Memento mori = Don't forget to die

Over at Mr Harvey's place, to whom and all a happy Christmas.

One day I'll explain how for certain folks "Vamos a comprar un pato" came to mean "Let's get stoned out of our fricking tree," but today is a day of joy, hope and peace, and so they may slumber on while I cook the bloody thing.


In an OCR + MT experiment, Quest Visual Word Lens says that Grilled Sausages -> A LA PARILLA SALCHICHAS

One of the more interesting developments at the guided tours business over the past few years has been an increase in the proportion of weird walks sold as younger customers have started using decent, cheap handheld-hosted apps to cover the basic "¡Look! ¡Ze catedral!" legacy (OK, zombie) guide territory.

Real-time optical character recognition with machine translation - already available in various guises in military environments - is an obvious complement to electronic guides of this type, and yesterday a brief burst of interest greeted an iPhone app which purports to offer hyperreal functionality of this type.

The simple, contrastive graphics used for Quest Visual's YouTube Word Lens English ⇄ Spanish demo seem to indicate that it can manage only very basic OCR, but the results of its MT do look rather impressive:

Unfortunately, rudimentary investigation suggests that this particular horse may have been nobbled, and that the video does not give a fair picture of the capabilities of the tool. As Hans Klis observes, translation is word-for-word, so that, for example, where Google Translate correctly renders grilled sausages as salchichas a la parrilla, etc etc, Word Lens fails at the most basic of syntax hurdles and serves up a la parrilla salchichas and francés patatas fritas.

Someone - probably Google - will surely do this very well, very soon. But official guides can breathe a sigh of relief this Christmas, and caveat emptor continues to be the first rule of the iPhone Apps jungle.


All our pupils go out from Sil School with really high linguistics skills

If Colegio Sil in Barcelona wants to sell its foreign language provision to any but the stupid it might want to consider employing people with relevant skills. "Could do better" doesn't begin to describe this:



Our school develops a trilingüal metodology in castellano, catalan and english.

Our linguistic planning from "TRINITY COLLEGE", has as primary aim that all the alumni obtain a fluent oral command, equivalent at FIRST CERTIFICATE degree, therefore the teaching of this language, is carried out since the first years of age, with specialized teaching staff, with extensive time of reglated teaching, and further application of this language in different matters and activities.

The exams, validated by the Oxford University are carried out in our own school.

The certifiyng we deliver once the exams are overcome, are fully recognized by the E.U..

Or school offers the possibility of learning French as a second language at secondary obligatory education (ESO) and High School.

All our pupils go out from Sil School with really high linguistics skills.

(Thanks, Mr O!)


Dances of the Fart-Vest

Buffalo Bill's visit to Barcelona, marred by transcription problems.

I forget who it was tried to patent a fartvest to combat spinal chills on Antarctic expeditions. Maybe it was me. If Apollo had hardwired something like this into us then her upstairs might have been spared the perennial torment of how to fit a hairdryer disguised as a space capsule into hand luggage without alarming security. But I digress.


Google Translate: “sóc de catalunya” = “I'm from Spain”

Here, and just as the regional election campaign was getting underway. The state-financed separatist organisation, Òmnium Cultural, believes there is a plot, and is therefore mounting its own campaign to nobble Google Translate.

(H/t Alex)


Fucked translation, not Hitler's fault, and not without merit

Studiolum over at the excellent Poemas del río Wang has dug up a German-Russian lexicon, published in 1942 by Mittler & Sohn for use by Germany's armed forces, which introduces itself thus:

The war has demonstrated the simplicity of the means with which the German soldier can make himself understood anywhere. The correct words, juxtaposed without regard to grammar, are almost always adequate.

I doubt whether Hitler's Spanish troops on the Eastern Front, the anti-Stalinist División Azul, were as well equipped. The Spanish had perfectly good linguistic tools at that stage, not least because of Soviet participation in their Civil War, but the evidence accumulated on this blog suggests that in Spain dictionaries have often been misused, underused or simply ignored.

And who's to say that the outsights resulting from this approach are any more damaging than the insights achieved by more careful folk? Maybe all you miserable multilingual pedants out there should consider offering your clients hilariously fucked translation as a means of relaxing communications and increasing brand recognition. Just don't ring the Wehrmacht.

Apologies to other as yet unpublished contributors: I'm working through a number of backlogs.


Menu of La Florida, Havana, in the late 1970s

Colin has contributed two classics of Galician cuisine, "Mussels to the seaman's blouse" and "Fondle of tit cheese", and another kind person has read the great industrial designer Raymond Loewy's thoroughly entertaining memoir, Never leave well enough alone, and sent in the lunch menu of the Havana café bartended by Constantí Ribalaigua, the Catalan who didn't invent the daiquiri, but who Loewy nevertheless tried to tempt stateside:



WATER SCREWS SALADE [watercress salad]



JIBOL [highball]

Loewy's marvellous description of pre-revolutionary bar-life leads one to commiserate with the translator, but not excessively.


The divine prohibition of bullfighting in English and Cagancho in Almagro: whatever won't be, won't be

Programmes are rarely distributed at bullfights, and are never translated into English. There is an excellent reason for this, recounted over at La Aldea del Tauro in an interesting piece on the Taurine Bibliophiles of America (via Salmonetes no nos quedan):

It's said that while negotiating with Cagancho the possibility of him filming a movie the representatives of the American company talking to him asked him if he spoke English. The response of the bullfighter from Evangelista Street was more or less the following: God forbid!

According to the Ministry of Culture, soon to be responsible for subsidising bullfighting (the quid pro quo is rumoured to be ballet's departure for Interior), Joaquín Rodríguez Ortega, "Cagancho", was born in 1703, died at the age of 191 in 1894, but was still going strong in Mexico in the 1940s. Perhaps not, but the view of many Spanish historians that references and research constitute an infringement upon their right to plagiarise and invent makes it quite difficult to establish in the time available this morning exactly what this Triana gypsy Muhammad Ali of beef butchery got up to as man or zombie. So we find that the expression "quedar como Cagancho en Almagro" or "quedar peor que Cagancho en Almagro", used to designate spectacular public failure, has its origins in one (1) bullfight in the miniscule city of Almagro in Ciudad Real held variously in 1927, 1932, and 1942.

In the last version he is absent because he has tickets for a Betis match, but other storytellers recount a disastrous evening crowned by the appearance of a well-fed Kodiak bear in place of the sixth bull and the almost simultaneous exit of Cagancho, pursued by a rancorous crowd raining bottles and snot. The Guardia Civil accompany him to the comparative safety of the Ayuntamiento and stand guard while he lights up and sighs to a passing blogger, "That's life. I wanted to look good, but whatever won't be, won't be."

In bullfighting, as in translation, sometimes discretion is the better part of valour.


Revealed: the class of people that uses Google Translate

Accountability is the ostensible reason why this blog is generally about institutions rather than individuals - public and private mass service providers take on liabilities that a lonely blogger as a whole does not. However below this do-gooding sheen lurks cowardice, because the local council is much less likely to come after you with an axe than is perhaps a lonely blogger.

For example, let's take my reasons for not naming the name of the fervent nationalist and racist and assiduous participant in online fora who comments here, presumably with the help of Google Translate, that

Mahatma Gandhi said:

Your enemy
First they ignore you
then laughs
and after t’ataca
finally win!

Now I obviously want you to think that I'm maintaining his anonymity here because as a private citizen he has neither the resources nor responsibilities of the Spanish Government.

However, dear readers, I have to confess that my silence may have more to do with the fact that this gent was believed by prosecutors to have taken time off from his most interesting website to pop downstairs in the company of his daughter and knock off his mum, the village tobacconist.

In fact the daughter was found to have canned gran all on her own: daddy merely covered up, and so he is completely innocent and back at work in his mum's shop, and I haven't the faintest idea what this post is about.

As is often the case with this kind of thing, the aphorism turns out not to belong to Gandhi. A brief trawl suggests an interesting ghit distribution, with rapid growth from the 1990s and nothing much before until we get back to the 1919 convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America:

First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you. And that is what is going to happen to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America

I seems to me quite unlikely that a radical, American union would have quoted an early bon mot from Gandhi, then going through his Kaffir-hating phase, and anyway the phrase turns up in recognisable form in the mid-1880s, when Gandhi was being a schoolboy, getting married, and having babies. I imagine the trope is far older.

However I suppose that if you want to market yourself as a transforming personality, attribution to Gandhi rather than to the The Medical Times and Gazette or to some obscure pre-Victorian sage does make some kind of sense. If Gandhi did use it widely or prominently, then perhaps he picked it up after arriving in London in the late 1880s. Sidney Hillman of the ACWA is another possible conduit.

