Una victoria de mierda
Sim Aberson wrote (from Miami) a couple of days ago to report that
There has been a controversy in the
Miami Herald opinion page about the decision to print a translation of
Hugo Chavez's reaction to losing in his bid to amend the Venezuelan
The problem is that the paper translated Chávez's Spanish
profanities into (roughly) corresponding English profanities. The story
Chávez reacts to loss with
President Hugo Chávez harshly dismissed his defeat Sunday as
Posted on Thu, Dec. 06, 2007
BY PHIL GUNSON
Special to The Miami Herald
CARACAS -- A defiant President Hugo Chávez Wednesday repeatedly
used a harsh expletive to describe his opponents' victory in a crucial
vote Sunday, and suggested that if he had not conceded he might even
Chávez's comments came as the president's supporters and foes
traded bitter accusations over the vote, which narrowly defeated his
proposals for radical changes to the Venezuelan constitution.
... Claims by some in the opposition that the final tally was the
result of a deal made under pressure from elements within the military
provoked a furious attack on the opposition Wednesday during a joint
news conference by Chávez and the high command.
"You should administer your victory properly, but already you are
covering it in shit. It's a shitty victory, and our -- call it, defeat
-- is one of courage, of valor, of dignity . . . We haven't moved a
millimeter and we won't.''
Chávez used the expletive twice more during the conference.
As we've pointed out many times on Language Log, some publications that
would generally not print taboo vocabulary from its writers will allow
it in quotations when it seems to reveal something about the speaker's
character or style. This is just the bilingual version of
that policy. Chávez's wording is first characterized as
"profanity" and "a harsh expletive", and then the mierda
hits the fan, as English shit
. ("A shitty victory" is
the paper's translation of "una victoria de mierda", which is
translated as "a victory of shit" in most English sources.)
The BBC News version
Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December
2007, 10:56 GMT
Chavez belittles opposition win
Mr Chavez insisted he would push on with reform plans
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has lashed out at his opponents and
vowed to pursue plans for constitutional reform despite his referendum
Speaking on state television, Mr Chavez used offensive language to heap
scorn on the opposition's surprise victory.
Mr Chavez also denied reports he had been pressured by the military to
accept defeat in Sunday's vote.
Venezuelans voted 51% to 49% against the proposals, which included
ending presidential term limits.
When he first acknowledged defeat, Mr Chavez had adopted a calm and
measured tone, accepting the outcome as a "decision the people have
But on Wednesday, speaking at a televised news conference alongside
armed forces chiefs, he decried the opposition's success as "a shit
First, the characterization as "offensive language", then a translation
of "una victoria de mierda" as "a shit victory".
No doubt some other publications quoted Chávez as having said
"shit". But most seem to have avoided the taboo word. Of
these, perhaps the oddest
is the Washington Post
where "mierda" is alluded to as "a four-letter expletive" (not actually
quoted in the report, in either Spanish or English):
Chávez Turns Bitter Over His
Defeat in Referendum
Foes of Amending Charter Have 'Nothing to Celebrate'
By Juan Forero
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 6, 2007
BOGOTA, Colombia, Dec. 5 -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on
Wednesday used a four-letter expletive to dismiss the opposition
victory in Sunday's referendum and pledged to press forward with plans
to approve constitutional changes that would expand his power in one of
the world's leading oil producing-countries.
You can catch various recordings of the speech on YouTube, for instance
Meanwhile, the New York Times
the Chávez expletive's YouTube career, without (of
course) mentioning the word:
December 6, 2007, 4:22 pm
Venezuelan Leader Climbing YouTube Again
By MIKE NIZZA
The King of Spain achieved momentary Internet stardom when his tirade
at President Hugo Chávez hit YouTube. During the clip, Mr.
Chavez seemed to hold his fire, but he did anything but that in another
one is climbing the video site's charts today with 90,000 views so far.
During a news conference covered by The New York Times today, Mr.
Chávez unleashed the same expletive four times when the subject
of his recent election loss came up. Based on a translation from
Spanish from The Miami Herald, he appears to dismiss the opposition's
victory as unworthy and suggests that he regrets conceding -- to put it
A final note: several commentators have pointed out that Venezuelan
offensive than English shit
Here's what Daniel -- clearly no fan of Chávez -- on his Venezuela News and Views
(after quoting yet another expression alluding to, but
"using a derogatory term for feces"
Posted by Arnold Zwicky at December 28, 2007 12:41 PM
If there was one thing that Chavez might had achieved Sunday night was
to get back the democratic label sticker on his forehead when kicking
and screaming he at least recognized that he had lost. Today an ill
wind brought back his inner fascist.
The video below shows toward the end the moment when he called the
opposition victory of Sunday "mierda", shit, feces, but much harsher.
See, in the US you can, for example, forget your presentation at home
and when you reach work a loud "shit!" is allowed and understood as you
have 45 minutes left to race back home and get your presentation before
your clients arrive. It also works pretty much the same way in France
with "merde!". But in Venezuela it does not work. "Mierda" is a very
strong word ...