2013/12/24

Turkish-English machine translation

Over at TottenhamNews.org, via Improbable Research, which cites some choice samples.

Curiously, while the registrant's address is said to be just round the corner from Ankara's gloriously Martian Altınpark, the phone number is Dutch, and the only Turkish news that I've ever heard come out of Tottenham, north London, is of this planet's most splendid kebabs, fruit and veg, and cab drivers (but not from Ankara).

The most famous Turk ever lives in Islington, but I fancy myself even less as a football blogger.

And, in case you're wondering, there are a couple of rides in Altınpark, and the dotless ı is pronounced rather like the o in Alton (Towers), and wouldn't it be nice to find out more about this pleasing coincidence in time for Christmas, of which I hope you have a happy one!

(I'm celebrating with at least two bands of joyous hippies, so instead of fretting about inlaws I'm up to my armpits in cake mixes and bread dough.)

I have probably already offered lame excuses as to why I can't speak Turkish.

2013/12/21

Diputación de Málaga wastes €20,000 subsidising a badly translated school textbook

Lars Bjørn Hanssen > Diario Sur (> Teresa Aguilar > Carlos Ferrero): The Diputación de Málaga gave €20,000 to help Loving Books publish an Atlas ilustrado de la provincia de Málaga; Alejandro Villén Real at Loving Books gave very little of that to an apparently unemployed receptionist for the English translation; no quality control was undertaken on the result; and the predictable fuck-up (screengrabs here) went on sale asap at €19.95 - your kids need English, and it's Christmas, right?

The Diario Sur piece does a good job on Hanssen's rapid and effective bit of public service, but the funniest stuff comes in the followup on the Facebook page dedicated to the publisher's masterpiece. In a message, Hanssen lays out the problems clearly and passionately, and suggests withdrawing the book and refunding the thousand-odd victims.

Villén's response? Shoot the messenger, screw the consumer:

Sobre la traducción, cierto es que contiene errores, es una primera edición y la reparación está prevista para la siguientes ediciones, como parte del proceso normal de la editorial. También se mejorarán otros aspectos del libro, como son algunos defectos en las maquetas, imperfecciones en las ilustraciones y algunos errores de diseño que estamos localizando.

[...]

Aparte de todos esos asuntos, nos sentimos especialmente molestos sobre su uso de comillas en el termino "traductora" y, sobre todo, por el tono despectivo (me refiero al ¡vaya!) que usa para referirse a sus anteriores trabajos. Una persona puede haber ejercido de camarera y seguir capacitada para otras funciones.

Por otro lado, afirma que la traductora no tiene preparación basándose en un perfil de Linkedin, lo cual nos parece un método poco fiable. La traductora posee titulación en idiomas y experiencia en el sector.

I'd be the last to dismiss out of hand unqualified translators (dear old Erasmus, for example), and it's true that the translator lists employment with "N&B Lawyers, SL noviembre de 2007 – julio de 2009 (1 año 9 meses) ... Traducciones de Escrituras Públicas en Notaría" (though I imagine they'll be spending the holidays examining her contributions). However, Hanssen explains very clearly the problems with relying blindly on such people. His final message in the thread strikes me as excellent, and I hope he doesn't object to it being republished here:

No se trata de un simple error. Cuando uno publica un libro, hay normalmente un proceso de control de calidad – sobre todo si va destinado a los niños (la futura generación), que desde luego no habéis aplicado! Aunque yo no sepa ruso, si yo tuviera que publicar por ejemplo una guía gastronómica en ruso, ¿no sería lógico asegurarse de que todo estuviera bien traducido?

Yo no soy ni profesor de inglés ni traductor, o sea yo no vivo de eso – sólo soy un padre de familia preocupado y harto de tanta mediocridad.

¿Cómo que no es un tema político?

¡Que el presidente de la Diputación “firma”, o pone su nombre y el de su organización, en un libro de semejante baja calidad lo dice todo! O no sabe lo que firma, o tampoco lo saben sus asesores, o ni lo ha leído, o les da igual a todos, siempre que fluya el dinero público…

Puede que sea yo de la “vieja escuela” pero, ¿cómo que no es político que el presidente de la diputación no sabe lo que ha firmado o a lo mejor ni lo ha leído? Educación bilingüe: ¿no es un tema político? ¿Es demasiado pedir, que sepan/lean/se enteren los políticos de lo que firman o avalan?

¡Diría yo que sí es absolutamente político! ¿Qué pasa con la cantidad de licenciados en filología inglesa o traducción que están en paro o que han tenido que salir fuera por falta de oportunidades? Y ustedes con el apoyo de la Diputación contratan a alguien cuya formación es una Licenciatura en Bellas Artes y cuya experiencia profesional ya la he mencionado, para hacer la traducción… para mí, con lo que está cayendo, es una vergüenza y un problema moral.

¿Sería demasiado preguntar lo siguiente?:

  • ¿Cuánto dinero ha recibido la editorial de LovingBooks de la Diputación por haber realizado esta publicación?
  • ¿Quién y cómo se ha contratado a la traductora, y, cuanto ha cobrado por semejante “traducción”?
  • ¿Cómo que no se han realizado revisiones de calidad?
  • ¿Cómo puede un político como el Sr. Bendodo avalar y “firmar” algo que obviamente no ha leído o no ha entendido?

Lamento mucho vuestra insatisfacción, pero aquí no vale un simple “ups, fue un error” o “somos una pequeña empresa”. Desde luego tampoco os acuso de formar parte de un “complot”, ¡pero, hay que decir la verdad, aunque duela! Sobre todo en este caso donde se ha sabido que se iba a mandar a los colegios.

Además, la traductora me aconseja que mejore mi nivel de español, y en el Facebook me acusan de ser cruel e insultante. ¡Por favor! Repito, yo no vivo de escribir libros ni en español ni en ningún otro idioma, ni soy traductor (pero hablo 4 idiomas…). Me falta abrir algunos signos de exclamación, sí. Pero yo no gano ni pretendo ganar ningún dinero con este asunto.
No creo que yo sea cruel. ¿No es raro que sea el único entre vuestros más de 400 seguidores de Facebook que se ha dado cuenta, y, que ha empleado tiempo y energía en poner las cosas bien? Seguro que hay muchos padres entre vosotros, amigos del libro/editorial, ¿pero no es mucho más CRUEL, enseñarles a nuestros niños algo que esta flagrantemente mal, que es erróneo, y mirar para otro lado?

Esto no es una cruzada personal contra nadie, ni contra la editorial. Es un llamamiento hacia el amateurismo que domina el sector político, cultural, y educativo de este país/comunidad/ciudad. Y como contribuyente desde hace más de 10 años y como padre de familia sí me importa.

