Friday, September 08, 2006

Taylor Woodrow / Language / Crime

Taylor Woodrow. A well-known name in the construction industry. They are building on what was the Garbi hole in Puerto Pollensa that caused so much amusement back in April. They have a slogan, an ungrammatical slogan. It is: “We build in Spain since 1958”.

Now, setting aside any attempt at possible post-modern grammatical irony, how can they come up with something so wrong? English grammar, and English language, is sometimes subject to flexible usage (for flexible, read wrong, as in the use of the present perfect by football managers, players and pundits - “He’s crossed the ball, and the boy’s put it in the back of the net” - when they should be using the past tense for a completed action).

Strictly speaking, the slogan should read: “We have been building in Spain since 1958”, i.e. the present perfect continuous to imply that they will be continuing to do so. Bit of a mouthful admittedly, so the abbreviated “Building in Spain since 1958” would be acceptable.

The answer to this lies - I assume - in that Spanish grammar has been applied. While there is a continuous usage in Spanish, the expression of actions begun in the past and continued in the present is done with the use of the present tense. Hence, literally in Spanish, it would read: “(Nosotros) edificamos (or construimos) en España desde 1958”. A twist here is that in one of the Spanish past tenses - there is more than one - “edificamos”/”construimos” is the same, so it could also read “we built”.

Either way, it isn’t correct. Maybe there is some attempt at irony here after all, or at least an attempt at being funny. Or maybe someone’s just ballsed up.

Well, what was I saying about crime? The Balearics has the third highest level of crime among regions of Spain. Now, much of this is as a consequence of the huge influx of people during the summer. The argument being made here is that Madrid needs to recognise that the all-year population (of around one million) is a red herring when it comes to the crime problems of summer. Hence, central government is being lobbied to provide greater funding for police and Guardia Civil.

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