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Did the Washington Post Mistranslate Jeb Attacking Trump for "Barbarities?"
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Emergency all-staff meeting over how to respond to Trump’s “barbarities” at the Florida Campaign HQ of ¡Jeb!

Yesterday, a big headline in the Washington Post read:

Jeb Bush slams Donald Trump in Spanish over his ‘barbarities’

But something seems off about that headline. The word “barbarities” seems over-the-top, plus it makes Jeb seem effete, like a decadent Late Roman Empire princeling who can’t hold off the barbarians anymore the way his sterner ancestors could.

And maybe the word “barbarities” is self-defeating from the point of view of Jeb arguing that Trump can’t win: after all California voters twice elected governor another large blond businessman / performer, one who had become world famous playing a barbarian.

But here’s the thing: Jeb never said the English world “barbarities.” That’s just how the Washington Post chose to translate, literally, the word Jeb used in Spanish: “barbaridades.”

I don’t speak Spanish, so I can’t tell you if “barbarities” is an ideal translation, but I do know that there are a lot of similar words in English and Spanish with identical Greek or Latin roots that, over the centuries, developed slightly different connotations.

Commenter 5371 suggests a better translation for Bush’s complaints about Trump’s attacks on him than “barbarities” would be “absurdities.” The Miami Herald comes up with a third translation:

Bush told reporters at La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Little Havana * that he decided to hit Trump “because he attacks me every day with barbaridades” — atrocious insults.

Commenter Hubbard adds a fourth interpretation:

In Spanish, ¡Que barbaridad!, though it literally translates to “how barbaric,” usually means something along the lines of “lame, but what can you do?” For example, being stuck in traffic an extra 15 minutes or getting called for jury duty would be a ¡Que barbaridad! moment.

¡Jeb! was trying to call Trump lame in Spanish, but it looks like a misunderstanding of idioms made him sound like a flaming drama queen to English speakers.

So, it’s too bad for ¡Jeb! that the Washington Post’s weak command of Spanish made him sound like Heliogabalus complaining about uncouth Teutons, but it’s his own damn fault for campaigning for President of the United States in a foreign language.

And the more general point is that translation is hard and far from foolproof. Thus, campaigning in two languages, as ¡Jeb! has repeatedly chosen to do, inevitably reduces comprehension and increases misconceptions on the part of the voters, the media, and the candidates. Campaigning in multiple languages is not only divisive, it makes us more ignorant.

* By the way, while I realize that Jeb has $100 million worth of crack campaign consultants, so who am I to doubt their tactical genius? But was having Jeb launch his new offensive against the populist American Trump at “La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Little Havana” really the smartest possible use of symbolism?

 
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  1. It’s hard to imagine how the man could sound out a more cucky, anti-white signal.

  2. In Spanish, ¡Que barbaridad!, though it literally translates to “how barbaric,” usually means something along the lines of “lame, but what can you do?” For example, being stuck in traffic an extra 15 minutes or getting called for jury duty would be a ¡Que barbaridad! moment.

    ¡Jeb! was trying to call Trump lame in Spanish, but it looks like a misunderstanding of idioms made him sound like a flaming drama queen to English speakers.

    • Replies: @El Guapo

    ¡Jeb! was trying to call Trump lame in Spanish, but it looks like a misunderstanding of idioms made him sound like a flaming drama queen to English speakers.
     
    ¿Cheb? needs to throw out the first pitch at baseball game or just do something that makes him seem like anything but a tone-deaf alien running for President. Or maybe he should just get Old Man Bush and the CIA to make him Maximilian II of Mexico?
  3. “But was having Jeb launch his new offensive against the populist American Trump at “La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Little Havana” really the best possible use of symbolism?”

    jeb! & co. be proggtarded

  4. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Barbarian (like “devil”) has developed a secondary cartoon/comical sense in pop English of adventuring, partying hard, making your own rulez, etc. The last person I remember successfully deploying it for unironic effect was Giuliani a few days after 9/11. It is indeed fitting that your exploration of the polyglottal Bush clan and Eskimo/USGS terminology should dovetail around this word, since its etymological denotation is: people who don’t speak the Attic language (Greek). “Bar bar” was the Greeks’ open-mic-night impression of what Persians sound like when they’re talking; like all stereotypes, still hilariously true today

  5. I’m a native spanish speaker. Barbaridades is quite a common word in Spanish, originally it meant “things from the barbarians” but in common parlance it basically means “outrageous things”

    • Replies: @MC
    Agree that "outrageous" is the best translation. Just like "!Que barbaridad!" it covers both true outrages and sort of a "can you believe that?!" expression of fed-upness. In AZ, Mexicans mostly use it to complain about the heat.