Termino pues con dos preguntas que son la razón de mi disgusto con el libro:

  • ¿Le parece bien publicar un libro con graves errores de inglés para los niños malagueños, sin que ningún profesional lo haya revisado?
  • ¿Les parece bien hacer caja (durante estos días festivos) por un producto fraudulento?

It's absurd that someone with his abilities and interests isn't apparently running for public office.

Update: I'm told that these folks have published a previous "bilingual" book called ¡Oh! Málaga. Judging by the PR screengrab mailed ("The money needed to finish the tower was used to help United States war for independence. Maybe to pay for the disguises of the Boston Tea Party."), its purchasers should also be asking for their money back:

2013/12/20

Capilla ardiente -> Chapel burning

Via Charles Butler, fresh from laying flowers on the graves of southern Occitan economists, and slightly less fresh from whatever he does every autumn with large volumes of olives: The ex-archbishop of Barcelona, Ricard Maria Carles, has gone to translation hell, despite, as far as we know,  not having done anything awful to the lambikins in his care:


When Spain was a modern rather than a post-modern country, and before the middle classes started burning churches to distract the workers from class war, this translation would have made more sense. The Habsburgs, cheered on by their subjects and no doubt by the Paul Krugmans of the day, helped ruin Spain and hand it over to the Fuckers with displays like the following in Seville on the death of Philip II, repeated all over the country:
Habiendo ya concluido con todos los requisitos del túmulo, y habiendo puesto en relación las figuras, los reinos, las virtudes, los epitafios, los epigramas, su declaración y lo demás que queda dicho, resta decir la cera que se gastó en estas exequias, guardando como en todo lo demás el estilo de la verdad, como constará de los libros de los cereros que la dieron, que aun son vivos; y siendo ansí digo, que hubo de hachas amarillas grandes, hechas para este propósito de solo un pavilo, mil y ciento y noventa. Hubo de cirios amarillos de á dos libras y media cada uno, para los cañones de hoja de lata que quedan dichos, nuevecientos y noventa. Hubo de la dicha cera amarilla de á media libra cada una, seis mil ciento y cuarenta y cuatro velas, para los clérigos y frailes que hubo en las dichas exequias; con seis de á libra que hubo para los candeleros de madera. Hubo ciento y veinte codales, y seis velas blancas de á libra, y ocho muy grandes cirios blancos, para alrededor del túmulo adonde se puso el cuerpo, que pesaban á media arroba cada uno. Pesó la dicha cera quinientas y setenta y cinco arrobas y ocho libras: costó á la libra. 
Hubo cuarenta y ocho hombres vestidos de luto en sus puestos señalados, para atajar el fuego, si sucediese algún desastre, con basijas de agua prevenidas, y una heringa grande cada uno para el efecto, por que la prevención vale mucho en casos semejantes.

(Francisco Jerónimo Collado, Descripción del tumulo y relación de las exequias que hizo la ciudad de Sevilla en la muerte del Rey Don Felipe Segundo)
No wonder those flamboyant, spendthrift Cataloonies prefer them to the fun-hating Bourbons. Alicia Bazarte and Elsa Malvido's fascinating essay, "Los túmulos funerarios y su función en Nueva España", starts with a handy summary of European practice:

El cristianismo asimiló la costumbre romana de las piras. Pero la nueva religión sostiene como dogma la resurreción de los cuerpos para el juicio final, y la categoría del cuerpo como templo del Espíritu Santo 3 De modo que se hizo preciso transformar el ceremonial pagano, de tal modo que se sustituyó simbólicamente al cuerpo por un catafalco o ataúd vacio y, al fuego, por las fiamas de las velas. Se conservó, sin embargo, como uno de los peores castigos sentenciados por la inquisición la muerte pública por fuego y la dispersión de las cenizas por los cuatro vientos.

La recración de los túmulos o piras funerarias cristianas en Europa se remonta a la Edad Media. Las frecuentes pandemias, epidemias y endemias que entonces ocurrían daban lugar, a las más profundas reflexiones sobre el sentido de la muerte combinadas con vividas lecciones de mortalidad que dieron paso a las danzas macabras, desfiles de esqueletos y representaciones de calaveras y huesos.

La costumbre de los antiguos clérigos de llevar el cadáver a la iglesia para celebrar un oficio antes de la inhumación fue adopatada por un élite laica.

A fines de la Edad Media, este rito se generalizó llevando al cadaver con la cara descubierta a la iglesia, acompañado por un cortejo que entre más rico e importante había sido el personaje mayor era la procesión que lo seguia, simulando el triunfo de la muerte en su carroza llevándose un vasallo más.

Una vez realizada la inhumación, quedaba sustituyendo al cuerpo un féretro cubierto con una tela: el catafalco al que se rodeaba de cirios y antorchas a m anera de capilla ardiente, 6 como símbolo de vida eterna, por contraposición a las tinieblas de la eterna condenación. Era la petición expresada en el responsorio “lux perpetua luceat eis” (luzca para ellos la luz perpetua). Al principio, este ritual se realizaba sólo en el caso de grandes personajes, en el siglo XVI el catafalco fue objeto de un gran despliegue teatral de manifestaciones barrocas: incluir un retrato del muerto para que, los que permanecían cerca de él durante el duelo, elevaran sus súplicas a Dios específicamente por la salvación de su alma.

Más tarde, se sustituyó el retrato por una efigie de ma­dera o de cera, y el ritual se prolongó para tener presente al muerto más tiempo. Fue entonces cuando el barroquismo amplió el ceremonial en el caso de exequias de reyes y no­bles. Aquí encontramos ya dos elementos: el cuerpo ausente representado en el catafalco y el retrato o escultura. Posterior­mente, el catafalco evolucionó al superponerle varias plantas arquitectónicas. Así se recreó una máquina o monumento de pavor rodeado de velas acompañados de solemnes ceremo­nias. La fábrica se convirtió en un concurso de diseñadores y el cortejo en una procesión espectacular que incluía música, cantos, rezos y sermones.

Estos túmulos fueron conocidos con diversos nombres: piras, máquinas de espanto o de pavor, fúnebres aparatos, máquinas luminarias, estufas, mausoleos, capillas ardientes o simplemente, monumentos.



Mere ballast on the archbishop's boat, I'm back from that fiery beyond, donde me cortaron una oreja y, con exquisita cortesía, la repusieron. (¡Viva la tauromaquia inglesa!)

I had quite a nice time in the inferno, but après le feu, les pompiers: today, a marriage contract translation with carefully worded provisions for unfiscalised savings in the event of termination, and, starting tomorrow, 70,000 words of pseudo-science to be (re)written by the time in January when the bureau-intelligentsia crawls out of some fetid Platonic recess into what it fondly imagines to be reality.

