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 »  Articles Overview  »  Miscellaneous  »  Governmentspeak


By Gary Smith | Published  01/3/2008 | Miscellaneous | Recommendation:
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Gary Smith
español a inglés translator
Miembro desde Dec 16, 2007
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A brief guide to Spanish vocabulary in Valencia

Though many words have a direct translation, you may find that a different culture’s perception of that word is very different! Here are some examples.

Queue (V. (U.K))- Hacer cola

On entering a shop in Valencia, Spain, you may be perplexed at first to see several people milling about apparently aimlessly. In fact, these people are in “the queue”, an amorphous mass only recognisable when the shop assistant calls out “¿Quién va?” (“Who’s next?”), or a new customer walks in shouting “El último?” (“Who’s last?”). (If the last customer is your good self, say so now or lose your place.)
Incidentally, if you’re a real fan of queueing, try popping into any government-run building to while away the hours.

Breakfast – El desayuno

The word breakfast comes from the meaning of “to break the fast” after several hours in bed without eating. In Spanish the sense is the same: “des-ayuno”. When asked what they have for breakfast, most Spanish will generally reply: “Very little, maybe a coffee and a biscuit.” This is completely untrue and may lead you to wonder how they survive till lunchtime (2.00pm or later). To find the answer, stroll into any bar just after 11.00am. You will find it packed out with workers tucking into omelette sandwiches and beers. But this isn’t breakfast. Ah no, this is the “almuerzo”, which doesn’t count.
If the bar is near a government building, you may find this elevenses/brunch lasts till around 12.30 as civil servants take a hard-earned break. While you’re in their “queue”.
Remember also that dinner/supper (“la cena”) is usually a large meal and can easily be as late as 11.00pm at the weekend, to set you up nicely to go dancing.

3. The Valencian Kiss (“El besito”)

This does not refer to romance, but to parking cars. What are bumpers/fenders for, if not to bump your way “gently” into a tight space, “kissing” the other cars as you snuggle into place? One friend calls it "parking by ear".
Another phenomenon peculiar to Valencia is a method for double-parking (“aparcar en doble fila”). Once, when new to this city, I was crossing the road between parked cars (when in Rome, or Valencia...) when the car next to me began to move towards me – with no driver! I let out a startled yelp on seeing this ghost car, upon which a grinning man’s head popped up behind it saying “Lo siento!” Only then did I realize that double-parking is generally accepted in Valencia if you leave the handbrake off and in neutral gear for people to push your car out of the way.

La Marcha

This word has several meanings, but here I’m no longer referring to the cars’ gears. I first discovered Spaniards’ taste for noisy partying (“la marcha”) in England, long ago. As a student I used to frequent a quiet pub some evenings, only to find that if two or three Spanish people gathered there it sounded rather more like a wild west frontier saloon.
Shouting competitions are among the most popular Spanish T.V and radio programmes, otherwise known as “debates” or “chat shows”. (The men usually win these, having louder voices and less qualms about interrupting.) Don’t miss “Tómbola” on local Valencian T.V, and you’ll forgive us expats our sunshine when you see what our taxes are being spent on.
By the way, if your neighbour has a party till 6 a.m this is not considered uncivil, as you may do the same next week. In Valencia, land of Hydrogen-bomb fireworks, it is not your right to silence which is respected but your right to make noise.
That said, if it weren’t for those gregarious Spaniards in a Mancunian pub I probably wouldn’t be here today, writing this on a sunny beach. So, don’t be put off when a Valencian starts shouting at you. They’re just being friendly.

To finish off, here’s a light-hearted glossary of civil servant jargon in Spain, and I imagine many countries, which I wrote up after translating a 20,000-word government document which could have been written in 5,000. If you’ve ever had a boss like Dilbert’s, or worked with civil servants or lawyers, this will no doubt sound familiar to you:

Glosario para funcionarios

Antes – Con anterioridad/antelación.
Anual – Con periodicidad de doce meses.
Así – De tal manera / Con tal efecto.
Baja – Vacaciones.
Casa – Lugar habitual de residencia.
Cola – Lugar habitual de atención al público.
Dar – Otorgar
De – Procedente de
Desde- A partir de la fecha de
Después - Posteriormente
Durante- Tiempo que se mide entre la fecha de comienzo hasta que se hace efectiva la fecha de terminación
En – En el plazo de
Es – Consiste en
Está - Se encuentra ubicada
[email protected] - Miembro calificado del personal de estado cuyo objetivo principal se encuentra entre varias vertientes de las cuales se puede apreciar ..etc etc. etc.
Galimatías – Organigrama.
Hacer – Llevar a cabo la realización de determinada acción
Hay - Existen
Hoy – El día de hoy
Informar – Meter en alguna página web por algún lao.
Jeroglífico – Información especialmente elaborada con el fin de orientar.
Kilómetro – Distancia mínima entre oficinas que reparten los papeles necesarios.
Largo – Plazo establecido (Dícese de tiempo)
Mañana – Fecha indeterminada
No lo sé – No me encuentro en disposición de la totalidad de la información necesaria para efectuar con exactitud la respuesta deseada. Vuelva usted mañana.
Olvidar – Extraviar
Para – Con el objetivo de
Parar – Cesar continuidad.
Perder (detrás del archivador en la pared con manchas de café y migas de
donut, volviéndose amarillento) - Extraviar
Que te den – Vuelva usted mañana
Repetir –Efectuar los mismos trámites hechos con anterioridad (si es tan amable)
Según – De conformidad con
Seleccionado (mediante sorteo o/y riguroso proceso) – Enchufao
Si - En caso de que
Trabajo – Pendiente de definición
Tú – Usted
Usar – Hacer usufructo de / Utilizar
Usted – Tú
Varón – Tío
Wachindón – Capital de los Estados Unidos, deletreada por un funcionario (caso real).
X – A marcar todas las casillas así, aunque no se sabe qué quiere decir “otorgar permiso para experimentos médicos involuntarios”
Y – En conjunción con
Zanzíbar – Ubicación de la oficina de reclamaciones.
Zurcir - Atender

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