April 30, 2006

George Bush Lectures on the English Language

George Bush has declared that the National Anthem ought to be sung in English (only, it seems), and that legal and illegal immigrants need to learn to speak English. He is upset with a Spanish-language variation (not a version) of our nation's song that is spreading among the Hispanic community protesting new immigration restrictions.

A great irony, if there ever was one, Bush never misses a chance to use his halting Spanish to speak to an Hispanic audience. So it is even more of an irony that he, our most illiterate and inarticulate President ever, who butchers his own "native tongue" is lecturing people on not speaking their native tongues, in a country where English, most certainly, was, originally, not the native tongue. Of course, Bush is as unaware of history as he is of the rules of grammar.

There are still large numbers of Vietnamese, Cubans, Cambodians, Russians, Armenians, Chinese, Koreans, and other nationalities and ethnic groups who do not yet speak English. For decades and, in some cases, for generations, there were Germans, Italians, and Poles who did not speak English after emigrating here. This is part and parcel of our heritage and history, and what has made us such a wonderfully strong mixture of peoples.

It was impossible to find anywhere on the internet (this morning) any full translation of the lyrics in question. The best I could find of this "variation" of the National Anthem, in Spanish, goes like this:

Verse 1

Oh say can you see, a la luz de la aurora/Lo que tanto aclamamos la noche al caer? Sus estrellas, sus franjas flotaban ayer/En el fiero combate en senal de victoria,/Fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertada,/Por la noche decian: "Se va defendiendo!"

Coro: Oh, decid! Despliega aun su hermosura estrellada,/Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada?

Chant:

It's time to make a difference the kids, men and the women/Let's stand for our beliefs, let's stand for our vision/What about the children los ninos como P-Star

These kids have no parents, cause all of these mean laws.

See this can't happen, not only about the Latins.

Asians, blacks and whites and all they do is adding

more and more, let's not start a war

with all these hard workers,

they can't help where they were born.

Verse 2

Sus estrellas, sus franjas, la libertad, somos iguales

Somos hermanos, es nuestro himno.

En el fiero combate en senal de victoria,/Fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertada,/Por la noche decian: "Se va defendiendo!"

Coro: Oh, decid! Despliega aun su hermosura estrellada,/Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada?


All the howls of protest from the Right about this song are not surprising. What is somewhat funny about the whole thing is that our National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, is, perhaps, the most jingoistic national anthem on the planet, and was based on an English drinking song, To Anacreon in Heaven.

It is remarkable how brittle some people are about their patriotic self-image that they cannot tolerate an alternate interpretation of a song, really a pop version, that is being used by hundreds of thousands of Spanish-speakers as an expression of respect for a country they admire and in which they have dedicated their lives to doing our scut work with the hope for a better future.

4 comments:

jayvos said...

Yeah, I'd heard about this on the news yesterday. GWB is so hypocritical. The Bushies always remind people that Jeb's spouse is Hispanic, too... to show that they connect in some way to Hispanics. What a lot of BS.

Language changes constantly...people adapt and borrow. No way to escape it.

Dicky Neely said...

Buenos dias amigos! No creo que es muy importante que lengua a cantar un cancion o himno. Que es importante es el espiritu y el corazon!
Y tambien Senor Bush no habla Espanol bien, ni Ingles tampoco!
Ay Chihuahua!

thepoetryman said...

Nice write up... I find it funny that people think our anthem is a bit of culture? For a land of free people we don't think too freely.

Kvatch said...

A great irony, if there ever was one, Bush never misses a chance to use his halting Spanish to speak to an Hispanic audience.

And what gets me is his accent...it' so bad! I've always felt that when you speak another language you should do the culture the courtesy of at least trying to get the inflection and the accent correct. So you screw up the words, so what!