Friday, 11 January 2019

Better late than never! Translations and trains and architecture!

Today’s blog never got started properly as the day sort of slipped away. After I had finished the morning stuff - run, shower, breakfast, sort out wet hair, tidy up, read paper, and on and on - suddenly it was afternoon and my daughter turned up, ostensibly to sort out my phone but also to do a whole load of other stuff. And the phone is still not quite sorted. It’s all very well the younger generation saying that I really need a more up to date phone but, oh, the hassle involved in sorting it out!!! 

Anyway, here it is.

The linguist bit of me was highly amused to read that Brexit ministers paid EU £1.5m for translations of the Brexit white paper into other EU languages. Much embarrassment was caused as the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) was ridiculed for sending “clunky” translations. I wonder if they did that Spanish thing of finding someone, maybe a niece or a cousin, who knew a bit of each language and made use of them.

In the event, translation experts found numerous mistakes and irregularities in several translations, including the French, German, Croatian and Welsh language versions of Theresa May ’s Chequers plan. Mistakes in Croation I can understand. Who learns Croation at school? But why was it necessary to translate the document into Welsh? Surely there is no Welsh official who does not speak perfectly adequate English, maybe with a nice lilt but still perfectly good. I am once again astounded at such a waste of money in the name of political correctness!

While I am thinking about Wales, here is a link to an article about Harlech putting in a bid to be the place with the steepest street in the world. Apparently tourists come to look at it. People will look at the oddest things!

Phil sent me this link to Peter Hitchens’ blog, this time on the subject of Spain and the Spanish Civil War. Very interesting reading. I was struck by his comments on travelling on the Eurostar:

“ ... the scanning of luggage for Eurostar passengers seems daft and excessive.  It isn’t done on the Paris-Amsterdam Thalys (I am glad to say), or on any other cross-border express service that I know of even though there has been an actual terrorist incident on board that train. Spain insists on it for high-speed services, I know. But I think this is an understandable if excessive response to the massacres on trains in Madrid some years ago, which is Spain’s business.”

It is done on the station at Pontevedra, Galicia, and at the (relatively)new Urzáiz station in Vigo, presumably in preparation for the high speed trains that might one day use those stations. I am not sure about the Vigo end but the Pontevedra station luggage scanner closes down at around 9.30pm.

I can only assume that they consider that too late an hour for terrorists to strike!

Peter Hitchens also talked about Barcelona (he was more impressed than he expected to be Gaudi’s Familia Sagrada church) and voiced his opinion that the area north of the Plaza Catalunya has been ruined by modern architecture. I was reminded of recent visits to Manchester city centre where I see a huge amount of new high-rise building is going on. Now, I know that Manchester cannot really compare with Barcelona in terms of architecture but it does have some fine buildings and it has its own charm. However, I am concerned that Manchester’s older beautiful buildings are being dwarfed and overshadowed by these new giants.

It’s not often I find myself coming out with opinions that Prince Charles (and Peter Hitchens, I assume) might approve of.

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