Monday 2 May 2011

Flats for sale in Madrid for 90,000: “Chinese welcome”

Today has been a public holiday in Madrid so we went for a stroll around the neighbourhood. A simple little sign in the window of one of the local banks caught my attention. Take a look and maybe you’ll see why:

In Spanish the sign says that the bank has a stock of flats in various parts of Madrid for 90,000€. Okay, no big deal. We all know that, due to  really terrible lending policies by the banks and defaults by property companies, the banks are now owners of properties they find hard to sell.   The striking thing is that the sign is also given in Chinese. I’m guessing that’s what it says, as I don’t read Mandarin.
Here in our district many nations are represented: very few English (just as well, I hear you say), a large community of Peruvian origin, plus people from Russia, Poland, and, in larger numbers, from Rumania.
So, here’s the sign again:

My question is: why is the sign not in Russian, Polish, Rumanian, or even English? Why only Chinese? We all know that all the immigrant groups, yes even the awfully-bad-at-speaking-foreign-languages-English, manage to grasp Spanish and communicate effectively.
The Chinese community in Madrid have specialized in the retail bussines, opening corner shop convenience stores and clothes outlets where speaking with the local Spanish people is part of their routine. They are capable of reading signs in shop windows and in the bank window.
 So, I think that writing the sign in Chinese is not so much to communicate the information to the Chinese residents, but rather to say that they are welcome to come along and do business, to allay their fears that they would not be trusted or accepted by the local banks.
This is the first bilingual sign like this I have seen in my district. If it leads to more genuine integration of more persons into the community, so much the better.
I told you I saw this sign on a walk today. Here’s a photo of some beautiful roses, planted and cared for in a public space by gardeners who work for the local district administration.

Thanks to the gardeners, and the administration, for this and other actions which improve the neighbourhood for all of us, whatever language we speak.    

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