Saturday, April 29, 2006

National Anthem en Español

I just heard about this today. A music producer has put together a version of the "Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish. He brought together a bunch of musicians from several nationalities and did it like a "We Are the World" compilation. Part of the proceeds will go to the National Capital Immigration Coalition.

You can listen to some of "Nuestro Himno" here.

I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I think it's a fun idea. Most of the people who came to this country were not English speakers. I'd kind of like to see the National Anthem in many languages to represent the true cultural diversity of America. Not only Spanish, but also German, Arabic, French, Japanese, Zulu (or other African dialects), Norwegian (mostly for those around here) and on and on. And while there is an American Sign Language version for translators, I'd like to see a special version made especially for deaf culture. I've seen some beautiful poetry in Sign and I think someone could make a great version with those elements.

But back the the Spanish song: I was worried that it would have too many pop music influence and not be as "classic" sounding as a national anthem should. But I think they did a pretty good job. I'm not fluent in Spanish so I can't truly appreciate it, but it sounds good.

And I like that this song can be used as a language tool. I hear a lot of people saying that immigrants should be required to learn English. Well, okay, but how about giving them a hand? This could be helpful to those Spanish-speaking people trying to learn English.

What I thought was weird about the whole thing was that this project was started by a British producer. Why, of all people, would someone from England do this? People should be more angry about that then the Spanish translation.

There was one criticism of the song that I agreed with. There was a quote in the article I linked to at the beginning that was interesting:

A remix to be released in June will contain several lines in English that condemn U.S. immigration laws. Among them: "These kids have no parents, cause all of these mean laws ... let's not start a war with all these hard workers, they can't help where they were born."

Bryanna Bevens of Hanford, Calif., who writes for the immigration-focused Web magazine, said the remix particularly upset her.

"It's very whiny. If you want to say all those things, by all means, put them on your poster board, but don't put them on the national anthem," she said.
Political commentary and criticism is inappropriate for a national anthem. The song in its current form is fine.

Finally, I have a few points to make about the national reaction to this.

1.) President Bush's stance on the song is kind of funny. I remember him throwing several Spanish words into his past speeches because, I'm guessing, that he was trying to court the Hispanic vote. But I wonder if coming out against this song will have any backlash against him?

2.) Sen. Lamar Alexander wants to introduce a Senate resolution to give "senators an opportunity to remind the country why we sing our national anthem in English." What a tool. That really seems a bit much to me. It's fine that you don't like it, but don't try to harm a person's free speech rights just because you don't like something.

3.) The extremely negative national reaction strikes me as xenophobic and isolationist. Someone should tell them that a true American National Anthem would actually have to be in a Native American language, like Lakota Sioux, not English.


Big Speck said...

A friend directed me your way. If you want to see some of the very variations you spoke of take a look over here.

Sudiegirl said...

Thank you so much! I'm glad to read an opinion that follows mine. Bush used Spanish to gain votes; what's wrong with using Spanish to make those same people feel like they can effectively communicate their love for their new country in the language they're comfortable in at this time?

Also, I agree with native English speakers giving others a hand learning English. I find so often that people who are the first to say "these people are taking over" are the most reluctant to actually give a tinker's damn and help.

You rock! Thanks for writing about this...I wrote about it in my blog too if you care to read it. Thanks!