Lost in translation

Last week I was translating for an event for therapists in a local university.

The speaker recommend a book.

It’s read, he said, which I duly translated.

The speaker knew enough Spanish to know I hadn’t said what he meant.

No, it’s red. The book is red, he insisted.

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Short of ways of saying someone has gone crazy? Look no further

I’ve said before how endlessly creative and inventive Colombians are (in all areas of their life) but particularly in the way they use Spanish.

A friend dropped this into a conversation, talking about someone who has a tendency to flip out (as we might say in English):

“Well, as you know, the shampoo tends to slip off her.”

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I’m left-handed not deaf

The Spanish for left-handed is zurdo. And for deaf is sordo.

Remember in Colombian Spanish we don’t lisp the “z” like they do in Spain so the only difference between the two words is the vowel. I am left-handed but not deaf and always have to do a quick check in my mental dictionary that I am getting it right.

I had the same problem in German with Sekt (sparkling wine) and Senf (mustard).

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As expressive an expression as you could wish for

We were out for our team Christmas dinner last night, to a restaurant that serves a special kind of meat from the Llanos region of Colombia.

We all ate loads, but one piece of meat was unclaimed at the end so I asked one of my colleagues if he wanted it.

Oh no, he said, I’m so full that even a grain of rice standing up wouldn’t fit.

How cute and graphic is that?

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I can’t resist this

I said I wouldn’t comment on the poor translation on display at the immigration office but I can’t resist this:

The sign said Preferential treatment will be given to the handicapped, children, pregnant women and adults.

You might be wondering who is left to be given non-preferential treatment.

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Something I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for the Olympics

That the word for ivory in Spanish is marfil.

And I found out because there was an athlete competing from Costa de Marfil.

For a second my brain registered marfil as mármol, which is the Spanish for marble.

And I thought Marble Coast? Really? That’s what Ivory Coast is called in Spanish?

And then I checked it out and got it all straight in my head and now I know the word for ivory.

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Double sculls? Fencing?

I speak pretty good Spanish, (I should, I grew up in Peru, and I studied it at university) but every so often I find my communicative competence challenged, and just now it is the Olympics that are doing it.

Federer broke in the first game of the set but Falla broke back.

Britain won a gold medal in the double sculls rowing.

Venezuela is on for a gold in the fencing.

They usually start showing the split times once everybody has started…

…are all ideas I have struggled to express in Spanish over the past few days.

But at least I’ve learned that set point is set point in Spanish.

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