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):

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Posted on 2011

This post pre-dates my organ-grinding days, and may be imported from elsewhere.

Barcelona (477):

English language (422):

Föcked Translation (413): I posted to a light-hearted blog called Fucked Translation over on Blogger from 2007 to 2016, when I was often in Barcelona. Its original subtitle was "What happens when Spanish institutions and businesses give translation contracts to relatives or to some guy in a bar who once went to London and only charges 0.05€/word." I never actually did much Spanish-English translation (most of my work is from Dutch, French and German) but I was intrigued and amused by the hubristic Spanish belief, then common, that nepotism and quality went hand in hand, and by the nemeses that inevitably followed.

Generalitat de Catalunya (7): The Government of Catalonia or the Generalitat de Catalunya is the institution under which the Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia is politically organised.

Spain (458):

Spanish language (425):

Translation (459):


  1. Are Catalans actually, really but secretly… Germans?

    (Germans certainly would beg to differ, if anybody asked them. So they keep laughing, silently.)

  2. Fuck, they're wasting our money big time:

    "(…)awarded annually to any person whose creative work has made a significant contribution(…)"

    That's gonna be a lotta "any persons" each year.

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