EL PAÍS, sábado 14 febrero

16 February 2009

Reading El País, Saturday edition, 14th February

El mundo es un pañuelo.

The world is a handkerchief? What does this mean? Why does the back page columnist use it as his first sentence? It may be an expression, but I can’t imagine its meaning, not even from context. The declaration is too blank, too absolute – taken as a given.

It reminds me of the first & last sentences of Erik Fosnes Hansen’s Tales of Protection (I looked for the originals in Norwegian, couldn’t find them) – “Life is a bird.” Eventually, he elaborates:

Life is a bird. And you are the branch that sways back and forth.

Actor de doblaje. Constatino Romano, still unwell; but his condition improves.

Who is Constatino Romano? “Como actor de doblaje, está considerado uno de los profesionales más prestigiosos. Es la voz de Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger en la trilogía de Terminator, y Roger Moore.”

Dubbed movies & television are omnipresent in Spain (& one of the reasons why English pedagogy is more difficult than in northern Europe). Spaniards speak with pride of their actores de doblaje as the best in the world, particularly during the 70s. I distinctly remember an Almodóvar film (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios [Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown]?) where the principal action took place in a dubbing studio.

Imagine a world where Roger Moore and Clint Eastwood speak with the same voice.

Spanish friends tell me that when they get pirated DVDs from South America they’re distracted because all of the voices of the actors have changed; different dubbing studios.

Multilingual films are whitewashed beyond recognition; in Babel, even the Mexican voices (I’ve been told) are dubbed over with Spanish accents. In Vicky Christina Barcelona, Penelope Cruz speaks in Spanish over her own voice speaking in English; it goes from a bilingual movie to a monolingual one, & Javier Bardem shouting, “English! Speak English!” loses . . . everything.

A list of all English loanwords used, in italics, in the 14 February El País:

blog – chat – dixie – establishment – ferry – glamour – golden boy – hippy – kosher – lobby [as in lobbyist] – lounge – marines – mass media – marketing – merchandising – performer – online – resort – rhythm and blues – road movies – rock and roll – singular food [culinary movement] – spa – stand [as in booth] – vintage

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5 Responses to “EL PAÍS, sábado 14 febrero”

  1. ritah Says:

    let’s see…
    I’m proud of
    “rhythm and blues” and “rock and roll”.

    Otherwise…well, modern English is becoming a rather vapid language, don’t you think?

  2. Jim Sligh Says:

    Oh, I don’t know. I love English – it’s motley & irregular & full of nonliteral turns of phrase & crammed with invented words & anything worth saying can be said a hundred different ways.

    This doesn’t show us what English is; it shows us what about English is found worthwhile enough to steal – words for digitality, consumer products, expensive travel options, pop music, military intervention, aesthetics, buying & selling.

    Vapid culture, maybe. But the above is postmodern capitalism in a nutshell, right? (Rock & roll included).

  3. Rita Says:

    Don’t get me wrong, Jim. Clearly I love English too. We both have undergraduate degrees in reading and writing… it would be ludicrous if I didn’t love the language.

    All I’m saying is that that’s a tragic little cross-section of culture to transcend out of a language, and I’m afraid it’s a terribly accurate picture of our culture.

    Therefore, amendment to my statement: Modern Americans are perceived to be a rather vapid people, don’t you think?

    You and your precision and your argumentativity.

    I AM curious about “dixie.” Context?

  4. Jim Sligh Says:

    Oh, yes.

    “Dixie” isn’t as interesting as you’d like, unfortunately. There was a travel article about Memphis that was loaded with italicized loanwords – which made me think, self-reflectively, about what some of my posts must look like. From this comes dixie, merchandising, road movies, rhythm and blues, and at least one other that I didn’t include, because it was a phrase.

    The author used it, italicized in English, to sum up the US: Buy or Die.


  5. […] took notes again this week on the English loanwords italicized & used – this being the Sunday edition, I thought […]


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