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On a recent trip to Spain I photographed this cryptic sign in a parking garage of a museum in Valencia. Something was clearly lost in translation from Spanish into English: “The days of events, the closing time will be extended to half an hour after the ending of the same ones.” Show this sign to some of your students and ask them what they think the author was intending to say. What do the symbols mean and why are they included?

Since I don’t speak Spanish and I really wanted to know what the sign said, I asked my friend Anne McLean to help me. She said, “On days when there are special events,  the closing time of the building will be extended to half an hour after the events close.” And Anne would know…she’s no slouch, twice winning the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for her artful translations of Los ejércitos and Soldados de Salamina. She has also translated works by Julio Cortázar, Javier Cercas, Evelio Rosero, Juan Gabriel Vázquez, Ignacio Martínez de Pisón and Carmen Martín Gaite.

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