One month on from the EU bailout and a new batch of 'reforms' (read: spending cuts) are currently being prepared in Madrid. For the common Spaniard, this has not felt like a 'rescue' package in the normal sense of the word (being pulled from freezing waters by a heroic helicopter crew, or the like). Rather, these continue to be testing times. It's not only making ends meet, but also trying to figure out what the politicians are actually doing -- and saying.
Early in June the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy became a trending topic on Twitter (#lodeayer) by referring to a foreign bailout as 'that of yesterday', which, all things considered, is probably not the most creative of euphemisms. Here are a few humble suggestions, employing my speech writing experience and doctorate in linguistics to produce the desired uplifting effect on the Spanish population.
Euphemisms for the bailout:
1) The Moon: This highly original euphemism draws from Spain's fabulous artistic heritage, thereby playing upon national strengths in times of depression. The Spanish version (La Luna) makes for a poetic and quite untouchable resonance, which is useful when explaining to your population that there is no other viable option but to accept it. It could well be the name of a painting by Picasso, Dali or Miró. You can stand looking at it for numerous hours without understanding a thing, contemplating instead the essential complicated beauty of the whole issue from various angles while putting on a serious expression and nodding as though you know what it means. It can therefore be employed to create a more abstract imagery of the whole financial crisis, and also leaves things perfectly 'up in the air' as to the future of the euro. If used well, it can give a whole new meaning to the phrase 'we're over the moon.'
2) The Lottery: This particular linguistic gem has already been touched upon by the Spanish socialist party PSEO, who warned the ruling Popular Party not to portray the bailout as having won the lottery. But when used cleverly, this euphemism can work well for the Prime Minister: finding a solution to appease the appetite of the markets may often seem something of a lottery, so it will lower expectations. Add to that the renowned Spanish fever for buying the Lotería de Navidad (Christmas Lottery), and you might just be onto something: For the considerable fee of 20 euros, you will likely win nothing, but it's all about the excitement of taking part. There are a few lucky winners who get very rich, but the rest just need to keep up their hopes until this time next year.
3) The Black Beast: Here's an interesting suggestion; Try reverse psychology to scare the living daylight out of the population. That way, when it turns out to be half as bad, popularity barometers will be shooting up in your favor. This particular one is borrowed from a sporting context, where La Bestia Negra is a bogey team. Quite fitting when you consider that Spain is struggling to pull out a shock victory against the betting of the speculators.
4) Big Momma: No, this is definitely not referring to Angela Merkel. Rather, it is a different tactical approach, looking to instill some much needed humor in the midst of an extremely serious population. And if you can laugh at your own follies, you're half-way towards some serious self-(social) criticism. If this euphemism doesn't help, you can always rent the movie Big Momma's House, switch off the depressing news and have a laugh in front of the TV for a change.
And here are some useful euphemisms for a few uncomfortable side-effects of the foreign bailout and the ongoing crisis:
1) Relocation to an Open-air Setting: Until now this highly common microcosmic family drama was known as eviction. The 'relocation' part keeps hopes high that you are to be moved someplace better. 'Open-air' does not sound so bad either in the summer months in Madrid. Like most flats, mine has no air-conditioning and is absolutely scorching in July and August. Nothing like a fresh breeze and a sparkling, star-filled sky with the beautiful La Luna to look up into.
2) Extended You-time: In our inherently selfish societies, we have been taught repeatedly that nothing is as important as YOU. You may be young, have a sparkling CV with a whole handful of fabulous studies and qualifications and work experience, but that does not guarantee you a job in Spain at the moment. This may be a good way therefore to paraphrase open-ended unemployment with little hope for improvement anytime soon.
3) Awareness Campaign against Hypochondriacs: There are quite a few out there, admittedly, who would take a medicine against anything. This euphemism justifies recent hikes in pharmacy prices -- a little tricky though when applied to pensioners who might just need their medications as the body begins to become more fragile from a certain age onwards. Like the young, though, the old can always rely on the traditionally close-knit family to bring them through.
4) Rapid Integration Project in Public Education: Can be abbreviated to the somewhat controversial RIP -- this could be utilized to label the crunching together of classes in public education as money taps are turned off and student per teacher ratios increase substantially. The logic being that the closer together your children are, the better integrated they will be in the fairer future society which we are all helping to build.