mount_oregano: Let me see (Madrid)
You're visiting Madrid, and you go for a stroll in its justly famous Retiro Park. You stop at one of its cafés, you pick up the menu — and suddenly you are scared, not just by the prices. What is this stuff?

As a public service, here's the menu in its original Spanish, the bad translation, and what you really get:

Berberechos al natural
Cockles to the natural one
Cockles in their own juice, au naturale

Navajas al natural
Knives to the natural one
Razor clams in their own juice, au naturale

Mejillones en escabeche
Mussels pick leed

Pickled mussels, in spiced vinegar dressing

Almejas al natural
Clams to the natural one
Clams in their own juice, au naturale

Boquerones en vinagre
In vinegar anchovys
Anchovies in vinegar

Sardinillas en aciete
Sardines in oil
Small sardines in oil

Aceitunas rellenas
Olives stuffing
Stuffed olives

Almendras saladas
Saliferous almonds
Salted almonds

Bon appetit.

— Sue Burke
mount_oregano: Let me see (Salamanca)

Although I've lived in Spain more than a decade, every time I go past the laundry detergent section in a supermarket, I giggle when I see boxes of Nuclear Bebé, a popular brand specially formulated (according to its manufacturer) to avoid irritating babies' skin. And it gets whites and colors nuclear-bright!

The lesson, of course, is that in other countries, words don't always mean the exact same thing: connotations don't travel well.

Every time I think of a nuclear baby, I think of something different and inappropriate.

— Sue Burke

mount_oregano: Let me see (Spice2)

A brief lesson in real-life Spanish (as spoken in Spain, I should specify). When words travel from one language to another, they don't always arrive safely.

Many of Spain's Olympic athletes in swimming train at Madrid's Real Canoe Club de Natación -- the Royal Canoë Swimming Club. Note that canoe is pronounced ca-NO-ay. The word's not what you thought, or is it?

Though the club now enjoys financial success, it started off 76 years ago as a group of friends who swam in the mountain lakes and rivers near Madrid, and soon they realized that they needed a lifeguard boat. One of them heard about a good deal on a second-hand boat from Canada, a maneuverable little craft called a piragua in Spanish.

The boat arrived with a curious word stenciled on its side, CANOE, whatever that meant, but they decided that if they named their club after it, then the club name would already be on their boat. Of course, they used the Spanish phonics pronunciation.

Real Canoe also runs a bingo hall to help pay for its projects. Every time I see the sign for "Bingo Canoe" I giggle. And I think about the way that words sometimes wash up on strange shores, shipwrecked from their original meaning.

By the way, the club's main office is on Flying Fish Street. I don't know if that's a coincidence.

mount_oregano: Let me see (Spice2)

A brief lesson in real-life Spanish (as spoken in Spain, I should specify). When words travel from one language to another, they don't always arrive safely.

Perhaps because they're easy to pronounce, English words with an -ing are easy to import into Spanish: el parking, for example, is the place where you park your car. El lifting is what a plastic surgeon may do to your face.

But some words shift in meaning. El zapping is what you do when you channel surf. El footing is what you probably call "jogging": a run around the park.

Some new words result from cross-cultural fertilization. El puenting is bungee jumping. In Spain, the jumping is usually done from a bridge, and a "bridge" is a puente . . . so you get puenting. Vueling is an airline. A vuelo is a flight, so what you do with this airline is el vueling.

Finally, because word order in Spanish is noun-then-adjective but in English it's adjective-then-noun, some adjectives in the form of an -ing word get misinterpreted as the noun: el living is a room in a house where many families have a television set and a sofa. Los Rolling is a common reference to the rock band headed by Mick Jagger.

I giggle every time I hear that.

mount_oregano: Let me see (Spice2)

A brief lesson in real-life Spanish (as spoken in Spain, I should add). When words travel from one language to another, they don't always arrive safely.

Miss refers to a woman who participates in or wins a beauty contest.

La ganadora del certamen de Miss España 2007 fue la representante de Guipúzcoa, Natalia Zabala Arroyo. The winner of the Miss Spain 2007 contest was the representative of Guipúzcoa, Natalia Zabala Arroyo. (From 20 Minutos newspaper)

As you might guess, míster means a male beauty contest participant or winner. (The accent has to do with Spanish spelling rules.)

Juan García Postigo, elegido Míster España en 2006, ha obtenido el premio al más guapo del planeta, Míster Mundo 2007. Juan García Postigo, elected Mister Spain in 2006, has won the prize of the most handsome man of the planet, Mister World 2007. (From Telecinco news)

But míster also means the coach of a sports team. (Other words are téchnico, "technician," and entrenador, "trainer.") Here's a quote from Fernando Gago, center fielder with Real Madrid Soccer Team:

"Después del partido del otro día, hablé con el míster y estaba contento con el trabajo que había hecho." "After the game the other day, I talked with the coach, and he was happy with the job I had done." (From DiarioAS sports web site)

You can guess the history of that usage yourself.

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