Monday, May 01, 2006

Amanece - ¿lo véis a la luz de la aurora?

This is the first line of the Spanish language version of the US national anthem, Star Spangled Banner. The little ditty, Nuestro Himno, has caused a bit of stir in the US with George the Younger declaring, "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English", which (though I disagree) is fair enough. But without seeing any irony whatsoever, he goes on to say, "and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English." Even the statement is grammatically incorrect (no points for spotting it). Heaven knows that he - who declared with confidence that, "more and more of our imports are coming from abroad" - would be precluded on his own basis of proficiency in English.

I have a bias to declare here, which is that I do not believe in borders. Anybody in the world should be free to go wherever their feet, via way of land, sea, and air, can carry them. So if Mexico wants to invade America, I suggest that a few million Mexicans just stroll across the border. The US Army at just under three million couldn't stop 20 million determined Mexicans from crossing the Rio Grande. After all, a few million college students have invaded Cancun over the years, without restriction.

So what is wrong with singing the Star Spangled Banner in a "foreign language"? Nothing. To be honest, I can't understand the fuss over the insistence on speaking English. The most widely spoken languages in the US are, Spanish, American, with English a distant third. Nope, "conversate" is not English by any stretch of the OED. And who is to dictate how the people express themselves? Even though the Spanish version is slightly modified to address the current immigration laws being passed, it is fairly true to the original. This is not the first time the US anthem has been given funky treatment, including Jimi Hendrix's famour Woodstock rendition, and all the various mutilations by popstars at Super Bowl tournaments. There have been Yiddish, German, and even an original Spanish language version translated in 1919, available on the US Government website!

If George Dubya sat down and thought for a second about what the immigrants were doing, he'd realise that they're actually being patriotic. They show their allegiance to Uncle Sam by translating the national song into a language that's theirs, claiming the sentiment for themselves. But short-sighted critics don't see it, they only see lowly brown skinned border hopping nannies, cooks, cleaners, and drivers, desecrating the Star Spangled Banner en una otra lengua.

Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, however, doesn't mind the anthem being sung in Spanish (and I hope not just because her name sounds like a Mexican dish, "would you like chicken or beef with your condoleeza, sir?") Good on you Condi, I might even support you Republican nomination for 2008.

Wyclef Jean (who btw is a genius), one of the greatest champions of world music, is involved in the Nuestro Himno project. After his Welcome to Haiti project, which had a song with TuFace Idibia on it, I'll be procuring Nuestro Himno, and I hope it tops the Billboard charts.

3 comments:

Miss YQ said...

I'm glad you commented on Georgie's antics as I was going to - he seems to be getting more stupid by the day. How on earth can you be upset because people of a different country are actually pledging allegiance to your country? Surely that's the ultimate compliment? Or am I from a different universe? LOL at Georgie's grammatical wonders - bloody illiterate!

Monef said...

Georgy, georgy.....he will never cease to amaze me!

Wyclef is the bees knees

Akin said...

Nkem,

Dubbiyew's response was so flippant, I was annoyed, but not surprised.

However, closer to home, imagine the Nigerian anthem in the 250 or so recognised languages.

I think the translation would not go beyond "Arise, O Compatriots" before the exercise falters, if that is still the anthem.

The simplicity of "Nigeria, we hail thee" begins to make sense.

So, should the Nigerian Anthem be rendered in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba to the exclusion the language of our erstwhile colonial masters?