Friday, August 31, 2012

The American "Dream"

Do you ever think about a different version of the American dream? One that involves being asleep or daydreaming rather than being awake? Let me explain.

For those of you who know me a little bit, you know that I was fortunate enough to spend a whole semester in Spain in 2010. I had dreamed of seeing the sights, strolling the streets, eating incredible foods and speaking Spanish like I was fluent in it since I was sixteen. When I was there, the first two-four weeks were rough, but they were still like a dream to me. I was hearing Spanish and all sorts of other languages on all of the streets I walked on and in all of the places I passed by. It was incredible. I have also ironically been dreaming in Spanish since I was fifteen or sixteen but when I was living in Spain, I could probably count on one hand how many times I spoke in Spanish in a dream. I think, that for the first time in my life, my dream was my reality and my subconscious was really pleased with me. :)

Turn the tables for a minute here: Imagine someone from Spain, who had dreamed of going to the USA (any city would do) and finally realized that dream by studying abroad or immigrating here. Do you think they dreamed of walking the streets, going to our restaurants, watching our movies and TV in the original English the same way I did about being in Spain? I think it's true! I do have friends over there and in Mexico who have told me a lot of things they wish they could do, see or try in the USA. But for me, I've done all of those things at least one or maybe even a dozen times! Life here is not exactly that special for me, well, because it's my home country.

Have you ever thought about how people from other countries (whether they are first or third world countries) dream to be in the place you live or lead the life you live?

No Interruptions

*I wrote this a little while ago after a comment I had posted (about a different story) was read on the air a couple weeks back! Nothing like hearing your own words spoken over national public radio, eh?*

A restaurant in LA is giving their customers a 5% discount for not using their cell phone during their meal. With the amount of time people spend on their cell or smart phones, taking a little break might seem like asking too much, but is it?

I heard this story on a show on NPR called Marketplace. It talks all about consumer behavior, the American/world economies, current issues, international relations and more. As an Economics major, I am in heaven when I listen to this show. They also produce a weekend show called "Marketplace Money" that gives very useful, well-researched tips to listeners about personal finance - in a fun and modern way! I think a lot of people my age would benefit from personal finance education and cell phone hiatuses. Anyway, most of their stories are in interview format, as they appeared on the show basically, so this one is no exception.

Check out the story here:

The owner talked about how he wants to be more engaged with his kids at meal times and turning off or storing his cell phone allows him to do that. He believes that this will be a good discount for his customers so that they can enjoy their dining experience even more. Eating out and other social outings don't seem to be as enjoyable since the invention of the handy, yet-sometimes-annoying smartphone. While I like the idea, constant discounts won't help the restaurant in the long-term. But, I hope this will begin to open customers' eyes and realize that turning their phone off for two hours is not the end of the world. It's actually a glimpse of a world we all once knew - a cell phone less world. It seems like such a long time ago, though.

So, what are your thoughts on this? Should more restaurants/venues start doing this? Will this be the way of the future?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hotel California


“Hotel California” – Los Gipsy Kings y The Eagles

                Esta semana les voy a enseñar unas canciones que tienen ambas versiones en inglés y español.  Una cosa curiosa de industria música de Latino América y Estados Unidos (EEUU), es la diferencia entre las traducciones de canciones populares en español e inglés. Por muchos años yo no entendía la diferencia tan grande entre una canción en español y una en inglés. Creo que la razón fue que yo no entiendo muy bien las complejidades del mundo musical (porque no soy música).  Sin embargo, si se piensan, cada canción contiene dos idiomas cantaron a la vez. Para mí, cuando oigo una canción en otro idioma en realidad yo oigo dos idiomas en la canción – una de letra y otra de las notas musicales. Ya que pasé mucho tiempo esos cinco años pasados escuchando mucha música latina y española, saqué la conclusión de que hay más que idiomas típicos. La música, las matemáticas, los ordenadores, la ciencia, el arte, los negocios y mucho más son otros idiomas también.  No son idiomas en el sentido tradicional pero sí, cada uno tiene un “lenguaje” que solo los expertos del campo saben.
                Con el respecto a la música, no es tan fácil asimilar una canción en un idioma al otro, palabra por palabra. Por eso, la traducción de las palabras en varias canciones depende en el ritmo de la música. Cada palabra tiene que ser apropiada según al ritmo y para que no se pierde el sentido original del artista. A veces, cuando yo sé una canción en inglés que yo sé también en español, los dos idiomas mezclan en mi mente y más o menos yo canto en espanglish. :P  Me pasa a mi algunas veces en servicios del cultos de la iglesia aquí en Florida, Ohio y también Sevilla. La cosa más efectiva para mi es escuchar una canción en español y ver la letra a la vez para que se puede memorizar claramente las palabras. Hay algunas canciones de alabanza por Hillsong que yo sé  totalmente en español gracias a su álbum, Con todo (2010). Entre ellas, he escuchado algunas tantas veces que ya no las identifico en inglés. Solo hay dos canciones por Hillsong que yo sé en portugués brasileño pero a ver si aprendo algunas más. (no tengo mucho tiempo libre esos días para hacer todo lo que quiero ;)