Tip of the hat: C


Maulets, leading the literary-critical revolution

Opinions vary regarding Maulets. I think that those who I know who have experienced its attentions tend to see its members as state-subsidised rustic neo-Nazi thugs. Sympathisers on the other hand would perhaps describe them as sturdy young men and women responding energetically to legitimate concerns that the Catalan Nation is rapidly falling under the control of alien elements, is endangered by global capitalism, and is under siege in colonies (Valencia, the Balearics, etc) acquired during the Middle Ages. Which is quite different.

Whatever the case, a brief trawl of the net suggests that its programme of violence and intimidation doesn't sell well away from home and has virtually no international resonance. So it's rather a shame that its English-language presentation appears to have been translated with MT inferior to current incarnations of both Google and SoftCatalà (the latter nobly struggling on despite the increasing superiority of the former):

Maulets is a youth political organization independentist and revolutionary, organizing, mobilizing and fighting since 1988 for our territory, Països Catalans. During this time, we have realized many local and national campaigns in favor of the independence, emancipation of the popular classes, defense of the environment and the sexual and genre liberation. Always from a young view point and directed to the youth.

As an organization we make an open task, participative and based in assembler basis always far away from the actual dogmas. We fight to create and impulse social structures and individual practices to bring a popular counter, that, redistributes in a real democratic and participative way human and material resources..

The Spanish and French State keep on oppressing and repressing our nation leading our society to the subordination of the big states, market economy with their fatal consequences. Maulets fights against the society's classist model, rejecting all systems and ways of domination, exploitation and oppression.


When it comes to genre liberation - which I'm all for, and which has nothing to do with gender - maybe some brave soul would like to start by freeing Maulets from their ideological rut.


Abycine, pretty good really

The static parts of the site for the excellent Albacete International Film Festival are all OK, and the bits for 2010 are fucked but still reasonably comprehensible, with something of the mendacious, incoherent charm of blurbs for Soviet-sponsored Cold War literary shindigs:

ABYCINE is also a claim of a contemporary culture place for young people, a meeting point for young Spanish cinema professional people from a city which is far away from the clichés developed from the ancient generations.

Reasonably comprehensible is still, however, a fucking disgrace when you consider that the regional government has thrown away 640 million on Ciudad Real airport, and translation perfection for Abycine would have cost a couple of hundred euros at most. Cultural Albacete, get your lobbying arse in gear!


Junta de Andalucía's Fucked Translation 101: try plagiarism first

Lenox at The Entertainer Online picks up El Mundo's report on the Junta de Andalucía's new tourism portal. Developed at a cost of €5,400,000(!) by Telefónica(!), it was launched by the Andalusian president José Antonio Griñán at a massive junket with 500 guests and the baritone Carlos Álvarez (who I believe makes in the region of €7-8,000 for one-offs of this nature, not having been foolish enough to actually work in tourism in his native Málaga). Luciano Alonso, the regional tourism councillor, announced that this was to be a quality enterprise: "We don't want stuff to be posted there just for the sake of it," he said.

So it's a shame he didn't look at the site pre-launch. Lenox has a delicious sample of fucked translation -

There are still very few who, in a illustrated and planned form, come to Andalucia to enjoy the flamenco tourism. It is our intention that those who wish to know flamenco in Andalucia by tourism, find in this site, ordered and varied references that help you know by a incipient form, of the great cultural and festive treasure, that flamenco supposes.

- and there's piles more. But there's also quite a lot of less fucked English, much of which appears to have been plagiarised from Grupo Albelmar, an Almería-based tour operator. Take for example the Junta's page called Sun and beach:

A thousand kilometres of coastline with one common factor: the Sun. Let yourself be captivated by Andalusia’s coast, where you will find a succession of unspoilt beaches, majestic cliffs, salt marshes teeming with wildlife and a little-known underwater world just waiting to be discovered.

You'll find it a veritable paradise for your holidays. With pleasant temperatures no matter what the season, Andalusia's outstanding beaches are a gift to any traveller.

Small coves and immense golden-sand beaches line the hundreds of kilometres of Andalusia’s coast, where you can enjoy an unforgettable holiday.

Andalusia shares its life between two loves: the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. One is calm and gentle, the other aggressive and exciting; two large coastal areas with their own identities, both governed by a sub-tropical Mediterranean climate. The coast of Andalusia offers you the chance to lose yourself in contemplation of its deep red sunsets and its waters, caressed by the easterly wind.

Andalusia’s beaches are its natural heritage and have their own personality. The coastline, encompassing the Almería Coast, the Costa Tropical in Granada, the Costa del Sol in Malaga, the Costa de la Luz in Cadiz and the Costa de la Luz in Huelva, is an idyllic natural setting, with warm waters and non-stop sunshine.

Mild temperatures join forces with the magic of Andalusia’s towns and villages, its charming harbours and an excellent range of hotels, along with splendid countryside and the convergence of sea and breezes. These are the basic ingredients for a destination not to be missed.

And compare it with Sun & Beach over at Albelmar:

A thousand kilometres of coastline with one common factor: the Sun. Let yourself be captivated by Andalucía’s coast, where you will find a succession of unspoilt beaches, majestic cliffs, salt marshes teeming with wildlife and a little-known underwater world just waiting to be discovered. You will find it a veritable paradise for your holidays. With pleasant temperatures no matter what the season, Andalucía’s outstanding beaches are a gift to any traveller. Small coves and immense golden-sand beaches line the hundreds of kilometres of Andalucía’s coast, where you can enjoy an unforgettable holiday. Andalucía’s beaches are its natural heritage and have their own personality. The coastline, encompassing the Almería Coast, the Costa Tropical in Granada, the Costa del Sol in Malaga, the Costa de la Luz in Cadiz and the Costa de la Luz in Huelva, is an idyllic natural setting, with warm waters and non-stop sunshine. Mild temperatures join forces with the magic of Andalucía’s towns and villages, its charming harbours and an excellent range of hotels, along with splendid countryside and the convergence of sea and breezes. These are the basic ingredients for a destination not to be missed.

Calidá a la andaluza, and what the fuck happened to the 5.4 million?

All of this is not to say that Grupo Albelmar is any more angelic than the Junta. Founded in 2002 by inter alia the current Managing Director Nadia Bennouna, the business and associated companies like Hispantour have had repeated brushes with the authorities for the non-payment of social security contributions, transit fines, etc etc. Hispantour achieved brief notoriety in 2006 when the driver of a bus carrying 40 Africans from Almeria to Brussels via Ciudad Real(!) was arrested for driving while banned, seven times over the limit, and talking on his mobile. The bus appears to have been something of an ancient mystery, having changed hands ten times and numberplate thrice. Still, honour among members of the Brotherhood of Dodgy would have been kind of nice.


The PSOE's non-guerra in Afghanistan

I don't think anyone would dispute that Iraq destroyed the PP as an electoral machine for a decade. For a multitude of reasons, the increasing chaos in Afghanistan is unlikely to have the same effect on the PSOE, but Zapatero rolled into La Moncloa on chants of "¡No a la guerra!", and so considerable pressure remains to present the situation there as a pacifistic if troublesome security operation rather than a ferocious and perilous conflict with well-motivated adversaries, but . On Wednesday the PP leader Mariano Rajoy suggested to the government that it might like to start using the word guerra with reference to Afghanistan since everyone else already was - just look at Obama! Ah, said PSOE parliamentary spokesman José Antonio Alonso, just because it's a war doesn't mean it's a guerra:

"in the logic of English language usage the word 'war' is polysemic", so that one can talk of "the war against narcotrafficking", against crime or against terrorism.

This was the cue for predictable mirth, because Alonso seemed to be implying that guerra in Spanish requires armed hostilities between two nations, and that this was not the case in Afghanistan. If he was indeed saying that war has a semantic range denied to guerra, then he was clearly talking nonsense. The current RAE entry contains several metaphorical senses:

1. f. Desavenencia y rompimiento de la paz entre dos o más potencias.
2. f. Lucha armada entre dos o más naciones o entre bandos de una misma nación.
3. f. pugna (‖ entre personas).
4. f. Lucha o combate, aunque sea en sentido moral.
5. f. Oposición de una cosa con otra.

Moreover, these uses are not fresh imports. The oldest Academy dictionary (1734) cites them, quoting Antonio Hurtado de Mendoza's Vida de Nuestra Señora:

Reverente, hermoso, humilde,
le aparece joven tierno,
fiel Ministro, à quien hacen
poca guerra los secrétos.

And the etymology given in the modern dictionary ("Del germ. *werra, pelea, discordia...") suggests that this wider interpretation may have always been available.