    So Jeb just wanted to say that Trump says outrageous or outlandishly obnoxious things.

  6. Barbarities is a barbarism.

  7. • Replies: @newrouter
    no that is alinsky rule 13

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rules_for_Radicals
    , @Glossy
    That circular motif can be used for other candidates. Chris Christie's would be a donut and Lindsey Graham's would be an anus.
    , @Mr. Anon
    America needs a comb-over!
  8. Absurdities or nonsense would be a closer translation. Doesn’t it seem strange that our betters who are always chiding us on our need to accept and adapt to our brown future don’t make any effort to do so themselves?

  9. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Dubya sort of did a similar thing with his exaggerated Southern accent and cultural affectation. But that made more sense since a lot of GOP primary and general election voters would obviously take to that. The benefit to cost ratio was much higher: it would appeal to a lot more to likely GOP voters than it would alienate northern liberals who don’t vote GOP anyway. Jeb’s Spanish doesn’t have such a favorable ratio, so I’m not sure why he’s doing it.

  10. Creo que Jeb Bush es un hijo egoísta de puta que deben hablar Inglés como un político americano debería. Habla Inglés o salir de la carrera presidencial.

    What do we need to do to get through to this guy?

  11. I originally read it as barbiturates. If Trump is attacking Jeb! with barbiturates, it would explain the low energy.

    • Agree: The Z Blog
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
    They both should use strategiry.
  12. The most deplorable one [AKA "Fourth doorman of the apocalypse"] says:

    I think what he wanted to say is: “Trump has me so worried and these barbiturates I am taking for the anxiety make me stupid.”

  13. Can we translate it as “barbs”?

  14. Priss Factor [AKA "skiapolemistis"] says:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/09/images-don-change-europe-150902220504564.html

    Get a load of this Shariatzpah.

    ‘If these images don’t change Europe, what will?’

    The rich oil states are not exactly innocent in incubating and funding all the Muslim crazies in the region. Saudis and the Arab Emirates have all funded Sunni lunatics in their wars against Shia power.

    But they are now saying, ‘lookie at the poor poor Syrians. Why doesn’t EUROPE do something about it?’

    Damn Arabs.

  15. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    OT: this Taylor Swift brouhaha is cleaving the national psyche:

    https://ca.news.yahoo.com/director-hits-back-critics-taylor-swifts-african-video-181556500.html

    Lots of isteve-ish topics swirling here.

    She has great gams. Sometimes she looks sexy but, after close careful study of the VMA awards pics of her and her super-vixen mafia, mostly she looks cold. The other girls in those pics are hot sultry etc. Not Swift.

    • Replies: @flyingtiger
    Her coldness may be part of her sex appeal. If she was not a singer, she would be making big bucks as a dominatrix.
  16. Overhead at the latest Trump advisors inner-circle dinner meeting:
    “What is best in life?”
    “To crush the cuckservatives, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of the corporate media!”

    • Agree: Ozymandias
  17. It is hard to believe that people thought Dubya was stupid. Jeb makes his brother look like a political genius.

    • Replies: @tbraton
    TweedleDumb and TweedleDumber. Take your pick. And don't forget Neil, supposedly smarter than W or Jeb!!!, according to Bar. (Or should that be "Bar Bar"?)
  18. * By the way, while I realize that Jeb has $100 million worth of crack campaign consultants, so who am I to doubt their tactical genius. But was having Jeb launch his new offensive against the populist American Trump at “La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Little Havana” really the smartest possible use of symbolism?