                La canción que les quiero presentar es una canción famosa aquí (hace muchos años): Hotel California! Los Gipsy Kings cantan una versión en español de esa canción con un poco de flamenco – el baile nacional de España. Es excelente aunque es el opuesto del original en tono y sentido (vaís a dar cuenta) Cuando yo estuve en España, yo era una bailadora terrible del flamenco. A volver a Estados Unidos, todo se cambió y aprendí a bailarlo mucho mejor aunque yo no soy una experta.
Más o menos  esta canción no es buen ejemplo de una traducción del inglés al español, porque la letra es casi traducida directamente (y en realidad es un cuento dentro de una canción). Otra canción que podría usar fue de un artista que ya he lo presentado, pero la voy a poner abajo de esta entrada. También, yo vivo y respiro varias canciones por Enrique Iglesias y Marc Anthony (a causa de oírlas miles de veces en el pasado, jeje). La guitarra española, sin embargo, es el tipo de guitarra que me enamora. Ahhhh, y en esta canción suena tan bella! Espero que les disfruten al ritmo, la guitarra, las palabras y las fotos que se muestran sobre todas las partes de California!

     “Creo en Ti," por el grupo mexicano Reik, en inglés es “Finally,” y os recomiendo que probéis esas dos versiones. Os podáis ver que las palabras, aunque no son parecidas exactamente unas a otras, son apropiadas según a la música y fluyen muy bien.  Muchas felicidades a Reik por lograr unas canciones en inglés por fin! Les deseo lo mejor!


“Hotel California” – Los Gipsy Kings y The Eagles

     This week I am going to show you guys some songs that have double versions, both in Spanish and English. A curious thing about the music industry in Latin America and the US is the difference between the translations of popular songs in Spanish to English. For many years, I didn’t understand that there was such a big difference between a song in Spanish and one in English. I just accepted the translations as they were. I think the reason was that I didn’t understand the intricacies of the musical world very well (probably because I am not a musician). For me, when I hear a song in another language, in reality I hear two languages in one song – one in words and the other in musical notes. If you think about it, each song contains two languages that are sung at the same time. Since I have spent a lot of time these past five years listening to Latino and Spanish music, I came to the conclusion that there are languages other than typical spoken languages. Music, math, computers, science, art, business and much more are different languages too. They are not languages in the traditional sense but yes, each one has a “language” that only the experts of the field know.

                In regards to the music, it’s not as easy to convert a song in one language to another, word for word. Therefore, the translation of the words in various songs depends on the rhythm of the music. Each word has to fit according to the rhythm and so that it doesn’t lose the original meaning that the artist wanted to convey. Sometimes, when I know a song in English that I also know in Spanish, the two languages mix around in my head and so I pretty much sing in Spanglish. It has happened to me a few times in the worship services at churches in Florida, Ohio and even Sevilla. The most effective thing for me to do, when I listen to a song in Spanish, is listen to the song and see the lyrics at the same time so that I can clearly memorize the words. There are some worship songs by Hillsong that I know completely in Spanish thanks to their album, Con todo (2010). Among those, I have listened to some so many times that I no longer recognize them in English (well, I do but the words don’t come as easily as they did before-haha). There are only two songs by Hillsong that I know in Portuguese (Brazilian), but let’s see if I learn some more (I don’t have a lot of free time these days to do everything that I want so that should be an indicator ;)

                The song that I want to present to you guys is a famous song here (from many years ago): Hotel California. Los Gipsy Kings do a version of the song in Spanish with a little bit of flamenco flair – the national dance of Spain. It is excellent even though it is the opposite of the original in both tone and feeling (you guys will come to this realization). When I was in Spain, I was a terrible flamenco dancer. Upon returning to the United States, everything changed and I actually learned how to dance it much better although I am still not an expert. This song is not exactly the best example of a song translation from English to Spanish because the lyrics are almost a direct translation (and, in reality it is a story in the form of a song). One song that I could have used was by an artista that I have already introduced, but I’m going to mention it below this entry. I also live and breathe a few songs by Enrique Iglesias and Marc Anthony (due to hearing them literally thousands of times in the past, hehe). The Spanish guitar, however, is the one type of guitar playing that I am absolutely in love with. Ahhh, and in this song it is so beautiful! I hope you enjoy the rhythm, the guitar, the words and the pictures that show many different parts of California.
     "Creo en Ti" by the group Reik in English is "Finally," and I recommend that you guys try out both versions. You will see that the words, while they are not exactly similar to each other, they fit in tune with the music and flow very well. Congratulations to Reik for finally producing songs in English! I wish you guys the all the best!

