I haven’t talked to any of the perpetrators, but I have little doubt that the principal cause of what we regard as fucked translation is a misunderstanding as to its function: whereas English-speakers expect to encounter a linguistic resource, the aim of Romance-dialect-speaking businesses, politicians and civil servants in providing English translation is often symbolic – to demonstrate modernity, professionalism and internationalism to domestic audiences that they imagine to be even more boorish than themselves.
The is of course not just a complaint about contemporary Iberian Anglicism. I recently came across an interesting piece by Esmat Babaii and Hasan Ansary on the failure of xenophobic restrictions on Iranian TV advertising to completely stamp out this powerful device:
unlike Arab countries where journalism is receptive to foreign neologisms and loanwords, particularly words originating from English (e.g., the case of Jordan as reported in 1993 by Hussein & Zughoul) and unlike Switzerland where abundant occurrence of English in advertisements is at the service of appropriation of English as a Swiss national identity symbol (cf. Cheshire & Moser 1994), in Iran, in line with language maintenance policies and revitalization plans sponsored by the Iranian Academy of sciences, using foreign words as brand names or in the body of ads is discouraged and forbidden. Although producers are not allowed to use foreign brand names, some local manufacturers attempt to evade this regulation by using brand names which have almost similar pronunciation to foreign words in order to keep the good name of suppliers or to (mis)use their good names to promote sales. For example, a local clutch and disc producer in Iran has used the name /Færavari væ Saxt/ (F+S) to connote the good name and good quality of Fischel & Sachs (F+S) which is a German brand name. Or, since the producer of Nichola heaters had to change the brand name into a Persian word, they use /Nik kala/ (meaning good product) which is phonologically similar to original brand name, Nichola.
Juan Ceñal’s list of covers-that-should-not-have-been is interesting to us English-speakers because his objection to linguistically-challenged buffoons in search of cheap status comes from a Spanish-speaking perspective.
Spanish artists using English is all about pleasing stupid domestic crowds, so some of Juan’s calls strike me as hard. For me El Príncipe Gitano singing Elvis’ In The Ghetto evokes the amused bemusement of Prince Philip on discovering the Vanuatuan cult dedicated to him:
Azúcar Moreno’s version of Paint It Black by the Stones (los Rolling) is a gas station classic:
However, Seguridad Social and Shakira, whatever they do, deserve whatever comes to them.
- Yet more English-language covers by Spanish bands
Following on the previous instalment, Lenox has sent over this list, knowing full well that the phonology will mean nothing to
- Two famous English students
IRQ posts a brilliant photo of Espe and abstentionist dog above a piece by “Hughes” which kicks off with Ana María
- The Royal Spanish Academy: patronising lardy-arsed suits pigging your tax euro?
The local branch of the Canute Society is campaigning against the (incorrect and correct) use of English in advertising: The RAE “no
- Firts Certificate
Lenox is always moaning about Spanish entities that could ask foreigners for language tips but choose not to. English School Casal
- Sex and the internet in Spanish
Here’s a curious little corpse-worm: Curious for me, because I thought that the arrival in Hispanidad of services provided over