French lessons: Grannie on her bike rides across the pool

Boby Lapointe, an obsessive, deranged comic genius who seems to have drunk himself to death aged 50, points to one of the delicious traps lying in wait for elephants who proceed beyond their French-English phrasebooks - the fact that of the supposed infinity of possible sentences in natural language, most are nonsense:

What time is it? Quelle heure est-il?
Deux heur´s moins deux : Two to two
Quelle heure est-il? What time is it?
Deux heures deux : Two two
De deux moins deux à deux heur´s deux voyons
ce qui se pass´
Consacrons-y notre class´

From two to two to two two. De deux heur´s
moins deux à deux heur´s deux
Daddy on his bike is riding to town
Papa à vélo-o se rend à la ville

From two to two to two two. De deux heur´s
moins deux à deux heur´s deux
My sister is swimming across the pool
Ma sœur, en nageant traverse la piscine.

From two to two to two two. De deux heur´s
moins deux à deux heur´s deux
Grannie is in bed eating her pudding
Grand-mère est au li-it, mangeant son pudding

From two to two to two two. De deux heur´s
moins deux à deux heur´s deux
Dreaming uncle John is petting the dog
Rêveur, oncle Joh-hon, caresse le chien.

Et maintenant vous possédez tout un voca-bu-lai-air´
Vous pouvez grâce à tous ces mots tenir "conversation"
Vous mélanger formant des phrases de mille manié-èr´
Mille "signi-fi-qua-tion"

From two to two to two two. De deux heur´s
moins deux à deux heur´s deux
The dog is swimming, he´s swimming to town
le chien nage, nage jusqu´à la ville

From two to two to two two. De deux heur´s
moins deux à deux heur´s deux
Grannie on her bike rides across the pool
Grand-mère à vélo traverse la piscine

From two to two to two two. De deux heur´s
moins deux à deux heur´s deux
My sister´s in bed, she eats uncle John
Ma sœur est au lit, ell´ mange Oncle John

From two to two to two two. De deux heur´s
moins deux à deux heur´s deux
Daddy is dreaming he pets his pudding
Papa en rêvant caresse son pudding

A creepy Occitan cokehead made me listen to "Ta Katie t'a quitté" a couple of years ago. I'm still trying to learn it by heart, and now I go through periods with Mr. Lapointe's entire repertoire on loop in order to anaesthetise myself against whatever stupid puff I'm writing. I have always meant to watch his first film - Truffaut's Tirez sur le pianiste / Shoot the piano player - and TPB still seems to be working where I am, so night-night.


Moreno's master's: polysemy, polydon't

Jesús Fernández-Villaverde y Luis Garicano at Hay Derecho had a look last year at the CV of Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, Rajoy's excellent choice of candidate for the Andalusian elections, and were puzzled by what they found:

Empecemos por el MBA. Si su título de grado es de 2010-2011, su Master en Dirección y Administración de Empresas por la EADE tendrá que haber comenzado después de estas fechas (a menos que EADE siga la peculiar política de permitir matricularse en su MBA a estudiantes que no son graduados). Pero el 30 de Diciembre de 2011 fue nombrado Secretario de Estado de Servicios Sociales e Igualdad. Es decir, que nos imaginamos que habrá tenido que simultanear sus estudios en EADE con su cargo de Secretario de Estado.


Sigamos por el “Master en Programa para el Liderazgo en la Administración Pública (IESE)”. Este master sencillamente no existe. Lo que el IESE tiene es un Programa para el Liderazgo en la Administración Pública, que es un programa que se reúne “de octubre a julio en jornadas intensivas de una tarde de lunes al mes, con almuerzo incluido.

[...] Terminemos con “Master de Oro del Real Forum de Alta Dirección”. Esto quizás lo entienda algún lector como un master universitario, y efectivamente, así lo ha entendido la prensa. En realidad, no lo es: es un premio que da una asociación privada.

In Anglosajonia "a master's" is "a master's degree", a contract under which you (or your employer or your rich auntie) gives something called a university (or something which pays commission to one) some money, and after some time (and some sexual adventures and even some work, though outsourcing is often an option) that something gives you a piece of paper which may or may not help you find another employer or reduce dependence on the auntie.