So what was Alonso and the PSOE's message? Surely not that, while the US went into Afghanistan prepared to take casualties in the interests of humanity and its geo-political objectives, Spain by insisting its forces were deployed in low-risk areas and by generally keeping them on-base wasn't prepared to make a similar sacrifice to achieve its worthy goals? If so, what will Morocco be thinking?

Thanks to JL. More political screwups of all colour welcome: as you will have noted, the PP is not exempt.


Reagrupament and mesophrase, the subcategory of translation that Dryden forgot

Candide of CataloniaWatch appears to have come to the conclusion that watching Catalonia is rather like watching paint dry, but without the happy ending. However, before retiring to cultivate its (keep reading) garden it sent me excerpts from a Catalan constitution proposed by Reagrupament which it found in a bar following the Hapsburg Pretender Day celebrations on the Glorious 11th. (Reagrupament is a small separatist party run for the pride and glory of someone called Joan Carretero, who looked in the mirror one morning, saw a Catalan Umberto Bossi, and lapsed into chronic hissiness when more attractive Umbertos seduced his Berlusconi, ex-Barcelona president Joan Laporta. But enough Grimm detail.) Several examples:

[Article 10]

No one may be harmed or favoured because of its origin, its race, its
birth, its beliefs, its opinions or its social or other personal

[Article 11]

Individual freedom is guaranteed.

It is especially guaranteed:


c) The right to honour and own image reputation. (i.e. "el dret a l'honor i a la pròpia imatge")

I suppose the classic English-language view of translation styles is contained in Dryden's introduction to his version of Ovid's Epistles:

All Translation I suppose may be reduc'd to these three Heads:

First, That of Metaphrase, or turning an Author Word by Word, and Line by Line, from one Language into another. Thus, or near this manner, was Horace his Art of Poety translated by Ben Johnson. The second Way is that of Paraphrase, or Translation with Latitude, where the Author is kept in View by the Translator, so as never to be lost, but his Words are not so strictly follow'd as his Sense, and that too is admitted to be amplified, but not alter'd. Such is Mr. Waller's Translation of Virgil's Fourth Æneid. The third Way is that of Imitation, where the Translator ( if now he has not lost that Name ) assumes the Liberty not only to vary from the Words and Sense, but to forsake them both as he sees Occasion: And taking only some general Hints from the Original, to run Division on the Ground-work, as he pleases. Such is Mr. Cowley's Practice in turning two Odes of Pindar, and one of Horace, into English.

I would suggest that the result of Reagrupament's labours is not metaphrase but mesophrase - fucked literal translation. But to speak of failure is also to speak of intent. Did they want an English translation in order to sell their proposition to English-speakers, or did the exercise actually have more to do with ticking boxes like "modernity" and "English" (but not "Spanish", hiss hiss hiss!) for their semi-literate electorate? Is this in fact Stalinist Five-Year-ist illusionism mimicked by the People's Front of Judea? Decide for yourself: the complete document is here, but don't let it drag you away from enterprises of a horticultural disposition, particularly with the way food prices are going.


La Moncloa prints press conference Arabic backwards

It may slowly be dawning on even Zapatero, with his great Alliance of Civilisations, that the road to الجحيم is paved with good intentions. A recent post here found Hebrew characters ordered back-to-front, and, perhaps to demonstrate evenhandedness in Spanish treatment of Semites, last week Zapatero's communications staff struck back with some arse-over-tit Arabic. Moeh Atitar de la Fuente has the story.

My personal theory is that the hippy chapter of the Illuminati have commissioned double agent José Luis to encourage the Middle Easterns to write left to right, right to left, or both ways at once, in order to sow relativism, a commodity historically in short supply in the region, or perhaps simply confusion.  

John F. Healey writes in The early alphabet that:
Some early Greek and South Arabian texts are written boustrophedon ... - like an ox ploughing a field: from left to right in the first line, right to left in the second, left to right in the third and so on (or starting on the right in the first line). In such inscriptions the letters are often reversed to face the direction of writing.
Perhaps someone like Eli Sagan has already argued that the anarchy in West Asiatic scriptal direction three thousand years ago was somehow a necessary precursor to the centuries of intense fixed-direction creative achievement that followed, and then that the childish tendency to draw letters back to front and upside down whilst learning to write is also a necessary precursor to subsequent creativity, once the system is mastered.

˙ʇuǝıɔıɟɟns ǝʇınb sı ǝɯıʇ ɐ ʇɐ ɐǝpı pɐɯ ǝuo ǝɯ ɹoɟ


Alicante restaurant serves fragmentation hand grenade for dessert

Having survived Liverpool, the intrepid Mr Harvey returns to Spain only to find himself menaced by pork lions, and worse.

Our neighbourhood revolutionary proposes to visit this establishment, purchase 50 fragmentation hand grenades (incredibly cheap at €3.5), and call trading standards if they try any lousy scam, like serving pineapple.


Taking the peace? Catalan village writes Shalom backwards

A few months back I posted about Barcelona Council's totemistic approach to foreign languages. Here, from CataloniaWatch, is another brilliant example: "shalom" transcribed backwards. Candide writes:

this pic is from a parc in a town near the catalan pyrenees cuyo nombre no quiero recordar.

obviously, the "author" of this "work" looked up "peace" in hebrew letter by letter, ignoring that semitic languages are usually written right to left. wikipedia (search term: hebrew alphabet) rules.

why he or she took the dalet for a vav while still being smart enough to put in the correct form of mem i really am unable to fathom.

i can, however, imagine this being done by any 10 year old and no big deal. but was there no adult tutoring the kids? and was there no municipal employee to oversee the whole feat?
Here, from Wikipedia, is the same word with the letters in the correct order:

It's not really all that hard.


Cervantes, prototype for el Cobrador del Frac?

Peter Harvey is suffering from that perennial Spanish problem--translation agencies that don't pay the modest rates they promise.

This blog enjoys dressing up but has no plans to become for the translation sector what el Cobrador del Frac is for the world at large: a debt collection agency which compensates for a deeply flawed legal system by using fancy dress to exert moral pressure on unrepentant debtors. Last year Popular Televisión Navarra ran a nice little piece on them:

SMEs and, increasingly, bankrupt local authorities form a substantial part of the problem. So how appropriate it was that a bill proposed in spring last year which, rather than improving creditor protection, would have shielded debtors from embarrassment (!!!) was associated with CiU, which garners much of its support from SMEs, is involved in a welter of embezzlement cases, and is run by lawyers, who would benefit as a sector from a crackdown on street artists.

I have no idea what happened to the bill, and I hope it failed. Antonio Burgos wondered a while back whether the reduction in unemployment in the Aznar years wasn't due solely to a rapid growth in the number of creditor agents dressed as clowns, monks, and Groucho Marx. El Cobrador del Frac, however, suggests that had Cervantes not been an itinerant debt collector Quijote might not have been born


Unicaja: "Now we speak the same language yours"

Andalusia's largest financial institution, Unicaja, keeps its autochthonous customers happy by investing substantial sums in sponsoring local sports teams, and was thus unable to afford 50€ for a slogan-checker for the Brits, who are estimated to make up 70% of the clientele of this particular branch:

Enjoy this post? a to our tip-off man, the excellent Lenox Napier.


Fake story about a fake passport

The headline belongs to Josu at Malaprensa, who has the marvellous story of how Guus Hiddink's comment in Bild that it was unfortunate that Mesut Özil had distinguished himself with a bad pass was translated in the Spanish press as Hiddink regretting a false passport having been required to enable him to play for Germany.

Hiddink is a man of exquisite tact, and Marca and As' difficulty with the polysemes Pass and falsch is surely nothing more than a case of ignorant clowns in a hurry, but there is a disturbing background to all this. Özil was born in Gelsenkirchen of Turkish parents and gave up his Turkish passport in order to be able to play for Germany. The German nationalist-socialist NPD's press spokesman labelled him a Plaste-Deutscher, a plastic German, and an Ausweis-Deutscher, an ID-card German, leading the German Football Association to contemplate legal action.


Footy-mad Margaret Marks has the undisputed truth:
Actually, since Bild was avoiding anglicisms - if not particularly on that date - it wasn't a bad pass, nor a fake passport, but the wrong passport - if Özil had chosen the Turkish passport, he would have been in Hiddink's Turkish team.


