People, fucked translation is our opium, let's smoke it while we can

Various posts here have been devoted to encouraging fucked translation from Spanish as a brand differentiator, where linguistic sloth and incompetence transmit a sensation of cultural authenticity and other stuff I'm afraid I can't remember, and don't particularly care to.

For I suspect that most of you care very little for all that crap, and send in tiny masterpieces of imbecility because they offer a glowing wormpipe to a different dimension, which still holds out against the compliance, HR, and arsebandits of all creeds and nations, who seek to inflict on us cultural greyout in the form of yet more freaking autobahns, James Blake albums, and conventional linguistic usage.

Contributions from Catalan suburbia have been in rather short supply, so I'm delighted with the following trip into Alice's rabbit hole just erected (we're talking three metres, lads) in quadruplicate by Mataró Parc, a mall a few miles up the Maresme coast from Barcelona.

"Wellcome" is clearly a tribute to Henry Wellcome, pharmaceuticals entrepreneur and benefactor of the über-splendid Wellcome Trust, and an instruction to you to inhale from that Sherlock Holmesian hookah (sometimes spelling does count):

What happens inside is up to you, but on exit your farewell is what I take to be an echo of between-wars manly jargon, of the type found in boys magazines, still widely used in Gateshead men's clubs, and developed significantly by Bobby Charles (See you later, alligator/In a while, crocodile), whence the repartee of Middlesbrough men's clubs (See you later, masturbator/In a while, paedophile):

But interpretation is in the bloodshot eye of the beholder, so loosen up, and I'll help you find a defence lawyer.

Dear reader, I am so sorry for these outbursts. If challenged, I will recount that one of my mother-in-laws almost nailed me the other day with a plate of oysters, which survived a sea of cheap cava and ferocious curry to set up home in my intestines. I will then enter a plea of insanitary.


Esperi el seu torn: Wait his turn

If I'd had less Campari, or rather if Campari were less toxic, I'd point you to a profusion of posts re the mistranslation of possessive pronouns in Romance languages, occasioned by confusing the third person with the polite second person form - su, or in this case el seu:

Since there is no stopping this train anyway, let me career into a Bad Santa punishment hallucination. Kindly soulds have been carefully explaining the grammatical differences between Iberian dialects and peripheral patois for at least 500 years, so some kind of beating is clearly in order, and maybe your man is concealed behind the boards, flogging all comers. If I've lost you, let me tell you that the real Bad Santa - Terry Zwigoff's - is, like his Ghost World and Crumb, simply splendid, and that its viewing might be of some comfort to anyone else condemned to spend the next few days dressed and burbling like a golf club arsehole.

(WTF do Sould Park do? I checked the website, but apart from figuring that they're in the sheds to the left when I go to Sant Antoni de Vilamajor I'm in the dark. Which may be my fault.)

(Thank you and a happy Götterdämmerung to Anon and all!)

(Discreet enquiry from upstairs: if this blog really has several hundred readers, why have only six converted themselves into members, or whatever it's called?)

(I actually like golf. One of my first steps on the path to dishonourable poverty consisted in stealing golf balls from the nooks and crannies of a rural course and reselling them at a discount.)


Is Spain a massive nihilist literary experiment?

Lenox comments on Almería's latest tourism whizz: the incomprehensible in pursuit of the inexistent, perhaps. For some reason this recalled Milorad Pavić's Dictionary of the Khazars, a wearisome metaphor for the failure of Serbia, which I wouldn't necessarily recommend - I can't even remember whether I was given the male or the female edition. Some of the Khazars are said to have made it to Spain, but it would be hard to blame the sins of Pavić and Spanish public administrations on them.

Update: Candide says buy, so here's a link.


Vitoria, golfing Mecca, or Golgotha of the ecologists/indignados?

Carlos links to an interesting story about the sodomy committed on Vitoria's new slogan by some no doubt well-paid functionary, "donde el verde es capital" becoming, word for word, "where the green is capital."

I think we can all agree that, in a miserable start to their meaningless year as European Green Capital, they have failed to communicate the idea of ecological commitment. But I wonder whether, as Martin Simonson suggests to El Correo, the result is likely to attract golfers. Surely if you wanted to puff the marvels of your putting green and fairways you'd need the plural, "where the greens are capital," and for the audio version you'd call Terry Wogan.

In English I think it is generally true that "the [noun] is [adjective]" is used instead of "the [adjective] [noun]" in order to focus audience attention on the adjective. (Grandma experts may mutter about attributive and predicative position.) Classic imagined examples involving "capital":
  • "You are aware," asked Michael Gove of Paul Evans, "that the offence is capital?"
  • "The expenditure is all capital - this is a splendid gift to future generations," said the Mayor of Vitoria as he cut the ribbon on a new 18-hole course adjoining his weekend residence.

Perhaps their message is that any English-speaking greenshirts who presume to occupy the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca or impede high-speed train line construction will in future be hung, drawn and quartered. And so say all of us.

I have no idea where Mariano Rajoy plans to save 30 billion euros, but genuine translators will surely be unaffected.

Curious times.


Festina's Lotus range: watches for people too stupid to need them

We are too smart to buy this crap off Festina, because we happen to know that according to Maya prophecy on December 21 2012 we will be so smoothly and swimmingly plugged into the Earth's electromagnetic battery that all our timepieces will explode and we'll need to buy new ones. Neither the copywriter, nor the translator, nor the monkey standing in for both of them while they mainline heroin into their brains can be blamed for trying particularly hard for a product with such a short lifespan:

Lotus is ready for this moment in time and launches its commemorative collections for the coming seasons, until the arrival of 21-12-2012, which will anticipate the beginning of the change of our civilisation.

The autumn-winter 2011 collection will cover the next semester with three collections (Tornado, Doom and Glee) that are inspired by big energy events: meteorites, tornados and other natural phenomenon. With Lotus’ own style, being daring, the new models will catch the eye of young people full of energy who appreciate innovation and enjoy living the here and now, living the moment.

For Lotus clients the best is yet to come, they know that the brand will always meet their expectations. Facing the situation predicted by the Mayas, Lotus uses its attributes and is inspired by the extreme risk and action in its pure sense. The new models give adrenaline to the wrists, of those who incite the movement. For Lotus the countdown has started.

The 2012 Lotus generation is the generation that will lead the big social change, the change of conscience.... Definitely they will be the heroes of the awaking.

Whatever happened to the Maya prophecy about fat ladies coming all the way from Florida every year to crap on their tombs?

(H/t to Tom, who having recovered from a quite alarming imaginary illness is now blogging here.)


