Tag Archives: Language

Bad Translation Fun: Menus

Bad Translation Fun Menu: Choritos to the Vapor, Chile

May I have Males to the Vapor ?

You don’t need to travel far outside your language zone to find well-meaning but often funny and even unfortunate translations. Signs, tourism information, and especially restaurant menus are often a great source of entertainment (as the Asian-oriented fun-with-language-gaffes site Engrish proves over and over again) , and Chile is no exception. Get your red-hot menu blunders here! Continue reading

Damned Diphthongs!

Vectorized version of Image:Cardinal vowel ton...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m coming up on 20 years in Chile, and I speak Spanish all day, every day. Sure, I still have an accent, but it rarely gets in the way—except when a diphthong is involved!

The dastardly diphthong is the sound produced when two vowels buddy up in the same syllable and get so tight they morph into a whole new vowel sound (sounds almost biological, doesn’t it?). Continue reading

Available on “All 5 Continents”

Image by Ssolbergj via Wikipedia

What do geography and translation have in common?
Here’s a hint: How many continents do YOU think there are? (Oh yes, a question can TOO be a hint!)

Not seeing it? OK, here goes. Both geography and translating have a cultural component. Still no “ah-hah!”? Let me back up then.

I do a lot of translating from Spanish to English and often stumble onto (or over) the claim that something is “disponible en todos los 5 continentes,” which very straight-forwardly (though perhaps somewhat non-sensically) translates to “available on all 5 continents.”

But Wait. Just. A. Minute! Whaddya mean all FIVE continents? Everyone knows there are SEVEN continents! Continue reading

Insider tips to Chile: Part I

What do you need to know to get your bearings in Chile? This is the first in a series of posts on the basics of getting acquainted with everyday aspects of life in Chile… in other words “Cachando Chile 101.”

Chilean FlagI don’t get a lot of visitors from “back home.”
I have to admit—we really aren’t kidding when we say that Chile is at the ends of the Earth! But I am very happy to report that my best friend from grad school, Kathleen Skoczen (now Chair of the Anthropology Dept at Southern Connecticut University) is here for research (and pleasure), and I’m doing my best to bring her up to speed on the do’s and don’t of getting around. It’s not the Spanish that will get her, but rather Chile’s particular quirks.

The following is something of a fast-track Intro to Chile, with some very basic yet vital information about how to get started in Chile, from the airport to your door to the street…

Continue reading

Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level: Travel e-book

Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level e-book

Click on the image to download a free copy of Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level (Nov 2010)

Steven Roll, of Travel Ojos, just released his first e-book: Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level, a collection of tales from 29 expats and travel writers on just about every imaginable aspect of life in Latin America, from food and drink, to life and love, to family and work and leisure, to getting things done and just hanging around, to  speaking (or trying to) to playing and dancing, and most of all, just enjoying this wonderful region, from Mexico to Patagonia. Continue reading

Language Play & Politics a la Chilensis

The Clinic, mina, puns, language**This post was “Freshly Pressed” on November 18, 2010.

Chile’s alternative  news weekly, The Clinic (firme al pueblo, por supuesto) is a master at attention-grabbing and deliciously irreverent headlines that require a very good understanding not only of Chilean Spanish, but of Chile’s current events. If you’re a foreigner here in Chile, make a point of regularly checking out the covers at your local newsstand—and give yourself a big pat on the back if you get the headlines—it’s a sure sign you’re making progress on your cultural and linguistic Chilensis.

English humor seems to be more language-based than Spanish is. A lot is based on puns, which aren’t very frequent in Spanish, but they do come up from time to time, and The Clinic is one of the best sources for finding them. I spotted this cover a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t resist a giggle. Continue reading

Viva Chile, Mierda! (It’s a good thing)

Yes, I know that Viva Chile, Mierda is an unlikely title for  a post about a country one loves, but it’s an expression that truly bears comment—especially since Chilean President Sebastián Piñera himself used it on camera recently when he announced that all 33 miners were alive and well 700 meters beneath the ground 17 days after the mine they are in collapsed.

Chilean Flag_tsunami_Constitucion ©M Snook T 2010

A Chilean flag hangs from the remains of a house in Constitución destroyed by the tsunami that followed the February 2010 earthquake

I’ve heard this expression a zillion times, but have to confess that I never really thought much about it, and certainly did not understand it until these past couple of weeks… Continue reading