Traditional and Mediterranian Root Entertainment Fair

Watching them grow? Or is there a sexual metaphor in the Government of Catalonia's 9 billion euro March bond issue? The document is actually fine as a whole so I guess they just copy-pasted the list of public "companies and organisations". Arrel in "Fira d'Espectacles d'Arrel Tradicional, Mediterrani" is correctly translated as "roots", but a government in search of yet more money might have been smarter not to translate or better simply omit to mention that it maintains some 220 bodies, the public utility of some of which seems dubious - I wonder how many of the English teachers who read this have even heard of the Fundació Privada Catalana per a l'Ensenyament de l'Idioma Anglès i l'Educació en Anglès. Anywhere here they are, with apologies for the formatting:
Autonomous Administrative Organisms
Agència Catalana de Seguretat Alimentària (Catalan Food Safety Agency) Agència Catalana del Consum (Catalan Agency of Consumer Affairs) Agència de Protecció de la Salut (Agency of Health Protection) Autoritat Catalana de la Competència (Catalan Authority of Competition) Biblioteca de Catalunya (Library of Catalonia) Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió (Centre for Opinion Researcj) Centre Estudis Jurídics i Formació Especialitzada (Centre for Legal Studies and Specialist Training) Consell Català de l'Esport (Catalan Sports Council) Escola d'Administració Pública de Catalunya (School of Public Administration of Catalonia) Institució de les Lletres Catalanes (Institution of Catalan Letters) Institut Català d'Avaluacions Mèdiques (Catalan Institute for Medical Assessments) Institut Català de la Vinya i el Vi (Catalan Institute of the Vine and Wine) Institut Català de l'Acolliment i de l'Adopció (Catalan Institute for Fostering and Adoption) Institut Català de les Dones (Catalan Institute for Women) Institut de Seguretat Pública de Catalunya (Institute of Public Security of Catalonia) Institut d'Estadísitica de Catalunya (Institute of Statistics of Catalonia) Institut d'Estudis de la Salut (Institute of Health Studies) Institut Nacional d'Educació Física de Catalunya (National Physical Education Institute of Catalonia) Institut per a la Promoció i la Formació Cooperatives (Institute for Cooperative Promotion and Training) Institut per al Desenvolupament de les Comarques de l'Ebre (Institute for the Development of the Ebro Counties) Institut per al Desenvolupament i la Promoció de l'Alt Pirineu i Aran (Institute for the Development and Promotion of Alt Pirineu and Aran) Museu de la Ciència i de la Tècnica de Catalunya (Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia) Museus d'Arqueologia (Museum of Archaeology) Patronat de la Muntanya de Montserrat (Montserrat Mountain Trust) Servei Català del Trànsit (Catalan Traffic Service) Servei d'Ocupació de Catalunya (Catalan Employment Service) 
Industrial, Commercial or Similar Autonomous Organisms
Agència Catalana de Certificació (Catalan Certification Agency) EA Diari Oficial i de Publicacions de la Generalitat (Official Journal and Publications of the Generalitat) EA Difusió Cultural (Autonomous Cultural Promotion Body) Entitat Autònoma de Jocs i Apostes (EAJA) (Generalitat Betting and Gaming) Institut Català del Crèdit Agrari (Catalan Agrarian Credit Institute)
Social Security Bodies and Management Companies
Institut Català d'Assistència i Serveis Socials (Catalan Institute of Social Assistance and Services) Institut Català de la Salut (Catalan Institute of Health and Social Security) Servei Català de la Salut (Catalan Health Service)
Public corporations
Agència d'Avaluació de Tecnologia i Recerca Mèdiques (Medical Technology Evaluation Agency) Agència Catalana de Cooperació al Desenvolupament (Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation) Agència Catalana de la Joventut (Catalan Youth Agency) Agència Catalana de l'Aigua (Catalana Water Agency) Agència Catalana de Turisme (Catalana Tourism Agency) Agència de Gestió d'Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (University and Research Grants Management Agency) Agència de Residus de Catalunya (Catalan Waste Agency) Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari de Catalunya (Agency for Quality Assurance in the Catalan University System) Agència Tributària de Catalunya (Tax Agency of Catalonia) Aigües Ter-Llobregat (Ter-Llobregat Water) Banc de Sang i Teixits (Blood and Tissue Bank) Centre d'Alt Rendiment Esportiu (Centre for Sporting Excellence) Centre d'Atenció i Gestió de Trucades d'Urgència 112 Catalunya (Center of Attention and Negotiation Urgency Calls 112 Catalonia) Centre de la Propietat Forestal (Centre for Forestry Property) Centre de Telecomunicacions i Tecnologies de la Informació (Telecommunication and Information Technology Centre) Centre d'Iniciatives per a la Reinserció (Centre for Reinsertion Initiatives) Centre d'Innovació i Desenvolupament Empresarial (Centre for Business Innovation and Development) Consell Català de la Producció Agrària Ecològica (Catalan Council for Organic Agricultural Production) Consell Català de la Producció Integrada (Catalan Council for Integrated Production) Consell de l'Audiovisual de Catalunya (Audiovisual Catalan Council) Consell Nacional de la Cultura i de les Arts (National Council for Culture and Arts) Consell Nacional de la Joventut de Catalunya (National Council for Catalan Youth) Corporació Catalana de Mitjans Audiovisuals (Catalan Radio and Television Corporation) Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (Generalitat de Catalunya Railways) Gestió de Serveis Sanitaris (Health Service Management) Gestió i Prestació de Serveis de Salut (Health Service Management and Provision) Infraestructures Ferroviàries de Catalunya (Railway Infrastructure of Catalonia) Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya (Cartographic Institute of Catalonia) Institut Català de Finances (Catalan Finance Institute) Institut Català de les Indústries Culturals (Catalan Institute of Cultural Industries) Institut Català del Sòl (Catalan Land Institute) Institut Català d'Energia (Catalan Energy Institute) Institut Català d'Oncologia (Catalan Institute of Oncology) Institut Català Internacional per la Pau (Catalan International Institute for Peace) Institut d'Assistència Sanitària (Institute of Health Assistance) Institut de Diagnòstic per la Imatge (Institute of Image Diagnosis) Institut de Recerca i Tecnologies Agroalimentàries (Agri-Food Research and Technologies Institute) Institut d'Investigació Aplicada de l'Automòbil (Institute for Applied Automobile Research) Institut Geològic de Catalunya (Geological Institute of Catalonia) Laboratori General d'Assaigs i Investigacions (General Testing and Research Laboratory) Memorial Democràtic (Democratic Memorial) Parc Sanitari Pere Virgili (Pere Virgili Health Park) Ports de la Generalitat (Generalitat Ports) Servei Metereològic de Catalunya (Catalan Meteorological Service) 
Trading companies
Activa Multimèdia Digital, SL Activa Multimèdia Digital, SL Administració, Promoció i Gestió, SA (Administration, Promotion and Management, Inc.) Aeroports Públics de Catalunya, SLU (Public Airports of Catalonia, Inc.) Agència del Patrocini i Mecenatge, SA (Sponsorship and Patronage Agency, Inc.) Aura Salut Pública i Serveis Sociosanitaris, SL (Aura Public Health and Social Services, Inc.) Autometro, SA (Autometro, Inc.) Barnaclínic, SA Barnaclínic, SA Catalunya Ràdio SRG, SA (Catalan Radio, Inc.) CCRTV Interactiva, SA CCRTV Interactiva, SA Centrals i Infraestructures per a la Mobilitat i les Activitats Logístiques, SA (Integrated Goods and Logistical Activities Centres, Inc.) Circuits de Catalunya, SL (Circuits of Catalonia, Inc.) Ecoparc de Residus Industrials, SA (Ecopark of Industrial Waste, Inc.) Editorial UOC, SL (Open University Press, Inc.) Eficiència Energètica, SA (Energy Efficiency, Inc.) Empresa de Promoció i Localització Industrial de Catalunya, SA (Industrial Promotion and Location Company of Catalonia, Inc.) Energètica d'Instal·lacions Sanitàries, SA (Health Service Energy Facilities, Inc.) Equacat, SA Equacat, SA Eureca Media, SL Eureca Media, SL For Tissues and Cells For Tissues and Cells Forestal Catalana, SA (Catalan Forestry, Inc.) Geocat, Gestió de Projectes, SA (Projects Management, Inc.) Gesclínic, SA Gesclínic, SA Gestió de Màrqueting i Serveis de les Comarques Gironines, SLU (Marketing and Services Management of Girona) Gestió d'Infraestructures, SAU (Infrastructure Management, Inc.) Grup UOC, SL (Open University Group, Inc.) ICF Equipaments, SAU (ICF Equipments, Inc.) ICF Holding, SAU (ICF Holding, Inc.) Instruments Financers per a Empreses Innovadores, SLU (Financial Instruments for Innovative Companines, Inc.) Intracatalònia, SA Intracatalònia, SA Logaritme Serveis Logístics, AIE (Logarithm Logistics Services, Inc.) Mesfilms Inversions, SL Mesfilms Inversions, SL Promotora d'Exportacions Catalanes, SA (Catalan Export Promoter, Inc.) Reg Sistema Segarra-Garrigues, SA (Segarra-Garrigues Irrigation System, Inc.) Regs de Catalunya, SAU (Catalonia Irrigation, Inc.) Remodelacions Urbanes, SA (Urban Restructuring, Inc.) Sabadell Gent Gran Centre de Serveis, SA (Sabadell Older People Services Center, Inc.) Sanitat Integral del Baix Llobregat, SL (Baix Llobregat Integrated Healthcare, Inc.) Sanejament Energia, SA (Sanitation and Energy, Inc. ) Sistema d'Emergències Mèdiques, SA (Medical Emergency System, Inc.) Societat Catalana d'Inversió en Empreses de Base Tecnològica (Catalan Investmetn Society in Companies of Tecnological Base) Societat d'Estiba dels Ports Catalana, SA (Unloading Society of the Catalan Ports, Inc.) Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, SA (National Theatre of Catalonia, Inc.) Televisió de Catalunya, SA (Catalan Television, Inc.) Túnel del Cadí, SAC (CESA Cadi Tunnel Operating Company) TABASA, Infraestructures i Serveis de Mobilitat SA (Barcelona Tunnels and Accesses) TVC Edicions i Publicacions, SA (Catalan Television Editons a Publications, Inc.) TVC Multimèdia, SL TVC Multimèdia, SL UDIAT, Centre Diagnòstic, SA (UDIAT, Diagnosis Center, Inc.) Viatges de Muntanya, SA (Mountain Trips, Inc.) 