EFE: Obesity tripled in twelve months

Malaprensa explains how the publicly-funded news agency converted Eurostat highest and lowest obesity percentages for EU member states for the year 2008/9 into year-on-year growth figures for the EU as a whole, and how the fatherland's press repeated this unquestioningly. Pay a translator and avoid being stamped as incompetent and ending up on the street in the ensuing privatisation? No, gracias.


Vote for the Jerez pronoun party

I suppose that the use of  "their" followed by "you" at the beginning of these parking fine instructions can be explained either as fucked translation or as an attempt to encourage a neighbourliness unusual in these parts, but I think the glorious use of "him" at word sixteen crowned by the subsequent "he/she" degenderisation clearly suggest that we're dealing here with the psychological catalyst for a social revolution:
Rampant egocentrism is Spain's glory according to the right, its curse according to the left. I would suggest that the latter at Jerez Council hope to convert their Deconstructing Parking strategy into a post-structuralist assault on the very idea of personality, from which will emerge a society built on liberty, equality, and that most extraordinary of notions: that one should help an absolute stranger. Should that not be the case, then we are here to help.

(H/t to Jerez sherry expert, Justin, who tweets here.)


La Vanguardia: “How is the weather like?”

< Peter Harvey < John Stone. Scroll down here to understand a bit of where John and his English-Speaking Parents' Association of Catalonia are coming from (sorry, Dryden). It's difficult to imagine how the Catalan Education Act could be amended to enable Catalan-English programmes when one of its principal goals was to erect another obstacle to Spanish-Catalan dual-language education. We shall see presently what the PP has in store for us - not very much, judging by the fudging in their manifesto and on their record during the Aznar years.


Hercesa: Casas con sentido > Well-thought Homes, and a big cui bono

"Homes that make sense" might have been closer to what the Guadalajara construction company Hercesa intended to convey, as well as being better English (Well thought-of/well thought-out?), but that begs the question as to whom they make sense: to purchasers deluded into contracting mortgages in excess of their ability to pay, for flats in developments that have had a devastating effect inter alia on the balance of water demand and supply; or solely to the builders and politicians who colluded to create this madness?

To the extent that offences have been committed, in the case of Hercesa, as in so many others, I suspect that only the smallest and stupidest of mafiosi will end up in court. My favourite in the briefest of searches is Julián Lucas Martínez, who it is alleged took leave of absence from Hercesa to win election as PP mayor of Cañizar, a tiny village in Guadalajara, and immediately gave permission for the construction of several thousand houses, mostly by Hercesa. I am sure you can find others.

While accumulating considerable personal fortunes, Juan José Cercadillo, who has led Hercesa since its foundation 1975, and his friend and business associate José "Cui" Bono, regional president from 1983-2004 and a figure of extraordinary influence since, have left Castilla-La Mancha with hordes of flats without inhabitants and inhabitants without flats, infrastructure out of all proportion to the population's likely needs, and a terrifying accumulation of public debt. Despite this, there has been absolutely no substantiated suggestion of corruption or any other form of wrong-doing on their part. That may be a fair enough, but no doubt some will see Bono's negotiations with the PP to become Spain's next ambassador to the Vatican as some rather rich icing on a particularly well-thought cake.

(H/t to Charles Butler, whose latest post also deals with the considerable distance that exists in the politico-commercial nexus between dicho and hecho.)


Guillermo Carnero > Guillermo Sheep

There's a poet MT massacre over at Fruela Fernández (h/t Carlos Ferrero). OK, we should be ignoring algorithm-generated MT for spam sites, but it's a quiet day.


French teacher in Madrid doesn't know any French

I'm a bit unclear as to why there is so much fuss about the tale of Nadia Saffouri--efforts to reduce costs by optimising teaching resource usage are leading to similar situations right across the country, and restrictions on entry to the profession engineered by teaching unions and regionalist nationalists meant that incompetent teachers were already part of the deal for kids--but it does perhaps help to explain tolerance for poor language skills elsewhere.

(Why does anyone in Madrid or anywhere need to learn French, particularly with this kind of thing going on?)


Almería's LGTB collective to their Polish and Italian counterparts: Let's integrate us!

No sooner has one bankrupt tribe finished subsidising with someone else's money a visit by the billionaire Vicar of Christ when an opposing but equally impecunious clan pops up to proxy-finance solidarity tourism by the Spawn of Satan, no less, who might also have been able to pay for it themselves.

But the really bad news about this beggars' Punch and Judy show is of course the translation.

We have commented (in a post that we can't be arsed to rediscover) that fucked translation may actually be a smart way of promoting your brand to a linguistically sophisticated audience. However if you're talking to English-as-a-subsidiary-language burblers, then ~standard usage is almost always objectively better, whatever dreamy sociolinguists may tell you. This is because it enables participants to get down quicker to whatever they want to get down to, which is unlikely to involve discussion of the potential confusion between object and reflexive pronouns, or the redundancy of the latter in phrases like the one in question.

Jesus and Karl love you, however you talk or write, but if your goal is rapid and effective integration with human beings, then you might want to consider a decent translator.

Tip of the sombrero to Lenox, whose Spanish Shilling is required reading.


Invest your life-savings with Fucked Translation before Ben 'n' Merv render them worthless!

Google ads are not what they were never really going to be, and donations have been such a success that until this morning's happy contribution a victim of comprehensive digitectomy could have counted the euros raised on the fingers of both stumps.

But now the game has changed: the Bank of England has indicated that money may be printed in substantial quantities starting in October, with others likely to pursue the same course. And, as any of you will long memories know, at this point there is a reasonable prospect that your bank deposits will decrease quite rapidly in value and that the sky will gently start to fall on your head.

We care about FT readers, even if you're too snooty to make yourselves members, and so we've devised an exclusive offer to help you escape from this dreadful mess:
  1. You invest your entire life-savings with us in itemised tranches using the poorly designed button and menu contraption half-way down the sidebar, or in person.
  2. We send you photos showing you the ends to which your money is being put.
  3. You get absolutely no other return - so our free photo deal may be rather better than could be the case anyway if you leave your money with a proper bank.
Ahorrar para la vejez, ganar un maravedí, beber tres, said Hernán Núñez de Guzmán, and who knows what the old bugger meant.


Worst ever Spanish covers of English-language songs?

I haven't talked to any of the perpetrators, but I have little doubt that the principal cause of what we regard as fucked translation is a misunderstanding as to its function: whereas English-speakers expect to encounter a linguistic resource, the aim of Romance-dialect-speaking businesses, politicians and civil servants in providing English translation is often symbolic - to demonstrate modernity, professionalism and internationalism to domestic audiences that they imagine to be even more boorish than themselves.

