With a FROB in the throat: but what’s wrong with moderately fucked translation?

At a crucial moment in Spain’s fortunes, the bank restructuring fund (Fondo de Reestructuración Ordenada Bancaria, FROB) has come up with a lousily translated Powerpoint (h/t) explaining what’s being done.

But anyone with half a brain can figure out what they’re trying to say (partly because it’s so bland, and unrevealing of the crucial numbers), so its linguistic errors will disturb translators rather than investors. That’s not because the former necessarily suffer any cephalic deficit, but rather because I think they tend to emphasise guild over client interests.

I suppose that in some circumstances a fucked translation might be preferable to a fixed one, being closer to the horse’s mouth. Two interesting cases spring sprightly to mind: Schoenberg’s great unfinished opera, Moses und Aron; and Cervantes’ and Motteux’s Quijote, with Motteux lurking between three languages.

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Published
Last updated 04/11/2018

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

Barcelona (1399):

English language (462):

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.

Miguel de Cervantes (82):

Spain (1881):

Spanish language (504):

Translation (788):


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