Administració Oberta Electrònica Catalunya (Open Electronic Admin. Catalonia) Atenció Primària de Salut de l'Eixample (Primary Health Attention of the Eixample) Autoritat del Transport Metropolità (Metropolitan Transport Authority) Casa de les Llengües (Languages House) Castelldefels Agents de Salut (Castelldefels Health Agents) Catalan Films & TV Catalan Films & TV Centre de Recerca Ecològica i Aplicacions Forestals (Centre for Ecological Research and Forest Applications) Centre de Recerca en Economia Internacional (Centre for Research in International Economics) Centre de Recerca Matemàtica (Centre for Mathematical Research) Centre de Terminologia (Terminology Center) Centre de Visió per Computador (Center for Computing Vision) Centre d'Estudis per a la Innovació del Transport (Centre for Transport Innovation) Centre Internacional de Mètodes Numèrics a l'Enginyeria (International Center of Numerical Methods to Engineering) Circuit de Catalunya (Circuit of Catalonia) Circuit de Motocròs de Catalunya (Motocross Circuit of Catalonia) Comerç, Artesania i Moda de Catalunya (Trade, Craftwork and Fashion of Catalonia) Consorci Biopol de l'Hospitalet de Llobregat (Biopol Consortia of l'Hospitalet de Llobregat) Consorci de l'Habitatge de Barcelona (Housing Consortium of Barcelona) Consorci de l'Habitatge de l'Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona (Housing Consortium of Barcelona's Metropolitan Area) Consorci de l'Observatori del Paisatge (Consortium for Landscape Observatory) Consorci d'Educació de Barcelona (Barcelona's Education Consortium) Consorci del Montsec (Montsec's Consortium) Consorci Hospitalari de Vic (Vic Hospital Consortium) Consorci per a la Normalització Lingüística (Consortium for Linguistical Normalization) Consorci Sanitari de Barcelona (Healthcare Consortium of Barcelona) Consorci Sanitari de l'Alt Penedès (Healthcare Consortium of Alt Penedès) Consorci Sanitari de l'Anoia (Healthcare Consortium of Anoia) Consorci Sanitari de Mollet del Vallès (Healthcare Consortium of Mollet del Vallès) Consorci Sanitari de Terrassa (Healthcare Consortium of Terrassa) Consorci Sanitari del Maresme (Healthcare Consortium of Maresme) Consorci Sanitari Integral (Integrated Healthcare Consortium) Consorci Sant Gregori, de Girona (Sant Gregori Consortium of Girona) Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí de Sabadell (Parc Taulí Healthcare Corporation of Sabadell) Formació Contínua de Catalunya (Constant Training of Catalonia) Gestió de la Fertilització Agrària de Catalunya (Agricultural Fertilization Management of Catalonia) Hospital Clínic i Provincial de Barcelona (Clinical and Provincial Hospital of Barcelona) Infraestructures de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (Telecommunications Infrastructures of Catalonia) Institut Català d'Arquelogia Clàssica (Catalan Institute for Classical Archaeology) Institut Català de Ciències Cardiovasculars (Catalan Institute for Cardiovascular Science) Institut de Física d'Altes Energies (Institute for High Energy Physics) Institut de Geomàtica (Institute for Geomatics) Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (August Pi i Sunyer Institute for Biomedical Investigation) Institut Universitari d'Estudis Europeus (University Institute for European Studies) Laboratori de Llum de Sincotró (Laboratory of Sincotro's Light) Laboratori Intercomarcal de l'Alt Penedès, l'Anoia i el Garraf (Inter-regional Laboratory of Alt Penedès, Anoia and Garraf) Markets, Organizations and Votes in Economics Markets, Organizations and Votes in Economics Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalonia) Parc de l'Espai d'Interès Natural de Gallecs (Gallecs Natural Interest Park) Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona (Barcelona's Park for Biomedical Research) Patronat Catalunya-Món (Catalonia World Trust) Patronat de la Vall de Núria (Vall de Núria Trust) Port de Mataró (Mataro's Harbor) Port de Portbou (Portbou's Harbor) Promoció Comercial de Catalunya (Commercial Promotion of Catalonia) Serveis Socials de Barcelona (Barcelona's Social Services) Teatre Fortuny de Reus (Fortuny Theatre of Reus) Transport Públic de l'Àrea de Girona (Girona's Public Transport) Transport Públic de l'Àrea de Lleida (Lleida's Public Transport) Transport Públic del Camp de Tarragona (Tarragona's Public Transport) 
Assaig per a la Recerca Sanitària (Test for the Health Reseach) Centre de Documentació Política (Political Documentation Center) Centre de Medicina Regenerativa de Barcelona (Barcelona's Center for Regenerative Medicine) Centre de Recerca en Epidemiologia Ambiental (Center for Environmental Epidemiology Research) Centre de Recerca en Salut Internacional de Barcelona (Barcelona's International Center for Health Research) Centre de Regulació Genòmica (Center for Genomic Regulation) Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (Catalonia's Tecnological Center of Telecommunication) Centre Tic i Salut (Center for New Tecnologies and Health) Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (Catalonia's Superior School of Music) Fira d'Espectacles d'Arrel Tradicional, Mediterrania (Traditional and Mediterranian Root Entertainment Fair) Fundació Privada Catalana pel progrés del Món Rural (Catalan Private Foundation for Rural World Progress) Fundació Privada Catalana per a l'Ensenyament de l'Idioma Anglès i l'Educació en Anglès (Catalan Private Foundation for English Language and Education Teaching) Fundació Privada Salut del Consorci Sanitari del Maresme (Health Private Foundation of the Maresme's Health Consortia) Hospital de Viladecans per a la Recerca i la Docència (Viladecans Hospital for Research and Teaching) Gestió Sanitària de l'Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Health Management of Santa Creu i Sant Pau Hospital) Hospital Transfronterer de la Cerdanya (Cerdanya Transborder Hospital) Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (Catalan Institution for Resarch and Advanced Studies) Institut Català de Ciències del Clima (Catalan Institute for Climate Sciences) Institut Català de Nanotecnologia (Catalan Institute for Nanotecnology) Institut Català de Paleontologia (Catalan Institute for Paleontology) Institut Català de Recerca de l'Aigua (Catalan Institute for Water Research) Institut Català de Recerca en Patrimoni Cultural (Catalan Institute for Cultural Heritage) Institut Català d'Investigació Química (Catalan Institute for Quemical Investigation) Institut de Ciències Fotòniques (Institute for Photonic Science) Institut de Medicina Predictiva i Personalitzada del Càncer (Institute for Predictive and Personalized Medicine of Cancer) Institut de Recerca Biomèdica (Institute for Biomedical Research) Institut d'Investigació Biomèdica de Bellvitge (Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Investigation) Institut d'Investigació Biomèdica de Girona Doctor Josep Trueta (Doctor Josep Trueta Girona's Institute for Biomedical Investigation) Institut d'Investigació en Ciències de la Salut Germans Trias i Pujol (Brothers Trias i Pujol Institute for Health Sciences Investigation) Institut d'Investigació Oncològica de Vall-Hebron (Vall-Hebron Institute for Oncological Investigation) Jove Orquestra Nacional de Catalunya (Young National Orchestra of Catalonia) La Marató de TV3 (Catalan Television Marathon) Observatori per a la Societat de la Informació de Catalunya (Observatory for Information Society of Catalonia) Parc Taulí Parc Taulí Transplant Services Foundation Transplant Services Foundation Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia)