The is of course not just a complaint about contemporary Iberian Anglicism. I recently came across an interesting piece by Esmat Babaii and Hasan Ansary on the failure of xenophobic restrictions on Iranian TV advertising to completely stamp out this powerful device:

unlike Arab countries where journalism is receptive to foreign neologisms and loanwords, particularly words originating from English (e.g., the case of Jordan as reported in 1993 by Hussein & Zughoul) and unlike Switzerland where abundant occurrence of English in advertisements is at the service of appropriation of English as a Swiss national identity symbol (cf. Cheshire & Moser 1994), in Iran, in line with language maintenance policies and revitalization plans sponsored by the Iranian Academy of sciences, using foreign words as brand names or in the body of ads is discouraged and forbidden. Although producers are not allowed to use foreign brand names, some local manufacturers attempt to evade this regulation by using brand names which have almost similar pronunciation to foreign words in order to keep the good name of suppliers or to (mis)use their good names to promote sales. For example, a local clutch and disc producer in Iran has used the name /Færavari væ Saxt/ (F+S) to connote the good name and good quality of Fischel & Sachs (F+S) which is a German brand name. Or, since the producer of Nichola heaters had to change the brand name into a Persian word, they use /Nik kala/ (meaning good product) which is phonologically similar to original brand name, Nichola.

Juan Ceñal's list of covers-that-should-not-have-been is interesting to us English-speakers because his objection to linguistically-challenged buffoons in search of cheap status comes from a Spanish-speaking perspective.

Spanish artists using English is all about pleasing stupid domestic crowds, so some of Juan's calls strike me as hard. For me El Príncipe Gitano singing Elvis' In The Ghetto evokes the amused bemusement of Prince Philip on discovering the Vanuatuan cult dedicated to him:

Azúcar Moreno's version of Paint It Black by the Stones (los Rolling) is a gas station classic:

However, Seguridad Social and Shakira, whatever they do, deserve whatever comes to them.


Augustine attacks Jerome's Vulgate for diverging from traditional fucked translations


A certain bishop, one of our brethren, having introduced in the church over which he presides the reading of your version, came upon a word in the book of the prophet Jonah, of which you have given a very different rendering from that which had been of old familiar to the senses and memory of all the worshippers, and had been chanted for so many generations in the church. Thereupon arose such a tumult in the congregation, especially among the Greeks, correcting what had been read, and denouncing the translation as false, that the bishop was compelled to ask the testimony of the Jewish residents (it was in the town of Oea). These, whether from ignorance or from spite, answered that the words in the Hebrew manuscripts were correctly rendered in the Greek version, and in the Latin one taken from it. What further need I say? The man was compelled to correct your version in that passage as if it had been falsely translated, as he desired not to be left without a congregation -- a calamity which he narrowly escaped.

Transblawg is my favourite translation blog partly because it addresses in its own mysterious way this power and pragmatics thang. Like St Augustine, some of the fucked translators featured here have presumably calculated that the real-world benefits of getting it "right" will be buried by the costs, but too often the wussy masses of professionals (what a terrible word!) forget that translation is actually about blood, soil and bondage, and lose themselves in dreadful sub-literary online bonding.

Many thanks for all kind wishes re the malfunctioning ear. It still appears to have a considerable portion of the Mediterranean sloshing around in it, but a visit to A&E seems to have begun to correct the screw-up made by the GP, and it hopes to hear the sound of beer being poured in the next week or so.


Circus or fish market?

Peter Harvey links to this contribution by Tom Maguire, which finds a translator of a circus poster in Sitges struggling with the polysemous llotja and imagining a splendid fish market where a simple box was all that was required.

Makes you wonder, though: maybe Juvenal has been misquoted on the moral decline of pagan Roman, and they longed not for panem et circenses but for panem et piscem, bread and fish; maybe the Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes was borrowed by Jesus from a corrupt emperor; maybe it's time for some coffee.


The legislation affecting the Catalan language is different depending on what state you are speaking

One of the inconveniences of living or doing business on Mallorca over the last decade has been language legislation which, unless like Palma-based Air Berlin you are big enough to ignore the law, has required all (ie not just customer-facing) public employees to speak fluent Catalan and all businesses to provide all consumer information and, where your head count > 2, Catalan-speaking staff. (Similar, Franco-era legislation exists for Spanish, but it is not afaik enforced.)

The perception that this stick is too big and perhaps illegitimate (not to mention economically damaging), and that perhaps carrots have been rather neglected, cannot but be accentuated by the piss-poor translation that has gone into this effort to explain language and legislation by the Consejo de Mallorca/Consell de Mallorca, the island council. If they don't take The Language seriously, then why should anyone else?

The title quote is surreal rather than grammatically incorrect:

Do I hate you? No! Not hate?
Hate's a word far too intense,
Too alive, to speak a state
Of supreme indifference.
Once behind your eyes I thought
Worlds of love and life to see;
Now I see behind them nought
but a soulless vacancy.
(William Wetmore Story, "Black eyes", Graffiti d'Italia (1868)

(H/t the excellent Mr Clarke.)


Katie Price to run language services for Barcelona Council?

The Melonfight Strumpdom of Jordan - more dark-veiled Cotytto in the Daily Mirror photo - has, presumably according to her media pimp, made an insignificant error in a text to some other debauched nonentity, thus distracting the organ of the socialist revival from a more serious task at hand. FT has enquired circumspectly of the Ayuntamiento de Barcelona whether, given their record, they'd be prepared to let her run their translation service, and the answer is a cautious "yes". Now there's a story.

(H/t Warren Edwardes)


Direct action

In all the years (how many?) this blog has existed only one repentant offender has ever got in touch, so it's time for sterner measures. Here's a positive way of coping with those gifts of faux-Anglo clothing that you can't wear out of the front door because the slogan is so shamefully illiterate:

Who said pre-digital copy-editing techniques were redundant?


Blog translated entirely using Google Translate?

For El País user blogs' sole function is to drum up page views for its paid-for content, and not all of them are to be taken entirely seriously. This was rather like listening to a person with dementia who may have something interesting to say but has lost control of words and syntax:

This afternoon they have begun news that have startled me to arise and they have put on in guard man I hoped to eat paella tomorrow Thursday but he/she didn't wait that today gives us a snack to go opening mouth.

I tried asking how and why, partly to see if the whole thing is robot-generated, but the answer left me none the wiser.

