30 Apr, 2010 @ 13:31
4 mins read

F**ked translations

THE lonely image of Spanish leader Jose Luis Zapatero at a recent political summit made it painfully clear how isolating an inability to speak English is.

Sitting alone, Zapatero listened to a Spanish translation while the other world leaders thrashed out a debate at the other end of the room in English.

Cut off by the barrier of language and unable to influence the discussion, the isolated figure of Zapatero is easy, as it happens, for most Spaniards to relate to.

A recent survey found that although 90 per cent of Spaniards believe language skills are important, only a third can speak English.

Furthermore, in the poll by the Centre for Sociological Research, one in four admitted that they had been discriminated against during their career for not being able to speak a foreign language.

“I wonder how many people simply walk out when they can’t understand what is on offer.”

And if the most influential man in the country cannot learn English, let’s face it, the rest of the population have little hope of escaping the ‘Spanglish’ stereotype that afflicts so many.

The matter first came to the fore in classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers some three decades ago.

And sadly the grief suffered by Manuel, played by Andrew Sachs all those years ago, is still very apparent.

Indeed, the majority of Spaniards’ language skills have not advanced much further than Manuel’s catchphrase “Qué?”.

And while the English are anything but famed for their grasp of foreign languages, a recent EU survey officially ranked Spain’s linguistic skills as the third worst in the EU, significantly lower than the UK.

But when it comes to translating, Spain is in a league of its own.

The comical and non-sensical blunders which litter its restaurant menus, tourist sites and signs are a never-ending source of amusement to visitors.

Indeed, translation mistakes are so common in Spain, that a number of popular websites and blogs have sprung up showcasing the most amusing and unfortunate gaffs.

The best of these is without a doubt Trevor ApSimon´s blog www.fuckedtranslation.blogspot.com, an extremely funny site, run out of the creator’s home in Barcelona.

Full of the best of the worst from around Spain, it is billed as: “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.”

ApSimon started the blog two and a half years ago when he became frustrated by the poor pay and treatment he received while working as a translator in Spain.

“Spanish customers are not prepared to pay decent rates – they either take months to pay you or they disappear overnight,” he explains.

Consequently, many translators are not prepared to work in Spain, while most businesses also “choose to spend their money on other things”.

The end result, he explains, is a country full of embarrassing and funny public statements.

His blog is full of the resultant errors found in translations by councils, businesses and restaurants.

And, unlike many sites, he explains the error and even takes time to analyse it.

My personal favourite is a sign on the toilet wall of a restaurant in Jaén: “Don’t though any papers into the water close. Use the trash bean.”

While it is easy to write this off as nonsense at first glance, ApSimon’s analysis shows that an attempt at accurate translation was made.

He believes that the error is most likely a result of the English word ‘bin’ being copied down phonetically after it was pronounced incorrectly.

In light of this, it’s easy to see how Spaniards are tripped up by English pronunciation, as Spanish words are pronounced as they are spelt.

Another common stumbling block is the literal translation, causing many an error in Spanish menus.

While ‘jews’ – or judios, green beans – are regularly offered in restaurants throughout Spain, one amused customer shared the following gems from a restaurant in Jerez: “Clams to the sailor’s blouse” (‘almejas a la marinera’, which should have read ‘clams in a white wine sauce’) and “I hit to the plate” (‘choco a la plancha’, which is grilled squid).

Mistakes like these may provide seemingly harmless entertainment for diners, but they reveal a very serious problem afflicting Spain.

Too many businesses think they can get away with a two-minute internet translation when preparing a document in English.

However, by thinking that a quick internet translator will do the job of a paid professional, business owners are doing a lot more than saving time and money. They are risking the very integrity of their companies.

Justin Roberts, a food exporter based in Jerez, explains: “The irony is professional translation can be very good value and, for a tourism business, I would have thought professional translation is vital.

“I would rather get a menu in Spanish than a mangled and nonsensical version of English,” said Roberts. “I wonder how many people simply walk out when they can’t understand what is on offer.”

This is simply not acceptable for a country that relies on tourism for over ten per cent of its income.

With the current slump in tourism, blamed on the pound’s fall against the euro, restaurant owners should be doing everything they can to secure the business of foreign tourists.