The floor of the church, in the form of a Latin cross, is essentially Romanesque, with cruise or transept and walls closing in this style

There is a long history of the cross-fertilisation of marine and ecclesiastical architecture, from Jesus' boat-church on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:1: "And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.") to the inverted church-boat which is our nave (Greek naos/Latin navis).

So I rather like the Ayuntamiento de Tuy's idea of tearing up conservation protocol and building perhaps a Caribbean cruise ship jacuzzi with glass roof and cocktail bar into the crossing of its fortress-cathedral. I think the theology could be made to work, but the plumbing is anyone's guess.


No take out trollers

Someone told me about this sign on the perimeter fence of the cargo area at Gerona Airport, which is accessible via the small service road leading to the eminently avoidable restaurant El Mirador. So the plan was: exit terminal, get photo, stroll to Riudellots taking forest path to avoid road-side predators, beer & bite in the excellent bar opposite the station and abattoir, train to Barcelona. Unfortunately the sight of a mysterious man in a Sendero Luminoso headpiece scrabbling in his rucksack to recover an electronic device brought two Mossos on flashing motorbikes and an urgent injunction to be gone.

"No take out trollers" could mean that the facility does not sell for off-premise consumption the posters of inflammatory messages in online communities or, in older usage, anglers. It could also be a pidgin request not to assassinate them. Or it might have something to do with the red javelin-pierced trolley iconised beside it. Who knows.

I'll get it next time.


Physically impossible entry

No 31 in this New York Times collection of strange street signs.

My impression is that the Chinese are ahead, but it seems hard to criticise them for this: huge efforts have been made over the past decade to make a previously sternly monolingual country more accessible to foreigners; the effort is laudable and the meaning usually clear.

It is harder to defend Spain, which has had mass Anglo tourism and immigration for a long time but failed to respond adequately. This effort by Granada Council is a bit sad--you know what they mean, and if they'd gone into a tourist bar they could have had it corrected for free. However, Granada is still way ahead of places like Ripoll, which houses one of the marvels of Iberian Romanesque but doesn't think it worth advertising that fact in any but the local language.

No translation: no mistakes, but less tourists too. "Wher herte is failed,/Ther schal no castell ben assailed," but you've got to wonder in cases like Ripoll whether the heart is even willing.


"High-speed lift" expected in Mojácar in 6-7 years

The Entertainer Online reports on the Association of Merchants and Entrepreneurs Mojácar's interest in exploiting to the full the arrival of technology that sounds like it will have even the bullet-trained Japanese writhing with envy. In deference to their example, and bearing in mind local cultural interests I suppose you could rechristen the AVE "Bullevator".


SUV, "vehículo deportivo"

Re the Times Square car bomb, José M Guardia comments on the mistranslation of Chelsea tractor by Cadena Ser and others. While their minds may well be as furry as porcine slurry, the marketing of a vehicle allegedly (where?) designed for exotic and perilous deserts to surgically improved mums to transport their precious tots half a mile to school does create ample scope for creativity.

I wonder if the use of an SUV by the would-be New York bomber is not a sign of its decline as a status symbol. There was a great growth in their use in Spain at the time of the "No war for oil" movement, demonstrating the paradoxical nature of tercermundista anti-Americanism, but my impression this last year is that sales are down vis-à-vis other types. Maybe the cultural lead-time between Anglocabronía and Barcelona isn't as great as some expat bar pundits believe.


Follow Galician reapers to Castilian labour camps on the St James' Way

The Dirección General de Turismo of the Junta de Castilla y León writes of "Way from Madrid," one of the Santiago pilgrimage trails:
Who go along it encounter stretches of Roman road, overcome with joy the mountain's summit Fuenfría, emulate the  Galician reapers along the trails that led them to labor camps in Castilla la Nueva and, ultimately, pay homage to Pilgrim Virgin of Sahagun while are linking to the path that comes by the traditional way which starts at Somport or Roncesvalles in Spain.
The next paragraph establishes a new frontier between metric and imperial measures in the ever-evolving cultural geography of Europe: while the distance from Madrid (which we are helpfully reminded is the capital of Spain) to Sahagún is 325.3km, when in that thriving metropolis we join the French Way French influence mysteriously ends and we are told,  in a manner comprehensible only to elderly Anglo-Saxons, that the remainder of the journey is "something over 364 miles."

Translation is hard work, so the next-but-one paragraph is quite sensibly left in Spanish. Finally, having transported us all this way from the capital of the empire, "only straight horizon which is broken by the verticality of the towers of the churches and trees like  protagonists of the banks of rivers and streams," our guide has a sudden and miraculous change of heart and decides that this is not in fact "Way from Madrid," but "Way to Madrid," perhaps as in "All roads lead to..."


Some FAQs, and a welcome to folks coming from TheOlivePress.es

... which caught me the other day after an extremely heavy lunch but manages to make me sound pretty coherent.

A couple of people have suggested over the past couple of years that this blog is Hispanophobe, part of a venerable Anglo-Saxon plot against the Catholic Monarchs, or something. My original nom de plume makes clear that this is not so--"Alfonso el Idiota" is an ironic reference to the extraordinary efforts made at the court of Alfonso X el Sabio to translate classics from Arabic into the vernacular--and my target is more limited: large private and public bodies which had the resources to promote themselves and their products or people in a professional fashion; to build a decent education system; to reform the labour market to make opportunities available to the most able instead of to friends and family; but which, evidently unaware of what happened to Marie Antoinette even before Sophie Coppola got hold of her, preferred to waste those resources on pomps and prides.

Most of my translation work involves things resembling Dutch and French--more info here--but my main business is running the guided walking tour network, FollowTheBaldie.com. I can provide contact details for anyone who wishes to get in touch with the excellent Justin Roberts, mentioned in the piece.


Brave potatoes

Served at Café & Té in Plaça Kennedy, Barcelona. More over at Peter Harvey.


Garzón, and what Franco said to Jay Allen before Spanish translators and historians got involved

I think this is the first intended mistranslation I've dealt with here. At the tail end of the bizarre campaign to  save the skin of socialist magistrate Garzón by portraying fellow-socialist magistrate Varela as a crypto-fascist, Ignacio Escolar has attacked the Falange for claiming that Garzón buttressed his case with mistranslations of an interview conducted by Jay Allen for the Chicago Tribune in late July 1936. The full passage in question in the original reads:
[Franco] "The revolution of 1931 was artificial. Zamora ... promised a republic of priests and monks. But the republicans cannot make a bourgeois revolution. Their masses want a red revolution," the general said.
"In the name of liberty there was frightful license. The constitution was a unilateral affair. Half of Spain was persecuted."
[Allen] "Then no truce, no compromise is possible?"
"No. No, decidedly, no. We are fighting for Spain. They are fighting against Spain. We will go on at whatever cost."
"You will have to shoot half of Spain," I said.
He shook his head, smiled and then looking at me steadily: "I said whatever the cost."
Garzón, via his sources, renders it thus:
-    “Nosotros luchamos por España. Ellos luchan contra España. Estamos resueltos a seguir adelante a cualquier precio.” (Citado por Secundino Serrano en “Génesis del Conflicto: La represión de los huidos. Dentro del libro Federación Guerrillera de León-Galicia. El último Frente. Resistencia Armada Antifranquista en España 1939-1952”, de José Arostegui y Jorge Marco (Eds). Editorial Catarata, 2008.)
-    Allen: “Tendrá que matar a media España”, dije.
Entonces giró la cabeza, sonrió y mirándome firmemente dijo:
-    “He dicho que al precio que sea”.
Es decir –afirma Allen- que “estaba dispuesto a acabar con la mitad de los españoles si ello era necesario para pacificar el país”. (Santos Juliá. Víctimas de la Guerra Civil, Madrid, Temas de Hoy. 1999. Página 25.)
Escolar writes that from this
it is clear that the translation quoted by Garzón is pretty reasonable. Like all translations, it is open to nuance. You can argue about whether ... "You will have to shoot half of Spain" would [have been more accurate than] "kill half of Spain." But I don't think that that changes the meaning of the sentences much.
However, by pointing out a minor error Escolar distracts our attention from three important distortions, the second of which confirms the Falange's claims of mistranslation and the first and third of which suggest a straightforward intention to mislead.

First, in the original Allen's "You will have to shoot half of Spain" is clearly a hyperbolic response to Franco's hyperbolic "Half of Spain was persecuted." The entire fragment is an exchange about reciprocal justice, but the omission in Garzón document of Franco's original absurdity makes it appear that Allen is accusing Franco of violent unilateralism. The difference is between that of the rational albeit loathsome concept of an eye for an eye and the bloody irrationality of Cain.

