“Mittlestuffe” and illegal Catalan limitations on the provision of tourist services

Picking up linguistic errors by the Catalan government is shooting phish in a barrel–they often have difficulties with Catalan–but my non-empirical impression is that they and other local authorities struggle rather more with German than with English. Classic English errors are still there to be enjoyed, of course: take for example {-gn -> -ng}, as in “foreing”, “desing”, in this promotional document from Invest in Catalonia. But the Rhine is both shit-creek and paddle-less for wanderlustige Catalan bureaucrats.

Speaking as a reactionary, I’m a big fan of the Catalan law regulating tourist guides, which is designed to limit the effects of a 1994 European ruling against Spain on the supposed freedom to provide services within the so-called single market. It determines inter alia that in order to speak to tourists in German on government property one must be in possession of at least the “Mittlestuffe” (for “Mittelstufe”) from the Goethe Institut in Munich. Since there is no reason for native German-speakers to attend the German equivalent of the Institut Français, this effectively makes it impossible for Germans and Austrians to provide such services, an illegal restriction of trade which has been of concern recently to the notorious Barcelona guided walking tour provider FollowTheBaldie.com.

(FTB is slightly worried, following a Christmas session with a famously drunken member of the local judiciary, that a Barcelona judge might take a narrow view of the law and disqualify all guides who have not in person attended the Goethe Institut branch in Munich itself. We could get round this problem by building a replica of Barcelona in the desert of Almería, but construction permits are apparently in short supply there at the moment.)

{Mittelstufe -> Mittlestuffe} is a popular qualification among businessmen and language professionals, although it presumably focuses on oral skills rather than orthography. You can even study for it at the Austrian Information Centre in Rabat, Morocco (check the page header).

Am I getting off-topic? Am I boring you? If so, my apologies. I will be back shortly with another genuine translation howler from Andalusia.

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  1. Those who exigate a Nivell C from you at every pass you take are just logic to applicate the same approach to foreing languages. Hence the Mittelstuffe or Muttelstiffe issue.

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