    Whining about Trump in Spanish was just plain dumb.

  19. @Hubbard
    In Spanish, ¡Que barbaridad!, though it literally translates to "how barbaric," usually means something along the lines of "lame, but what can you do?" For example, being stuck in traffic an extra 15 minutes or getting called for jury duty would be a ¡Que barbaridad! moment.

    ¡Jeb! was trying to call Trump lame in Spanish, but it looks like a misunderstanding of idioms made him sound like a flaming drama queen to English speakers.

    ¡Jeb! was trying to call Trump lame in Spanish, but it looks like a misunderstanding of idioms made him sound like a flaming drama queen to English speakers.

    ¿Cheb? needs to throw out the first pitch at baseball game or just do something that makes him seem like anything but a tone-deaf alien running for President. Or maybe he should just get Old Man Bush and the CIA to make him Maximilian II of Mexico?

    • Replies: @wiseguy
    Maximilian Bush would be a nice nickname for Jeb.

    Too bad the reference is too obscure for it to catch on.
  20. The Jeb! campaign once again shows itself to be an unmitigated disaster. Speaking in Spanish could be the single dumbest thing Senor Jeb Arbusto have yet done. Defies understanding.

  21. that Jeb has $100 million worth of crack campaign consultants, so who am I

    They need to lay off the crack.

  22. @Anonym
    I originally read it as barbiturates. If Trump is attacking Jeb! with barbiturates, it would explain the low energy.

    They both should use strategiry.

  23. Priss Factor [AKA "skiapolemistis"] says:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3219186/Almost-200-Missouri-students-walk-class-protest-transgender-high-school-senior-allowed-use-girls-bathroom.html

    ROTFL. Look at the guy holding a placard: ‘Girls Rights Matter’

    I must say WWT is more fun than WWG. The thing about ‘gays’ is that, even though there are ridiculous flaming fruitkins, many homos can play respectable and fit right in. And some homos can even pass for straight. While some are tootsy-fruitsy, some talk and move like anyone else. So, WWG could at least come across as respectable. And in a crass materialist nation like the US, the fact that homos came to be associated with glitz, power, privilege, Hollywood, entertainment, fashion, money, and etc. made them admired by Americans who dream of fame and fortune.

    In contrast, WWT cannot help but look ridiculous. These guys in women’s dresses and long hair are too funny. It’s hard to keep a straight face looking at this pansy silliness.

    Also, it causes problems. While homo men just wanna be with other homo men, these trannies violate the territories of women, and that means even getting in crosshairs with feminists, especially militant and separatist lesbians.
    Feminists could just see homo men as allies, but trannies not only pose as allies(which would be welcome) but demand to be welcomed as fellow ‘sisters’, thereby threatening the very idea of what it means to be an angry feminist. Feminists(especially lesbians) see men as the enemy, but there are these trannies(who are men) who insist on being ‘sisters’.

    Anyway, give an inch to lunacy, and there is no end.

    When America gave an inch to homos and made believe that a homo anus is just as legit a sex organ as a woman’s vagina, it was bound to lead to more and more idiocy, finally culminating in ‘gay marriage’.

    As for this tranny business, who knows where it will lead. Pentagon got rid of ban on trannies. Who would have thought Jamie Farr on M*A*S*H was really ahead of his time?

    PS. If there should be no sexual limits or sexual-limitation on serving in the military, why is there an age limit?

    If even a woman can serve if she passes the physical, why should it be denied to older men? I’ll bet most 50 yr old men will do better in physical exams than most women aged 20.

    Age-ism!!! Evil, I tell you.

  24. @Jim Don Bob
    It is hard to believe that people thought Dubya was stupid. Jeb makes his brother look like a political genius.

    TweedleDumb and TweedleDumber. Take your pick. And don’t forget Neil, supposedly smarter than W or Jeb!!!, according to Bar. (Or should that be “Bar Bar”?)

  25. Poor Jeb. You’d think with $100 million to play with he could buy a clue.

  26. The GOP has gotten so bad that the candidates don’t even move right for the primaries. Its like the entire focus of all of them is to appeal directly to the donor class and no one else.

