Anus motion/Übersetzungsprobleme

Matthew Baldwin of The Morning News reports – or reported – that Spanish-speaking drivers have been getting out of drunk driving cases because of a deficiency in Spanish-language cards used by traffic cops:

bq. “But the defense somehow got a copy of the Spanish language card that the officer read from, and noticed that the little squiggle was missing from above an ‘n’ in the sentence: ‘¿Tiene veinteuno años?’ In English that literally translates to ‘Do you have 21 years?’—in other words, this was just a routine question to make sure the guy was an adult.

This sounds apocryphal, but I can’t trace it at Snopes. But parts sound convincing:

bq. “The best part is that the defense attorney can’t even bring himself to say the word ‘anus.’ Instead, he calls it ‘the back region.’ We’re going in front of a judge next week, and I’m going to make a point of saying the word ‘anus’ as many times as I can during the proceeding. I even got them to call the legal brief ‘The Anus Motion,’ so he won’t even be able to refer to it by title.

Here’s a warning for those interviewing and writing about Latinos.

(Via the Forensic Linguistics mailing list)

3 thoughts on “Anus motion/Übersetzungsprobleme

  1. In the City of London ‘Magic Circle’ law firm I was at, one legal secretary typed for the lack of funds obtained every year: ‘nothing received per anum’. Her typo appeared in the firm’s monthly broadsheet which advised her to go to hospital and have ‘nil per mouth’.

  2. sounds like a fairly feeble attempt to breathe new life into the oldest gag in the dictionary. if it was a genuine language card, it would have read “… veinte un años…”. it’s easy to drop a tilde (and there’s a movement in favour of dropping diacritics altogether), but including the final o in front of the noun is too unidiomatic to be anything but the invention of some lawyer who occasionally says hallo to the puerto rican maid

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