For larger businesses and government bodies poor translations can be even more damaging, suggesting a lack of professionalism and accuracy.

For example, the English translation of the official website for the international wine fair Vinoble 2010 by the Mayoress of Jerez is entitled “Mayoress’ Gretting”.

‘What does this tell us?’, asks Trevor ApSimon on his blog. “That the Mayoress of Jerez cares more about how her hair looks than about how her words are interpreted?

“That her administration is thick and happy to wallow in it?”

As websites become an increasingly important way for businesses to promote themselves, mistakes such as this could seriously damage trade.

English is the most prominent language in international business, and therefore if Spanish companies want to be taken seriously, they must be prepared to invest in professional and accurate translators.

This is particularly crucial in Spain’s tough economic climate, which has recently forced retail giants such as Zara and Mango to expand in Britain in order to stay afloat.

If Spanish companies do not prioritise their translations, they risk being cut off from global business opportunities in the same way that Zapatero too often finds himself unable to communicate with his fellow world leaders in the universal language of English.

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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  1. I remember a Restaurant had the translations of two fish dishes as:
    Grooved carpets with a red wine sauce
    National stroke how you like it.

    i always wish i had taken a photo as this menu was a classic but the restaurant has now sadly gone.

  2. Tessa Norman’s article about “F**ked translations” and the comments above from Vernon, Mark and Ben neatly sum up what I have been tittering over and battling against for the last 40 years, ever since I first spotted “Fried Brian” on a menu in San Sebastián and an expensive neon sign advertising a “Nihgt Club” on the Costa Brava!
    The standard of translation of menus, leaflets, websites, legal documents, official notices and, yes, neon signs, is largely farcical. And it’s not just English that is badly translated; the same often applies to French and German, the next two most frequently used languages in Spain.
    Whilst amusing to some, it’s not really acceptable what is put before us here. When we are talking about town councils, government departments, banks, official websites, legal practices and top quality hotels, what foreigners have to accept is unbelievable. It’s so unprofessional.
    I have a dual language Spanish Will prepared by a local lawyer. It’s a good job it’s in Spanish, because the English version is incomprehensible! And to have it in English too cost me extra!
    My Spanish bank, Unicaja, offers its website and postal communications in three languages other than Spanish. I can’t comment on the Catalán, but the English and German versions are poor in the extreme. They’ve certainly not been translated by native speakers.
    The exclusive Parador hotel chain produces a multitude of literature in other languages, predominantly English. It’s riddled with mistakes and strange turns of phrase. Take a look at their website or one of their quarterly magazines – it’s not good!
    One of the museums in Ronda produces leaflets in several languages – they’re gibberish. Clearly products of the Google Translation Agency.
    As Tessa Norman writes in her piece, “… if Spanish companies want to be taken seriously, they must be prepared to invest in professional and accurate translators.” I would add that they must also definitely be native speakers.
    Whilst using a friend or relative, for example a languages teacher or a languages student may appear attractive and less expensive, you are unlikely to get what you want. Their skills are rarely the same as those needed to produce a smooth, stylish translation. Companies invest huge sums of money in other aspects of their business, why are they reluctant to pay for accurate and professional translations?
    What about translation software? Don’t even be tempted. There is no substitute for a human being. A machine, such as a computer, cannot possibly hope to understand the nuance or tone of a text, or take into account the style or grammar of the original. It may not even select the correct word or phrase.
    There is another important issue, however. Often the problems occur at the designers or printers. I experienced this first hand last year, when, having translated the menu of a prestigious local restaurant, had it checked for accuracy and proof read before delivery, the menus were printed with 72 errors! It transpired that the printing company had had my original and accurate electronic document re-typed by a non-English speaker and she had introduced the errors!
    So, the next time you see “Fried Brian” on a menu or “Nihgt Club” on an expensive sign, don’t automatically blame the translator.
    Any organisation or business that uses a professional translator will have the edge over its competitors. Diners won’t continue to tolerate menus that offer incomprehensible dishes, such as Tessa illustrates, foreign property purchasers won’t put up with dodgy documents and website surfers, who have to read Google-translated nonsense, will surf elsewhere!

    web: http://www.a1-solutions-spain.com
    email: [email protected]
    tel: 636 52 75 16.

  3. >What about translation software? Don’t even be tempted.