How the Babelian tragedy could have been averted

By employing teachers competent in the Original Dialect, and iron-fisted policemen of the Imperial Will, of course. The conservative subversive Ignacio Ruiz Quintano recounts that when Congress decided in around 1936 that schoolchildren should become fluent in French, Wenceslao Fernández Flórez (of whom I've only read El bosque animado) commented that since none of the teachers spoke French they would be forced to make the terrible effort of inventing a language, which none of the children would remember exactly anyway, leading to further deformation. The new-born dialects would inevitably acquire flags, anthems and tax-raising powers, and the empire would duly collapse sometime after lunch on Thursday July 21st 2011, to no great surprise in Rome and Britannia.

Josep Pla liked his farm and told Enrique Badosa that didn't care for provincial-tongued writers (a minority in their own community) learning and using world languages:
Que todo el mundo escriba con la lengua que Dios le ha dado -que ya es bastante difícil, arduo, escribir-. Si lo que dice tiene alguna importancia no será desaprovechado por cierto. Si no lo es tanto, se irá todo al cesto de los papeles, que es lo que sucede, en general, con lo que se escribe en las lenguas de gran radio internacional, en las cuales sucede que por la misma facilidad del idioma vendible, no se escribe más que para el cesto de los papeles, como, por ejemplo, lo que se escribe, las toneladas de papel que escriben cada día en los Estados Unidos. El dominio de una lengua es un fenómeno de minorías y, por tanto, es incompatible con el bilingüismo. Mi bilingüismo, senor Badosa, es una tragedia, pero teniendo en cuenta los años que dura, se ha convertido en una manera de pasar el rato como otra cualquiera, ¡pero no para mí, se entiende! (Maria Aurèlia Capmany, Memoria)

Maybe we'll shortly all have more time to tend our diverse paradisiacal allotments.


New directors of Instituto Cervantes in New York and Dublin "can't speak English"

Javier Rioyo Jambrina and Rosa León will apparently struggle to make themselves understood to their target audience in their new jobs. But then their boss, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has spent the last 7 years demonstrating that you don't need English (or even particularly elegant Spanish) to triumph in the international arena. It surely can't be that hard to find Spaniards with the requisite skills, as long as clan and party requirements are ignored.

[Apologies if you've written in: the backlog will be cleared shortly.]


Gardening glove liner = transatlántico

Here. Forro might have been a better choice. Unfortunately, to be able to demand a sea-going 747 on the basis of trade descriptions legislation I think you might have to demonstrate some intent to deceive.


These wines are aimed at prescribers

Somewhere over the rainbow (p18 to be exact), there's a country where the health system allows doctors to write prescriptions for alcoholic beverages, and where Torres can openly corrupt them with gifts of the same. Either that or Origin Spain is two redundancies in one: a web magazine, written in Spanglish.


Tribuna Barcelona, muttering to itself?

Tribuna Barcelona is the city gerontocracy's Ritz-Palace Hotel-based lunch club, whose invisibility to most belies its belief that it is "the most important opinion forum of Europe" [sic]. Its protocol indicates that an interpreter will not be provided for speakers in Catalan, Spanish, English or French, but the website translation makes one wonder how many visitors stray beyond Barcelona's two native languages, and how many of their audience would understand them if they did. Maybe Xavier Trias will revolutionise Barcelona; maybe one is trying to grasp the wrong flying pig by the tail.

El Palace, as well its well-publicised problems with trademark lawyers, blatantly violates the language laws. Will it soon be getting a visit from the language police, or are the fines only for the poor bloody Pakistanis?

(H/t Candide)


A victim responds!

Lynce say, "We're working on it," which is what any intelligent organisation does in such circumstances, and I'm sure they'll get it right - the product looks good, and there are a lot of demonstrators and worried governments around at the moment.

So what about the rest? Major contributors like the Ajuntament de Barcelona and the Generalitat de Catalunya spend huge sums on image building, so I'm sure this blog has crossed the radar. But my guess is that the politicians don't care about anything that doesn't affect their voters, and the functionaries by and large don't care about anything.

Maybe, on the other hand, the end of PSOE hegemony in Jerez will lead to improvements in public service provision per euro spent, and maybe imminent general elections will put the fear of Greece into central government. Who'd bet on either?

And the minnows? Haven't they discovered the pleasure of googling themselves? Is it that they know they are being publicly mocked but have concluded that a descent into drink- or drugs-fuelled oblivion is cheaper than a translator? Is the Spanish health service on its knees because its asyla are bursting with honest working men who have renounced speech and who tremble when asked if they want to see the lunch menu?


Sepia to the iron with ali smelt

Via Carlos Ferrero Martín and @ucedaman, another great menu, featuring ears to the iron, sepia to the iron with ali smelt, almejas to the sailor, tape of lomo...

"Ali smelt" is original and perhaps a calculated insult to one or all Shias, but "a la" as "to the" has tested the imagination, though not always the palate, of a great number of gourmets. Michael McCullough, for example, sounds like he didn't order fillet of fish to the male, whatever it is, although if he was with company he may have tried itched of seafood. And Norman Kliman recounts that four years ago a bar near Jerez station was offering clams to the sailor's blouse, I hit to the plate and breast of chicken to the plate, as well as those much-loved Andalusian delicacies tidy spawns, cured of La Mancha cheese, wing nut with cured cheese, shock doughnut and 1/2 share of cold or warm lid.

However, culinary misapprehensions are not always the translator's fault. Free ThinkerNY follows up the story of the super-spicy "Devil's Sausage", made wearing safety gloves and googles by butchers Jason and Garry Rendall in Stirling, and not on sale to young children or people with a heart condition, with a tale of when a translation customer thought he knew best:

Many years ago, I and 3 big, tough Soviet sailors and one other American (translator) crammed into a booth. On the dinner table were some condiments including a bottle of jalepeno sauce. One man in the middle of our group asked what was in the bottle. The translator explained it was hot sauce. The sailor bragged that he loved hot sauce and could drink it straight. The translator warned him not to as the sailor opened the bottle and tipped back his head. Shock registered on the sailor’s face - he looked wildly at those of us seated around him - he wanted to run from the booth but we were blocking him in. The translator grabbed a bottle of honey from the condiments and handed it to the sailor. The suffering man, still wild eyed, looked incredulously at the litte plastic bear he had just been handed (they don’t sell honey in plastic bears in the Soviet Union so for a moment he thought he had been handed a toy). As soon as he heard the translator say ‘it’s honey’ he forcibly tore the entire head off the plastic bear (bottle) and tipped his head back, gulping honey as fast as he could as we scrambled to get him something to drink. Ah...good times....good times....

