Saturday, December 15, 2007

In a local casa rural this week, I came across two booklets giving Gallego translations for those travellers whose languages are, in one case, Catalan and Basque and, in the other, French and German. But nothing for us English and Spanish speakers. Perhaps there’s a third booklet covering these. Has anyone seen it? Can anyone find evidence for it on the Xunta’s web page? I can’t.

Truly there is no limit when you want your language to be ‘normalised’. In other words, advanced at the expense of Spanish. In parliament this week, the President of the Galician Nationalist Party demanded that Madrid pay heed to some EU decree or other and ensure we in Galicia can watch TV programs in Gallego’s sister language, Portuguese. As there’s an election coming up, the Prime Minister gave a non-committal but sympathetic response. He then tweaked the beard of the President of the PP party – who happens to hail from Pontevedra – by claiming that, although from León, he was a better Galician than the leader of the opposition. What fun. Another three months of this nonsense, with the BNG attempting to show us just what influential power-brokers they now are in Madrid.

Stimulated by a BBC podcast on the Sassanian empire, I’ve tossed a coin to decide whether I should prioritise my language learning in favour of Gallego or my rusty Farsi. My nationalist friends will be disappointed to hear that Farsi won. So I won’t be normalised for a while yet. I leave you with a few things you might not know about Iran and its people:-
Modern Iran is ancient Persia
Iranian/Persian/Farsi in not Arabic
Iranians are not Arabs but Aryans
Thanks to Islamic invasions in the 8th century, Farsi uses the Arabic script but it is not exactly the same
Iranians are not at all fond of Arabs and get very upset at being confused with them
Iranians are mostly Shiite Moslems, whereas Arabs are very predominantly Sunni – another reason for mutual enmity
Even after defeat in the battles against the Greeks that we all now know about thanks to Hollywood, there was a massive Persian empire through the early centuries of the Christian era which stretched from Iraq in the west through Afghanistan in the east. It soundly defeated the armies of the Roman empire on a number of occasions.
There was a monotheist religion – Zoroastrianism – in Persia many centuries before Christ appeared in the Middle East
In view of their magnificent history and literature, Iranians react badly to being treated as illiterate goatherds. It can be very annoying, I guess, to lose a vast empire, go into decline and then have the rest of the world look down on you in its ignorance.

That’s enough for today. Except to tell you there's a good joke that ends with the line - It all goes to show you must never go for a Shiite when the train is standing in a station.


zz said...

Hello Mr. Davies,

You are right,there are a booklet with galician-spanish-english version.
If you need some help to get this guide please visit Pontevedra tourism office at Gral. Gutiérrez Mellado,1,Bajo, or call 986850814.

And, of course, some galicians are interested in other cultures, like Farsi, so I grateful you yours snippets about it.

Colin said...


Many thanks for taking the trouble to get this information for me. I know the Tourist office well and will visit it tomorrow.

Moscawhich said...

I'm in combative mood today after reading the notesfromspain blog. Great success over there - 214 comments! Colin, I have heard of the Sassanid empire, but unfortunately, never heard about the sassassian empire. I've recently been to China. Reminded me of Spain: lively streets, a lot of bars and eateries everywhere, a lot of smoking, the Chinese are very loud 'conversationalists', feisty women. Perhaps, apart from the "Middle Eastern" influence there is some chinese influence in Spain as well - or viceversa.

Colin said...

Yes, I saw your comment over at Notes from Madrid. At least, I assumed it was yours, from Moscow.

Funny thing is, I checked the spelling of Sassassian and am sure I sure a Wikipedia entry, though I never read it. But here are a few refs.

Actually, Wikipedia does of course have data, using the spelling Sassanian

I'd better correct my spelling .....

Colin said...

Actually, as the Persians traded with India and China, they probably took eastwards the same Middle Eastern cultural aspects that also came westwards. This would explain why China is like Spain . . . .

I now eagerly await the angry comments of those Spanish readers who don't appreciate this is a joke. If it really is . . .

moscawhich said...

Since we seem to be at it...I've also noticed that the Chinese attitude to the environment has something Spanish about it.....I think it's Tom Hollander in his excellent book "Persian Fire" who states that the Persian culture was intrinsically nomadic, and it never quite lost that quality. For details read the book. I have also read "Blood of the Islands" by Robert - or is it John Sykes? Many answers to questions on ancient connections between Spain and Britain, celtic culture, ethnicity, and so on.

Colin said...

Thanks for those recommendations. Will certainly take them up as I am about to place a shipping order with Amazon.

We Brits are proud to be mongrels and don't much care - if at all - were everyone came from. We [largely] lack the nationalist tendencies which bedevil Spain. Why, only last night the English voted for the Scottish candidate in The X Factor final in preference to their own candidate,whom they'd previously voted off. The other candidate was Welsh, and should have won. I wondered whether Spanish viewers would have voted off someone from, say, Valladolid, leaving only a Basque and Catalan pair to battle it out. I imagine not. Though the cases, of course, are not exactly similar.