The ETA terrorist group has finally admitted responsibility for the Madrid airport bombings. However, they say they haven’t broken their ceasefire because they didn’t intend to kill anyone and, anyway, the fault lies with the Spanish government for putting obstacles in the way of the democratic process. I had thought Gerry Adams was advising ETA on the quiet but I now wonder. Even this master of sophistry never came up with anything like this disingenuous bilge. Of course, you have to have lost touch with reality to some extent to be a terrorist in a democracy but does ETA really think this will persuade anyone of the legitimacy of its cause? Perhaps our resident Basque, Aleksu, could tell us. Though he’s keeping an understandably low profile at the moment.
Talking of nonsense - I spoke last night to a group of teachers who are being compelled to submit their annual plan in Gallego, so being deprived of their right to do this in either of the region’s co-official languages. They’re all Gallego speakers and none of them is best pleased about this. But they’re all resigned to it and will simply use a translation program [http://sli.uvigo.es/tradutor] to take the pain out of what they see as an idiotic, politics-driven development. I’ve just used this to translate a quotation in today’s Voz de Galicia from a famous Galician writer - España é un país onde a xente está sempre de volto sen ter ido a ningures. It came back as España es un país donde la gente está siempre de vuelto sin haber ido la ningures. Which is fine except for the last 2 words. So now I’m left wondering whether the Voz de Galicia can’t spell ‘none’ in Gallego or whether it’s one of those words that are spelled in several ways in this language. I think this calls for help from my friend Lord Henry Wotton. Come in, Sir Henry. Or even Antonio.
The good news is that Spanish teachers, as elsewhere in the world, tend to be left of centre and the consensus was that the current socialist government would lose the next election if it didn’t soon start curbing the excesses of its coalition partner, the Galician Nationalist Party.
To put all of this in context, it’s been announced this week that a major Galician company is to make a significant investment in Portugal after the local government rejected it - not just once but four times - because a new fish farm wasn’t compatible with ecological considerations. So 140m euros of investment and 350 much-needed jobs have literally gone south. It’s hard to believe a local party can find an investment of this sort less important than having dolls that talk Gallego and a new Constitution containing a word resembling ‘nation’ but this is certainly the impression one gets. What’s really worrying is that, if they get further separated from reality, I guess there’s a risk they’ll end up as terrorists.
The linguistic theme continues to the end of this blog. . .
1. I’ve learned that the words ‘vermillion’ and “vermello/bermello/ vermelho/bermejo” all come down to us from the Latin word for ‘worms’. The reason is that the red colour was originally manufactured by crushing the little blighters. And then there is vermicelli, or ‘little worms’. And probably lots more.
2. The Galician winners of the January lottery came from a district in Ferrol called Inferniño. Or ‘Little Hell’ in Gallego. I put this into the translating program mentioned above and got the same spelling in Spanish. I venture to say, though, this means something like ‘hell-child’ in this case. But what do I know? Where are Lord Henry and Antonio when you need them?