Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Water Not Holy Enough For Swine Flu

The Spanish Catholic Church has shown a disappointing lack of faith in its own propaganda recently. The faithful who came to Toledo last weekend to pay homage to La Virgen del Sagrario were advised not to follow the traditional customs of kissing the Virgin's medal or drinking the "agua de la Virgen" from communal containers. Why the Virgin should have a medal is a mystery to me, presumably it's awarded for good behaviour. Anyway, the reason for the advice was the risk of passing on swine flu. This is more than a little ironic when you consider that the water from the holy well has long been claimed to have curative powers! Meanwhile, poor Madrid bumps along in mid-table in the international swine flu league with a miserable 700 cases a week. Although we're still in the pretemporada.


ejh said...

Talking of the pretemporada can somebody explain to me why the TVE commentator last night saw fit to refer to Arsenal's opponents, more than once, as "los católicos de Glasgow"?

Graeme said...

Probably for similar reasons to the guy on La Sexta who shouts "Humphrey Bogart" every time Xavi touches the ball. Still it's better than John Motson who once famously referred to the team "that I suppose we have to start calling Real Tharagotha" as if pronouncing a foreign name almost correctly was an insult to the profession.

ejh said...

The guy on La Sexta - I assume you know he's actually a basketball commentator - usually causes me to switch over the TV3 and watch the same match in a langauge of which I know nothing.

I actually assume that the TVE commentator somehow thought the word Celtic was related to Catholic, a mistake easy to make if you know a litle (ref: Alexander Pope) about Celtic's history and traditions. But it's still quite wrong for more than one reason.

Talking of Zaragoza, I sent an unanswered message to the author of this piece (mostly subscribers-only, sorry) about his use of the term Saragossa, partly because in the body of the piece he chides Fraser for lack of attention to French sources and writes:

the references throughout to 'Josef' Bonaparte suggest what might be a lack of comfort with the French language

which I thought ironic given that his own use of the French word for Zaragoza suggested to me that the same is true of him, regarding Spanish.

I do know, by the way, that the French word was used in English until relatively recently (Thomas uses it, for instance) and it would be interesting to know when and why that changed, but certainly by the time Motty was complaining - and I think his gripe was at the requirement to say Th rather than Z, not Th rather than S - it had happened long since.

Personally, I can't get anybody to understand me when I say "Reus", which is bothersome.

Tom said...

As far as I know, Saragossa is the older name for the city. There are two reasons to suspect that this is true: 1 - it's in Aragon, where the lingua franca would have been Aragonese & Catalan a few hundred years ago, and 2 - its Arabic name was 'Saraqusta'.

Saragossa is certainly the correct name in Catalan and French, and most probably in English too (like Seville for Sevilla). I think it sounds much nicer as I've never really liked the 'th' sound for 'z's in Castilian Spanish.

ejh said...

Oh, it would suit me fine too, but the point I'm making is that it seems to me that normal English usage is Zaragoza, and has been for some time. So in the LRB piece, I think it should have been rendered as such and that failure to do this (or indicate why not) suggests Bell wasn't familiar with contemporary usage - and perhaps that he's more familiar with French than Spanish.

But it also interests me because it seems quite possible that normal practice has changed, and as I say, that leads me to wonder why and when that should have happened.

leftbanker said...

Maybe they should switch to holy bleach instead of holy water, at least until science gets a grip on the gripe.