My impression is that in the six years since this blog started
- Things have improved immensely.
- In downtown Barcelona, most shop assistants now speak some form of English. This may have been a Darwinian process, where the rejects end up in other parts, but I don’t think so.
- Part of this is no doubt due to Anglophones beating the Hispanophones at the game of “we’re not going to speak any language but our own.”
Como remate de todo, en ese año de 1559, en noviembre, por decreto de Felipe II, les quedó prohibido a todos sus súbditos salir al extranjero a estudiar o a enseñar, para evitar contagios con ideas no “oficiales.”
But it’s not just the Spanish who are capable of salvation. A frustrating idiosyncracy of Andrés Trapiello’s brilliant pioneering study of literature of right and left and fuck-off-and-leave-me-alone in and around the 36-39 civil war, Las armas y las letras, is his enthusiasm for amusing but bullshit-prone aphorisms. So:
… esos viajeros ingleses del siglo XIX … capacitados como nadie para describirnos un gitano … pero como nadie incapaces para comprenderlo… Ésa es la grandeza del pueblo inglés sobre cualquier otro, y de ahí que hayan sido los grandes viajeros de la historia: han viajado sin dejar de ser ellos mismos un solo instante y sin buscar que los otros se les parezcan.
For anyone who shares his phenomenal, almost Philippian ignorance of non-Victorian English and Imperial sexual and linguistic mores, I’d recommend … ooh, William Dalrymple’s White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in 18th-century India, which I enjoyed very much recently.
- Shock horror! Madrid employs native speakers to kick-start bilingual education programme!
I’ve met quite a lot of English teachers in Spain, but of the native speakers I only know a couple who have worked in the state education system, and then as poorly paid language assistants on here-today-fuck-off-tomorrow contracts. Back in January Esperanza Aguirre indicated her intention to break what she probably regards as the stranglehold of …
- Diputación de Málaga wastes €20,000 subsidising a badly translated school textbook
Lars Bjørn Hanssen > Diario Sur (> Teresa Aguilar > Carlos Ferrero): The Diputación de Málaga gave €20,000 to help Loving Books publish an Atlas ilustrado de la provincia de Málaga; Alejandro Villén Real at Loving Books gave very little of that to an apparently unemployed receptionist for the English translation; no quality control was undertaken on the
- What do you call an Eskimo with bananas in his ears?
The customary riposte is near the end of this post, but Enrique Jardiel Poncela gives a roundabout and, for those of us who believe that English in Spain is often merely decorative, relevant answer in his great erotic-absurdist comedy, Amor se escribe sin hache (1929). Paco Arencibia has just progressed from being the lover of the widow, …
- Capilla ardiente -> Chapel burning
Via Charles Butler, fresh from laying flowers on the graves of southern Occitan economists, and slightly less fresh from whatever he does every autumn with large volumes of olives: The ex-archbishop of Barcelona, Ricard Maria Carles, has gone to translation hell, despite, as far as we know, not having done anything awful to the lambikins …