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Sunday, April 30, 2006

El Anthem Nacional - mas o menos

In the heat of the immigration reform controversy, a group of Spanish-language popular musicians have recorded a new version of The Star Spangled Banner in Spanish. The inspiration? A British music producer. I suppose the sessions were financed by the Sultan of Brunei and the record is being shipped by Toho?

However, all politics aside, modern translations of old songs are notoriously risky, mainly because the language of the past doesn't often translate into other languages as straightforwardly as contemporary language might. As an example, the title of this new anthem is Nuestro Himmo or "Our Anthem", mainly because The Star Spangled Banner doesn't translate so well. According to Babelfish it's La Estrella Spangled La Bandera, which rather sounds like an especially saucy Los Lobos groupie

Several people have already popped the new version of the anthem into Bablefish and retranslated it back into English and gotten some interesting results. Knowing a little Spanish myself, I thought I'd give it a swing as well. The results are below. Admittedly, I mostly know slang words.

O boy!, check it out, by that sunlight waking me up and getting in my eyes,
What we were diggin' and jawing about at the sparklely 6 a.m.?
Whose big old stripes and 100-watt stars, during the dangerous rumble,
From the fire escape we were gawking, were blowin' in the wind?
And the Tomahawks' red intense stare, the smart bombs going off like firecrackers in the air,
Strongly suggested that through the darkest and quietest part of the sun's cycle, when everyone is usually asleep, except for newspaper boys and Chuck Norris, no one had yet busted a move on our flag, nor even put a hole in the thing, or damage those nifty little fringes.
Tell me now babycakes, is that Los Lobos groupie still waving around up on that flagpole
Over the territory of the free and the crib of people who won't back off, jack?

I have to admit, it does drain a bit of the poetry out of the thing.


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