    Not true, because if you have a website that has 300 pages to be translated, the cost would be exorbitant and beyond most small companies resources, so translation software is a very useful thing indeed, which is why of course Google translate is one of the most popular applications in history. Can the Olive Press please translate their website to Spanish, German and Dutch overnight? No…

    I think Paul is just jealous of the Google, being as he is a human translator lol.

  4. So, Fred, it’s better to have a website translated by Google that makes your site unreadable by a foreign-language speaker and therefore quickly abandoned than invest in a quality version that will be read by potential clients who will be impressed so much that they will purchase your product or service, is it?

    I’m not jealous of Google at all. I’m generally impressed by what they offer free of charge to us all, but not their translation service. It’s possibly better than its competitors, but, I repeat: “A machine, such as a computer, cannot possibly hope to understand the nuance or tone of a text, or take into account the style or grammar of the original. It may not even select the correct word or phrase.”

    Of course, I’d love to have Sergei Brin’s millions (or is it billions?) but I just have to plod along trying to earn a crust. If you want your 300 page website translating, I’ll give you a good price …

  5. Paul, yes, it is better to have a website translated by Google (or another automated service) rather than have nothing translated at all, and I never said the translation would be better. Google know this and their many many millions of users prove that automated translation is successful and widely used.

    I don’t have any websites, but what would the price for a 300 page website translation be please? And what is a “good price” exactly? Your language is ambiguous lol.

    Btw, anyone who says that they could not be impressed by Google’s translation service is telling porkies. It is highly impressive.

  6. I couldn’t disagree with you more, Fred.

    1. It is not better to have a Google translation than no translation. A company risks losing so much credibility if the potential customer sees that said company can’t be bothered to provide a quality translation. That would suggest to the potential customer that the product or service being offered might lack quality in other respects. A risky policy indeed.

    2. The fact that Google Translate has many millions of users (if they do…) proves only that they are either misguided or tight-fisted.

    3. Re the 300 page website you don’t have (sorry I thought you did!), the cost depends on the total source words of the original text, the language required, the type of language (ie literary, marketing, legal, technical, medical, etc), and the urgency.

    4. Cheap doesn’t necessarily get you the standard you want, but nor does dear either. My translations are competitively priced for the market I work in without compromising on quality. Cheaper than the coast; far cheaper than the UK or Germany; but dearer than the bloke next door or the student trying to subsidise his drinks budget. As a rough guide: Spanish to English, normal language is €0.07 per word, ie €70 per 1000 words.

    5. You’re obviously not an expert in languages or translation if you’re impressed with Google’s translations. I suspect what you’re impressed with is that the service is quick and free!

  7. So Google are tight-fisted by giving away some of the best software services in the world? Great logic there.

    Again, I did not say that I was impressed with the translations, I said I was impressed with the service and the technology behind it.

    The massive take up of online translation services only further reinforces my point. There’s no need to argue the issue with you; it’s a fact that online translation is massively popular and to say that no translation at all is better than some automated translation shows you to be stubborn in the face of an obvious truth.

    “Plodding along earning a crust” is a great endorsement for your work Paul, lol.

  8. To prove the point with automated translation, just try translating a paragraph and then translating it back. If it makes sense then fine, if not, don’t use it

  9. I’m not sure that you did try that Fred. Below your post of the 13th. Translated by Google into Spanish and then back into “English”…

    What about translation software? Not even the temptation.
    Not true, because if you have a website that contains 300 pages to translate, the cost would be exorbitant and out of most small business resources, so the translation software is a very useful thing indeed why, of course, Google Translate is one of the most popular applications history. Can the olive press please translate your site overnight Spanish, German and Dutch? No …
    I think Paul is jealous of Google, being as it is a human translator lol.

  10. I didn’t try that paragraph, Justin. In any event, that’s an excellent translation given a human isn’t doing it! I think Paul’s days are surely numbered lol.

  11. Just give up, Fred. You’ve lost the argument. By your own admission you re-assert, and I quote: “I did not say that I was impressed with the translations, I said I was impressed with the service and the technology behind it.”

    I didn’t say Google were tight-fisted, only professionals that use its translation service rather than pay for a proper job.

    Don’t think my days are numbered – business is booming, truly remarkable in a recession, but I’m not complaining.

