Thursday, July 30, 2009

Walking into town this morning, I concluded I’d been wrong to worry the ugly public works around the Alameda wouldn’t be finished by the start of the big Fiesta next week. For all the heavy machinery has gone, meaning we can now all ignore the fences and the barriers and once again take a short cut across the place. Later, though, I read in a local paper that the works have only been suspended so that the stalls and the fairground can be installed. So, todo bien que termina bien.

Taking said shortcut, I couldn’t help but notice that the “deaf and dumb” Rumanian girls are back in town, soliciting for their phoney charity organisation. I used to wonder how they could remain free to harass us but that was until I read that Spanish law doesn’t think that anyone 14 or under can commit a crime. But I still snitched to a local cop.

I feel duty-bound to give you some of the nice things George Borrow said about our local cities . . . . Of my own he wrote that “Pontevedra, on the whole, is certainly entitled to the appellation of a beautiful town, some of its public edifices, especially the convents, being such as are nowhere to be found but in Spain and Italy. . . . The whole country in the neighbourhood of Pontevedra is inconceivably delicious.” And of Vigo, he says “Well may the people of Pontevedra envy the natives of Vigo their bay, with which, in many respects, none other in the world can compare.” Later on, though, he talks of Galicia’s ‘localism’ being worse than anywhere else in Spain and is shocked by the antipathy shown by the residents of Santiago towards those of La Coruña because the latter had just taken over the role as capital of the region/country. He’d probably feel much the same now, watching the fight between Pontevedra and Vigo for pre-eminence in the province of Pontevedra. Or the arguments that take place over how each of our three tiny international airports are to be enlarged.

Getting close to Asturias, George gets the benefit of this comment from his Madrileño servant, Antonio:-“ I have nothing to say against the Asturians . . . they are not thieves, neither at home nor abroad and, though we must have our wits about us in their country, I have heard we may travel from one end of it to the other without the slightest fear of being either robbed or mistreated. Which is not the case in Galicia, where we were always in danger of having our throats cut.” But this rather points up the comment I made yesterday, viz. that things have improved immeasurably here in Galicia. For now we are only beaten by Navarra and – of course – Asturias when it comes to low levels of crime.

There is an expression which GB mentions several times, as being reassuringly quoted to him on numerous occasions . . . . No tengas usted cuidado. I’m only familiar with the positive version of Ten cuidado and I’m wondering whether the former was an 18/19th century equivalent of No te preocupes. And while I’m seeking advice from (sane) Galicians, here are a few Gallego (I guess) words I’d like to know the meaning of. It has to be said that George is not always reliable when it comes to spellings, so you may need to think around the word a bit . . .
Estadéa/estadiño – some sort of celestial spirit.
Duyo – the Devil?
Broa – type of bread?

And still on translation . . . Here’s how one paper today described Lily Allen’s body, scarcely concealing its astonishment that she could be the new face of Chanel:- Menudo y robusto. I take this to mean 'Small and stocky' but am wondering whether there’s a more diplomatic way of translating the Spanish.

Finally, on George . . . Here`s a telling local ditty he quotes, presumably having translated it himself:-
May the Lord God preserve us from evil birds three,
From all friars and curates and sparrows that be
For the sparrows eat up all the corn that we sow.
The friars drink down all the wine that we grow
While the curates have all the fair dames at their nod.
From these three evil curses, preserve us Lord God

And finally, finally . . . One of the local papers has praised the organisers of the lamb roasting event I attended in Moraña on Sunday. It suggests, though, that next year they might provide a guide on cutting up a lamb carcase. Given how many people saw their dinner ending up on the floor. I have to say that neither of mine did.


Midnight Golfer said...

*Once, after having spent a short time in Bilbao, we made a quick trip across the whole northern coast of Spain, and through Galicia, before returning back again to Madrid. I can't honestly say that I could separate my first impression of one province from that of all the others we saw, except maybe the "fjords" in Galicia. However, my first impression of that entire area of planet Earth was its natural landscap-ish, down-home, and perhaps even rustic-ness, that all the "little" places we visited seem to maintain. Despite not knowing anything about the crime statistics, it still did FEEL like some of the most harmless and kindest places I've been (still). Admittedly, this was my preconception going into to this experience, and we purposefully sought to travel, staying away from "down-town" areas and cities, but it was pleasant to have a positive prejudiced confirmed by real experience. I'm also glad to see that this is actually an improvement over past perceptions, no matter how biased.

