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.