  12. We’ve gone from “plodding along earning a crust” to “business is booming” in one day. Paul is literally lost in translation lol.

    Give up what exactly? It’s not my argument to win; millions of people around the world already use translation software every day. I can’t help it if you are a techno-dinosaur.

    And as for telling all the OP readers that NO translation, at all, is more helpful/better/useful than SOME translation is just plain stupid and frankly, embarassing. If the Olive Press put Google translate on the website their readership graph would climb massively.

    Come on Jon, add Google Translate to the OP website. Paul will get over it.

  13. Surely a business can boom even though you only earn a crust doing it – better to be happy and busy than sad and envious.

    Jon’s got more sense than to use Google Translate. He’s saving up for a professional translation of the OP website, so the sooner Stuart Crawford spends some money on advertising his revolutionary roof material the better for all of us who are dependent on savvy entrepreneurs like him!

  14. Oh dear, so we finally get to the punchline, your implication that I am sad and envious of you? Er, no Paul. Those are the witterings of a person who has lost an argument and just can’t be man enough to admit it.

    But don’t worry, I have met many people like you – it’s an age thing I think, combined with a fear of embracing new technology. I’ll leave you to “plod on” lol.

    P.S. Stuart is indeed savvy. Such a shame that Spain lost this talent and now France has it. Says a lot about Spain really.

  15. Fred, you really shouldn’t be so paranoid. I wasn’t implying anything about you specifically. If you inferred that I was, I would suggest YOU have the problem.

    As always, you resort to insults when you’ve lost the argument. It’s a waste of time corresponding with you.

    By the way, is Stuart your brother, or an alias for yourself? You’re so alike in so many ways.

  16. Zzz, now we’re at the “you insulted me” stage of the thread again. I thought age brought wisdom. Not.

    I’m keeping you from your crust Paul… do come back if you need further education about life in the 21st Century.

  17. None of you have mentioned the real reason why the Spanish are so bad at languages – they have the laziest ears on this planet and probably across a few star systems as well.

    I say Spanish because it really is countrywide. We used to live in northern Galicia and because the air fares were/are a rip-off from Santiago we took the long way back to the UK.
    With the visually wonderful but slow FEVE single track train to Oviedo, where we stayed overnight and then by bus to Bilbao and flew from there to Gatwick – all of this was cheaper than flying from Santiago.

    On the way back we had a to buy one way tickets back to Ortigueira at the train station in Oviedo. There is an inflection across the letters ‘uei’ which at first we got wrong but only slightly – never once did any idiot at the ticket counters understand us – this was our introduction to Spanish lazy ears.

    Trying to have a conversation on the phone even after 9 years in that country – forget it.

    Can the Spanish control the speed of their words – no. I have never encountered another people on this planet that cannot decide at what speed they will talk – only the Spanish.

    They have worked as young people for many years in the Netherlands – so I start speaking to them in Dutch – no way a few mumbled words and that’s it. Same goes for those that worked in Germany or the UK – it’s not that they are stupid as such but it is these lazy ears or being totally unwilling to mix with indigenous peoples.

    When walking our dogs (before they were stolen) I used to encounter a ganadero who told me that he had worked in Sydney for over 12 years. I said to him in Spanish you must speak good Aussie English – no not a word.

    He never tried to talk to the Aussies, never tried Aussie food (which is bloody good) only their beer or wine.

    Quite simply apart from a very small minority the Spanish are trapped in their past.

    The stupidity of still speaking castellano with a lisp because Phillip 11 was born with a lisp beggars belief and he’s been dead for 5 centuries.

    I once stopped at the info counter in Granada bus station to find directions for the only shop that sells LPs in Granada and the young man manning the counter spoke like an American. he was from Guatemala and he said that yes he knew that he sounded American because nearly all the programmes on TV were from the USA (poor people) but that he was astounded that the Spanish dub everything into Spanish. His comment was “if you dub the language it is’nt the same film and you will never understand the mentality of the film or the people”.

    This is very true since a Spanish neighbour told us that when the Spanish dub a film or programme they also wilfully change the content so that in effect it is Spanish and nothing like the mentality of the film makers or the country it was made in.

