cultural and historical sketches laying the foundations for tourism policy in Granada and to a considerable extent in Spain in general.

As always, should any of the natives actually read Tales of the Alhambra, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

This record will self-destruct in five seconds.

Good luck, Washington.

Cue smoke:


I'm not sure that that I'd agree with the generous contributor that there's any translation angle here, but the tinge of semantic uncertainty, amplified by the archaic "only will be", provides yet another delicious khat-shift in perspective for those of us who would curtain a too-bright morning with the night.