All these and other, more informal, commitments will be fulfilled, despite the two bottles of Diageo's Don Julio blanco which someone contrived to leave behind on tumbling into her bumble-bee-striped Punjabi bullock-cart yesterday. I have rarely glugged anything more delicious, but just remember, kids, that there's more to being cool than merely producing, selling, or drinking 38º spirits:



I have also been taken to see the Messiah in Handel's rather curious reincarnation. In Barcelona, and particularly in the Palau de la Música Catalana, Artur Mas' principal source of illegal party finance, this consists of background music to be talked over, followed by the Hallelujah chorus, followed by more Tafelmusik, with then a reprise of Hallelujah so as not to discomfort the bourgeoisie. I think it was the first time I'd seen the faces of the soloists - Mozart's arrangement includes trombones - but some things never change, and the highpoint is undoubtedly the final harumph of the Hallelujah, which, worldwide, goes something like this:
Chorus: King of kings, and lord of lords, Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
De repente silencio, durante lo cual se oye a una abuela diciendo a su mejor amiga: Al Carles le voy a dar pollo rustido con patatas.
Chorus: Hallelujah!


It does not cease to trouble me that, while in the physical world lusty maidens are simply bursting to pour tequila down my throat and ferry me to exultations of the great human carnival of hope and more hope followed by utter confusion, no reader of this blog has ever purchased me (or the even more deserving Lenox) a weekend in an Extremaduran brothel (drop-down half-way up the side-bar; leave out the prefixes but add a Jeroboam of the usual for Lenox). Do you cherish me so much, or do you simply hope I will die on the job asap? (Pension, what pension?!)

2013/12/06

2013/12/03

Pasty Cline and some rather tatsy buttocks

Take two adjacent consonants and a luscious little lightly-seasoned meat pie and this kind of thing is inevitable.

For all I know Spanish cannibals scavenging at Camden, TN on March 5 1963 baked brawn:
Take two Buttocks and hang them up two or three dayes, then take them down and dip them into hot Water, and pluck off the skin, dry them very well with a clean Cloth, when you have so done, take Lard, cut it in peices as big as your little finger, and season it very well with Pepper, Cloves, Mace, Nutmeg, and Salt, put each of them into an earthen Pot, put in a Pint of Claret wine, a pound of Mutton Suet. So close it with past let the Oven be well heated; and so bake them, you must give them time for the baking according to the bignesse of the Haunches, and the thicknesse of the Pots, they commonly allot seven hours for the baking of them; let them stand three dayes, then take off their Cover, and poure away all the Liquor, then have clarified Butter, and fill up both the Pots, to keep it for the use, it will very well keep two or three moneths. (Nathan Brook, The Compleat Cook (1658))
Dear cooks: show me yours and I'll show you mine.

Good news, meanwhile, from Jerez, where we hope to have translation offences added to the embezzlement charge-sheet.

2013/11/21

Dear El País: If you're going to rely on faulty machine translation, do at least remove the mouseovers which display the original language

Roll your mouse over this copy-paste from CiberPaís, which copy-pasted from whichever MT tool they're on (via the excellent Malaprensa):


Hasta ahora, la ciudad de Cupertino devolvía el 50% de los impuestos que recibía de Apple por las ventas de la empresa. En el futuro, la ciudad solo devolverá el 35% de esas tasas.
The translation is of course fucked, but El País is kind enough not to byline whichever sub-minimum-wage sucker is directly responsible.

"Vs" in Spanish

Sometimes it means "is/is equal to", for example in this Parable of the Lost Greeks (h/t Tom): "Achilles vs. Alberto Ruiz Gallardon".

Sometimes it seems to mean something like "presents/hosts": in "javi garcia roche VS Juanito Lee y Carlitos 'el salsero'", Juanito and Carlitos are in the container of death, and Javi is Chatarras Palace and is, I have been hoping since an initial encounter last winter prior to his nobbled super welter title attempt ("¡No somos gitanos ni gente rara!"), the man who will put the Gallego Prada brothers out of business and turn Spanish boxing into a well-financed, mainstream sport.

Sometimes, I suppose, it must also be used in the only sense recorded by the RAE: "(Del ingl. versus, y este del lat. versus 'hacia'). 1. prep. Frente a, contra. Occidente versus Oriente."

Any more uses?

2013/10/08

Yet more English-language covers by Spanish bands

Following on the previous instalment, Lenox has sent over this list, knowing full well that the phonology will mean nothing to me, for:
«Si tú quisieras, Bacc[á]ra,
contigo me casaría;
daréte en arras y dote
a Córdoba y a Sevilla.»
«Casada soy, rey Trebots,
casada soy, que no viuda;
el Lenox que a mí me tiene
muy grande bien me quería.»
(Abenámar y el rey don Juan)

Oh, what a dismal world!

2013/10/03

Begad! a dago version of Flashman voices it as if it were BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Drama! With 100 Spanish synonyms for "prostitute" and much other useful information.

Flashman, the first instalment in George MacDonald Fraser's glorious reinvention of Harry Paget Flashman, the baddy in Tom Brown's Schooldays, was first published in 1969. Ten out of the first 34 US reviewers, including minor academics, swallowed GMF's "editorial" pitch and dealt with it as if it were a genuine memoir; without the series it is difficult to conceive of the British at large knowing anything at all about the Victorian age, beyond the fact that Adolf Hitler was married to Vicky just in time for the Battle of Hastings.

In 1997 Edhasa published a Spanish translation under the title Harry Flashman, but this time no one was going to be fooled. Why? Because, while the content is pretty much all there, the form is largely missing.

Flashman's narrative and his chats with his father and others of similar standing are written in a standardised (diachronic change is confined to the occasional neologism), invented idiolect, which I fondly imagine to be the offspring of the union of Punch with Eric Partridge, midwifed by the mid-20th century British Army.

That would be no small achievement, but GMF chooses to repeat the trick for virtually every character and type introduced (including representations in English of register in Pashtun and a dozen other languages), creating a sense of geographical and social space unrivalled by any other historical novelist I can think of.

Let's see how that fares in translation. First some examples of the systematic (I haven't cherry-picked) neutralisation of Flashlect in situations where the protagonist's misogyny is revealed*:

