Saturday, June 26, 2010

History and Humour


Many who visit Guarda, a city close to the Portuguese-Spanish border, will come away impressed by its history as one of many cities and small towns in the Altas Beiras which harboured Jewish communities for centuries and also, sadly, persecuted them when the Spanish Inquisition eventually crossed the border.

They might also be impressed by its Gothic, Manueline, and Renaissance architecture, elements of which can all be found

in the cathedral
which hulks above the

old city's warren of narrow streets

Or perhaps they would be drawn to the ruins which signal the city's economic history of the 20th century

or find themselves entranced by small wonders such as this phoenix-like lantern-holder


or impressed by the thickness of its historic walls, curious about the labour that erected them.

They might drive away regretting the limited luggage space that prevented them from carrying home such pretties as these soaps daintily packaged and artfully displayed in a window (Miss Cavendish, I know, I know, how could I? . . . I admit I'm re-thinking my whole carry-on approach, strictly on the basis of these lovelies)
But very few will be so puerile as to leave this honourable old city laughing their, let's be polite and say heads off at this menu (where we in fact enjoyed a very filling and tasty lunch) whose English translation was represented as follows

Do look closely at the second item from the bottom of the non-fish meats, above. I compared it to the French translation to realize that the pointed element in question is not, thank goodness, what had us in convulsions, but rather was an attempt to signal a brochette. So no matter how often you may have thought a certain prick in your circle deserved to be laid on the coals, that doesn't really happen here. But the anxieties surrounding certain body parts certainly sharpens the effect of the humour here, and my man can still summon tears today if I remind him what was on the ementa at Guarda.
Now tell me, did this live up to its billing as funniest mis-translation ever? Or can you top me? And by the way, this might be a good time to mention that I do read and appreciate all of your comments as they're forwarded to my e-mail. I'm trying to limit internet time here in deference to what's materially present, rather than virtually, so I'm not always answering comments as I usually do. But I'm v. pleased to see them -- thank you!