Second, as Jose M Guardia points out, in the original text Franco's initial reaction to being asked the question is to shake his head. There are perfectly adequate Spanish translations of head-shaking available, but we are told incorrectly in Spanish that "he turned his head." Shaking one's head can indicate a wide variety of reactions, including sorrow and denial, but they are precluded by the mistranslation, thus reinforcing the Cainite thesis.

Third, nowhere in his piece does "Allen state that Franco was prepared to finish off half of the Spanish if that were to be necessary to pacify the country." In fact I think he's engaging in the classic political strategy of neither ruling out massacres nor ruling them in. For comparison, here complaining of massive injustice in another potentially massively fratricidal situation is Malcolm X:
We have formed an organization known as the Organization of Afro-American Unity which has the same aim and objective to fight whoever gets in our way, to bring about the complete independence of people of African descent here in the Western Hemisphere, and first here in the United States, and bring about the freedom of these people by any means necessary. That's our motto. We want freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary.
You may suspect the worst, but there's nothing in there that will hang him in a decent court.

If the misrepresentation of evidence in this morsel of Garzón's case is anything to go by, then God help him, and maybe it's time to reëxamine some of his previous work--the mass detention and alleged torture of Catalan nationalists to prevent disruptions to the 1992 Olympics seems to be springing to minds with which, like the Falange, I have little else in common.


Ash cloud already in Asia, says the Spanish press

Malaprensa has from JMNoticias a stupendous English-Spanish cockup. Reuters put out a story in English explaining that the chaos caused in Europe by ash from Eyjafjallajökull was leading to knock-on problems for Asian airports forced to deal with thousands of stranded passengers. The Spanish news agency Europa Press mistranslated this as the ash cloud itself having arrived in Asia, and the story was adopted without question or reference to a map across the Spanish media.

The other day Albert Boadella had lunch with the wife of the French ambassador, who asked him for a trait common to all Spaniards. "Fanaticism," he replied, but after considering the people of the Atlantic seaboard concluded that a lack of common sense would be closer to the mark. Josu comes to a similar conclusion:
Here is proof once more that Spanish journalism, so often divided between left and right, between Spanish and Catalan nationalists, is capable of finding common ground in shoddy work,  in copy-paste, in a lack of common sense. What a relief.
Rush Limbaugh meanwhile says it's all Obama's fault. (Via)



It's turning out to be more complicated than I thought: post first, correction below, clarification bottom.

Esperanza Aguirre's Madrid appears to have made impressive advances in implementing bilingual (Spanish-English) education in the region. Unfortunately it didn't bother to check that Adsolut, the creative agency on the system's new ad campaign, had included a translator in its €127,600 budget. And so, as El País reports, "want" becomes an intransitive verb and the administration looks like a bunch of amateurish wuzzocks. Here's an alternative scenario:
- Hi, Adsolut here, we heard you're a decent translator and we wanted to run something past you. Is 'Yes we want' good English?
- No. And public flogging is being introduced for crap Obama ripoffs.
- OK, we'll get back to you.
- Thanks, I've billed you at my base tariff of 60€.
Anyone got a picture of the ad? What's bilingual education in Madrid really like? Is David Blundell talking out of his posterior end when he says that it's not a good idea to mix Spanish and English in marcoms? How long will it take Adsolut to emerge from hiding (for an adman in a storm, any pub is a good pub) and announce that this so-called mistake is in fact a cunning way of attracting massive attention for bilingualism in Madrid?


Someone has kindly sent in grabs of the screens of the Flash animation, from which it is clear that unless you think font colour has a determining influence over grammar Adsolut's work contains adsolutely no linguistic error, as was claimed by Mariann Larsen Pehrzon of the Facultad de Filología of the Complutense, Caridad Baena, President of the Asociación de Profesores de Escuelas de Idiomas de Madrid, translator Leonie Woodin and other authorities quoted by El País' reporter, Elena Sevillano:

So, while the campaign may not be terribly graceful or creative, my apologies to Adsolut and the Comunidad de Madrid. And a raspberry to El País, who surely weren't looking for any old stick with which to beat dear old Espe...

Correction corrected

See Peter's comments and this photo. Here from El Mundo is another screen grab someone sent in:

I think it's like this minor disaster from Barcelona Council: professional conception, amateurish execution.


"The stranger wore short trousers and a cloak of the same colour"

Someone kindly sent in an example of bad translation into Spanish which is thus officially off-topic but so interesting and amusing that it deserves inclusion. It's from La copa de Verlaine, a collection of Madrilenian sketches by fellow-decadent Emilio Carrere, discovered and described at "Bremaneur"'s excellent Biblioteca fantasma. In "Elegía de un hombre inverosímil" we meet Forondo, a “dire translator” with a “thick multicolour beard” who fails to appreciate the gravity of the author's Bohemian representations and whose translations, presumably from the French, apparently include such gems as
  • “El pobre pequeño niño sacó su muestrecita. Eran once horas sonadas”; and
  • “El desconocido llevaba un pantalón corto y una capa del mismo color”.
The latter is straightforward, but the wit of the former eludes me. Any ideas?



Cash-starved governments all over Europe are busy rediscovering VAT, and it seems that their inspiration may have come from that hitherto little recognised hive of intellect and invention, Malaga Airport:

Please remember that you must show the items in the V.A.T. refound office before checking them.


El defensor de la traducción

Over on Facebook.

My inbox is full of suggestions, for which thanks & to which I'll return when this Easter thing gets bored and goes away.


Domestic servant offers titillation, experience

There's no translation angle on this one, but you won't find many Spanish eggcorns better than this contributed example from 2008:

For the machines amongst you:
Se ofrece señora para atención a personas mayores y discapacitadas Con titilación y experiencia y labores domesticas...
Who says you can't find staff these days?


Mayoress´ Gretting

What does the English translation of the official presentation website for Vinoble 2010 tell us? That the Mayoress of Jerez cares more about how her hair looks than about how her words are interpreted? That her administration is as thick as pigshit and happy to wallow in it? Well, not necessarily.

Our etymology department has been on the case and points out that, rather than simply being a miserable failure to spell a derivative of "greet", "grett" is the medieval form of "great". So the text could be construed as Pilar Sánchez Muñoz's PR department's cunning way of bigging up the Seventh International Exhibition of Noble Wines (VII Salón Internacional de los Vinos Nobles) for a contemporary international audience. Indeed.

The rest of the text is still undergoing hermeneutic recuperative therapy:

Mayoress´ Gretting

Vinoble 2010 arrives to a new edition in order to maintain the historic quality of this event that it is a must among the specialized wine fairs at national and international levels.

This year Vinoble will go one step further with changes that seek to increase the level of excellence and at the same time optimize the best use of it resources.

This new phase includes management approaches and innovative organization whose leadership is assumed by a technical team of great prestige which ensures the continuity of the great journey that this Event has taken since its first edition.

From the Municipal Government, we have been careful to design changes for the Fair in order to win in all its different aspects. One of them is the commercial, because it is intended that Vinoble becomes a place for business. It is also a goal to achieve that exhibitor take advantage of their presence in the fair, not only making their products known but also having the potential to open new trade routes.

The important culinary aspect of the Event is another feature with new expectations.

With the aim to achieve a greater impact, in this edition we will count with the presence of prestigious chefs whom will have the marriage of wine and cuisine as the central argument.

Definitely, we are faced to one Vinoble that without losing their traditional levels wants to get the best and greater business levels and a better involvement of the host city.

In this sense, we will develop efforts to open it to Jerez, making parallel activities to share with citizens and visitors the great wine festival which is the celebration of this event.

Finally everything is ready for Vinoble 2010 to be both: new and traditional, with the magnificent of the Alcázar de Jerez site as the epicenter of an Event that continues making progress in the quality of its contents and becoming more profitable for all the participants.

Pilar Sánchez Muñoz
Mayoress of Jerez

Seriously folks, if you're paying lots of famous people to liven up your fair and you want to toot da horn, get a real translator. They're much better value for money than celebrity chefs, and there must be one in or near Jerez. If you want we'll find you one.


The definitely guide of brothels

My "I'm surprised you even need to ask" title is plucked two-handed from the popups on the following, unsurprising aerial view of Spain, which may take a while to load:

Please note that all IP-clicks will be logged and passed to the sales division of the Guardia Civil's human trafficking unit.

The site description reads:

Spanish Brothels Addresses A complete liste with more than 500 nightclubs, sex clubs, brothels, puticlubs of Spain. Get the location, infomration about prizes, beautifulness of the girls, opening times, etc.