*P.S. I wrote this in Spanish first and then translated it to English! See if you can tell!*

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yo soy segundo!


"Yo Soy Segundo" - Evan Craft

This week I am showcasing an up-and-coming artist, Evan Craft. He's a 21 year old native of Southern California who has a heart for Latin and Central America. He released his first album, "Giants," in March of this year and is set to release his first Spanish album (complete with a couple guest vocals) next month! Talk about taking the Christian music world by storm, huh? Since he is a new and mostly unknown artist, I don't know too much about his journey with the Spanish language or if he has any distant Hispanic relatives. At first glance, he could be just like me - a seemingly normal American who just happened to fall head over heels for one of the most beautiful languages God ever created, español. :)

I have heard quite a few bilingual or "Spanglish" type songs both in the Latin and Christian music spheres over the years, but I've found bilingual male artists to be few and far between. Sometimes their music is brilliant, other times their Hispanic or American or British accent just bleeds through and makes the song less enjoyable - to me, at least. I like Evan's voice and I actually don't think his accent is too strong. I can even hear a hint of a Mexican or even an Ecuadorian accent in his words as I think back on the song. I've yet to hear him speak Spanish in an interview, though, so his American accent may be much stronger then. However, with mainstream artists, they typically memorize the words to their crossover song (a song not in their native language) and perform it so well that it was like they grew up speaking the language....until you hear an interview with that singer (let's say Enrique Iglesias) and then you start to giggle at their accent. They also probably pay for lessons to get rid of "native accents" which I've always found to be a little ridiculous. Your accent is a part of who you are and shouldn't be changed drastically! I will admit that I am a sucker for "cute English," in other words, English spoken by foreigners - regardless of their native language. I wonder if they have similar opinions about Americans who can speak their language. I've never actually asked!

Over the course of my experience with Spanish classes and trips abroad, I didn't meet many guys my age who had stuck with studying Spanish. In high school, all of the boys at my small Christian school dropped Spanish after two years. To be honest, I thought they were all wimps or maybe that girls were the only ones who could stick with learning a foreign language. Attending a HS that only had around 315 students total, I didn't really have the largest sample size to work with! Later on in college, though, there was one lone guy who was in several of my upper level classes and spoke decent conversational Spanish. At last, I thought, there was hope for American males in the foreign language realm! He only minored in Spanish, though. :-/ There was a lot of hope and potential all along; I just had to go overseas to see how much potential was out there.

During my semester abroad in Spain, I took three classes (History of the European Union, Women in Literature and Sociology) taught in Spanish and one class in English (Global Economics). At long last, minus the sociology class, there was more than one guy in my classes! And they all had advanced skills or were nearly fluent in Spanish. It took going overseas to have classes with American students from around the country (and be in this awesome bubble with other Spanish obsessed students) for me to interact with more guys (!) who were as serious about learning another language as I was! That experience helped me let the guys in my past off the hook as I realized that perhaps for a lot of guys, languages may not be their strong suit. I've yet to meet or keep up with a guy who has a degree in Spanish, but, as I have learned, not everyone who speaks it needs a degree.

All of that said, I really admire American guys who choose to take the road less traveled - the road of foreign language and cultural studies. And, if they become fluent or bilingual in Spanish (or whichever language of their choice) - then, all the more power to them! I hope Evan Craft will be one of those lucky people, like me, to become fluent in such a beautiful language and can use his talents to glorify God and minister to others. I can't wait to hear the rest of the tracks on his Spanish album next month! I hope you will check it out too and listen to his English album - he's a very talented and genuine guy!

The title of this song is called, "I Am Second," in English. It talks about how God is (and should be) the most important person in our lives and then we are next on our list. By putting Him first, we are renewed and made whole, even more capable of praising and bringing glory to Him! I was reminded of this last night and this morning as I meditated on this in the Psalms as I watched the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. What a loving and creative God we serve!

Enjoy the video above and the photo that I took of the sunrise below. Los cielos declaran la gloria de Dios! :)