MLA says ‘huh?’ to Texas government’s Spanish

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The Modern Language Association, which is holding its annual convention in Austin through Sunday, is not amused by the Texas government’s use of the Spanish language.

Excerpts from the Texas Penal Code, dealing with the carrying of weapons, are posted at various sites inside the convention hall, and the MLA’s “Convention Daily” had a headline Friday saying: “Spanish Errors in Texas Penal Code.”

The text of the correction from the MLA, which includes lots of Spanish scholars, says: “Attendees may have noticed the large signs in the convention center giving excerpts from the Texas penal code in English and Spanish. The Spanish wording contains several errors of spelling and grammar: for example, ‘licensia’ instead of ‘licencia,’ ‘no pueden’ instead of ‘no puede.’ We encourage those of you with expertise in Spanish to report the errors. … The MLA will write to the Texas government recommending corrections.”

While they’re at it, the language scholars might want to take issue with another sign in the convention center, this one dealing with the Spanish translation of a “Severe Weather Shelter Area.” In Spanish, it says, “Area de refugio en condiciones atmosféras rigurosas” — not a graceful translation, since it basically says “area of refuge for rigorous atmospheric conditions.” And “atmosféras” should be atmósferas.”


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