Courant En Español – Have Fun, Get Angry


By Bessy Reyna
A few days ago while reading I noticed the tab Courant en Español. The “Spanish” I found was so appalling that I decided to share some of the headlines with my Spanish-speaking friends.
Their reactions ranged from “This isn’t even Spanglish” to “Did you see the one today about Norwich? It’s to laugh and cry at the same time.” Others thought it was simply lack of respect and yet another way to humiliate the Latino community.
It’s hard to imagine that the Courant, the oldest continuously-published newspaper in the country, would think so little of its readers as to publish a poorly worded computer generated translation, without anyone verifying that the versions are grammatically correct. Or does the paper think that Latinos are going to be ever so grateful to have to guess the meaning of the news in Spanish?
It has been very hard for me to choose which one of these “translations” I consider more outrageous. Because of this, I am including some, so each of you can choose your favorite.
The July 12 posts brings these news “Este mujer Hartford acusado de apuñalar con el hombrepelador de patatas” which literally reads: “This woman Hartford Accused of stabbing the man with potato peeler.”
Most of the articles change gender in mid paragraph (Mama acusado de conducir borracho..” (instead of acusada and borracha) “Mujer Embarazada lesionado (instead of lesionada or verbs “Policia hacer arresto.” Instead of “Policia hace arrestos.”
Even the editorials are not excempt: “El nuevo aeropuerto de Connecticut Autoridad esta fuera de la puerta. Literal translation: “The new airport of Connecticut authority is outside the doors” What?
The “Odd” process to choose the Chief of Police, also editorialized, was translated as “Proceso de Odd por elegir un jefe de la policía” (It probably refers to the “unusual” process to select the chief but seems to imply that Odd is a name.)
I will stop now because I would like to give our readers an opportunity to discover the hidden vines climbing the trees of the so-called Spanish language, being offered to us by the Courant. (Use the comment section below for your favorite examples of funny or unusual translations from other publications.)
But before I close I have to share with you two of my favorite headlines:”El hombre florero Over Head Smashed novia, policía dice” Literal translation: “The man flower vase Over Head Smashed Girlfriend, police said” and, the one about “10 detenidos en el busto de la prostitución en Norwich” Literal translation: 10 arrested at the bust of prostitution in Norwich. Does that mean they were arrested while hanging-out by a bust honoring prostitution in Norwich?
Am I being too nasty? It must be so hard for the poor translator working 24-7 inside a computer program, to figure out that in Spanish, the “slang” word “bust” for “arrest” can mean either “women’s breast” or a “sculpture.”
Have fun. Get angry. I have certainly done enough of both.
(Bessy Reyna is an opinion columnist for whose views do not necessarily reflect those of this website. She is a former opinion columnist for the Hartford Courant and the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Center for the Book.)