Lying about demonstrator numbers, or "We've been in Puerta del Sol, Madrid 20 of may 2011 to measure people attendance of 15-M Mouvement events"

This is Lynce.es/ExactCrowd.com, which may still lack the language skills to sell its services into non-Spanish-speaking markets, but provides an excellent stats service to help us assess the claims of various domestic political factions to embody the nation's will in some respect.

Lynce says that forensic counting techniques show what everyone already privately acknowledges - that demonstration organisers routinely lie about attendance numbers. Here out of interest is a comparison of organiser and Lynce numbers for recent demonstrations where both figures are available. Where Lynce provides a higher and lower bound, I've taken the mean.

Averaging out the results, the biggest liars look like the "pro-life" movement, followed by the farmers, trade unions, Catalan separatists, BLT, and so on. Maybe someone would like to add some interpretation. It would be nice, for example, to find in there somewhere there's a desperation factor relating the bigness of the lie to popular indifference to the cause espoused - if anyone was really uncomfortable about abortion, functionaries being put up against the wall, Spain as a unitary state, or whatever, then the parties would have figured it out already from polls, and the soon-to-be-triumphant opposition wouldn't have appointed someone who is widely assumed to be gay as their leader.

(H/t: Candide)

The Numbers Man comments: If you go to SIGPAC, locate the Puerta del Sol and pick the area measurement tool you'll find that Sol measures about 7,000 sq. m. If folks are cheek to jowl at 2 sq.ft. per, about 36000 could conceivably fit - no tents, booths, Ford Transits or room to either walk or preach. Give em one third of the maximum plus another 5,000 sq. mt. on the side streets at a concentration inversely proportional to the distance from the centre - and Exact Crowd is probably about right.


El Cas dels Catalans and the House of the British Parliament

Early Day Motions are the British House of Commons's ineffectual version of Facebook "likes": they have no significance in the broader flow of politics, and for every signatory who believes earnestly that doing so will induce admiration in an informationally subnormal constituent, there is almost certainly another who a week later will have absolutely no memory of the damn thing. So the 14 signatories of EDM 509 regarding the right of Catalonia so secede unilaterally from Spain may well be surprised to discover that their participation in this non-event was observed with great interest by an admittedly similarly reduced congregation in Barcelona:
To the members of the House of the British Parliament
Williams, Hywel
Llwyd, Elfyn
Edwards, Jonathan
Wishart, Pete
MacNeil, Angus
Weir, Mike
Lucas, Caroline
Hosie, Stewart
Whiteford, Eilidh
George, Andrew
Hancock, Mike
McDonnell, John
Durkan, Mark
Hemming, John
Distinguished Diputees,
The Diputees, and other elected Officials, the Entities and the individual signers, we recognize the high significance of the delivered Motion that was rendered on 14 of July 2010, with the text as follows:
[blah blah blah]
We wish to show you aou deep gratitude for your action which we value of a proove of solidarity of the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish nations towards the Catalan nation, and as example to the European Union we wish to become a real union of free nations.
This club of gents (not many ladies, I'm told), who on seeing a flag with the relevant number of stripes helpfully develop a flagpole in their underpants, is off to London next Monday (in terms of numbers Champions League final weekend might have been smarter), presumably to say thanks for this major contribution to the Balkanisation of southern Europe. Given that none of them appears to be able to speak English here are some suggestions as to what kind of gift might be appreciated:
  • The SNP, Plaid Cymru and SDLP members (9/14), as well as John McDonnell (IRA, Hayes and Harlington, 1261 EDMs this parliament): nothing at all, although it might be cool to say "thanks" in Irish and Scots Gaelic as well as Welsh (try internet).
  • Andrew George (Cornish National Party, St Ives, 747 EDMs): nothing at all, and with his majority of 1,719 don't even bother looking up "thanks" in Cornish.
  • John Hemming (566 EDMs) and Mike Hancock (1187): Costa Brava hotel coupons may do you no good unless you throw in half a dozen women; Mike is said to prefer female Russian secret agents, although his ex-colleague Matyas Eorsi may believe that a sugar-coated effigy of Vladimir Putin's dong would do the trick.
  • Was it really that smart to address Caroline Lucas (Green, the middle class bits of Brighton & Hove ex-Greenham Common, 502 EDMs) as a "gentleman"?
Registration here, with the current list suggesting that not everyone appreciates the tsunamic import of this mission.

(Oops, sorry: h/t Candide)


The English School, Barcelona struggles with English

I liked this bit about the school spelling competition:
Obviously, spelling in our three languages causes problems, but these are gradually overcomed with a high standard being obtained.
The site is full of simple errors, so that the school's claim to offer "a high quality academical, linguistic and cultural education" seems dubious in at least one respect.

(Thanks JD)

boingboing: 17M = 17,000

Ms Jardin:

The demonstrations were not limited to Madrid. Below: 17,000 en Sevilla ... from Antonio Rull's photostream.
One wonders whether the writer may not have rather lost touch with her family name's linguistic heritage, and she's duly outed in comments by hewtwit:
I live around the corner from there in seville (plaza de encarnacion) and it looks from that photo more like there were a few hundred people there, as opposed to 17000! 17M refers to the date (17 mayo) not the attendence!
H/t Charles Butler, who is disappointed that
their platform, rather than being the break with the past that it touts itself to be, is little more than a recycling of the utopian, lowest common denominator and subsidized lunch for everyone theme teleported directly from 1968 - with revealing token bits of modern detritus such as the insistence that the law prohibiting free downloads of copyrighted entertainment be rescinded.
I haven't followed the ley Sinde business at all, but my impression is that if intellectual justification for Somalian-scale piracy of other people's creative endeavours had been sought then it would have been in the French-inspired death-of-the-author school. I believe that the principal culprits, Foucault and Barthes, did quite well out of the royalties, but they're stone-dead in Anglophonia:

However their stars are respectively ascendant and neutral in Hispanophonia:

I suppose this might explain why what seems like tired old ideology to Anglos has a fresh and exciting air to the miniscule numbers of middle class Spanish youth demanding, like the politicians they purport to despise, a meal ticket for life.


Fresh, Nasty and Well-Balanced in the Mouth

An advert for eating young live crab? Of course not: it's a mistranslated wine label, discovered by the excellent Warren Edwardes. I'm guessing that this is the Casa de la Viña 2010 Chardonnay, whose translated web puff is better, though by no means faultless.


La Razón doubles body count in Florida deaf mistranslation stabbing

Carlos Ferrero Martín points me to this story about the terrible potential consequences of not matching what is meant and what is understood when drunk-signing with armed gang members. La Razón, never to be outdone, converts two victims into four. Fucked translation: deux points.

