Fucked translation, the consequence of a strategic choice by the Spanish authorities?

My man in the education department of the Generalitat de Catalunya this lengthy lunchtime: “Why the fuck would we teach them English? Then all the smart ones will fuck off somewhere else to work less hours for twice the money and the Catalan economy will grind to a halt.” The same applies to Spanish teaching, but there are places we don’t go.

A friend from my musical days now runs SME relations for a large German bank somewhere along the Rhine, and has been closely involved in efforts to fill a wide range of vacancies at local businesses with applicants from the bankrupt periphery. The Irish: excellent; the Portuguese: poor numeracy but often good English; the Spanish: terrible English, so other skills not particularly useful, and if they fail in the particular role allotted then reassignment is difficult.

Apparently a lot arrive in the belief that German can be picked up in a few months on the (apparently excellent) intensive courses offered. But if by the age of 30 you haven’t mastered the basics of the most accessible Germanic language out there, WTF hope has your ageing brain of dealing with the curious conglomerations of sounds grunted in lands where even Romans feared to tread?

I think the mad Chomskian doctrine that Universal Grammar means that all languages must be equally complex, or something, has been quietly abandoned, so here’s Madame de Staël, De l’Allemagne:

La simplicité grammaticale est un des grands avantages des langues modernes; cette simplicité, fondée sur des principes de logique communs à toutes les nations, rend très-facile de s’entendre; une étude très-légère suffit pour apprendre l’italien et l’anglais; mais c’est une science que l’allemand.


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Last updated 15/07/2018

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.

Ireland (25):

Spain (1881):

Spanish language (504):

Translation (788):


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