    • Agree: Marat, Brutusale
    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
    "The GOP has gotten so bad that the candidates don’t even move right for the primaries. Its like the entire focus of all of them is to appeal directly to the donor class and no one else."

    The donor-class is the real constituency of the GOP, and the GOP has become shamelessly obvious about their bought-and-paid-for-status. They are the rent boys of people like the Kochs, and Adelson, and Singer.
    , @rod1963
    Agree

    They've given up all pretense of representing anyone but their donors.

    We're living in the age of sham Democracy that is really single party regime.

    The elites better hope that the masses don't wake up and get pissed about the situation.
  27. @Glossy

    That circular motif can be used for other candidates. Chris Christie’s would be a donut and Lindsey Graham’s would be an anus.

  28. Just campaigning in Spanish is a disqualification, full stop. As if I needed another reason to resist a third Bush presidency.

    The same applies to Rubio. I’d frankly be more comfortable with him if he was like the (fictional) Nestor Camacho, who didn’t have fluent Spanish and regarded it as the language of his parents and his Abuelas. Rubio strikes me as exactly the guy who would tell you one thing in English and another thing in Spanish. No thanks.

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    Just campaigning in Spanish is a disqualification, full stop. As if I needed another reason to resist a third Bush presidency.
     
    Yreka! You hit the snail on the head!
    , @Chrisnonymous
    cuckold = el cornudo
    conservative = el conservador

    ergo...

    ¡Jeb! and Rubio = ¡el cornservadores!

    ??
  29. Hubbard is right that ¡Qué barbaridad! has an idiomatic meaning of “how awful!” “how barbaric!” “what barbarity!” or “how unfortunate!” I would not say “lame” though, the phrase more describes an unfortunate situation, or an unkind act, not the character of a person. You might say ¡Qué barbaridad! in response to a friend telling you her boyfriend dumped her.

    Aside from this very common use barbaridad is not used all that often, and in educated speech, outside this one phrase, barbarity is an accurate translation.

    A distant second most popular use is the way Jeb used it, and which most precisely might be translated as “vitriol” or “calumny,” but barbarity is a perfectly accurate translation.

  30. anon • Disclaimer says:

    Regarding your footnote–

    Damn, Sailer, offering too much good advice to Jeb campaign. Almost seems as if you are angling for a bespoke consultant gig. Like a position offering criticism from an opposition POV.

    Not that I completely blame you, what with that kind of money slushing around and only a remote probability that it turns the tide. But are you sure they could offer you anything without your name potentially becoming part of the public record?

  31. @El Guapo

    ¡Jeb! was trying to call Trump lame in Spanish, but it looks like a misunderstanding of idioms made him sound like a flaming drama queen to English speakers.
     
    ¿Cheb? needs to throw out the first pitch at baseball game or just do something that makes him seem like anything but a tone-deaf alien running for President. Or maybe he should just get Old Man Bush and the CIA to make him Maximilian II of Mexico?

    Maximilian Bush would be a nice nickname for Jeb.

    Too bad the reference is too obscure for it to catch on.

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson
    True, but maybe "Maximoron Bush" would have more traction?
  32. @Chris Anderson
    Just campaigning in Spanish is a disqualification, full stop. As if I needed another reason to resist a third Bush presidency.

    The same applies to Rubio. I'd frankly be more comfortable with him if he was like the (fictional) Nestor Camacho, who didn't have fluent Spanish and regarded it as the language of his parents and his Abuelas. Rubio strikes me as exactly the guy who would tell you one thing in English and another thing in Spanish. No thanks.

    Just campaigning in Spanish is a disqualification, full stop. As if I needed another reason to resist a third Bush presidency.

    Yreka! You hit the snail on the head!

  33. @wiseguy
    Maximilian Bush would be a nice nickname for Jeb.

    Too bad the reference is too obscure for it to catch on.

    True, but maybe “Maximoron Bush” would have more traction?

  34. @andy
    I'm a native spanish speaker. Barbaridades is quite a common word in Spanish, originally it meant "things from the barbarians" but in common parlance it basically means "outrageous things"

    Agree that “outrageous” is the best translation. Just like “!Que barbaridad!” it covers both true outrages and sort of a “can you believe that?!” expression of fed-upness. In AZ, Mexicans mostly use it to complain about the heat.