Quixote and communication failure in the EU

Looby, the thinking, drinking man's Bridget Jones/Helen Fielding, links at FB to something now being called "Anglo-EU Translation Guide", although previous incarnations were said to be Anglo-Dutch. Sundry losers imply this to have been invented by themselves or their friends, but it's been bottling anonymously in the Dead Sea of Email for quite some years now - see the excellent piece by Charlemagne@Economist way back in 2004.

Jokes and complaints about the translation vulgar bureaucratese have presumably been around ever since lawyers emerged, blind and grasping, from Satan's arse in the Babelian sewer. Quixote's comments during his visit to a Barcelona printer are probably the classic oldie:
[M]e parece que el traducir de una lengua en otra, como no sea de las reinas de las lenguas, griega y latina, es como quien mira los tapices flamencos por el revés, que aunque se veen las figuras, son llenas de hilos que las escurecen y no se veen con la lisura y tez de la haz; y el traducir de lenguas fáciles ni arguye ingenio ni elocución, como no le arguye el que traslada ni el que copia un papel de otro papel. Y no por esto quiero inferir que no sea loable este ejercicio del traducir, porque en otras cosas peores se podría ocupar el hombre y que menos provecho le trujesen.
Our lords and masters will bear this in mind, of course.


Spanish "forget the housing crash" roadshow

The Dutch economy looks pretty good from just about anywhere at the moment, but I'm pretty sure government departments there still all employ an English native speaker to draft and translate messages aimed at foreigners. The Spanish economy shows few signs of emerging from its hole, but even though central government seems equivocal about reducing costs afaik no similar initiative has been taken here to professionalise relations with the outside world.

Cue José Blanco's housing investor roadshow last week in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Russia. Of course, the minor linguistic errors as well as the continuing rock/hard place quandary of the illegal expat homes scandal were overshadowed by the porkers in the presentation content. But hope springs eternal.

Visit Pontevedra, you can't miss it

From Colin Davies, who I suppose might be prepared to fix Turismo de Pontevedra's problems on an ongoing basis in return for free tapas and the occasional lift home in the mayoral limo. The Galician, on the other hand, looks fine - no tourist added-value there, but still plenty of votes, even in a recession.

As is often the case, the English-language icon is half-British, half-American. If you are one of those, do you mind having your flag cut in half? If you carry the passport of one of the 80-odd other countries that have English as their national or official language (including Uganda, where they're debating this week whether to execute homosexuals), do you feel distressed that not one pixel of the icon has been dedicated to your banner? Does this dispose you to take a round-about route to avoid the strategic location that is Pontevedra? Probably not, but the whole { flag = language } navigation business continues to puzzle me.


Ayuntamiento de Jerez bets on tourism ... but can't afford a translator

This is the The Great Guide of Jerez (La gran guía de Jerez), part of an on-going, multi-million-euro campaign that may or may not impact on Jerez's image - in novels I've read - as the ancestral home of the extremely rich and extremely poor, united only in their drunken delinquency and periodic attempts to slaughter one another.

"Everybody is perfectly aware that tourism has turned into the key industry for the development of our economy," writes mayoress Pilar Sánchez Muñoz, which explains why the English translation of the brochureware is crap (even the title is hilarious: Great Wall of China, meet the Great Guide of Jerez), the interface has been left in Spanish, and why she, telly presenter Modesto Barragán, brandy regulator Evaristo Babé, tourism jobsworth Juan Manuel Bermúdez, and agency man Manuel Molina had a celebratory drink afterwards.

How extraordinarily unfair, then, that opinion polls suggest that the descendants of the cast of Blasco Ibáñez's radical romance, La bodega, are about to end PSOE rule and hand an absolute majority on the council to the PP.

(H/t: JR)


Generalitat de Catalunya: St George is Susanowo in Japanese

Yesterday the Catalan government mounted some kind of co-branding (brand leeching, if you prefer) spectacle with the Japanese ambassador to Spain, which seems to have been designed to encourage the local public to contribute money to Japanese reconstruction and the Japanese to empathise with Catalan nationalist aspirations. Much was made of the virtues of industry and parsimony that unite these two massively indebted Völker, and, says Avui (echoed unquestioningly by El País, skirted subtly by La Vanguardia), an elderly soap actress, Montserrat Carulla, was given a text to read which included the following classic:
Catalonia and Japan share the myth of St George, who is called Susanoo in Japanese.
(Catalunya i el Japó compartim el mite de sant Jordi, que en japonès duu el nom de Susanowo)
Are the Japanese really celebrating the god of the sea and storms at the moment? Is the Catholic church aware that tsunamis are also St George's vocation? (At least Gibbon's St George, George of Cappadocia, had some connection with the sea, in which he was drowned by his followers.) Is Shintoism a Christian sect or vice versa?

(H/t: DN)


Chinese overseas aid for Spain?

Victor Mallet has a good piece on Spain's damagingly mistaken claim that Zapatero had successfully begged $9 billion from China. Chinese state media seems now to be hinting that, while some bucks may be on offer, Spain needs to present some bang asap - usufruct of the Balearics as latter-day Deshimas, proposes a mischievous voice. More constructively but also with the slightest hint of schadenfreude, Charles Butler suggests that Spain-trashing Zapatero, whose "Pavlovian reaction to an opportunity to resume his hard-wired good-news-all-the-time mindset", might feel at home at Greece-trashing Citigroup.


The japanish writer Haruki Murakami awarded with the 23th Premi Internacional Catalunya

We're talking the front page of the website of a Catalan government whose words consist of endless recycling of the cliché about taking its rightful place among the family of nations (its deeds are something different), which spends millions employing friends and relatives in "embassies" around the world, and which has just given a celebrated (anti-nationalist) writer and translator €80K and a little trophy to demonstrate that it, too, counts in international terms. And the best headline their translation service can come up with is "The japanish writer Haruki Murakami awarded with the 23th Premi Internacional Catalunya." Jesus wept.

In other news, the Goethe-Institut (which is to say the German government) recently requested Spain's autonomies to start teaching German in schools, presumably because they believe that Spain's comparative underdevelopment is here to stay. (The OECD says that unemployment in Germany is less than a third of that in Spain, and increasing numbers of Spaniards are retracing the route taken by impoverished ancestors to the land of plenty big sausages.) Given that the post-1986 boom saw only a modest expansion of quality English teaching in schools, and that this was overshadowed by a shift away from Spanish in favour of regional languages of little commercial relevance, Berlin's request does sound rather like that line in Neil Young's Ambulance Blues (hint: 06:37):


Montserrat -> Monsterrat

Catalonia's Holy Mountain becomes a giant rodent in the day-by-day fold-out menus at a competitor, Explore Catalunya.