My tumble with her had only whetted my appetite for more of her, I discovered; I tried to get rid of it with a farm girl in Leicestershire and a young whore in Covent Garden, but the one stank and the other picked my pocket afterwards, and neither was any substitute anyway.Descubrí que mi revolcón con ella sólo había servido para aumentar mi apetito; traté de saciarlo con una campesina de Leicestershire y una joven prostituta del Covent Garden, pero la una apestaba y la otra me aligeró los bolsillos y ninguna de las dos me sirvió para sustituirla.
His lovely new regiment, he found, contained officers who consorted with French whores and even fought duels over them.El hombre descubrió que su precioso regimiento albergaba oficiales que mantenían tratos con prostitutas francesas y que incluso se batían en duelo por ellas.
So without thinking I said the first words that came into my head: "Hamare ghali ana, achha din," which is what the harlots chant at passers-by, and means "Good day, come into our street". Dije sin pensar las primeras palabras que me vinieron a la mente: Hamare ghali ana, achha din, que es lo que les dicen las prostitutas a los viandantes y significa «buenos días, ven a nuestra calle».
it was better than being sliced up by that Afghan tartsería mejor que ser mutilado por la puta afgana
"Hasn't the guv'nor got a new whore yet?"¿Es que el jefe aún no se ha buscado otra puta?
me decía que Judy era una puta embustera que pretendía asustarme con sus insinuacionesI told myself that Judy was a lying bitch trying to frighten me with implications
It was pure moonshine, aye, and deliberately put into my mind to make me jealous by that brown-headed slut of my father's.Todo aquello no eran más que unos disparates que la morena querida de mi padre me había metido deliberadamente en la cabeza para ponerme celoso.
Why, I didn't have the least reason to think ill of Elspeth; everything about her denied Judy's imputations - and, by God, I'd pay that cow out for her lies and sneers.No tenía el menor motivo para pensar mal de Elspeth; todo en ella negaba las acusaciones de Judy... y por Dios que le haría pagar a la muy puta todas sus insinuaciones y sus desprecios.
Had that slut Judy been hinting at the truth, then? Was Watney cuckolding me -and heaven knew who else besides him?Entonces, ¿era cierto lo que me había insinuado la muy puta de Judy? ¿Me habría estado poniendo los cuernos con Watney... y cualquiera sabía con cuántos más?
It was a common custom at that time, in the more roman-tic females, to see their soldier husbands and sweethearts as Greek heroes, instead of the whoremongering, drunken clowns most of them were.Por aquel entonces era costumbre que las mujeres más románticas vieran a sus esposos y prometidos soldados como héroes griegos y no como los putañeros y borrachos payasos que eran casi todos ellos.
"I could hold this house with two men and a whore's protector."Yo podría defender esta casa con dos hombres y un rufián.
"It's not cowardly to punish an insolent whore!"—¡No es cobardía castigar a una puta insolente!
she was only a whore, after all, for all her fashionable airsno era más que una puta por muchos humos que se diera
"Elspeth," I said, "this is Judy, my father's tart."—Elspeth —dije—, ésta es Judy, la puta de mi padre.
"And I'm not sure that the company of a rake and a harlot won't be better for her than yours."No estoy muy seguro de que la compañía de un bribón y una puta no sea mejor para ella que la tuya.
took me off whoring in the bazaarme llevaba de putas al bazar
Have you forgotten a dancing girl called Narreeman, you pig's bastard? Just another slut, to the likes of you, to be defiled as you chose, and then forgotten.¿Ha olvidado usted acaso a una bailarina llamada Narriman, maldito hijo de cerdo? Una puta sin importancia para la gente como usted, a la que uno puede violar cuando le apetezca y después olvidar.

Let's leave aside the translator's lamentable ignorance of English polysemy: to reduce {whore, harlot, tart, bitch, slut, cow} to {prostituta, puta} is grotesque given the length and breadth of Spanish synonyms for prostitute (Cela unfortunately died before completing his Diccionario Secreto):

araña, bagasa, bordiona, buscona, cantonera, capulina, cellenca, chai, chingada, churriana, cotorrera, cuera, enamorada, esquinera, establera, fulana, furcia, güila, gabasa, gamberra, golfa, gorrona, guaricandilla, hetera, hurgamandera, iza, jalona, jinetera (specialises in foreigners), lagarta, lagartona, loca, madama, magalla, mala, pécora, maraca, marca, meretriz, mondaria, moza, mujer de punto, mujer del arte, mujer del partido, mujer mundana, mujer pública, mujer perdida, mundaria, pípila, pajillera (wanker), pecadora, pedorra, pelada, pelandusca, pelandusca, peliforra, pelleja, pelota, penca, pendanga, pendona, perendenca, perra, pilla, piruja, pobreta, polilla, prostituta, pupila, puta, ramera, ribalda, suzia, tía, taxi (maintains, a, taxi, driver), tusona, uta, vellaca, yira, zángana, zorra, zorrupia, zumbadora

(

BTW, here are all the Spanish synonyms for breast I can think of:

bubi, busto, chichi (also used for fanny), dominga (minga = penis), espetera (rack), goma, limon, lola, mama, melon, pechera, pecho, pechuga, pomelo, sandia, seno, teta, ubre.
There are comparatively so few because Spanish men on the whole prefer domination to delight. Thank God Freud never set foot here.

)

This is 19th century England reduced to a particularly polite 20th century Surrey golf course, but his more exotic co-stars are also Anglicised and cleansed:

"It is so fonnee," she giggled. "You . . . you half beneath de bed, and Charles glaring so fierce at your derriere." And she shrieked with laughter.
I told her to hold her tongue, and she stopped laughing and tried to coax me back to bed again, saying that Bernier had undoubtedly gone, and sitting up and shaking her tits at me. I hesitated, between lust and fright, until she hopped out and bolted the door, and then I decided I might as well have my sport while I could, and pulled off my clothes again.
—Qué gracioso —contestó, muerta de risa—. Tú... medio escondido debajo de la cama y Charles mirando enfurecido tu trasero —añadió sin dejar de reírse.
Le dije que se callara, ella me obedeció y trató de convencerme de que regresara a la cama, señalando que seguramente Bernier ya se había ido. Después se incorporó en la cama y empezó a brincar arriba y abajo sobre el colchón. Me debatí un instante entre el deseo y el temor, hasta que ella saltó de la cama y cerró la puerta con llave. Entonces decidí pasarlo bien mientras pudiera y me volví a desnudar.
"You need have no fear, sir," I told him. "We shall protect you."
"Fear?" he snorted. "I'm not feart, sir. John Morrison doesnae tremble at the whine o' his ain workers, let me tell you. As for protecting, we'll see." And he gave me a look and a sniff.
—No tema, señor —le contesté—. Nosotros le protegeremos.
—¿Que no tema? —replicó—. Yo no tengo miedo de nada, señor. John Morrison no tiembla ante los gemidos de sus obreros, se lo aseguro. En cuanto a protegerme, ya veremos —añadió, mirándome con desdén.
"Ye damned blackguard! Ye thieving, licentious, raping devil! I'll have ye hanged for this, as Goad's my witness! My ain daughter, in my ain hoose! Jesus Lord! Ye come sneaking here, like the damned viper that ye are ..."—¡Maldito sinvergüenza! ¡Maldito demonio ladrón, lujurioso y violador! ¡Le haré ahorcar por eso, pongo a Dios por testigo! ¡Con mi propia hija y en mi propia casa! ¡Señor Jesús! Ha entrado aquí furtivamente como una maldita víbora...

