There is only one option for air travel between San Rafael and BsAs, and that's a flight with Aerolineas Argentinas. As a non-resident required to leave the country every three months in order to extend your visa, you become very familiar with this escape route to international destinations. In time, you become accustomed to the quirks of Aerolineas travel - the frequent delays, last-minute schedule changes, the unexplained re-routing of your luggage via ground transport, even the junk food snack that's served in a ziplock bag on board. There are no movies available, but the in-flight magazine offers plenty of entertainment. Once you reach cruising altitude over the Pampas, it's a treat to read the Spanish to English translations offered in "Cielos".
The January 2011 issue included an article about cybertherapy, the recent practice of offering psychological counselling via the internet. The subject was serious, but the stilted, strange English text became a comedy of errors when I read the bold blue sidebar sentence shown here.
I had just stopped laughing when I came across this gem. Puzzled by the author's reference to fear of marijuana, I went back to the Spanish version and extracted the verb "optar." Not really a difficult verb to translate, given its English cognate.
Translators used to work with a pencil, an eraser, a sheet of paper, a dictionary and a brain. Today they use computer software programs that promise to instantly change text from one language to another while retaining meaning. What has been sacrificed in the race for innovative computer programs is the sensitivity of a human being who knows not only the rules, but the nuances of two languages, and can transpose those subtleties with grace, as well as accuracy. Like fine penmanship, it seems to be a lost art. Readers are left with copy so bizarre, that it becomes either a source of irritation or a joke.
Perhaps Aerolineas Argentinas is in the vanguard, introducing its passengers to a totally new language that I just haven't caught on to yet. Frequent fliers will no doubt adopt Aerospeak as their lingua franca in the very near future, so I'm practising basic phrases. The next time the ticket clerk asks about my preference for seating, I will confidently declare,
"On my trips going from strength to strength in Argentina of latex, I always pot for the window seat."