*I've always been impressed how well some rhymes can be translated into English from other, even ancient, languages. Sadly, a lot is also at risk of being lost by doing this, but some ideas just seem to deserve to be put to rhyme or rhythm.
When I really first thought about different languages, and getting lost in translation, was when we were assigned to read portions of the Iliad and the Odyssey, in High School. It was from versions that had been translated into English, with rhyming. It was like someone had opened my eyes when the teacher somehow managed to get us to appreciate what that entailed. As is typical in California, almost all of us were also enrolled in Spanish classes, even the kids who spoke Spanish at home (which I never thought was quite fair, despite, or perhaps especially, because of the fact that some of their families had been there prior to California even becoming a state.)
The teacher used the example of translating a couple of lines of a simple poem from Spanish to English. That wasn't so hard, but when he said, "now make it rhyme like it did before," it was awe inspiring. And even more so now that I have come to realize just how difficult English is.
I've heard that some pairs of words in English only rhyme because they were originally the same word, or meant the same thing, back when the English was in its involved and complex formation; like scatter and shatter.

*I'm imagining eating roasted mutton on picnic plates with plastic cutlery. Is this how some ended up on the ground?

Midnight Golfer said...

Of course, still learning:
had to look up curate...'s_egg

Colin said...


Thanks for disproving the claim that all dialogue on the net is bilge.

Yes, the northern regions/kingdoms/countries have a certain scenic similarity. Though the architecture certainly differs as you move through them.

I suspect one of the reasons it's 'easy' to translate into English is that the vocabulary is so large it give one more rhyming possibilities.

Interesting point about scatter and shatter and the like.

Of course, the opposite is true - some words no longer rhyme in English. Wind and kind, for example. You have to go back to Chaucer or even Shakespeare for evidence that they did. "Blow, blow, thou winter wind/ Though art not so unkind/ As man's ingratitude."

The meat problems arose when the paterfamilias, I guess, tried to carve the carcase and lift the meat off it. Dropping much of it on the floor in the process.

Curate and el cura must have the same Latin root, I guess.

mike the trike said...

My grandmother pronounced "none" exactly the same as "known". So when you read the rhyme about Old mother hubbard.... bone - none rhymes.

ointe said...


s. f.

Procisom de fantasmas, visom fantástica e esquelética que imaginariamente percorre as aldeias, campos e lugares depois da meia-noite, e da qual se diz que é muito alta, branca e transparente, de olhos penetrantes e língua de fogo.

Sinóns. Antarujada, estadainha, estantiga.

s. f.

Estilha, pitelo.

Também podes experimentar a pesquisa avançada

s. f.

Pam de milho. Bolo de farinha milha com mel, azeite, etc.

Broa de mistura: quando tem uma mistura de outra farinha.

Broa escarolada: quando se esmigalha com facilidade por nom peneirar bem a farinha: Seica me queres comer a broa? Tu pensas que eu sou parvo? Nom me enganas.

A palavra digitada ('duyo') nom está registrada no Diciónario e-Estraviz, mas foram achadas as seguintes que podem ser do teu interesse:

Since galego has so many aceptions and even toponimic related meanings (about 1.300.000) "duyo" can be really a galician word (not a translation error, very common on Borrow)

I recommend you the "broa", a very dense kind of bread. Almost every Haley supermarket has it, and almost every galician bakery too.

Mr Borrow visited Galicia in the worst moment. If he had been on Galicia on 1809, for example, would have been very well received and , probably, had some more profound understanding of our people.

It´s not a surprise to find robbery on an ruined country.It was so in Spain even in his best moments (when it was an "empire") all over Castilla, Andalucía, Valencia, Asturias, sometimes Catalonia,etc. The situation for Galicia in all this time was that it has no privilege from the central power on Madrid. It´s large to say here what communities had the privilege of slavery commerce, conquest, reception of "goods" from L.A. etc. but the resume is that Galicia had none of this "privileges". Time to go.

Colin said...



I have no problem in agreeing with you re Galicia in the time of Borrow.

Colin said...


Sorry. Have just realised that should have been 'Gracinhas', as you are of the reintegrista school. Though apparently rather more reasonable than your colleague.

Though you even me a different facet of the same multiple-person. Who knows?

Midnight Golfer said...

@mike the trike
this made me think of rhyming and translation,
(and your grandmother)

My Fair Laddy

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