On just the one occasion is an attempt made to convey something of the speaker's individual style - Lord Cardigan's Elmer Fudd-ism:

That almost cooked my goose for good. His lovely new regiment, he found, contained officers who consorted with French whores and even fought duels over them. He played the devil about this, and the upshot was that Cardigan had to summon me and tell me that for my own good I would have to go away for a while.
"It has been demanded," said he, "that you weave the wegiment -I take it the official intention is that that should be permanent, but I intend to interpwet it as tempowawy.
La cosa estuvo a punto de destruirme para siempre. El hombre descubrió que su precioso regimiento albergaba oficiales que mantenían tratos con prostitutas francesas y que incluso se batían en duelo por ellas. El príncipe armó un escándalo y, como consecuencia de ello, Cardigan me mandó llamar y me dijo que, por mi propio bien, tendría que marcharme una temporada.
—Se nos ha pedido —dijo— que abandone usted el uegimiento... Supongo que la intención oficial es la de que su uetiuada sea peumanente, peuo yo la voy a inteupuetar como tuansitouia.

Of the considerable number of straightforward mistranslations, this is my favourite:

The picture to which Flashman refers is by W. B. Wollen, R.A., hung at the Royal Academy in 1898.El cuadro a que se refiere Flashman es obra de W. B. Wollen, de la Artillería Real, y se colgó en la Royal Academy en 1898.

The translator had just one bite at the Flashman cherry (that version is however regularly reissued - God knows who buys it), but the BNE lists 293 translations by her over the last 35 years, most of which appear to be novels (I haven't clicked through the list). Her versions of John Grisham (she has apparently translated 50% of his Spanish editions) appear to be unloved, but Grisham will survive just about anything.

More distressing is the case of Andrea Camilleri, of whom I believe she is the only Spanish translator. Like Montalbán's Pepe Carvalho novels, when you've read one commissario Montalbano you've pretty much read them all. Maybe it's just that I struggle with the genre, but the only enjoyment I've got from them has been the original ~Italian: for, like GMF, Camilleri relies less on plot and other conventional devices than on linguistic and human diversity in the considerable grey area between "Italian" and "Sicilian". As Margherita Taffarel notes in her excellent study of the Spanish translation of Il cane di terracotta, from which the following example is taken, translators into other languages have endeavoured to reflect that essence, but the translator suppresses the non-standard with glee:

Montalbano: “Fazio, sei già vigilante a quest’ora?”M: “Fazio, ¿ya estás de guardia a esta hora?
F: “Sissi, duttù. Manco mezzo minuto fa m’ha telefonato Catarella”.F: “Sí, duttù. No hace ni medio minuto que me ha telefoneado Catarella”.
M: “Che voleva?”M: “¿Qué quería?
F: “Poco ci capii, s’era messo a parlare taliàno. A occhio e croce pare che stanotte hanno sbaligiato il supermercato di Carmelo Ingrassia, quello grosso che sta tanticchia fora di paese. Ci sono andati almeno con un tir o un camion grosso”.F: “Casi no me he enterado, se ha puesto a hablar «taliàno». Me ha parecido entender que esta noche han saqueado el supermercado de Carmelo Ingrassia, aquel grande que hay en las afueras del pueblo. Tienen que haber ido con un tir o un camión muy grande”
M: “Non c’era il guardiano notturno?”M: “¿No estaba el vigilante nocturno?”
F: “C’era, ma non si trova”F: “Sí estaba, pero no lo encuentran”
M: “Ci stavi andando tu?”M: “¿Estabas yendo hacia allá?
F: “Sissi”F: “Sí, señor”.
M: “Lascia perdere. Telefona subito a Tortorella, digli che avverta Augello. Ci vadano loro due. Dicci che tu non ci puoi andare, contagli una minchiata qualsiasi, che sei caduto dalla culla e hai battuto la testa. Anzi no: digli che i carabinieri sono venuto ad arrestarti. Meglio, telefona e digli d’avvertire l’Arma, tanto il fatto è cosa da niente, una cazzata di furto e l’Arma diventa contenta perché l’abbiamo chiamata a collaborare. Ora stammi a sentire; avvertìti Tortorella, Augello e l’Arma, tu chiami Gallo, Galluzzo, madonna santa mi pare di essere in un pollaio, e Germanà e venite dove ora vi dico io. Armatevi tutti di mitra”.M: “Pues déjalo correr. Llama enseguida a Tortorella y dile que avise a Augello. Que vayan ellos dos. Dile que tú no puedes ir, que te has caído de la cuna y te has golpeado la cabeza. No, diles más bien que te han venido a detener los carabineros. Mejor todavía, llama y dile que avise al cuerpo de carabineros, de todos modos es una bobada, una mierda de robo y así, de paso, los del Cuerpo estarán contentos de que los hayamos llamado para que colaboren. Y ahora óyeme bien: después de haber avisado a Tortorella, Augello y a los carabineros, llamas a Gallo, Galluzzo –madre mía, eso parece un gallinero- y a Germanà, y os venís todos adonde ahora te digo. Todos armados con ametralladoras”.
F: “Cazzo”F: “¡Coño!

And so on and so forth.

Taffarel writes that "en media se ha suprimido un 90% de las marcas dialectales del texto original", notes that (unimaginative?) academics (eg Clifford Landers) tend to suggest not attempting to retain non-standard features in translation, sympathises with anyone who does in this particular case (while noting the solutions attempted in Catalan, English, German...) and suggests "la elaboración de un método traductor innovador" - code for spending money on a better translator. And there, probably, lies the rub.

If the translator in question has churned out 300-odd novels over 35 years, she may have been averaging something like 2700 words a working day (20 days a month, 11 months a year) - quite a lot before online dictionaries and corpuses, and still not a bad figure. At 5 cents a word that would be about 30000€ pa, but I know literary translators into Spanish who are charging half that, making it difficult to envisage them conducting the kind of rescue work Lucia Graves did in her English translation of Zafón's The shadow of the wind.

Translators are generally a pretty reactionary bunch, and I guess many will start muttering about capitalism and markets, but I wonder whether the/a solution might not be to move to a more market-oriented system: have rights-owners abandon exclusive country/language deals, allow multiple translations, and bill each publisher/translator for each copy sold, allowing the public to balance quality against cost in choosing the translation most suited to its mysterious purpose.

Some (particularly in Barcelona) will wonder whether this cultural grey-out isn't a particularly Spanish thing, a reflection of a certain view of colonialism, the reason why Falcones, Pérez-Reverte et al are so wooden (not to mention film dubbers), and comment that it's so sad, since the roots of English picaresque lie to a considerable extent in Spain, and what would the world be like if ethnic jokes all suddenly began "There were three men"... But it's getting late:

"I shall go," says I, and started crawling for the flap. "But I may tell you," I added, "that in polite society it ain't usual for gentlemen to squeeze ladies' tits, whatever you may have been told. And it ain't usual, either, for ladies to let gentlemen do it; it gives the gentlemen a wrong impression, you know. My apologies, again. Good night." —Ya me voy —dije, empezando a gatear para salir—. Pero permítame decirle —añadí— que, en la buena sociedad, no es correcto que los caballeros pellizquen las tetas a las damas, por más que a usted le hayan contado lo contrario. Y tampoco es correcto que las damas se lo permitan; eso causa más bien una mala impresión, ¿sabe usted? Le pido nuevamente disculpas. Buenas noches.

