Let us go down, and there confound their language

Happy New Year!

Here’s a fun true story about NOT hiring a bilingual proof reader:

Many years ago, I got a job typesetting for a company that specialized in supermarket flyers. Several of our accounts were for flyers in Spanish. But, like good Orange County, Cali. gringos, they couldn’t be bothered to hire a bilingual proofreader. Came the new year, in giant HEADLINE type:

¡Feliz Ano Nuevo!

It SHOULD have been

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! (Happy New Year)

Instead, a hundred thousand SoCal customers were greeted with the joyous sentiment: Happy New Asshole!

We lost the account. In a New York Minute. We hired a proofreader fluent in Spanish AND English.

What a difference a la tilde de la eñe makes!

1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

— Genesis 11:1–9 “The Tower of Babel”

So, a bit of New Year’s advice: watch it!



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2 responses to “Let us go down, and there confound their language

  1. Porlock Junior

    Mussolini would love it in his campaign against Franklin DelANO Roosevelt, which was the Trumpoid name he applied to FDR after the President responded to Italy’s me-too(*) invasion of France by noting that the hand that held the dagger had plunged it into the back of its neighbor.

    (*) On no account to be confused with #MeToo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. Nicknames as continuous belittlement has always been a winning tactic in the smear game. Mussolini AND Hitler were both very media savvy for the time and it played a big part in their rise. Goebbels said “We won with the radio and the airplane.” And looked forward eagerly to television. Tiny Hands likes to use those nicknames.