“The stranger wore short trousers and a cloak of the same colour”

Someone kindly sent in an example of bad translation into Spanish which is thus officially off-topic but so interesting and amusing that it deserves inclusion. It’s from La copa de Verlaine, a collection of Madrilenian sketches by fellow-decadent Emilio Carrere, discovered and described at “Bremaneur”‘s excellent Biblioteca fantasma. In “Elegía de un hombre inverosímil” we meet Forondo, a “dire translator” with a “thick multicolour beard” who fails to appreciate the gravity of the author’s Bohemian representations and whose translations, presumably from the French, apparently include such gems as

  • “El pobre pequeño niño sacó su muestrecita. Eran once horas sonadas”; and
  • “El desconocido llevaba un pantalón corto y una capa del mismo color”.

The latter is straightforward, but the wit of the former eludes me. Any ideas?

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Last updated 13/04/2010

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

Barcelona (1399):

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Föcked Translation (414): 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.

Spain (1881):

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