*The Polly Toyndency has it that the novels are sexist and racist. Not so: they are stuffed with strong, positive non-male/-WASP characters, the portrayal of Empire is anything but jingoist ("the old and nonsensical lie that one Englishman is worth twenty foreigners"), and the fact that real life rarely lives up to the Book of the City of Ladies or other neo-Platonic claptrap is hardly the author's fault.

2013/09/26

Turismo Rías Baixas rejects an offer to have its appalling promotional materials properly translated for free

Colin's letter to the Galicians:
Ten years or so ago, I sent a personal letter to the Director of the said Rías Baixas Tourist Board, offering to translate all their promotional material for nowt. I never even had the courtesy of a reply. But, anyway, here's how their English material turned out, absent my help. Craply, in a word. Presumably, though, it came with the stamp of approval of whichever of the Director's relatives produced it. For a large fee.
I guess Colin's on one of those notoriously lavish CFO pensions, so maybe "for nowt" is short for "at monstrous cost to the British taxpayer".

I think I can understand any Spanish reluctance to entertain Liverpudlians bearing gifts: on the first occasion that the mass distribution of foreign translations of texts graven in stone was tolerated the British and Foreign Bible Society unleashed
a Quaker called George Borrow, an outlandish character of few letters, as simple, gullible and naive as those who emerge with a ladder to receive the Three Kings. (Menéndez y Pelayo, Historia de los heterodoxos españoles)
Socialism and the smoking ban were then but a question of time.

I don't get the Three Kings-ladder quip, and it is said that Borrow's translations into Basque and "Gypsy" are laughably poor. Anyone?

2013/09/18

Friki (es) -> geek (en)?

That's what Google Translate says. Now, bar fights with statistical algorithms tend to be step-by-step procedures leading to human humiliation, but I think Google Images agrees with me in this case that frikis are gross idiots while geeks are still confused but neat. Here side-by-side are search links and the top three meme trees for the two expressions (there are some interesting comments here too, and Wikipedia has stuff):

friki (hl=es)

geek(hl=en)

No Soy Friki

Friki Face

Friki Granudo

Nerds

Logo

Clipart

2013/09/09

Ana Botella's Olympic presentation with sub-titles

I assume the brown envelopes had all changed hands by the time one of the English teaching industry's slower and lazier students took to the rostrum, but still:
 Many thought that she was working her way through an IPA version of English written by her chauffeur, but I think there's also a hint of a tribute to the early 20th century avant garde:
Amongst reactions the Guardian's man in Madrid demonstrated that simple Spanish is beyond him - "the hashtag #madrid2MILnunca (#Madrid2000andNever)" - so it's not surprising that he got the city's unemployment stats wrong (though perhaps he's confusing national and municipal data).

 Just out of interest, how was Pasqual Maragall's English when the Barcelona bid was won?

2013/07/30

The Cali Word Games, plus a Civil War gag from Alfonso Guerra

Lenox, who has been discussing the role (roll-on, roll-off?) of Google Translate in quality public service provision, has passed along this little gem from the wider reaches of linguistic dilettantism - Colombia, where 1,221 medals were cast for the World Games without wasting precious time on letter-checking:


Lost Letters Departments have of course swept the world since the sucking of Rome by Onan the Barbarian (see the chronicles of Graham Rawle) spun the gods of chaos, lunacy, and bad taste to Fortuna's apex. As Ignatius points out, "firm rule must be imposed upon our nation before it destroys itself," but I doubt whether we are up to the task.

The other night I read the pre-1982 memoirs of the Sevillan (socialist) schemer, Alfonso Guerra, Cuando el tiempo nos alcanza, in which he recounts a splendid Civil War legend starring Francisco López Real, grace of a thousand quips. It goes something like this:

Curro and some fellow-prisoners are told they have ten days to live. "Don't worry," he says, "a lot can happen in ten days: why, I happen to have on me a book called "Learn English in Ten Days."
Gord is famously gorn, even the grammar police are in retreat, so why would we bother?

2013/07/12

Is mistranslation sometimes merely an attempt to inject life into English, a dull, stumbling language?

Michael Gilleland < Christoph Irmscher < Longfellow:
The difficulty of translation lies chiefly in the color of words. Is the Italian "Ruscelletto gorgoglioso" fully rendered by "Gurgling brooklet"? Or the Spanish "Pájaros vocingleros" by "Garrulous birds"? Something seems wanting. Perhaps it is only the fascination of foreign and unfamiliar sounds; and to the Italian or Spanish ear the English words would seem equally beautiful.
I really have no great problem with "Vino en botella" > "He/she came in bottle".

2013/07/08

Don't ask. Plus: Victoria = Felipe II?

http://spanishshilling.blogspot.com.es/2013/07/and-winner-is.html

My impression is that in the six years since this blog started
  • Things have improved immensely.
  • In downtown Barcelona, most shop assistants now speak some form of English. This may have been a Darwinian process, where the rejects end up in other parts, but I don't think so.
  • Part of this is no doubt due to Anglophones beating the Hispanophones at the game of "we're not going to speak any language but our own." 
Skimming lightly, eyes shut, over the waves of history, I'd tend to blame the Spanish problem on the monstrous wave of intolerance unleashed during Felipe II's reign, of which Antonio Alatorre gives good account in El apogeo del castellano. The only undoubted success of the European Union has been the Orgasmus programme, quasi-academic sex tourism which, appropriately, has undone for ever the damage caused by 16th century Spain's anti-Erasmusian xenophobes and their followers:
Como remate de todo, en ese año de 1559, en noviembre, por decreto de Felipe II, les quedó prohibido a todos sus súbditos salir al extranjero a estudiar o a enseñar, para evitar contagios con ideas no "oficiales."
But it's not just the Spanish who are capable of salvation. A frustrating idiosyncracy of Andrés Trapiello's brilliant pioneering study of literature of right and left and fuck-off-and-leave-me-alone in and around the 36-39 civil war, Las armas y las letras, is his enthusiasm for amusing but bullshit-prone aphorisms. So:
... esos viajeros ingleses del siglo XIX ... capacitados como nadie para describirnos un gitano ... pero como nadie incapaces para comprenderlo... Ésa es la grandeza del pueblo inglés sobre cualquier otro, y de ahí que hayan sido los grandes viajeros de la historia: han viajado sin dejar de ser ellos mismos un solo instante y sin buscar que los otros se les parezcan.
For anyone who shares his phenomenal, almost Philippian ignorance of non-Victorian English and Imperial sexual and linguistic mores, I'd recommend ... ooh, William Dalrymple's White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in 18th-century India, which I enjoyed very much recently.