    All of which tells me after 10 years or so in Spain that they are incapable of change in any way shape or form – they are locked into their past and simply cannot envision seeing or trying anything foreign even if it means starvation and this is across all sections of Spanish society.

    Look at that moron Zapatero, even Tony the liar could speak French and Nick Clegg is fluent in 5 languages, Barosso has 7.

    Which is the most dynamic country in Europe – that’s easy – the Netherlands and why. By the age of 9 most Dutch kids have at least 2 languages and many have 3. Don’t bother applying for a job that entails office work if you are not fluent in at least 2 other languages and I do mean fluent.

    Sad to say but Languages in schools have been demoted in the UK.

    And please tell me why the EU does’nt resurrect ‘Esperanto’ a superb and practical way for all Europeans to share a common tongue. This way all school children would learn their own native language and Esperanto, problem solved for vacations and cross border working – oh I know the reason – it would be intelligent to implement this and we can’t have that in the corrupt EU can we!

  18. …so you´re all fluent in Spanish?? I find it extraordinary how many UK expats here speak hardly a word of Spanish, while complaining that service providers and local government officials don´t speak English – and how many claim to have come here because of the´immigration´ problems in the UK. They would be among the first to be up in arms if their newly acquired neighbours in the UK weren´t fluent in English.

    On the other hand there is an aim here in Spain to have all schools bilingual in the near future. It will take a while admittedly. Perhaps it´s time that the UK did the same – Spanish is, after all, the second most commonly used language in the world.

  19. Ywerma,
    you never answered my question – what nationality are you.

    OK it does’nt take much to realise you are Spanish – why did’nt you admit that – so you are shilling for Spain.

    Spanish kids in general don’t want to learn other languages – they are too lazy.

    Spanish is the second world language because you beat it into the indigenous people of Central and South America.

    It also a very poor language in that one word can have 6-7 completely different meanings. How can you possibly merge two completely different languages like Arabic and Latin – it’s plain stupid.

    Also it was cobbled together by the illiterate, inarticulate Germanic savages that took control of the Iberian peninsular in the 9/10th century.

    And stop insisting you are a Latin people – why should you be ashamed to admit that you are in the South of Arab/Jewish Semitic stock. Indeed a recent DNA test proved that 17-19% of all Spanish are of jewish blood – shalom.

  20. well, well – no I am not Spanish, I am British. I was born and bred in London. My father was English and my mother Scots. My mother´s family was Jewish, which makes me Jewish too – a fact I´m not at all ashamed to admit.

    I live in a small Spanish village that is not ashamed to admit to and celebrate its Moorish heritage, my (Spanish) neighbour speaks and teaches Arabic.

    You are perfectly entitled to have a poor opinion of Spain and the Spanish – but for the life of me I don´t know why you bother banging on about it.

  21. …ps Foreign language films are dubbed on Spanish TV largely because many older people are illiterate. Not because they are stupid or lazy but because they grew up under Franco when education was controlled by the church and not regarded as important for the´lower orders´(especially if they were women)

  22. As always Fred and Stuart Crawford have hijacked this thread to promote their own ridiculous, outlandish and jaundiced views. They pretend to be erudite and knowledgeable, but make so many errors of fact that it would be tiresome in the extreme to correct them all.

    The only people who are making any sense on this thread are … well, everyone else except those two.

    I hope, Stuart, that, having insulted Yerma, you are now contrite when she has been so good as to answer your persistent questions about her heritage and will apologise.

    She knows more than you because she’s taken the trouble to find out and has made the effort to be nice to her Spanish neighbours, rather than complaining about them all the time.

    And as for the nonsense you write about languages, well …

    If you’re so happy living in France I can’t understand why you bother with our little corner of the “third world”. Why not contribute to a website of a French English-language newspaper and leave us to enjoy living with our lazy monoglot Spanish friends?

  23. Paul,
    what are you whining about – If I make so many errors of fact why not give a few examples, not backing up your words makes you look very foolish.

    You have a not very well camourflaged agenda here don’t you.

    If you had actually read my posts you would see that I have always had a very good relationship with my working class neighbours both in Galicia and in Andalucia. The same goes for Yerma. She accuses everyone of not learning Spanish when it’s obvious this is not the case.

