Category archive for Languages (RSS)

¡Gracias y adiós!

Posted: August 23rd 2016 15:51.

I can't remember why I started this blog - most of my translation work has always been from Dutch, French and German - but I guess it had something to do with the various frustrations of living in Barcelona. However, I now live in London, and Spanish official and corporate gringoisms have improved beyond all recognition, so that the blog may henceforth be presumed dead. Many thanks to all readers

Chinese tourist detained in German refugee centre after trying to report wallet theft

Posted: August 8th 2016 17:36.

Take at least a phrasebook, if not an interpreter, if you come from Distantlandia and want to visit the German police.

Funding the hole in Spain’s pension pot left by Rajoy’s economic miracle

Posted: July 2nd 2016 17:20.

Maybe it's me, but my impression is that the quality of official EU translation has deteriorated quite sharply in the past few years. But I think we all know, in article 60 of the IORPs Directive, which the Commission is trying to smuggle past national parliaments without discussion or publicity on this busy summer weekend, what a "a Union legal framework" is and what "the Union may adopt

Benidorm: moderately poor translation as a selling point redux

Posted: July 1st 2016 09:53.

I remember being rather disappointed when, aged 6, one of my first friends in England, the son of refugees from the new Islamism in South Asia, now the old Islamism in Tower Hamlets and Luton and Blackburn, explained to me that there were indeed streets and libraries in Pakistan. I have no idea what happened to BM, but I hope that he too, in this Starbucks world, would appreciate the sense of

“Barcelona Council misappropriated €250 million inheritance using mistranslation of German will”

Posted: June 28th 2016 22:36.

This blog has speculated over the years that much translation in Spain has been commissioned primarily in order to enrich and/or reputation-launder the clan commissioning it, rather than to benefit the institution involved by delivering words in Furrinese that cost-effectively reflect the original text.
The case of the inheritance of the crony capitalist Julio Muñoz Ramonet (1912-91) is

Thomas More endorses the siesta

Posted: June 13th 2016 16:22.

Of the twenty-four equal hours into which they divide the day and the night, the Utopians devote only six to work. They work three hours before noon, when they go to lunch. After lunch, they rest for two hours, then go to work for another three hours. Then they have supper, and about eight o'clock (counting the first hour after noon as one) they go to bed, and sleep eight hours.
I read it as a

EU interpreter kicked senseless by admin colleague during Commission charity footie match

Posted: June 9th 2016 16:39.


The Schuman Trophy has been a fixture on the Commission’s calendar for 20 years, with teams from each department playing each other and raising money for children’s charities.

But this year’s event — held on May 21 and sponsored by the likes of Volvo and Belgian financial services firm Easyvest — ended in chaos when a player from the Commission’s interpretation department and one from

Filho/a da puta

Posted: June 7th 2016 15:57.

I fear a British employment tribunal is about to give undue weight to an exceptionally everyday Portuguese curse. But José "translator" Mourinho should be able to wriggle his way out of that, and if he can't then he can probably afford it.

Degerundisation in Furrin

Posted: May 24th 2016 08:42.

In Spanish etc., campsite > camping, carpark > parking, etc., but then in German happy ending > happy End. Who cares? End is a genital euphemism in English, so a happy ending in a London massage parlour loses nothing in translation. The Happy End of Georg Anton Benda's version of Romeo and Juliet is more of a struggle:

"The principle of empathically combining text declamation with music still

The Royal Spanish Academy: patronising lardy-arsed suits pigging your tax euro?

Posted: May 19th 2016 10:22.

The local branch of the Canute Society is campaigning against the (incorrect and correct) use of English in advertising:

The RAE "no es una startup." Confirmation in this video.

¡Numancia romana!

Buenos días.— Maestro Ciruela (@Master_Plum) May 19, 2016



Posted: May 18th 2016 16:51.

To the extent that she is not merely chucking us clickbait, Elena Horrillo's piece on supposedly untranslatable Spanish expressions suggests she hasn't read the English Wikipedia article, some of which has been translated into Spanish. Translating difficult expressions, sayings and proverbs like those cited was already a minor industry in the late Middle Ages (anyone heard of Erasmus?). I think


Posted: April 25th 2016 12:43.

Useless extramural political appointees preferred to useless intramural political appointees for massively well-paid foreign gigs! Hard call, that, and the comments are a joy. Still, at least they didn't waste money by having their nephew translate the website:

(Try here if image doesn't embiggen correctly.)
To be fair, the Catalan, Galician and Basque versions are also in Spanish, and I think

Vicente Fox

Posted: April 9th 2016 20:17.

Man who can't write English got a piece of paper from Harvard Business School. No problem: been there, seen that. But same man has got 307K followers on Twitter - even more than the Singing Organ Grinder - many of whom attach symbolic, patriotic importance to his every utterance. If half of them donated one dollar cent on Crowdfunding, and Mrs could be prevented from spending it on yet more

John Florio and Charles Cotton’s translations of Montaigne

Posted: April 3rd 2016 11:40.

Wading through a Francophone African legal swamp, where jurisprudence grows out of the barrel of a gun, one is reminded of early translators' struggles with Montaigne:

John Florio (beware of noisome loons who think he's Shakespeare), 1603: In summe, if any thinke he could do better, let him trie; then will he better thinke of what is done. Seven or eight of great wit and worth have assayed, but

EU working languages & linguistic discrimination

Posted: March 23rd 2016 11:23.

Why pleb-speakers (I'd have thought of Greeks, Bulgarians, Turks(!) before Italians, not to mention the Cataloonies, who a few years ago thought the world was tilting their way...) from outside the EU core will never get a job there. What an immense mess, and how immensely profitable for some.

Borrowed glory

Posted: March 16th 2016 08:47.

Tim Parks slags some prominent Italian-English literary translators and praises some lesser-known ones in the New York Review of Books:

The problem is that it is hard for the wider public or even the critics really to know whether they have been given a good translation, and not easy even for the editors who have the duty of choosing the translator, fewer and fewer of whom have appropriate

Linguistic change as a result of speech defects

Posted: February 17th 2016 18:03.

Someone sent me the item about the drunken Galician whoremonger who got trapped in a lavoir (Spanish narrative), and I put it on in the background. Galician normally sounds like dodgy rural Spanish with a bit of Portuguese thrown in, but the first interviewee threw me completely. A completely new dialect? Nope: check his front teeth. Now I want to hear recordings of his children. (Re the

Non-existent advantages of bilingualism

Posted: February 17th 2016 09:30.

Take executive function.

Translating Tarantino: much ado about fucking

Posted: February 9th 2016 18:24.

David Torres Ortún (cache) re the Spanish dubbing of The Hateful Eight aka Los odiosos ocho:

Hay dos problemas principales con la traducción de las películas de Tarantino, que también aparecen en Los Odiosos Ocho:
Uno es la desidia, un error bastante común es traducir de forma inadecuada la palabra fuck, y en especial fucking que por contexto puede ser recreada de muchas formas. Por ejemplo:

Miss Hurd strikes again

Posted: January 29th 2016 11:11.

An Italian libertarian tells me that she and some friends booked to Burning Man were surprised to land in Solihull. Refugees from London are now rowing up the M6 to Burning Man aka Birmingham, Brighton and then Bath and Bristol having become too expensive, but best British value is still to be found in Boro, particularly now the Sacha Baron Cohen effect (Ctrl-F Kazakhstan) has been priced into


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