I believe the true number of brothels in Spain, including the numerous illegal establishments like Club la Luna at Girona Airport/Riudellots de la Selva, is considerably higher, although perhaps not as many as the 4,000 sometimes quoted. Then there are always the enthusiastic amateurs.

Following the Zapatero/Salgado/Campa roadshow of the last couple of weeks, we were puzzling about what they meant when they said that "Spain is a serious country." Serious about what? Well, prostitution.

(h/t: a fellow walker)


Freudian false friend hamstrings Spanish government's City presentation

An amusing and presumably unintended glimpse of the Spanish economic pushmi-pullyu--are structural reforms for real or merely for foreigners?--is to be found on slide 22 of the "Kingdom of Spain Economic Policy and 2010 Funding Strategy" used by Secretary Campa yesterday in London (via):

Can we implement this? We have done it in the past, which proves our compromise, the quality of our public finances, and the success of our fiscal discipline.

Damn, damn, damn! "Compromiso" in Spanish is a commitment in English, while "compromise" in English means in Spanish that you're going to do whatever the trade unions tell you. If Ms Salgado had sent the whole Powerpoint to a decent translator tagged "urgent" and taken him to dinner afterwards, then she'd still have had change out of 1,000€. But hey, why waste money on translation when you're going to lose the next elections anyway?

The Mr Hyde of the Zapatero government's deeds can be found in the Spanish press, but here's Dr Jekyll:


"the economic vice, Elena Salgado, has traveled to London to soothe investor sentiment"

Yep, but it's free, courtesy of Google Translate, and still substantially better than the work of many professional translators. It's also fun (FT's Alphaville blog is fast-moving cabaret) and not inappropriate to the crackpot tone adopted by José Blanco in the Spanish original.

The last few days' translation classic was also delivered by the Spanish government, Davos not apparently being prepared for a world leader limited to mouthing platitudes in a language few could understand:

God knows what will happen to the Greeks, but by looking reasonably competent in comparison with Zapatero Papandreou may have given them some much-needed breathing space.

Turkish authorities using surgery and extra-judicial executions to alter driver behaviour

Off-topic this week, I came across this remarkable headline:
To beat the traffic problem in Trabzon scalpel was the first step.
The subhead reinterprets the story to the disadvantage of the surgeon:
Traffic problems in Trabzon take the first step was to shoot scalpel.
Contacts there tell me that growing trade with Georgia and Russia has led to the establishment in the city of a large class of wealthy breast and pox specialists, whose Mercedes clog up downtown, and that shooting them and selling their cars to the Kurds is the only way.


Should American-Spanish political interpreters know about Methodism?

In an FT piece a couple of days ago (via) we learn that "As Benoy discovered to its cost, interpreters need to be close to the subject matter as well as competent linguistically". I didn't catch the Zapatero Snakeoil Show chez les Obama the other day, but I did see most of Hillary's slot on RTVE and listened with steadily increasing interest to the interpreter's version. At first I thought that his pauses during her mentions of the importance of Methodism in her life and her Biblical references might be part of Spanish state TV strategy to help the boss--who domestically appears to take particular delight in assaulting the church--by downplaying the importance of religion. But then he repeatedly translated John Wesley as "Wezli", and I knew that he had simply never heard of the founder of the faith which George W Bush spent so long trying to find. Pretty voice, fucked interpreter, IMHO.


Angelina Jolie quiere "irse lejos de Hollywood" y piensa en Los Ángeles

Barcepundit has a cracker from Telecinco, which appears to based this:

Mientras que Brad estrena su piso de soltero, Angelina Jolie parece decidida a buscar el lugar perfecto para trasladarse y empezar de cero con sus seis hijos. Entre sus opciones se encuentran Madrid o Los Ángeles y, aunque aún no ha decidido dónde, lo que tiene muy claro es que quiere "irse lejos de Hollywood".

Por lo visto, Angie está harta del ambiente que rodea Hollywood y estaría buscando un lugar más "culto" para vivir. "Angelina odia Hollywood y preferiría vivir en un lugar más exótico y refinado", explica una fuente cercana a la actriz.
... on this:

Angelina Jolie reportedly wants to move her family out of Hollywood, as she wants to raise her 6 children in a “more exotic and cultured” area. Sources say the actress argues with partner Brad Pitt on where to set up house.
“Angie hates Hollywood and would prefer living somewhere more exotic and cultured,” reveals an insider. “They argue about where to live almost on a daily basis. One day they agree on L.A., the next day Angie changes her mind and wants to live in Madrid. They just can’t put their feet on the ground.”
... which is rather different.


Gabriel Cabrera Mendez me roba contenido

Data Whois:
Domain name: babelxelsabio.com
Gabriel Cabrera Mendez (SROW-1351833)
Trv. de Pizarro, 5
06800 ES
+34 924300519

Administrative contact:
Gabriel Cabrera Mendez (SRCO-2126877)
Trv. de Pizarro, 5
06800 ES
+34 924300519
Technical contact:
Gabriel Cabrera Mendez (SRCO-2126878)
Trv. de Pizarro, 5
06800 ES
+34 924300519
Domain servers in listed order:
Created: 25 Jul 2006 10:25:41:000 UTC
Expires: 25 Jul 2011 10:25:41:000 UTC
Last updated: 30 Sep 2009 07:26:58:490 UTC
Snitcheado por HM.


Time to be seasick?

Spain's National Research Council has an intriguing tag on the page advertising the Botanical Garden:
It's time for research, it's time to life ... It is time CSIC
Fucked translation is an art practised all over Spain, not just in Catalonia and Andalusia.


The etymology and typology of "trash bean"

Kindly contributed by C, here's a sign from the toilets of a restaurant in Jaén:

Don't though any papers into the water close. Use the trash bean.
There is too much material here to deal with in one post, but we can report that modern forensic linguistics, combined with a couple of glasses of wine, have led to the discovery that "trash bean" is the work of a team from the University of Jaén consisting of a semanticist and a phoneticist who have been moonlighting happily but not always completely successfully as tourist copywriters. The base conditions and sequence of events were as follows:
  1. Dr Semanticist is a rough and ready field lexicographer who has acquired some notion of English semantics but continues to struggle with phonetics.
  2. Dr Phoneticist on the other hand is a somewhat unworldly type who is pretty comfortable with English phonetics but not semantics.
  3. Dr Semanticist, who knows what a bin is but can't pronounce it, is dictating to Dr Phoneticist. At the moment of truth he performs the characteristic Spanish [ɪ] → [i] transformation.
  4. Dr Phoneticist transcribes the semanticist's pronunciation correctly in accordance with one of the options available in English.
I think what they have come up with is a translingual malapropism, commonly known as an Irish bull because of Irishmen's supposed propensity for this type of error due to their unfamiliarity with the English language. But is it really a mistake? Certainly an Indonesian company called Oliqus appears to have commenced the industrial production of trash beans, which, while they superficially resemble Western trash bins, may for all I know have bean-type pod functionality. More research is required.


"Mittlestuffe" and illegal Catalan limitations on the provision of tourist services

Picking up linguistic errors by the Catalan government is shooting phish in a barrel--they often have difficulties with Catalan--but my non-empirical impression is that they and other local authorities struggle rather more with German than with English. Classic English errors are still there to be enjoyed, of course: take for example {-gn -> -ng}, as in "foreing", "desing", in this promotional document from Invest in Catalonia. But the Rhine is both shit-creek and paddle-less for wanderlustige Catalan bureaucrats.

Speaking as a reactionary, I'm a big fan of the Catalan law regulating tourist guides, which is designed to limit the effects of a 1994 European ruling against Spain on the supposed freedom to provide services within the so-called single market. It determines inter alia that in order to speak to tourists in German on government property one must be in possession of at least the "Mittlestuffe" (for "Mittelstufe") from the Goethe Institut in Munich. Since there is no reason for native German-speakers to attend the German equivalent of the Institut Français, this effectively makes it impossible for Germans and Austrians to provide such services, an illegal restriction of trade which has been of concern recently to the notorious Barcelona guided walking tour provider FollowTheBaldie.com.

(FTB is slightly worried, following a Christmas session with a famously drunken member of the local judiciary, that a Barcelona judge might take a narrow view of the law and disqualify all guides who have not in person attended the Goethe Institut branch in Munich itself. We could get round this problem by building a replica of Barcelona in the desert of Almería, but construction permits are apparently in short supply there at the moment.)

{Mittelstufe -> Mittlestuffe} is a popular qualification among businessmen and language professionals, although it presumably focuses on oral skills rather than orthography. You can even study for it at the Austrian Information Centre in Rabat, Morocco (check the page header).

Am I getting off-topic? Am I boring you? If so, my apologies. I will be back shortly with another genuine translation howler from Andalusia.