Re Erasmus students returning from Spain with an incomprehensible Andalusian accent, here’s Rafael Alberti learning how to tort proper at the dame’s school to which he has been sent following some inappropriate excretion chez the Sisters of Carmel:
With Mrs Concha I learnt some Biblical History, being very impressed by Joseph, who was sold by his brothers to Egyptian merchants; something of addition and multiplication; nothing of division and subtraction; succeeding in pronouncing the Ripalda catechism with a cutting, almost Valladolid accent, so difficult for any Andalusian child. For this was the biggest criticism my new teacher made of the nuns: the lack of good diction in all those innocents who emerged from their blue overalls. Why, then, did the Doctrine prescribe it in its first chapter? In order that it be flouted?
… Well pronounced,
believed and acted upon,
let us say thus:
Our father, etc, etc,
“Well pronounced! Well pronounced! Do you hear?” she admonished me disagreeably. “If the Catechism demands it, why exactly do some nuns permit those Ss where Zs and Cs are called for, those Vs where the Bs for burro are as big as your ears?
Mientras la niña lavaba
a la abuela se la caía la baba.
“This,” continued the horrible teacher, “so easy for any disciple of mine, could not be spoken as intended by any pupil of the Carmelites.”
Valladolid is frequently said to be where the “best” Spanish is spoken. However, anyone who has lived there will tell you that the locals have as many strange linguistic tics as anywhere else, except perhaps Andalusia.
It is ironic that Ripalda is associated here with vallisoletano conformism: he was apparently tried by the Valladolid Inquisition in 1574, before going on to write his Catecismo y exposición breve de la doctrina cristiana, one of the Catholic church’s most influential spiritual guides.
Lacking Ripalda’s independent spirit, Alberti grew up to become a mediocre paid-for Stalinist praise-singer. His religious recollections have a whiff of hackery about them and should probably be served with a fairly substantial pile of salt. For early 20th century childhood memoirs by a subsequent Stalinist functionary, Arturo Barea is your man.
- Sister Mary and the Bird
Translations from Welsh and Yiddish revealing ornithomancy amongst the 19th century north Welsh and Jewish Lithuanians.
- The universality of bu/bo/boo
The strange shrieks of theatrical monsters often don’t require translation.
- Witch trials
One of the principal flaws in the Vatican’s claims that the Inquisition was not really all that bad is the supposition that the distance that now exists in Spain between church and state was also present when torturing and burning women was the norm. It’s possible that the Spanish state tortured and burnt more than the Spanish church, but since for long periods the Spanish state was to a large degree a theocracy it is pure sophistry to see its actions as somehow separate from the church. (How many did the Spanish state kill for heresy? The press conference didn’t mention that.) I seem to remember the Pope apologising a few years back for any unnecessary thuggery committed by governments on behalf of Rome way back then, but it now looks like they’re pushing for a complete acquittal.
- More drunken shepherds
A brief take on els pastorets.