2013/07/02

The importance of employing a sleeping cat when translating Kropotkin into Spanish

Carles Miró has serendipited one N Tassin's enlistment of Josep Pla and Eugeni Xammar, as short of money as they were of Russian, in his mission to bring to the benighted South Americans the curious blessings and recommendations produced in such prodigious quantities by his compatriot. Here's a high-speed bit of unplanned Pla:
Tassin placed himself in front of a Russian edition of the book and began to translate aloud using a mixture of French and German. At the typewriter Xammar converted Tassin's segregation [sic: think about it] into South American form and grammar. I was responsible for refining the work's philosophical lexicon and for reinforcing, in some fashion, its substance. It was a method that was very complex, but there was no other solution if one was to respect the authenticity required by the Argentine publisher. It was a method that created situations that were positively comical. When Tassin encountered an erect [?: enravenada] difficulty, he opened his mouth like a child and appeared to bear the lily of truth in his hand. When he encountered a case like that, he invariably ended up watching the cat that slept on top of the cupboard. Meanwhile, Xammar sometimes struggled to find the correct turn of phrase and the machine ground to a halt. Then his gaze turned to the the cat. Of the three translators, I had to be the most laboured, not only for the intrinsic difficulty of my role, but also because of my inexperience. Thus I often broke down, causing me, due to the same mechanism acting on the others, to look at the cat. It was curious to see all three of us intermittently, silently, bewilderedly, pensively, looking at the sleepy and indifferent cat.

Yes, said Tassin, this method is somewhat long and difficult. I suspect we will have to spend long hours looking at this animal. But there is no choice.Above all we have to do a clear translation. This celebrated author has written a book of an extraordinary childishness. He has written an anti-Darwinian ethics. To the ideas of natural selection and the struggle for life, the Russian author opposes a contrary thesis. In the life of the animal species is to be found permanent mutual help and a tendency to kindness and generosity. Translations of books like this, so infantile and dangerous, must be clear, because, for every small quantity of obscurity they contain, they cause the throwing of a disproportionate quantity of bombs...

2013/06/20

The Danish pseudo-Anglicisms "klipning" and "barbering" in an ethnic Chinese barber's in Barcelona

Is klipning the same as haircut, and barbering indistinguishable from a shave, i.e. is this a bilingual ad? Or is there a Danish tweak in there? Wanted: identical twins for testing.

2013/06/18

Firts Certificate

Lenox is always moaning about Spanish entities that could ask foreigners for language tips but choose not to. English School Casal in Vilafranca del Penedès says it employs native speakers, but still no one got round to asking them to proof-read the summer course poster:


Today is cloudy, hence the ant-fucking.

2013/05/29

What do you call an Eskimo with bananas in his ears?

The customary riposte is near the end of this post, but Enrique Jardiel Poncela gives a roundabout and, for those of us who believe that English in Spain is often merely decorative, relevant answer in his great erotic-absurdist comedy, Amor se escribe sin hache (1929). Paco Arencibia has just progressed from being the lover of the widow, heiress, and incomparable literary heroine, Lady Sylvia Brums, to being the most loveable of her cuckolds:
En la puerta, color de palo de rosa, surgió Arencibia: en la mano, el sombrero, los guantes y el bastón.

Y Elisa, la manicura; Fernández, el pedicuro; Asunción, la masajista; monsieur Robert, el peluquero; Guzmán, el electromecánico, y Juanita, la doncella, se retiraron a un lado respetuosamente abandonando la estatua yacente de lady Sylvia. Esta, con gran gentileza, le alargó a su marido una de las manos, que Arencibia besó de un modo personalísimo.

- ¿Descansaste bien?
- Divinamente, Sylvi. ("Diminutivo de Sylvia".)
- ¿Sales?
- A dar una vuelta.
- Cada vez tienes un aire más distinguido, querido mío.
- Y tú estás cada vez más hermosa.

Sylvia sonrió con agrado y murmuró amablemente:

- This is very readig and how?

A lo que Arencibia repuso riendo:

- Litle parrows cleveland…[Author's note: Esto no es inglés, pero ¿verdad que lo parece?]

Luego volvió a besar la mano de su mujer y salió del gabinete, dándole un papirotazo cariñoso al "botones", que permanecía serio y rígido al lado de la puerta.

Y Elisa, Fernández, Asunción, monsieur Robert, Guzmán y Juanita, volvieron a apoderarse de lady Sylvia y continuaron el interrumpido manoseo de su cuerpo, tan bello y tan adúltero...

(¡Qué final!)
There's an explanation of why amor is written without an H here, and Andrés Trapiello in Las armas y las letras provides a neat summary of aspects of Jardiel's career untouched by Wikipedians:
[P]asó los trece primeros meses de la guerra amedrentado, sorteando interrogatorios y sospechas, en Madrid, Valencia y Barcelona, donde los anarquistas de la CNT se entusiasmaron con él y le encargaron que formase una compañía de teatro. Jardiel les pidió dinero, casa, pasaporte, y cuando se lo proporcionaron, incluido el permiso de Miaja para salir de Barcelona, se largó con todo, menos con la casa, que no cabía en el barco. En Marsella, consiguió un contrato ficticio en la compañía de Lola Membrives, que actuaba en Buenos Aires.

Allí Jardiel hizo durante unos meses doble juego, hasta que unos republicanos disfrazados de capitalistas, con obispo incluido, le tendieron una celada, y Jardiel, confiado en el ambiente, empezó a ensalzar a Franco, cayó en la trampa y fue desenmascarado y varapaleado. Poco antes de acabar la guerra llegó a España, donde volvió a cosechar éxitos tan resonantes como polémicos, tanto en el teatro como en el cine.
I was reading Amor se escribe again last night on a flight from Stansted to Barcelona with, on my right and blocking out the clouds, a capsicum-haired harpy, and, in the aisle and fear of his life, an extraordinarily cretinous Crystal Palace supporter.

The latter's mother had advised that his poor relationship with aeroplanes could be mended with Valium, which he had decided was best washed down with vodka.

Unfortunately that wasn't working, and so, in order to get the vodka off him and into ourselves, I and the harpy suggested to him that the reason Ryanair is so cheap is that the aircraft are not equipped with standard safety devices, e.g. smoke alarms in the toilets.

A brief tumult ensued at the back, then Mr Dinosaur returned and, after a moment when he might have been saved, stopped breathing, so that the rest of flight level 300 was most enjoyable, and what we couldn't drink was donated to the Sikh behind us.

However, shortly before landing the reluctant conclusion was reached that gentle resuscitation needed to be undertaken to avoid any violent outbursts.

What to say to him? "It doesn't matter - he can't hear you anyway."

Which was the answer some of you may still have been looking for.

