Irony, redefined

Step aboard our storied time machine to revisit a linguistic scandal that shook the Balearic Islands last summer…

The regional government had recently introduced a controversial new education policy that would require public schools to make English the third main language of instruction, on similar footing with Catalan and Spanish. The policy was widely criticized as a veiled attempt to undermine Catalan-language education under the guise of promoting English.

Around the same time, a government body called the Balearic Nature Institute attracted some unwanted attention thanks to the English version of its website—a subpar machine translation that, to put it generously, did not live up to the government’s vision for trilingualism. Scores of Balearic place names had been translated inappropriately, and hilariously, into English: Maó became “Brick,” Torre de sa Gavina became “Tower of Seagull,” Sa Tanca Vella de Baix became “Him Old Farmhouse of Low,” and so on.

The good people of the Internet swiftly humiliated the Balearic government for its failure to practice what it preached, and the translation was soon taken down.

But the pinnacle of irony was yet to come.

A local newspaper, Ara Balears, characterized the removal of the offending translation as a social media coup:

Irony1

You could almost hear the high-fives echoing across the newsroom as Ara Balears smugly noted its own role in exposing the government’s linguistic double standard. But then, without so much as a full stop, the paper immediately ceded the editorial high ground:

Irony2

And just like that, order was restored.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Thanks once again to eagle-eyed tipster Tim Barton.

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