Name that novel


‘Ice e-skating,’ said Marta.
‘Ice skating,’ said Domingo.
‘Ice e-skating.’
‘No, no. No e. Ice skating. Try it again.’
Marta hesitated.
‘Go on!’
‘Ice es-kating,’ she said, with deliberation.
Domingo smiled. ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s a common problem for Spaniards. Two consonants together causes a difficulty. I have conquered this issue after a long time. But you are unlikely to need these words in any case.’
‘I would like to learn some English,’ said Marta.
Domingo puffed his cheeks and spat the air out in a fuff. ‘It will come. Don’t worry about it. Where’s the need anyway?’


[Domingo:] ‘Although Valencia University is one of the best in the world, these people here are by and large ignorant and know nothing of the Brontës or Thackeray.’
Marta began to put things away. She needed to get in the cupboard that Domingo blocked with his body. He didn’t move although she waited in front of him. Eventually she left the pans on the cooker to be put away in the morning.

Yup, you got it: Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, with the names changed (Cada martes tiene su domingo), works pretty well as a 1920s Spanish novel about the rural-urban divide & co.

You can observe Spaniards and Bangladeshis side-by-side at Billingsgate fish market saying “Where’s that e-skate from?” You may be pleased to hear that in this at last – at long last – I have found a way to make my fortune. I am setting up a genuine night school (hours: 04:00-06:00) alongside the existing music school at Billingsgate purely to correct this aspect of South European and South Asian English phonetics. Its name? “E-learning”.

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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.

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