Publishing Matters: Near Miss with the Lavatory (!)

So there I was last week ready to send my latest mini-picture book to the printer when our translator Victor Reyes said not so fast. The story (“Mailman Joe”) is a story in verse featuring 55 English / Spanish cognates such as train / tren, energy / energía, etc. In what I thought was the story’s clever conclusion, I had used the cognates lavatory and “lavatorio.” In my scholarly Spanish / English dictionaries, after all, it said “lavatorio” really did mean “lavatory.” But Victor lent some CULTURAL perspective by pointing out that in Mexico, about the only you’d hear the word “lavatorio” would be in church, where a “lavatorio” is what they call the bath where Jesus washed his apostles’ feet before the Last Supper (!) Since around 70% of Spanish speakers in the U.S. are said to be of Mexican descent, I chose not to present “lavatorio” as a cognate, though I kept the word “lavatory” in the English text.

Gracias, Victor, for saving me from going to print with a false cognate (amigo falso)!
The booklet “Mailman Joe” with illustrations by Judy Love will come out next month. Here’s a picture of the cover: