News, Weather, Mozart, Sports, Eurovision Love Ænema & Perverted Videogames from Vleeptron

NGO_Vleeptron (aka "Bob from Massachusetts") recently featured LIVE on BBC WORLD SERVICE, heard briefly by Gazillions!!!

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Location: Great Boreal Deciduous Hardwood Forest, New England, United States

old dude, all hair, swell new teeth

02 May 2006

papa caliente! Aquí en Vleeptron, ahora! Mira! Escuche! "Nuestro Himno"!

President Harry S Truman awards the Congressional Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Marcario Garcia for assaulting enemy machine guns in Germany during World War II. Garcia was born in Villa de Castana, Mexico, and enlisted in Sugarland, Texas.

Okay, here it is, courtesy of NPR/National Public Radio. If you click here, there's an audio link to hear the español version sung.

Oh. You want to know what Vleeptron thinks about "Nuestro Himno."

People have been coming to these shores not speaking a word of English for two centuries before there was a United States. They pick it up about as fast as I pick up the languages of the countries I travel to.

I pick up the local lingos because I get tired of being lost and confused.

And some immigrants have always not picked it up. I pulled into a gas station in South Texas one day, and when I went into the restaurant to pay for the gas, the place was filled with cowboys and cowgirls, and they were all merrily babbling away in German. They were happy to scare me up the cashier, the only person who spoke Texan, a variant of English which I understood sufficiently to complete the transaction. Lovely little town, lovely All-American community.

Likewise, Lawrence Welk -- born and raised in North Dakota -- didn't speak a word of anything but German until he was about 21. (Welk's life is the proof that you don't need to ditch the accent.)

This isn't a very patriotic sentiment, but economics drives most immigrants to learn English. Kids and adults look around and see who speaks fluent English and who doesn't, and where the different language speakers live, and what they drive (or what they're driven around in).

With a few exceptions, wherever huge piles of wealth are being made and controlled in the United States, the people controlling the wealth are chatting to each other and making the decisions in English.

Immigrants are free not to notice that. Or they're free to defend any non-English language as a treasure of their culture and heritage. And every language is a cultural treasure.

If anyone's getting anything wrong, it's public school educators who've developed bilingual curricula for immigrant kids for the last few decades. Take your choice: Either it's a conspiracy to lock kids out of the economic mainstream, or it's a deep policy gesture of cultural and linguistic respect, which has the inevitable result of locking kids out of the economic and higher-education mainstream. To show how much we respect them, we design curricula to keep them poor for the rest of their lives.

The access to wealth and career success in the U.S. is in English, and if educators really wanted to do these kids a favor, they'd just throw them into the English deep end of the pool -- Total Immersion is what the Berlitz folks called it.

Sorry about the initial confusion and the kick in the self-esteem. Those first couple of school years in a mostly-English environment are a real frustrating pain in the ass, and not everybody sucks up new languages quickly and gracefully.

On the flip-flop, American public schools have always done a pretty pathetic job of teaching other languages to kids. And that's a direct liability for America's efforts to compete in the world marketplace.

Nearly every human brain has plenty of room for two or three languages. Nobody expects you to speak like Goethe or Cervantes. In Mexico and Quebec, when the locals hear the crappy español and français coming out of my Yanqui/Yankee mouth, they're amazed -- they react as if they're witnessing some sort of Religious Miracle, they call the family over to listen. Just trying to speak the best you can gets you the Red Carpet Bienvenue/Bienvenidos Treatment. Nobody laughs at you.

Back to the Patriotic Hot Button.

I think I posted the Swiss National Anthem's three or four versions some months ago. Do Swiss Italian-speakers have heart attacks when they hear the anthem sung in French? Do they think something unpatriotic's going on?

"Nuestro Himno" is a very complex but a very strong statement. Reduced to supersimplicity, the immigrants behind yesterday's "Day Without Immigrants" were introducing a new idea to the American mainstream: Millions of people love America in languages other than English.

The English language does not now, and never had the monopoly on loving the United States. There are an awful lot of war dead in our military cemeteries who died with a very poor grasp of English -- they died knowing only Screaming Sergeant English. And while they lived and served, our military needed their languages badly. Henry Kissinger started his rise to the American top as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in Germany.

Well, anyway, here's "Nuestro Himno." Yes, click on the audio -- but if you clicked here from the USA, I'm taking a wild guess you already know the tune.


National Public Radio
"Day to Day"
Friday 28 April 2006

A Spanish-language version of the U.S. National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," is getting huge airplay on Spanish-language radio stations across the nation ahead of pro-immigration rallies slated for Monday, May 1.

But the great-great grandson of the original songwriter, Francis Scott Key, is not pleased with the interpretation of the song, which features artists such as Wyclef Jean, hip-hop star Pitbull and Carlos Ponce and Olga Tanon from Puerto Rico.

'Nuestro Himno' ('Our Anthem')

Verso 1

Amanece, lo veis?, 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 señal de victoria,
fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertad.
Por la noche decían:
"Se va defendiendo!"


Oh decid! Despliega aún
Su hermosura estrellada
sobre tierra de libres,
la bandera sagrada?

Verso 2

Sus estrellas, sus franjas,
la libertad, somos iguales.
Somos hermanos. Es nuestro himno.
En el fiero combate en señal de victoria,
Fulgor de lucha
(Mi gente sigue luchando)
al paso de la libertad
(Ya es tiempo de romper las cadenas.)
Por la noche decían: "!Se va defendiendo!"
Oh decid! Despliega aún su hermosura estrellada
sobre tierra de libres,
la bandera sagrada?

Verse 1

It's sunrise. Do you see by the light of the dawn
What we proudly hailed last nightfall?
Its stars, its stripes
yesterday streamed
above fierce combat
a symbol of victory
the glory of battle, the march toward liberty.
Throughout the night, they proclaimed: "We will defend it!"


Tell me! Does its starry beauty still wave
above the land of the free,
the sacred flag?

Verse 2

Its stars, its stripes,
Liberty, we are the same.
We are brothers in our anthem.
In fierce combat, a symbol of victory
the glory of battle,
(My people fight on)
the march toward liberty.
(The time has come to break the chains.)
Throughout the night they proclaimed: "We will defend it!"
Tell me! Does its starry beauty still wave
above the land of the free,
the sacred flag?


Blogger dusty said...

Thought provoking..damn always make me think :P

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Nobody ever accused me of that before. I may have to sue you and your winking toe-tapping cat.

Until this subject came up, I never imagined Lawrence Welk and Henry Kissinger had much in common, but Kissinger's accent is about as thick as Welk's was. You think maybe he plays the accordian in secret?

I'm not bashing this instrument. If you want to hear some ethereally beautiful music, check out what Flaco Jimenez does with the accordian. He grew up in the German parts of South Texas constantly exposed to all that polka stuff, and something deep in his ear and heart convinced him that it could be beautiful after Mexican-Americans performed emergency surgery on it. "Entre Humo y Botellas" and "la Mojadita" -- just those songs made me want to look much deeper into espan~ol, I had to know what he was singing about. Heartbreaking.

The bandoneon is the Argentine accordian, and Astor Piazzolla made the most haunting, eery -- and deeply romantic -- music on it with his remarkable Nuevo Tango.


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