    You don’t like it because you are an estate agent who is only interested in selling crap built properties to anyone you can. You can’t answer any factual questions about construction because you have zero knowledge.

    You can’t rebut what I say about water supplies because it is a fact.

    And an idiot can see that Spanish is cobbled together from Arabic and Latin but you can’t.

    No your whole stupid whinge against me is because my posts are hurting your business – all you are concerned about is your own financial interests.

    I post here because I only wish that there had been forums like this 11/12 years ago and if a poll was conducted on this forum it’s a sure fire thing that like me many would have given Spain a miss.

    My complaint is against the totally corrupt professional class that is ruining Spain for it’s own financial benefit. and that includes foreigners that are only in it for the money as well.

    In the UK the scumbag estate agents are continuously trying to talk the housing market back up when it is in the interests of the well being of the UK as a whole to smash the housing market to pieces.

    I quoted from the FT, the affordability factors at play in Spain – want to challenge the expertise of the FT contributers do you – what exactly is your expertise – b/s.

    I re-iterate the only ones making positive comments about living in ‘real world’ Spain are those like you with vested financial interests.

    Desertification is happening right now all over Spain; the Spanish squander water like there’s no tomorrow. They have squandered good money on ego trips like TGV trains when what the fools should have done is build dedicated freight lines. They squander money on metros for small cities like Granada and Seville. They build rubbish apartment blocks on fertile land of which they have very little.

    Their economy is a joke and they have been living off hand outs from northeren Europe for far too long as has the rest of southern Europe.

    Well northern Europe is now going to take control and force southern Europe to live within it’s means – if this does’nt work then the Germans, Dutch, Swedes, will exit EMU and that’s the end of the Euro – who will buy worthless gov. bonds from southern Europe – no one.

    All the economies that are in danger of collapse are those that did not control their housing markets – Ireland/Spain/Portugal/Greece and Italy and yes the UK.

    If anyone is looking to invest in property – look to Germany – rigidly enforced quality construction, properly applied landlord/tenant agreements, excellant returns on letting and all in a stable prosperous environment and why – because they never let the scumbag carpetbaggers gain a foothold in their country – can anyone ever see that kind of sea-change in mentality happening anywhere in southern Europe and specifically in Spain – I can’t.

  24. I don’t know why you are bringing me back into the thread Paul. If you want to continue to make yourself look like a plonker then so be it.

    I did not hijack the thread; I replied to your quite incorrect reply regarding the use of automated translation, where I stated an obvious truth, namely that a website with automated translation was of greater use to a foreign speaking person than that of a website that had no translation whatsoever. Only a fool would argue to the contrary, and it is obvious that you are immensely jealous of Google’s translation services.

    It’s not Google that will make you obsolete, it’s your inability to admit when you are wrong – that’s just poor business acumen Paul.

  25. Paul,
    you know nothing about construction yet you sell houses – the ‘revolutionary roofing material’ you did’nt read the post properly did you – very sloppy that. I first worked with aercrete blocks 30 years ago LOL.

    Don’t know what I’m talking about – ha ha – just read that the Bank of Spain has had to take control of Caja Sur – LOL.

    One of the biggest problems in Spain is the parasitic middle man and none is more parasitic than estate agents. The internet has made them completely redundant.

    There are many sites where for a very small sum you can advertise your property with plenty of good photos and save a lot of money in the process. Here in France the greedy agents demand 11% on land purchases – forget it, I shall buy direct from a farmer.

    But let’s stay with cold stone facts is any estate agent going to warn prospective clients that – there are 936,000 unsold new properties in Spain, that until prices have declined by at least another 40% there is no chance of upward movement.

    Anyone thinking of buying property now in southern Europe, especially Spain or Portugal is stark raving mad.

    The unemployment rate in Andalucia is 27.6% – Caja Sur is just the first of the small banks to go bust, all the rest will follow – there is no way that the BoS can take on €335 Billion of bad debts. Expect at least 10 years of deflation in southern Europe. Expect lots of social unrest and the crime rate to soar.

    If my posts stop at least a few getting sucked into the nightmare that is Spanish property and the untenable head stuck up rear end that is Spanish economics then good.

    Caveat Emptor has never been more appropriate.

  26. You do make me laugh Stuart Crawford. I haven’t heard so much crap coming from one person since …, well, since your previous post really.

