Monday, February 23, 2015

Galician justice; Spanish labour; Spanish surnames; Correct handles; Marketing; Stripping; Junking; Chessing; & Burning

Here in Galicia, the regional government (the Xunta) is reducing the resources of the judge who's presiding over our largest corruption case. Again, one wonders why. And the phrase 'cat-skimming' leaps to mind. Not to mention the word 'blatant'.

I read a while ago that, before El Crisis, labour costs here in Spain where 50% more than in the USA. I never cited this as it sounded untrue. But yesterday I read that "In Spain, unit labour costs have come down from their absurdly inflated highs in 2007, when Spanish workers were effectively being paid three times as much as Germans per unit of output." My guess is that this speaks far more of low productivity than of high wages per se.

As most readers will know, the Spanish have 2 surnames - one from each parent. Simplification, it isn't, especially as it means kids will have different surnames from each of their parents. But, anyway, it happens that you can inherit the same name from each parent, as in Bill Smith Smith. It also happens that you inherit a double-barrelled name from one of your parents - as in Bill Addington-Smith Smith. Or two different double barrelled names - as in Bill Addington-Smith Brown-Smith. And it even happens that you inherit the same double barrelled name from each parent - as in Bill Addington-Smith Addington-Smith. Don't believe it? My neighbour's name is Jacobo García-Durán García-Durán. In practice he only uses one of the names, albeit twice. So he goes by the abbreviation of Jacobo Durán Durán. Yes, Duran Duran . . . I kid you not. What's in an accent?

You'll know that we don't call actresses 'actresses' any more; everyone's an 'actor'. And I see this morning that Joan Rivers wasn't a comedienne but a comedian. Even as an avowed feminist, I can't say I really understand this change. Presumably it's a function of political correctness. Which is not all wrong.

Talking of words . . . Reading a 19th century English novel last week, I noted that 'marketing' was used instead of 'shopping'. I've heard 'marketing' used frequently in the USA but this usage seems to have completely died out in the last 100 years in the UK. Very few there would know what an American visitor meant, if (s)he were to say: "Let's go do the marketing".

Still on words . . . The most common translation of 'striptease' in Spain is streptease. This is something else I don't understand, especially as (most of) the English pronunciation is retained (estrepteez). But at least it's not as bad as turning 'pub' into paf. For which no one has ever been able to give me an explanaton.

Down at Pontevedra's Sunday flea market yesterday, more than 50% of the wares were being sold from blankets on the ground and fitted the description 'jipsy junk'. Numbers were down on normal but this could have been because of the rain. If this floor-level growth continues, the normal traders will surely jack it in and the market will die. Of course, it's never been a real antique market but it's been a lot better than a junkyard. It'll be a shame to see it go and I'll miss my Sunday stroll around the tables. And the very occasional purchase of something which a seaman has brought home from the Far East.

For my friend Phil, here's an old joke I saw yesterday: Never play chess with a pigeon; it knocks over the pieces, craps on the board and struts around claiming it's won.

Finally . . . Despite the rain, the phoney funeral cortege and the real immolation of Ravachol took place last night. I missed the former and arrived late for the latter. Just in time to see the parrot's body disappearing and his head awaiting the flames . . . 

By the way . . .  I've (re)discovered that here in my barrio of Poio, it's not the usual sardine which is burned but a chicken. This is probably a play on the word pollo (chicken), which is pronounced, these days, the same way as Poio. Which is why I tell people I live in Chickenland. To their obvious consternation.

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