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Friday, July 11, 2008

Obama: Spanish as an official language of the USA?

RE: Subject: How do you say 'Up yours, pal' in Spanish? (Obama’s educational advice to Americans)


How do say ‘Up yours, pal’ in Spanish?

Speak for your self Sportin’ life (Mr. Obama)..

I think it was in extremely bad taste for Obama to make fun of mainstream Americans in public and pandering to the anti-American feelings of some immigrants (and European reporters present).

To assert that immigrants will AUTOMATICALLY learn English regardless of the kind of teaching and curriculum they are given or regardless of their school attendance is an insult to every teacher of English language development.

For Mr. Obama to assert that any American who supports English as the official language of America is “English-only” or anti-immigrant or as he suggested ignorant and xenophobic is completely out of line.

I have ALWAYS favored instruction in the English medium as the focus of American education k-12 but at the same time I have NEVER been an advocate of English-only. I was raised in a multilingual household and I have raised my own children in a multilingual environment though I have always taught them English is THE LINGUA FRANCA for Americans and educated people around the world It is the language of Milton, Shakespeare, the King James Bible, Shaw , Twain, Lincoln, Jefferson and Churchill.. Studying English in depth and valuing it as the American language par excellence does not preclude the study of other languages.

I am the strongest advocate possible of the study of world languages and culture languages such as Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, German, Japanese and Chinese. |I think any educated person should know English and at least some of one or two of these languages. But English is the SINA QUA NON.

But if Mr. Obama –who has numerous times VOTED AGAINST ENGLISH as America’s official language is say that SPANISH should be a required subject for ALL AMERICANS as a co-official language with English then he is extremely misguided.

Spanish is a very important language –I have spoken Spanish for the last 45 years on a daily basis- and I have taught it to my children and many many students. But it should remain part of an optional foreign language curriculum. If some students prefer to meet their foreign language requirement by studying French, Latin, Japanese or Chinese they should be able to do so. Some people might find Spanish as a very useful second language and others –who may have dealings with Canada , France, Africa or Asia might find that French or Chinese are more useful to them.

Now to my Army and Marine friends I turn to the translation of “Up yours, pal”.

This is of course a somewhat vulgar (but not extremely so) pejorative expression.

One could use, to be colloquial the expression “Vete a la mierda”.

Mierda is a rude word and used to be considered too rude for most dictionaries some will translate it as (Coll: excerement).

I think it is SLIGHTLY less rue than its four letter English equivalent but the reader should not imagine that it is O.K to bandy this word about in daily conversation.

I feel bound to put on record that in a well-to so Spanish household I heard the hostess , a very polite, well brought up convent educated girl refer to someone she did not like as a mierda seca, which we could render as a “stupid little jerk” or perhaps ‘a complete ass”. That might prove a useful expression to you.

Now there is another Spanish expression which might do here such as ESTO NO VALE which could be translated as THAT’S NOT RIGHT or THAT DOESN”T FIT HERE!

The Mexicans have an expression –they don’t use the word VALER very much “ME VALE MADRE” which perhaps Mr. Obama can learn and use. It means, more or less I don’t give a S**T.!

But “Up yours, pal” remains almost untranslatable , certainly without some “ch-“words and so “jo-“ words (“four letter words”) in Spanish but I think VETE a los rábanos or VETE AL DIABLO tío or VETE a la M****A tío.would do the trick quite nicely.

Slightly less vulgar and slightly less upset : VETE AL DIABLO tío ( Up yours, pal ;literally go to the devil or go to the blazes pal)

Slightly more vulgar and slightly more upset –something a Spanish Marine or sailor would use would be <> (which translates as Go to H**L or UP YOURS, PAL).


You humble servant and

Yours most sincerely,

Richard K. Munro, MA Spanish language and literature


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