To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Amanece, lo veis?, a la luz de la aurora?
lo que tanto aclamamos la noche caer?
sus estrellas sus franjas
flotaban ayer
en el fiero combate
en señal de victoria,
fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertada.
Por la noche decían:
"Se va defendiendo!"
Oh decid! Despliega aún
Voz a su hermosura estrellada,
sobre tierra de libres,
la bandera sagrada?

I'm trying to figure out if I would know what this was, if I didn't know already. My Spanish is virtually nonexistent.

... Light of the dawn ... clamor at night ... stars ... float above the fiery combat. (That might do it.) ... Victory ... liberty ... for the night ... defend. (Pretty sad, huh?) Voice ... stars ... land of the free. Yeah, I think I would get it.

(For my international friends, this is The Star Spangled Banner. Here is the story behind the anthem.)

There's some controversy about this song being sung in Spanish. I've read Amy Tan books, about Chinese mothers and their American daughters, and various other stories about immigrants, and listened to my immigrant coworkers talk about their experiences, and I've thought a lot over the years about how I would be if I were an immigrant. What if I decided to move to China, for instance, and make my home there permanently? How much would I embrace Chinese culture? If I had children after I moved there, would I give them Chinese names or American names? Or both? Would I speak English in the home? If I found myself in an expat community, how much pressure would I feel to learn the language and fit in with the culture? And how would that affect my family?

So I've thought about this, and I've thought that I would probably try to learn the local language and fit in with the culture as fast as I could. I'd probably speak English at home, with my family, but I'd try not to make my hypothetical bilingual kids be my translators. So Chinese, for instance, would be the language of work for me, and of dealing with neighbors and doctors and store clerks and auto mechanics and so forth, but English would still be the language of my heart. I don't think I could help that. If I took the trouble to translate a Chinese national song to English so I could sing it, I think that would be a sign that I had truly internalized my bond to my new country. I think the Spanish-language Star Spangled Banner is beautiful. I suppose, since so many people are upset about it, there must be something I'm not considering.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

like the way you think