February 5, 2006 |
WHEN I FIRST heard that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had agreed to deliver the Democratic Party's Spanish-language response to President Bush's State of the Union address, I had the urge to call him up and plead, "Say it ain't so, Tony." There's certainly nothing wrong with the Democrats producing a political message in Spanish -- Bush also has delivered radio addresses in the language -- but the ethnic politics behind the decision are decidedly lame.
April 7, 1999
Prodigy Communications Corp. said it began a Spanish-language version of its Internet access service, along with technical support and customer service, for the nearly 8 million Spanish-speaking households in the U.S. The new service, which costs $19.95 a month, will allow Prodigy users to switch instantly between Spanish and English versions of their personal World Wide Web sites.
August 17, 1986
We found Peter S. Greenberg's article on lawsuits against the travel industry (Aug. 3) most interesting. We are in the midst of attempting to settle a claim, in an amicable fashion, with a Spanish tour group. We traveled to Spain at the end of April and found ourselves involved in a combined multilingual tour with another tour group. We were never told this would occur. The tour guide spoke Spanish 95% of the time and we could not understand anything, nor could we tune out. We felt as if we were on the Tower of Babel.
August 21, 1985
After a couple of players collided going for a fly ball during a New York Mets game, announcer Ralph Kiner recalled that Richie Ashburn, when he played center field for the Mets, was always having communication problems with shortstop Elio Chacon, a native of Venezuela. "Finally," Kiner said, "Ashburn asked Chacon how to say 'I got it' in Spanish. Chacon said, 'Yo la tengo.'
February 20, 1986
"You have forgotten to clean the grout in the shower." "When you change the bed, please put on the pretty sheets." "I appreciate the way you pick the dead leaves off the geraniums: here is a $20 bonus." If you've always wanted to express such sentiments to your non-English-speaking cleaning people but just didn't know how to put them into Spanish, Chinese or whatever, you can call (800) TEL-LANG, a 2-month-old telephone translation service.
September 17, 2000 |
Like any language, Spanish punishes imprecision. Take the word for ham: jamon. Get one letter wrong and order a sandwich de jabon, and the waiter will look at you funny or bring you a soap sandwich. As finding something edible several times a day is a key part of world travel, Andrea and I were motivated to study Spanish. After leaving London, we enrolled in a two-week course at the Instituto Espanol Murallas de Avila, a small school in this city 68 miles northwest of Madrid.