In Hispania, "un máster" is also the exchange of many notes for one, but the word admits an infinity of meanings, customers are more naive, and salesmen even less scrupulous - many awarding bodies wouldn't recognise a university if it bit them on their posterior end. I currently have on my fridge área's fly-posted "Máster en Social Media y Community Manager" ("Community Management," children!) in San Sebastián, where in 350 hours and for roughly €3K it seems that you will discover how to set up Wordpress.com, Facebook and Twitter accounts - check the student projects:

False friends also find opportunities when translating Spanish educational concepts into English. A profesor in Spanish is just a teacher, or even someone who is rather good at something, while in British English a professor is a top-ranking academic unless modifying hints are received. So the BBC is misleading the poor old British public when its Tom Burridge describes the ex-"profesor titular interino" Pablo Iglesias as a "university professor". Catedrático suffers from the same problem. I suspect that there is mention of this in Peter Harvey's Great English mistakes made by Spanish-speakers.


El Risitas, the new Hitler

Armando Ferreira's "translation" has an Apple engineer discussing the new MacBook:

I hadn't heard about Juan Joya Borja and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Osona: the power of pigshit

Anon enjoys juxtaposing the gibberish from the tourist body for the Catalan district containing Vic, Manlleu and Torelló:

Discover thepower ofcatalan land, close to Barcelona

... with news from Grup de Defensa del Ter that the average level of nitrates in tested springs in the area -vital for walkers- has increased over the past year from 64 to 78.7 mg/l; that there are peaks of 456.5 at Taradell, 353.4 at Santa Cecília de Voltregà, and 343.9 at Gurb; and that more than half of the springs exceed the WHO's recommended limit of 50 for drinking water.

Conspiracy theories

  1. GDT believes that politicians and civil servants are in hock to big business, which is to say pig business. (Aside: A Dutch gent who ships his pigs for fattening in Osona before returning them to Holland for slaughter says that the lack of environmental checks has a crucial impact on his pricing, and the effect on nose and eyes is often reminiscent of parts of Holland in the bad old days.) However, human water consumption is more than four times that of our snorty friends per head, so both sides may be hearing shortly from porcine rights activists.
  2. Anon suspects murderous xenophobia - "Let's get 'em here, and poison 'em." But then they'd have produced a decent translation, no?
  3. You already know what I think.


A nurse called Callous

Some Spanish media mistook a translatable adjective in a Daily Mail article for an untranslatable proper noun, perhaps even imagining that it ran in the great tradition of Spanish female first names: Angustias, Benigna, Consolación, Dolores...


Tourist apartment in San Sebastián "situated at a pederastian square"

"In front of a child playground," no less. Bit chillier than Vietnam/Cuba/..., but conceivably preferable to Westminster. (H/t C)

Update: I'm told that the agent pronounces it "pederastian".


"The failure of bilingual education"

That's the thesis of Primitivo Abella Cachero, Podemos schoolteacher from Avilés, Asturias. His segue into fluent Caracas vernacular in para. 2 was causing dizziness and loss of vision, so I skipped to the conclusions:

No se niegan las ventajas de una mayor capacidad de comunicación con personas de otros países, lo que aquí se plantea es que el mal llamado “programa bilingüe” no desarrolla adecuadamente la competencia lingüística, afecta negativamente a otras competencias y tiene un efecto segregador.

What's his idea of good bilingual education? Possible hints:

  1. His Asturianist jobs-for-the-boys club, the curiously named CSI, publishes its education blog in only Asturian.
  2. Pressure from Asturian "left-wing" nationalism has been instrumental in forcing on parents schooling in moribund dialects like Bable at the expense of languages like French, which may be struggling in France but seems to be the principal second language in London's W postcode.

End of two-party politics in Spain? Rebranding, actually: Podemos is IU v2, but also gobbles up a chunk of those who regard themselves as PSOE lefties; and Ciudadanos is PPSOE v2. The former will maintain the arch-conservative policy of seeking to deny students who rely on the state system the linguistic skills that will help them, by increasing their mobility, improve the price of their labour (those pushier, wealthier Madrid families will pay for private tuition anyway); and it is to be hoped that the latter will fight to bring an end to this madness - though the need to form coalitions with regionalist retards may continue to frustrate, as long as the electoral system remains the same.

I suppose the good education news at the moment is that obligatory religious education seems de facto parrot, following the 2013 LOMCE reform, which, by allowing the market to opt for something apart from religion, albeit equally stultifying, did far more damage to the church than the PSOE's aggressive prohibitionism.

Just in case anyone starts taking me for a progressive tosser, I had a go on one of these the other day and thoroughly recommend it:

Update: Ciudadanos didn't take long to mature.