On the Formentor road, personnel have been there to tell drivers about the restrictions. | E.B.

There is a BBC podcast called Tailenders. It is possible that some of you may have heard those who participate in this cricket-based gathering - England’s all-time leading wicket taker, James Anderson, is one of them. They have compiled a brief list of words which they maintain are only used in connection with cricket.

Three of these words are bilateral, collaborative and inaugural. On the face of it, they are stretching a point to suggest that any of them are uncommon, but then I’m thinking of them as they are used in Spanish. They are common enough, but I have had cause to baulk at using at least one of them in translation. An inaugural address for fiestas, the inaugural session of parliament, the inaugural concert for a festival. Why not say opening or first instead? And the same goes for inauguration. Do all exhibitions automatically have to be inaugurated when they could simply be opened?

Bilateral crops up, as an example, when the Balearic and Spanish governments have to get round a table in order to thrash out some contentious Balearic legislation - contentious because it would be contrary to the Constitution. Bilateral commissions are set up, when really it’s not even necessary to mention bilateral. As there are two sides, it is obvious that talks are bilateral. In the same way, a test series between England and Australia needs absolutely no bilateral description.

Collaborative project, collaborative research; to collaborate on a project or research - I’m surprised that the Tailenders have drawn attention to collaborative. But wouldn’t have been had they mentioned collaborator. Here’s a word that in Spanish you will find, for instance, at the foot of promotional posters. “Our collaborators” - town halls, government ministries, Council of Mallorca, named businesses. They can all collaborate on an event, but when they’re referred to as collaborators, there is that uneasy sense of being conspirators. It’s quite difficult to avoid using, but if I can, then I do, and that’s because of its conspiratorial connotation.

The Tailenders could actually add a whole load of words from Spanish to English that are more obscure but used frequently in Spanish or have a sinister implication like collaborator. Let’s take informer or informant. The Spanish is ‘informador’, and it is regularly applied to personnel who are employed to pass on information to members of the public. So, there have been workers of this type on beaches, giving information about environment regulations. On the Formentor road, personnel have been there to tell drivers about the restrictions. During the pandemic, people were hired to inform the public about best social distancing and prevention practices. All ‘informadores’, but in no instances are these workers informing on anyone to the authorities. But to judge by translations to informer or informant, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

A word that is exactly the same in Spanish and English but which is heavily weighted towards Spanish in terms of usage is transversal. Governments in particular love a spot of transversal. Why? Because it indicates that different departments are working together (in a collaborative fashion) or because a given project or issue is of significant importance that it cuts across several departments. It certainly outdoes bilateral, that’s for sure, but in English it’s weird, as it’s most likely to be used for geometry.

Politicians also love some demagoguery; they regularly accuse opponents of it. Critics of political parties enjoy this as well. The president of the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation, Maria Frontera, has recently dabbled in some: “I believe that after what we experienced during a pandemic with zero tourism for many months, the demagoguery that surrounds tourismphobia does not add any value.” What does she mean? Populist observations about tourism, one has to conclude, and which are attached to tourismphobia, a word (’turismofobia’) of Spanish invention.

Our friends from Tailenders would be unlikely to list reform, as reform is inextricably linked to cricket and to its history of lawmaking. Reform the lbw law, reform the county championship. But would you reform Lord’s? Yes, if you were reforming the statutes of the MCC, but not when they gave the pavilion an eight-million pound refurb. Much though it is in fact a useful catch-all word taken from the Spanish, in English you do not reform a building, a kitchen, a bathroom or a park. There was once a headline - “Reformation of the Parc de la Mar”. The park may be close to the Cathedral, and while you could reform the Catholic Church, you couldn’t reform the Cathedral buildings or the park.

This is a sort of Spanglish, as is also the case with legislature. We’re going to get a lot of legislature because of the elections and constitution of new administrations. Which is fine, when one refers to the legislative body, e.g. parliament, but not to the period of office. Spanish means both; English doesn’t.
Anyway, we’ve now had the inaugural session of the new parliament. Will the PP and Vox be able to operate in a bilateral manner? Will other parties be collaborative? It’s doubtful that there will be parliamentary transversality. One of these days, they may reform it - parliament, that is.