Monday, June 22, 2015

Rajoy's balls; The Spanish economy; Hi temps; Our flea market; & Italish(?)

My friend Dwight has pointed out that President Rajoy's lack of cojones when it comes to sacking people goes way back to his days as the president of the Pontevedra provincial government. Which rather questions his rise up the greasy pole.

Spain's economy will grow at around an impressive 3% this year, they say. But this macro achievement isn't yet trickling down to the person in the street. Least of all to the 24% of the working population which is still unemployed. The Guardian says that Spain is "still mired in a period of transition". Which sounds about right. More here.

The last few days have seen temperatures here in Pontevedra of 30-33 degrees, which is more than we Gallegos can happily stand. One result has been the widespread wearing of shorts de tiro alto and shorts vaqueros, or what we'd call 'short shorts' and 'denim shorts' in English. Another has been the virtual desertion of the city for the beach over the weekend.

I mentioned that traditional stallholders were losing out to both old and new (Romanian?) gypsies in our Sunday flea-market. This probably explains the notice I saw there today, advising that the following were prohibited from sale:-
  • Clothing
  • Footwear
  • Material
  • Lace and the like
  • Etc. . . . Plastic toys
  • Copies of perfume, cologne and the like
  • Any product which, for its origin or any other reason, is not permitted to be sold.

I wonder at whom this can be directed. Which reminds me . . . Every week, after the market has wrapped up, the nearby bins are raided for the utter rubbish which some traders have chucked away. The lowest of the low, I guess. Or the poorest of the poor. Perhaps this will soon stop, as things go back to how they were. If they ever do. For there was no indication that the notices had been posted by anyone other than the traditional traders. Which would explain why they were ignored today.

Finally . . . It's not only the French and Spanish Academies which are trying to halt the invasion of English. As this Times article shows, the Italians are also at it. 

Incidentally, A Greek politician on the British news this morning showed it's not only the Spanish and the French who find it impossible to distinguish between 'make' and 'do'. The culprit, of course, is Latin, where one verb did the work of two.

Italians resist an English invasion

They have long complained about the British taking over every inch of the Tuscan hillsides but Italians may have been distracted from attacks on another front.

Guardians of the Italian language, working to update and improve it since 1612, are convinced that the language of love faces its greatest ever danger.

As right-wing Italian politicians bemoan the arrival of Eritrean, Syrian and Nigerian migrants, the sober and suited experts of the Accademia della Crusca are more concerned about turning back the tide of English words destroying beautifully constructed sentences. Words like ‘management’ and ‘slot machine’, for example.

“The thing that really gets me is when Italians on Tripadvisor use the English word ‘location’ to refer to a place,” said Claudio Marazzini, the head of the academy. “My first reaction is to laugh, my second thought is to act.”

Mr Marazzini and the linguistic elite have decided enough is enough. They will tomorrow hold an emergency summit to halt an invasion they claim threatens the foundations of culture. “We will set up a quick-response commission to go after politicians, bureaucrats and journalists who bring English words into our language, so we can hand them Italian equivalents to use instead,” said Mr Marazzini. “It’s too late to do something about ‘car sharing’, but we need to find Italian words in a hurry for ‘quantitative easing’.”

Experts tracking newly arrived English words are now struggling to keep up, as Italians looking for saucy underwear head for “Il sexy shop”, mafia godfathers are called “il boss”, a football manager is “un mister”, talent shows are “i talent”, reality shows are “i reality”, a TV drama is “una fiction”, and people go online to “twittare”, while politicians gather in parliament for “question time”.

In a rearguard effort earlier this year, 70,000 Italians signed a petition demanding an end to the trend after the Italian navy chose the recruitment slogan “Be cool and join the navy” and the mayor of Rome launched a new motto, “Rome and you”, for the city. In Milan, the decision to promote the city’s Expo with the slogan ‘Very bello’ drew catcalls.

“The success of English is shocking,” wrote Gilda Rogato, an Italian academic. “When Julius Caesar landed in Britain around 2,000 years ago, English did not exist. When the Normans invaded, it became the dialect of uncouth servants, making way for French. Now it’s the language of the planet.”
Linguists single out Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister, for helping the invasion after he named his labour legislation the “Jobs Act” and promoted his “Spending review”. His spoken English, however, leaves much to be desired, as shown in last week’s encounter with David Cameron, when he appeared to say “It’s a really, really, really pleasure.”

According to Gianluigi Beccaria, the linguist and author, Italians who struggle in English but drop English phrases into conversion display a mixture of “snobbery and provincialism”. “It’s considered fashionable, but the French and Spanish do it a lot less,” he said.

The phenomenon of English taking over the Italian language has also been noted by The Oldie, which this week carries an article from an amused English expatriate.

“Today a route that takes you past the Green Life Bio Concept Store, Lele’s barber’s shop, the farmer’s market, the Tech It Easy gift emporium, a bank offering personal finance, and a sexy shop offering sexy toys brings you not to Willesden High Street, as you might expect, but to the Colosseum,” the article remarked.

Renata Grieco, an English teacher in Rome, claimed it was a two-way street, blaming the English for perpetuating the problem with the constant use of Italian words in everyday sentences. “Why do trendy English people talk about having a gelato or a biscotto when they could just say ice cream and biscuits?” she said.

Experts say they are happy to accept English words when no Italian exists, particularly high technology and finance, where the Italian equivalent of “holding company” is the ungainly “financial company that controls more than one firm”. But English has also invaded the fashion industry — a bastion of Italian culture — so Italians go looking for a “look” that is “molto fashion” when they indulge in “lo shopping”.

The familiar words:-
Box — a garage for one car
Bomber — a football centre forward
Baby parking — a crèche
Ticket — a payment for medicine
Mobbing — workplace bullying
Smoking — a dinner jacket
Footing — jogging

The last 3 of these are shared with Spanish. But a Box here is where you wash your car. And a Ticket (tiké) is a receipt.

1 comment:

Bill said...

'Box' has a similar usage in French, except in my experience it generally related to a lockable 'garage' within an underground car park, which is what I and other residents all had in my apartment building when I live in Paris many years ago.

As for 'loan words' the difference between English and certain other languages (Spanish and French certainly, probably Italian and German too although I can't speak of those of my own knowledge) is that English actively welcomes and 'assimilates' words from other languages, whereas other try (often vainly) to limit such usage, although I tend to think the Spanish-speakers have a much more open attitude than the French in this area. I gather Japanese similarly assimilates 'loan words', specially English (no doubt because of heavy American influence) and I certainly know that Arabic tends to assimilate both English and French words in different parts of the Arab world. Basically I think what distinguishes 'assimilators' from 'hold back the foreign linguistic influence' languages is that the former are confident and widely-spoken (English, Spanish, Arabic) and really don't need to worry about being supplanted; Japanese is a bit of a maverick I suppose.

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