    Let’s start.
    You say that Spanish people have lazy ears and that, after nine years, you can’t hold a conversation on the phone, right?
    That’s not lazy ears but sh*t Spanish pronunciation you have. I have a few friends of mine who happen to be English teachers and are able to speak on the phone in Spanish after only a couple of years living in Bilbao. If they can in two years and you can’t in nine years, well, maybe you should try to learn another language because Spanish is probably beyond you..

    Can the Spanish control the speed of their words?
    Of course! The only problem is that when you try to speak to them in Spanish and they answer you back, you think that they speak to fast because your Spanish is pretty sh*t. Next time ask them to speak mas despacio por favor. It does the trick!

    Next point. You say that they don’t want to mix with indigenous people and that they don’t speak the language of the countries they are living in.
    Which planet do you live in Stuart or what substances have you been taking that have impaired most of your bias opinions ?
    Come to Cambridge or London and see how many Spanish people don’t speak English after they have been living here for a couple of years. I don’t know any and I have been living in England for a few years now. Certainly, they fare better that the hordes that descend continuosly on the Costa del Sewage to have english breakfasts, watch Sky sports, get plastered and ah learn Spanish, not. David Beckham learnt beautiful Spanish when he was at Madrid (sorry, he didn’t because of Spanish lazy ears, ha ha ha).

    Apart from a small minority of Spanish, the rest are trapped in their past?
    And what minority would that be, Stuart? Would you care to shed some light on that too?

    Once I got to the Castilian lisp section that you described, I needed to go to the toilet because I was wetting myself with your sheer stupidity.
    The story about the lisp in Castilian Spanish coming from King Philip is just a myth, much like the story about Marco Polo bringing spaghetti back to Italy or Esquimos having 100 words for snow. I repeat Stuart. It is a myth. Do you get it. It makes me wonder whether all the knowledge (or lack of it) that you are showering us with is just as badly researched.

    Most Romance Language linguists believe that the Castilian lisp sound probably originated as far back as Roman times, in a local dialect of Vulgar Latin.

    And last but not least. There are many people in Spain that are bilingual Stuart. That is, they speak two languages and they are learning a third one at school (English). In the Basque country, most children go to primary school and half of the subjects are done in Spanish and half of the lessons are done in Basque. If you go to Galicia, most people speak Galician and Spanish (again Stuart, two languages there + english which is studied at school)
    In Cataluna, everyone speaks Catalan and Spanish plus the languages that they study at school. Go to Valencia and same old, same old. All in all, not such a poor effort if compared to the subjective, unpalatable utter rubbish that you have inflicted upon us.
    Next time, do please research a little bit before Stuart because otherwise, even a seven year old can uncover your bias bullsh*t.

  27. Patxi, just changing subject a little, can I quickly ask you if you think that a website translation service, such as Google translate, would be better than no translation service at all? I am not asking you if you think the translations are better – they are clearly not – but whether you think a translation feature is more helpful to a foreign reader than having no translation feature at all? Be interested in your reply. It seems obvious to me, but I just can’t for the light of me think why Paul Whitelock won’t answer such a simple question on here. Can you?

  28. Fred, sorry, I didn’t realise you’d asked me a question. I thought I’d made my argument clear before. To be specific, having a machine translation feature is NOT more helpful to a foreign reader than having no translation feature at all. If a company values its product or service it should value the language it uses enough to pay a relatively small amount for a professional translation. There – that’s my opinion, quite clear and unambiguous.

    Stuart, good job I’m not an estate agent, otherwise I would be talking to my lawyer about the language you use about them!
    Heed what Patxi writes – you’re making a fool of yourself by pretending you know about things like languages!

    Yerma and Patxi – it’s good to know that there are intelligent people out there! Keep the good words coming!

  29. Paul, I wasn’t asking you a question – can’t you read properly? I thought you were an ‘expert’ in languages or something…

    Your intrusion into the thread shows you still prefer to be beligerant rather than face up to realities, namely that many thousands of websites use translation services (which you cannot deny) thus consigning your argument to the dustbin of reality. Not all websites can afford manual translations, especially if they are large and complex.

    There are intelligent people out there and your reply shows that you aren’t one of them Paul lol.