    So Jeb just wanted to say that Trump says outrageous or outlandishly obnoxious things.

  35. @Ben H
    The GOP has gotten so bad that the candidates don't even move right for the primaries. Its like the entire focus of all of them is to appeal directly to the donor class and no one else.

    “The GOP has gotten so bad that the candidates don’t even move right for the primaries. Its like the entire focus of all of them is to appeal directly to the donor class and no one else.”

    The donor-class is the real constituency of the GOP, and the GOP has become shamelessly obvious about their bought-and-paid-for-status. They are the rent boys of people like the Kochs, and Adelson, and Singer.

  36. @Anonymous
    OT: this Taylor Swift brouhaha is cleaving the national psyche:

    https://ca.news.yahoo.com/director-hits-back-critics-taylor-swifts-african-video-181556500.html

    Lots of isteve-ish topics swirling here.

    She has great gams. Sometimes she looks sexy but, after close careful study of the VMA awards pics of her and her super-vixen mafia, mostly she looks cold. The other girls in those pics are hot sultry etc. Not Swift.

    Her coldness may be part of her sex appeal. If she was not a singer, she would be making big bucks as a dominatrix.

  37. @Ben H
    The GOP has gotten so bad that the candidates don't even move right for the primaries. Its like the entire focus of all of them is to appeal directly to the donor class and no one else.

    Agree

    They’ve given up all pretense of representing anyone but their donors.

    We’re living in the age of sham Democracy that is really single party regime.

    The elites better hope that the masses don’t wake up and get pissed about the situation.

  38. Bush told reporters at La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Little Havana * that he decided to hit Trump “because he attacks me every day with barbaridades” — atrocious insults.

    That would make sense… “barbaridades,” as in English “barbs.”

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Good point.
    , @David
    Different roots. But brave and bravo come from barbaridad so Jeb is onto something.
  39. @Chris Anderson
    Just campaigning in Spanish is a disqualification, full stop. As if I needed another reason to resist a third Bush presidency.

    The same applies to Rubio. I'd frankly be more comfortable with him if he was like the (fictional) Nestor Camacho, who didn't have fluent Spanish and regarded it as the language of his parents and his Abuelas. Rubio strikes me as exactly the guy who would tell you one thing in English and another thing in Spanish. No thanks.

    cuckold = el cornudo
    conservative = el conservador

    ergo…

    ¡Jeb! and Rubio = ¡el cornservadores!

    ??

  40. @Chrisnonymous

    Bush told reporters at La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Little Havana * that he decided to hit Trump “because he attacks me every day with barbaridades” — atrocious insults.
     
    That would make sense... "barbaridades," as in English "barbs."

    Good point.

  41. Does the latest fail of the Bush League remind anyone of Nero? He’s flabby and out of shape, probably nuts and of course hated by the people. Granted probably unable to play the lyre or is it liar? At least not as effectively and fluently as Granny from the Washington Hillbillies.
    Maybe if this whole political career doesn’t pan out, he can put on a dress like that wheaties guy who lost his oats when he was taken over by the Cardassians? He could be Cuckold Barbie. “Political Math is HARD!”

  42. @Chrisnonymous

    Bush told reporters at La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Little Havana * that he decided to hit Trump “because he attacks me every day with barbaridades” — atrocious insults.
     
    That would make sense... "barbaridades," as in English "barbs."

    Different roots. But brave and bravo come from barbaridad so Jeb is onto something.

  43. I think the closest English equivalent would be “outrageous” or “atrocious”. An “atrocity” retains its original meaning of “war crime” but you can say that the weather was atrocious, the food was an outrage, etc. – using exaggeration for effect.

  44. Jeb! still sounds like a member of Pablo’s gang in For Whom the Bell Tolls.

  45. Does it translate as “barb”? Isn’t that just Jebito calling for mommy?

  46. Yeb said immigration was an act of love, but now I’m wondering if he wasn’t just lusting after them in his heart.

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