(H/t Shazza.)

(Comment spam: commenting is a legitimate means of self-promotion, but if on balance your comment appears to have more relevance to whatever services you provide than to the post in question then it will be deleted.)


¿Pero este a quién se ha follado?

Doing the rounds, and sent this way by Carlos Ferrero Martín. Comments on the post say the Spanish TV interpreter is working from the English interpreter rather than from the Fukushima spokesman's Japanese, and he appears, shall we say, less than impressed by the quality of information on offer and forgets the microphone is on:

I assumed it was a fake, but there are other recordings:

I often end up working live in several languages, but I think the combination of boredom and temptation would preclude me from becoming a professional interpreter, and I respect those who pull it off.


Álvaro Domecq Alburejo Oloroso: Notes of Word ans hazelnuts.

A minor offence, this sherry puff:

Intense mahogany colour, clean-vibrant. Notes of Word ans hazelnuts. Dry yet rich. A lovely long nutty taste.

The website translation is also poor - something of a come-down for the family which produced Álvaro Domecq y Díez (Wikipedia surprisingly omits his war service), for whom getting things right, whatever he did, seems to have been second nature. Here's a pasodoble dedicated to him by José María Martín Domingo:

Here's his son at work in Madrid in 1970:

And here is the offending bottle:

(H/t: a local beverage and language expert.)


TV3 pays too much (sic) for translation services

The Catalan regional Audit Office reports that TV3, the Catalan state broadcaster, has been awarding contracts

without complying with 'the principles of openness, competition, transparency, confidentiality, equality and non-discrimination', and without ensuring their allocation 'to the most economically advantageous tender.'

I never expected to blog a case of translators being overpaid, but that will have been the inevitable consequence of the English translation pool used for dubbing services having been closed to new applicants since 2001. Whether down to corruption or extreme incompetence, it's surely been a nice little earner for those involved.


Catalan News Agency: Catalan is a Roman language

Saül Gordillo is the director of the Catalan state news agency, the Agència Catalana de Notícies. Appointed by ERC under the previous government for reasons more obviously related to lingual dexterity and skin-tone than to literary ability (check some hilarious bitching from fellow-whore, Salvador Sostres), it's quite conceivable that'll he'll shortly be jobless, or at least as jobless as members of the ruling class ever are in this part of the world.

Even assuming this article to have been aimed more at a domestic audience than, for example, Moody's, it would make a fitting swansong for him and his organisation in terms of all normal journalistic criteria. "Catalan is the vehicle language in child, teenager and university education," says Saül. A bus so poorly constructed and driven surely isn't going anywhere.

H/t: Candide.


FC Barcelona: Buy the entrance now without tails

A poster at the Camp Nou footy museum reminds the public that neither evening dress nor cloven hooves are required for entry in their earthy Paradise:

This gem arrives via CFM, who used to blog about language here and here, and who wonders about the real state of Barça's finances if they can't afford 50€ for a translator. Any beers purchased via the donate button (sidebar) will go to him for forwarding to the photographer.


The exonymy wars: Generalidad de Cataluña and Comunitat de Madrid on Wikipedia

I was amused to note that there are massive flames on the Spanish Wikipedia re the (political) rectitude of using the Spanish equivalent of official Catalan toponyms and babylonyms (eg Generalidad de Cataluña instead of Generalitat de Catalunya), but that there is no corresponding bad-mouthing on the Catalan Wikipedia re the use of Catalan equivalents for official Spanish titles (eg Comunitat de Madrid instead of Comunidad de Madrid) - "do as you would be done by" doesn't seem to apply.  The Spanish norms are sufficiently inconclusive that you can rely on being liberally and publicly cursed whatever you do, and it would be good to see this spirit of free discussion extend to parts of the internet inhabited by the peripheral official languages.

A "babylonym" is what I call the name given to part or all of the political-industrial complex, there being as far as I know no satisfactory alternative - "chrematonym"doesn't work because its range is generally wider. Establishing a satisfactory solution is important, given the prophecies of the Church of Monty Python:




Italian bawdy house: currently we are to the search of personnel of room to insert in ours organic

Hunting a bar with a destructible piano in Modena, the first result in Google's ontology of nocturnal musical diversion - their bohemian rompsody - is a piano bar, or, as we Catalans say, a house of hats. Club Shilling's's certainly prepared to make work for idle apostrophes, but there are no clear openings for pianists, unless perhaps they in turn are willing to submit to regular organic inserts.

Which reminds me: when the republic's presidente (sempre presente) says his is smallest, he's boasting.

González Byass: You will be a message

If you are good (or if you are bad but unsackable) you will eventually get sent on a course where you will eat and drink as much as you can while some loon repeats to you glib mantras derived from Ciceronian oratory. One of these, "you are the message", turns up slightly disguised on the "thanks" page of the González Byass website:

Customer focus or fucked translation? I'll get back to you with the answer, sortly.

Contributed by Warren Edwardes, who writes about food and wine, and would be delighted to sell you some of the latter.


A booth was very pleased by its plasticity and practicality

There is a vague reek of sulphur in the English version of Hoteles Servigroup's website (fingers say "webstie": begone swine, and Satan), but the angel with the bottomless pit really lets fly in a puff-piece at a site invented for that purpose, which, because that is what the author, Ms Sauron, would surely want, we reproduce in its entirety:

Teleprensa interesting article published by the January 26, 2011 related to the campaign they have done to promote tourism and hotels in Mojacar: "More than 5,000 pamphlets published for the occasion, were distributed at the Fair, from the counters Almeria and Mojacar in the Municipality of Stand the Provincial Tourism in Almeria. A booth was very pleased by its plasticity and practicality.
Also, as usual, this show is the one chosen by the Association of Moros y Cristianos de Mojácar to launch the poster of the famous celebration has achieved more popularity and international renown. Thousands of posters advertising the event to be held in June, on 11, 12 and 13 were distributed at the fair, by the sign of Mojácar, which won a very successful year.
The Councillor for Tourism, Angel Medina attended numerous individuals and businesses interested in the destination, being assisted at all times by personnel from the Municipal Bureau of Tourism who has attended the show until its end on Sunday.
Among the meetings held by Medina, include contacts made with other administrations, local business, professional media and retailers (both national and central Europe) all aimed to outline some market segments in which you are working how are the family and cultural tourism.
This last point should be stressed the intention to conduct a Festival of Animated Film for this year 2011. "
It's very interesting to know the advertising activities to publicize the hotels Mojacar Spain, and have greater visibility than its competition as the apartments Costa Blanca and other tourist destinations such as Benidorm, hotels Villajoyosa...
Fitur is a place to have a presence if they want to get more customers and tourists on the coasts of Almeria.