2013/05/15

Buy your knives from Quttin, with thoughts on final /g/s and a poem by Ambrose Bierce

The latest pseudo-anglicism to cheer my bedraggled brain comes from a 20-year-old Albacete knife manufacturer. (See also camping, parking, lifting, shampooing, footing, and Wikipedia.) I like the dropped /g/, which interestingly goes against a trend in Andaluz and increasingly in other versions of Spanish to add a terminal /g/ to words previously ending in /n/. Here for example is Juan Antonio Canta singing of the loss of his girlfriend "eng la segunda guerra mundial" and, for any remaining Freudians out there, about German penis size and the frustration of being Spanish:

 

The work of JAC is a delight for anyone interested in the phantasy and phonology of very, very late Andalusian avant-gardism, but the /g/ final is afaik undocumented by professional linguists and does not appear in the standard models of southern speech which I used for my Spanish-Andalusian transformer (which silly people persist in calling a translator). If you have more information please get in touch!

[
Here's another example, with lots more Andalusian fun, from the siege of Setenil in 1484:
]

Some of you (Boris Johnson, for example) have expressed concern about this blog's sloth and apparent lack of direction. In reply here is Ambrose Bierce's tribute to the tortoise:

My friend, you are not graceful — not at all;
Your gait's between a stagger and a sprawl.

Nor are you beautiful: your head's a snake's
To look at, and I do not doubt it aches.

As to your feet, they'd make an angel weep.
‘Tis true you take them in whene'er you sleep.

No, you're not pretty, but you have, I own,
A certain firmness — mostly you're [sic] backbone.

Firmness and strength (you have a giant's thews)
Are virtues that the great know how to use —

I wish that they did not; yet, on the whole,
You lack — excuse my mentioning it — Soul.

So, to be candid, unreserved and true,
I'd rather you were I than I were you.

Perhaps, however, in a time to be,
When Man's extinct, a better world may see

Your progeny in power and control,
Due to the genesis and growth of Soul.

So I salute you as a reptile grand
Predestined to regenerate the land.

Father of Possibilities, O deign
To accept the homage of a dying reign!

In the far region of the unforeknown
I dream a tortoise upon every throne.

I see an Emperor his head withdraw
Into his carapace for fear of Law;

A King who carries something else than fat,
Howe'er acceptably he carries that;

A President not strenuously bent
On punishment of audible dissent —

Who never shot (it were a vain attack)
An armed or unarmed tortoise in the back;

Subject and citizens that feel no need
To make the March of Mind a wild stampede;

All progress slow, contemplative, sedate,
And “Take your time” the word, in Church and State.

O Tortoise, ‘tis a happy, happy dream,
My glorious testudinous regime!

I wish in Eden you'd brought this about
By slouching in and chasing Adam out.
Bierce is in many ways one of the best writers I have read in any language. The Devil's Dictionary, from which this is excerpted, is deservedly celebrated, but the drumhead prose of The Parenticide Club, which is relatively unknown, should give great pleasure to anyone who has enjoyed later brutal absurdists like Flann O'Brien, and I think that Bierce's creation of a landscape of Civil War ghosts - derived from his experiences as a boy-soldier - is in military-literary terms an incomparable achievement. Ah, digression.

2013/05/03

Balearic teaching union opposes English-language instruction

It has always struck me as pretty damn schizo that proponents of forced Catalan immersion often suggest that, while Spanish is taboo, they would be open to the use of another vigorously expanding global language, English. So it's good to see that in defence of the high-quality public education for which the Balearics are known the Sindicat de Treballadores i Treballadors-Intersindical is encouraging schools to refuse to introduce English-language instruction, citing members' job prospects as well as the status of the Chosen Language. Fucked translation is a natural choice where the strategic goal is to maximise pie share rather than size.

2013/04/17

Oriol Pujol imputed in the vehicle inspection case because of fucked translation?

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. (BTW: I never got round to plotting "anonymous" donations to political parties against their share of the vote - a high index might reasonably be interpreted as evidence of monstrous corruption. Is there a chart of that nature out there somewhere?)

2013/03/19

Foreign names: Kohlhaas -> Kholhaas

This has been down the tube a few times, but I still find it quite noteworthy that neither the El País theatre critic Javier Vallejo nor the Madrid Círculo de Bellas Artes, hosting the show, manage to copy the name of Heinrich von Kleist's protagonist correctly. Anyone would think they don't give a monkey's. Maybe the after-show drinks are the main item.

2013/02/20

Correlation between xenophobia and English spelling ability?

Lenox may be on the verge of an important discovery.

(It has been suggested that I am Lenox, or vice versa. Many faces fortune wears, but that is not one of them.)

2013/02/14

A cowboy mouse: Hello you! let me out! and don't catch me like a trout

Francisco Gabilondo Soler has been denounced for his song, Ratón Vaquero, from the Cri-Cri show (more here), in which a Yankee mouse demands his freedom from the trap into which he has fallen:
Or (I think: no sound here):
 
The offending text in full:
What the heck is this house
for a manly cowboy mouse?
Hello you! let me out!
and don't catch me like a trout.
Unlike the snitch, I don't think that piscatorial linguistics are at issue here. You can catch trout with a line, or if you're really clever by tickling (Beaumont & Fletcher: "Be a Baron and a bold one: leave off your tickling of young heirs like Trouts, and let thy Chimnies smoke."), but then there are also traps:
So the mouse, like the inhabitants of Numantia, is merely complaining that he has been taken by fiendish cunning rather than in fair combat. The previous couplet may for all I know be dodgy, but let's not waste all day trying to pick holes in Mexico's greatest poet.

2013/02/07

Tourism non-promotion

It sometimes feels like this blog is being outsourced to Lenox, also to be found here now. I've detailed various examples of Catalan administrations that only market to foreigners in Catalan, and I'm sure the phenomenon is to be found elsewhere, and that the mayors' nephews and nieces are very grateful. Any nice examples?

2013/01/21

Looper

The neighbourhood Pixar voice-dubber alleges that Looper - an amusing dash through time-travel clichés - was going to be released in Spain as Lúpula, because it's about hops.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Sorry man, I was yust yoking - there's been a lack of crap bilingual puns here recently.

2013/01/18

Two steps forward, one step back

Chez Lenox, not to be confused in any way or to the slightest degree with Lenin, whose typically deranged pamphlet, One step forward, two steps back, is here. Comrade Vladimir doesn't address our particular theme, but those interested in the recent roots of Iberian politics may inspect with interest the mud he throws in the great bitchfight 'Over whether it was enough to stipulate in the programme the equality of all citizens irrespective of sex, etc., and language, or whether it was necessary to stipulate “freedom of language”, or “equality of languages”.' My pamphlet for today: Screwing with language is fun as long as it's a matter for private enterprise, but things are apt to end in tears when the state starts poking its oar.