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Back in 2008 when Heath Ledger died I heard the news on the morning radio. I knew someone was dead. I knew it was a film star. I could understand the biography but blow me if I could get the name. Then I recognised the Spanish title, En Terreno Vedado, as the equivalent of Brokeback Mountain. Deduction, my dear Watson, filled in the gaps.

There are pretty tight rules about how to say words in Spanish. There are variations of accents and what not but, basically, Spanish is a very phonetic language. Fine with Spanish words but a minefield for the foreign imports. I find Anglo names in Spanish mouths almost unrecognisable and words that Spaniards think are English but said with a Spanish lilt can be difficult too. This isn't much of a problem in speaking Spanish as I simply avoid the imported words and stick with the more old fashioned Spanish version. 

The real problem comes with English words used to describe a product - a US film with an English language title, almost anything in a burger joint, several brands of alcoholic beverage or branded clothes for example. There is sometimes just no way round. If you want a Whopper with cheese and that's what it says on the list then decisions have to be made. Do you go for a Spanish take on the pronunciation of Whopper or the English one and do you translate with cheese or leave it as it stands in English? 

It was a cheeseburger tonight. I tried my Spanish pronunciation. The young woman taking the order shrugged her shoulders, screwed up her face, said nothing and beckoned over a second server. The bilingual server didn't understand my English version either at first but we got there in the end. It was an unpleasant and uncomfortable exchange.


  1. Uóper con queso??
    Love both your blogs, and the header pic in the Culebrón one is absolutely perfect in quality and for the blog...


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