(Via the excellent Entertainer Online.)


I am multi-gender, says Isabel Coixet

From Miss Wasabi, her production company:

Isabel Coixet started making films when he was given a 8mm camera for her first communion. After graduating in history from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the University of Barcelona, was devoted to advertising and writing ads. He won many awards for his commercials and eventually founded his own production company in 2000, Miss Wasabi Films.

And so on and so forth, from a woman who must be worth various millions.

(Thanks Ravi)


El País spells its subject's name in three different ways in the space of five lines

When even copying is too hard:

'Foreing Parts' gana el premio DocsBarcelona a la mejor película
El premio TV-3 de Derechos Humanos fue para un film sobre las matanzas de los Jemeres Rojos
La película Foreign Parts de los directores Véréna Paravel y Paul Sniadecki ganó ayer el premio DocsBarcelona a la Mejor Película del Festival de Documentales que ayer se clausuró en la Filmoteca de Cataluña. Foreigng Parts habla de una extraña comunidad donde los residuos y el material para reciclar forman un comercio emergente, y los coches son desguazados y clasificados por marca y piezas, y revendidos a una lista inacabable de clientes que pasan por el barrio, según ha explicado la organización del certamen en un comunicado.

"Sniadecki" is difficult but correct, so I figure the journalist and the sub thought they knew how to spell "foreign" and decided to type it instead of copy-pasting. "If you can't sing it, rewrite," goes the rule, and you can't sing with a foreigng in your throat.

(Thanks JR)

RTVE uses a song about a bloke who burnt down his girlfriend's house to accompany an anti-gender-based violence ad

Your organisation says: Let's forget for a few years about Peruvian serving girls punched by their up-town mistresses, husbands terrorised by their wives, and boys bullied by their bigger boyfriends. Instead, let's reiterate the machista myth that all GBV is man-on-woman. And so the agency puts together a snappy three-liner with some music that evokes a better future: instrumental (male voice confirms stereotype, female voice may alienate target group), Scandinavian (don't beat their women), pine forest (clean, bright) etc etc. Here's the result:

From Barry Miles, Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Peter Asher [brother of McCartney's then-girlfriend Jane Asher] had his room done out in wood, a lot of people were decorating their places in wood. Norwegian wood. It was pine, really, cheap pine. But it's not as good a title, "Cheap Pine", baby. So it was a little parody really on those kind of girls who when you'd go to their flat there would be a lot of Norwegian wood. It was completely imaginary from my point of view but in John's it was based on an affair he had. This wasn't the decor of someone's house, we made that up. So she makes him sleep in the bath and then finally in the last verse I had this idea to set the Norwegian wood on fire as revenge, so we did it very tongue in cheek. She led him on, then said, "You'd better sleep in the bath." In our world the guy had to have some sort of revenge ... so it meant I burned the fucking place down ....

(Thanks to Candide, who has erected a wall around his garden but still gets out every now and then.)


With a FROB in the throat: but what's wrong with moderately fucked translation?

At a crucial moment in Spain's fortunes, the bank restructuring fund (Fondo de Reestructuración Ordenada Bancaria, FROB) has come up with a lousily translated Powerpoint (h/t) explaining what's being done.

But anyone with half a brain can figure out what they're trying to say (partly because it's so bland, and unrevealing of the crucial numbers), so its linguistic errors will disturb translators rather than investors. That's not because the former necessarily suffer any cephalic deficit, but rather because I think they tend to emphasise guild over client interests.

I suppose that in some circumstances a fucked translation might be preferable to a fixed one, being closer to the horse's mouth. Two interesting cases spring sprightly to mind: Schoenberg's great unfinished opera, Moses und Aron; and Cervantes' and Motteux's Quijote, with Motteux lurking between three languages.


Weeding planner

Conjugal Bliss, or You Always Hurt The One You Love. It's a interlingual malapropism, but let's swing with it.

For anyone contemplating a musical career in Spain, the site contains encouraging evidence: apparently this kind of thing works out at €800/hr. For anyone contemplating marriage here, do consider flying in geezers.


"Sonatrach is studying all options in case BP decided to sell its assets for another party"

Does this recent MedGaz pipeline story mean we're about to see more headlines like Swedish BP chairman 'whisked married lover on luxury cruise as oil spill chaos erupted' and Gulf Oil Spill: Tony Hayward Attends Glitzy Yacht Race As Oil Spews Into Gulf? BP: from British Petroleum to Barbarian Pissheads?

The article reports the words of Yusuf Yusufi, Energy Minister in the Algerian government, which like all Western Mediterranean governments except inbred Malta is going to be hard put to avert the tumbrils in 2011. His "in the End of 2010" launchdate for the pipeline might have been more credible had MedGaz said something along similar lines - they've issued no press statements since December 2009. News three weeks previously that the European Investment Bank has given in to blackmail a loan of €500M for the construction of this very pipeline doesn't exactly add to one's confidence either, whatever course the Maghreb revolution takes. I must say that I have always regarded Russia as a model democracy. Can I pick up canisters from the consulate?


TheReader.es: the make, mannequin and year of registration of the automobile

At least when the Guardian rips off Spanish publications it doesn't rely on MT for the end result.

I don't think this unattributed story over at TheReader.es is plagiarised word-for-word, but rather that a Spanish speaker has made minor modifications, in Spanish, to a piece found elsewhere and then hit Google Translate for that authentic touch. A crash dummy story in several ways.

Much of the site appears to operate on this principle, leading to worn delights such as "Jordi, the octogenarian in impeach," and "He appealed against his crook condemn."

Life is hard at the moment, but is it harder for entrepreneurs or for their hapless readers?

(Thanks to A Nun)

So what did Gabrielle Giffords say to Jared Loughner in Spanish?

The WSJ re the 2007 meeting:

Mr. Loughner said he asked the lawmaker, "How do you know words mean anything?" recalled Mr. Montanaro. He said Mr. Loughner was "aggravated" when Ms. Giffords, after pausing for a couple of seconds, "responded to him in Spanish and moved on with the meeting."

So what got his goat? Did she say something derogatory about deconstructionism, Sarah Palin's secret grammatical strategy for world domination? Or was it more like, "Hey man, get a translator"?