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Mr Grumpy Gets A Glasgow Kiss

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 15th Mar 2013

Over the course of the last 6 months I have been fortunate / unfortunate enough to have travelled abroad on business, where I have had to pitch various projects to Engineers in Germany, Hungary, Greece, Ireland, Kuala Lumpur as well as Spain.

My fretting about the language and cultural differences when conducting business overseas were largely unfounded, given that in almost each case the various project Engineers all spoke my own native tongue better than I did myself.

On a recent training course in Malaysia two of the tutors spent the entire 2 weeks teaching the Physics of Air, and other equally riveting subjects, in plain English – despite being Spanish.

In short, I have understood and have been understood pretty much everywhere.

Until today.

A visit to Glasgow – sorry, “ Glisgae “ – left me verbally committing to things that I have simply no idea what was asked of me, and feeling like I was playing out a scene in an Irvine Welch novel.

Perhaps it may have been nerves, given that the last time I was in the city was the Summer of ’97 when I was forced to sleep rough outside Glasgow Central train station after losing my mates at an Oasis gig at Loch Lomond, and being forced to find my own way home. I can still recall being told ad nauseum by Rab C Nesbitt where I could buy the cheapest Tenants Super strength and battered Mars Bars even now. But that’s an anecdote for another time.

It was shortly after the meeting that it dawned on me that I should have contracted the services of a translator to accompany me to the meeting – somebody like Spainstruck’s Mo - to tag along. As a bonafide Translator, she would quite possibly have steered me away from committing to a massive discount on a project, or grinning inanely when asked by the security guard if I was carrying any combustible materials in my possession.

Being a devout Yorkshireman I often forget that some people are not blessed with being able to speak properly, however I find it embarrassing that in the last 12 months I have had more clearly understood conversations (in both English and Spanish) with foreign citizens, than I have with my own countrymen.

Then again, I recall Mo’s website only offers Spanish > English > Spanish Translation. I’m not sure where, or indeed if English > ‘Weedgie’ would feature.

Or further to that, to what extent to the Spanish have the same problem in making themselves understood with their fellow Spaniards from different regions ? Do Catalan – Galician translators even exist ?

”The English are not happy unless they are miserable, the Irish are not at Peace unless they are at War, and the Scots are not at home unless they are abroad” : George Orwell.

Comment on this Blog

 
Ok, Jock : Countryman / Fellow Islander / Neighbour... I take your point. Just a little tied up browing "Erudition" and "Perspicacity" in the old Thesaurus at the moment though...
Mr Grumpy - Thu, 25th Apr 2013
Re: "Conversations with my own countrymen." Is it not just a little embarrassing for a Yorkshire man of such erudition and perspicacity as your good self to be unaware that "Gleka izznae evin IN ingerlan' ?"
Jock Stein - Thu, 25th Apr 2013
Sorry, I apparently exceeded the limit... (P.S. I know a lot about the subject as I travelled the whole route in a coach (including over a 150 m high aqueduct with no railings on either side in the Toledo or Ciudad Real province, if I remember right) as interpreter for a group of English speaking Arabs from a variety of countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. etc.) (P.P.S. Please do not think I am advocating an overall dictatorship in any way at all. It just seems that certain issues of great importance and overall benefit to a country seem to get resolved (for the good of the whole rather than of the minor offshoots which democracy has to listen to) far more quickly. Unfortunately, so do the negative aspects!!
John Collighan - Sat, 30th Mar 2013
Mr. Grumpy: I fully agree. As another example of Regional Spanish cursedness, Franco and Salazar (their Ministries of course), after the due studies and reports had been made and drawn up , agreed to Spain taking 600 Hm a year of water from the Tajo (Tagus) and transferring it to the Segura, the reason being (from Spain’s point of view) that the Alicante/Murcia region, the garden of Spain, would benefit as agricultural exports from that region were/are absolutely vital to Spain's balance of payments and that was/is where a huge amount of export produce is grown. After Franco's death and the advent of democracy, every piddling little smallholder (plus large communities it must be said) then demanded he/they be given the right to take water from that trasvase. So...... John Collighan
John Collighan - Sat, 30th Mar 2013
John ; This a great example of why the EU is right NOT to include Spanish as one of the languages for the EU Unitary Patent. No sooner would this be the case, then the Basques ant Catalans etc... woul all petition for this to be extended to Regional languages !
Mr Grumpy - Sat, 30th Mar 2013
Yes, they certainly do up to the ridiculous extent that in the Upper House of the Spanish Parliament (Senate), they have simultaneous interpreters of Catalan, Galego and Basque costing millions of euros a year even though all the Senators also speak Castilian Spanish. Is it any wonder Spain is in the financial mess it is in nowadays? John Collighan
John Collighan - Fri, 29th Mar 2013
@'Sareb el Malo' - Very good point, especially about Murcia. But, much like deep country folk all over the world, their dialect can often be difficult to understand! Still, non the less, it's what makes language more interesting!!
Ed Bishop - Thu, 21st Mar 2013
I can hear your ears crushing with my "you hasn't", forgive me. The grammar of english language isn't so difficult (study german or russian languages, with declinations of adjectives and nouns; spanish and english only declinate pronouns). About translators, please, a man (or woman) from Extremadura is also an amazing set of lovely sounds to hear.
Sareb El Malo - Tue, 19th Mar 2013
Two great points of English language are: 1.- the spelling for the anglophones. A spanish professor of mine, when she was working at the University of Edinbourgh, was asked everyday about the spelling of every word with more than one syllable. 2.- the pronunciation for the rest of mankind. Like chinese, you can see the written word but, if you hasn't heard it before, you has no "pajolera" idea about how the word sounds. And about translators, try to understand a very countryman from Murcia.
Sareb El Malo - Sat, 16th Mar 2013

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