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w Glendower University rapidly persuaded their institution that this was an ominous omen, and that all funds should be withdrawn, tutti sweety, from Santander's separate, ring-fenced, UK entity.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
]