An untranslatable pome?

Over at Futility Closet:




No solution occurs to me, but in general rendering in English Portuguese meaning and mode should surely be easier than doing so in Spanish (that is where García Yebra struggled), because of English's far greater lexical resources and linguistic freedoms. Perhaps the Spanglish revolution will change all that.

The RAE apparently now accepts setiembre and otubre.


A judge orders materials at the Barcelona Foreigner Internment Centre to be translated into languages the inmates can't read

Judge Joaquín Aguirre has identified a problem: many Senegalese etc can't speak their national language, French, to a level that would enable them to understand the information given to them. But his well-meaning solution - translating into Wolof or whatever - is actually worse: state education in for example Dakar is conducted in French, and the prayer schools flog the holy book in Arabic, so men who can read Wolof or other regional vernaculars are actually far harder to find than the 50% or whatever who are literate in French to primary-leaving standard. It would surely be far more intelligent to give more encouragement to the unofficial use of bilingual inmate-mentors to aid the illiterate.

With the South Asian languages he may have a point, but even there the broader question needs to be raised: these simple lads have reached adulthood without acquiring the skills which we expect here of 11-year-olds, so what on earth did they hope to do anyway in Spain, unless it was collect scrap metal from the streets?


Linked websties / blog automation project

Pretty dull little piggies, actually, but I just wanted to mention a little script I'm working on. It will

  1. compile and classify data gathered previously on this blog,
  2. use it to identify probable translation mistakes prone to cause helpless laughter, as well as mere mistranscriptions of interesting words (female genital mutilation more widespread than previously thought, says Hillary Clitnon),
  3. take the highest-ranking relevant ghit for Spanish and Catalan domains,
  4. return it here accompanied by some apparently profound but utterly meaningless proverb,
  5. thus ensure that you will continue to consider me a fucking genius without my having to stir from the pub,
  6. make me an inflation-adjusted trillionaire in some reputable currency by the time I'm 346.

So that's my summer sorted. Have a good one yourself.


Buildings that count with elevators

Tapioles 3 is located in a Barcelona apartments building from the early twentieth century that has been fully restored and counts with an elevator.

If you think about it, an ascension of lifts is to a large apartment block as an abacus is to a child. Drunk a beer from the fridge? Just call the building, and when you check out it will add that item by sending lift 1 up 3 floors and lift 2 up 1.

These people understand and care about buildings and people: so much so that the same friendly manager will be on hand in Rotterdam and Curaçao.


Sex and the internet in Spanish

Here's a curious little corpse-worm:

Curious for me, because I thought that the arrival in Hispanidad of services provided over TCP/IP and HTTP was divisible into three sociolinguistic phases:

  1. Tech nerds tend to assign masculine gender to this weird new shit, more or less as per Regina Morin, Spanish gender assignment in computer and Internet related loanwords (via Lester Haines). So el internet should predominate.
  2. Language nerds wake up to this and point out that internetinter-net, that netred, and that red is feminine. And through the RAE and other instruments of terror they herd the public in the direction. So la internet should rapidly increase market share vis-à-vis el internet.
  3. National-catholic nerds clamour that Spanish/Catalan/Asturoleonese civilisation will die with grammatical gender, and that an Anglo-Saxon plot involving whores and wheretics is underway.

In fact the Ngram shows that 1990-2008 the ratio la internet:el internet stays roughly the same. Were the tech nerds not writing, or are they just amazingly good at everything?

The RAE is actually pretty moderate: the internet's gender is ambiguous, but feminine use is recommended.

The debate's marginal because I think most people regard the internet as a location, either not to be fucked with or whose gender is not of primary interest, and if you prefix the article then you're a peasant, like people who say la Granada or l'Hospitalet:

Could grammatical gender die or decrease dramatically in Spanish, as it has in the pathetic patois that is English? The deranged cultists who wander the land chanting each to count for one, and none for more than one, flagellating themselves and decapitating others, are obviously a threat; and one can never overestimate the duplicity of the Anglocabrones. But it's difficult to imagine in a world whose best-paid footballer is an ambulant penis extension.