Undoubtedly when I speak Catalan (or on the very rare occasion, Castilian) I’m sure I say all kinds of things that make people think, “Uh, I’m sure he didn’t mean that…” And I accept this, just as I accept other people speaking English with me who make mistakes. It happens and second languages ain’t easy. Then of course you come to Spain’s politicians.
Over the weekend, Madrid, for the fourth time got shut the fuck down in its Summer Olympics bid. It’s probably for the better as this country has no money and seeming more like a provincial capital than a national one, Madrid isn’t the kind of city to set the stage for a world event. This was only further evidenced when the mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella and the president of Spain’s Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco were dragged, kicking and screaming in to the Anglophone world.
Once everyone woke up on Monday and was finished gazing in the mirror at their summer tans and mobile phone shots of Swedes they’d hooked up with in August, Ana’s cafe con leche comment is the bit that drew the most ridicule of their “show de perros y pony”. This is largely in part due to her speech (make sure to watch it without the Castilian overdub) sounding like Gloria on Modern Family and not like the mayor of a supposedly international city trying to host the 2020 Olympics. And, this was probably with a week’s worth of language coaching beforehand. That and of course she, like the rest of her party, are dreadful human beings.
But for me, the linguistic money shot was definitely Alejandro’s. I don’t think it’s getting as much attention as it should given that you need to understand how both English and Castilian work. He didn’t fully hear a question on a panel and said in English, “no listen the ask” which in Castilian is “no escuchar la preguntar”. He directly translated the Castilian in a wickedly moronic way given that “escuchar” is both “to hear” and “to listen” and “preguntar” is “to ask” or “to question”. He rolled the dice in a 50/50 idiomatic split and came up snake eyes.
Again, making mistakes in another language is completely forgivable, but you’d think that the president of a country’s Olympic Committee might do a little better than this. Of course, this is the national level of Spain and to quote Drunk History, it doesn’t get any better than this.