17 August 2006

Spanish is for lovers

I once heard some interesting comments on several major European languages:

Italian is for singers;
Spanish is for lovers;
French is for diplomats;
German is for horses;
English is for geese.
While the first three are self-evident and need no further explanation, making sense of the last two is a bit challenging. I suppose it is the way "r" and "ch" are enunciated that makes people give this comment on the German language. However, though I've spent all my life learning English, I still don't have a clue about how Shakespeare and Milton's language is associated with those domestic fowls.

Anyway, I do find Spanish full of love and passion. Apart from the sound (by this I mean phonology), I'm really fond of some vivid analogies widely seen in works of Spanish literature and music. The quote below is from a Cuban song Silencio.

Silencio, que están durmiendo
los nardos y las azucenas
no quiero que sepan mis penas
porque si me ven llorando, morirán.
Although I know that lyrics or poems can only be best understood in the original language in which they are written, I've still tried my best to translate the quote in hopes of helping those who don't read Spanish to make sense of it.
Silence! Sleeping are
the spikenards and the lilies
whom I don't want to know my pains
because if they see me crying, they will die.
I have no idea if this is really a love song. Nevertheless, I know it may be useful when courting a girl. Take her to a garden and tell her how much torture you have gone through in your life. After she is moved by your story (of course, you have to tell the truth rather than making up a fictitious one), ask her to be quiet and not to wake up those sleeping flowers, so they won't wither as implied in the song.

Believe me, her heart will be melt by this.

There is a very good duet version of this song performed by two incredibly talented aging Cuban singers, Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo, which is collected in the album Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer.

Ibrahim Ferrer

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