Posted by paulrivas on:
I started using this as my everyday bag because I wanted to appear alarmist. Just because I can't be bothered to assemble a disaster kit that could save the lives of those closest to me doesn't mean I want to sit by idly while others make the same mistake. As I've said here before, I'm big on the idea of disaster preparedness.
At first, I didn't even notice this was a bilingual bag. But when I did, I feared the worse, and rightfully so. One quick look at the website reveals one accent error and three mis-capitalized words in the only prominent chunk of Spanish.
Good thing no local native Spanish-speakers will read it! People who need this crucial information in Spanish don't have the resources to sit around searching for it on the Internet anyway, so this particular Spanish hack job by the City of Goleta is really a victimless crime.
The thing about badly written Spanish is that it usually only bothers non-native speakers and snobs. A lot of native Spanish-speakers here can't spell stuff because they haven't had the benefit of 13 years of free public schooling. But there are two kinds of spelling errors: those that matter because they change meaning, and those that don't.
An example of the latter, which I came across as a California half-Mexican in Buenos Aires translating handwritten employee statements in an American pizza labor dispute, is the word manaller, a Spanish misspelling of the borrowed English word manager. To Spanish-speakers, manaller is a phonetically accurate spelling of an inaccurate pronunciation... but it's still wrong. After all, the offender must have worn a name tag that said MANAGER WITH A G, right? But it doesn't really matter, because either way we know there's a manager involved.
An example of a misspelling that could potentially matter quite a bit is one that changes the meaning of a phrase like "BYOB!" to a completely different phrase like "Beers on me!" Unfortunately, that's exactly what's happening with this Goleta disaster preparedness disaster announcing ¡Compré Su Equipo!
The goal here was ¡Compre su equipo!, which means "Buy your gear!" This would have been a pretty good approximation of the original English, and it doesn't have any nonsensical capitalization of letters. But the Goleta bag says, "I Bought Your Gear!", which just isn't true, not to mention sloppy.
I want to help local Spanish-speakers prepare for The Big One, but isn't carrying the bag enough? How long until a guy who can read Spanish comes up to me and asks for one of these free disaster kits I'm giving out?
Also, why not just say kit? Not only is kit in the official Spanish dictionary, but I hear it used all the time on Radio Bronco, a station popular with local Mexicans, where a woman called Celestina, operating out of a city she pronounces "Ohsnard", runs frequent ads offering anti-witchcraft services and el kit del amor.
Next time, Goleta, just say Salsipuedes and let the Mexicans fend for themselves! Or, pay the international going rate of $0.005/word for proofreading.
When are institutions going to learn that bad Spanish is worse than no Spanish?