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.

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