  30. Good post Paxti – we have very many bilingual schools in Andalucia too.

    Of course talking on the phone´s not a problem once you´ve bothered to learn the language. You just have to make the effort to LISTEN.

    After living in Spain for four and a half years, I can even pretty much make out Andaluz (a challenge for some of my northern Spanish friends). No secret in this, you just need to spend plenty of time talking to (and listening to) you neighbours.

  31. Fred asked me whether a website translation service, such as Google translate, is better than no translation service at all?
    Well, my initial reaction was that it would be pretty sh*t but I wanted to be objective so I decided to use Google translate on six local news Spanish and English articles in total to check how good the translations were and whether I think it is better than no translation tool at all.
    I got some local articles from a Bilbao (hometown) newspaper and another one from a Cambridge (place of residence) newspaper. I didn’t want big news about Obama, BP, or Torres going to Manchester City because those news have been covered extensively everywhere. No, I wanted articles like “cat stranded on top of a tree for 10 hours” or “local boy wins spoon and egg race” to see how good or how bad Google translate really is.
    Well, I was surprised to see how better Google translate did in spite of my initial reservations.
    I mean, the translation was poor and you have to use your imagination quite a lot to sort of imagine what the article was trying to convey but some sense could be extracted.

    Would I use this Google translate in the future? Probably not. I mean, if my girlfriend was unconscious on the floor because she had been electrocuted and I only had some instructions in Chinese on how to give her the kiss of life, probably I would even though the resulting translation would probably instruct me to kiss her bum!

    Could some foreign readers benefit from this free translation tool?
    I think some foreign readers might do as long as they know that what they are getting is just a very rough translation.

    I think it is a bit like getting a chimpanzee to paint your living room for free.

    Will he/she do a better job than no chimp at all?
    Well, if by a better job you mean he/she will manage to paint some parts of the living room’s walls, then you will have to say yes.

    But if by a better job, you mean a professional job, then you will have to say no.
    Get a proper painter and decorator to do your living room and take the chimp to the pub.

  32. Thanks Patxi, you managed to do in one day (i.e. answer a simple question) what Paul Whitelock couldn’t do in many months of posts.

    I thought my question was very simple. I’m just asking if any web translation service is better than none at all, and we seem to be in agreement that it is. Tens of thousands of other people would agree too, since they already have the feature on their websites. Of course Google’s translations are poor, but that was not the question posed.

    Paul, take note. lol.

  33. Fred, are you reading a different post to me? Patxi doesn’t agree with you at all! And before you start to lecture me on language, learn to spell – eg belligerent!

    Thanks, Patxi.

  34. Sorry! Yerma – I like your point of view also. Fred and Stuart Crawford could learn a lot from people like you, if only they weren’t so pig-headed and ignorant and full of their own self-importance.

    Fred and Stuart – excuse me if I take a break from your tedious posts for a while. I’m getting married tomorrow so will have more important things to do than read your drivel.

  35. You are spot on there Yerma!
    Andalusian pronunciation can be quite tricky even for us Spaniards. It reminds me of the time when I shared a house with two brothers from Newcastle in Cambridge. It took me two months before I could figure out what the hell they were saying to each other.
    But I got there in the end!

  36. An expert in languages such as yourself should know that perfect spelling has nothing to do, whatsoever, with the ability to understand the meaning of written language, indeed studies have shown that people do not need to spell correctly at all in order to comprehend meaning of the written word. Pointing out miniscule errors in blog postings to try and deflect attention away from your own more fundamental errors will not work.

    Part of the problem with people today is that they cannot give a straight answer to anything, especially if it encroaches on their own work, in this case language translation. Automated translation and Paul are like Spain’s government and opposition party – disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing.

    I ask Paul and Patxi the most simplest of questions, and whilst Patxi gave a quick reply, they still (hilariously) both meander and skirt around the issue at great length, just like the politicians – just look at that reply to a simple question, which itself goes off on multiple tangents to avoid agreeing with me on what is so obviously, and furthermore, demonstratably, correct.

    The intelligent reader will see through all this, luckily. And Paul, Patxi has clearly said that the reader would benefit from the translation tool, so concede the point. Arguing to the contrary is embarassing to all. Don’t put words in Patxi’s mouth – that’s plain rude.

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