Marie Delgado Travis

8 March 2009 at 8:00 AM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

Here’s a poem entitled “Bilingue” by Marie Delgado Travis, from her book La Ventana / the Window: Collected Bilingual Poems (Lulu, 2007, pp. 2-3):

No sé por qué a veces
Las cosas me salen
En español
And sometimes in English.
Cuando te quiero besar,
Lo pienso (¡me sonrojo!)
En castellano . . .
But when I want to
Strangle you,
It’s definitely – yes,
In English.
Debe ser porque
At certain times,
I don’t want to be
Bothered with
Accent marks.

Here is her own translation, entitled “Bilingual”:

I don’t know why
Sometimes things
Come out in Spanish
Y otras veces en inglés,
When I want to kiss you,
I think it (blush!)
In Castilian . . .
Pero cuando te
Quiero estrangular,
Es definitivamente – sí,
En inglés.
It must be because
Hay momentos
En que no quiero
Molestarme con
Acentos.

That is as good an explanation as any why we use a second language. There are certain emotions better or easier expressed in another language.

If we compare the two texts, we can see that the second text does not do as well as the first, because the accents in the words and inglés go against the idea of English being an easier language to express anger in. It should be clear from these twin texts from a single poet that the mother tongue works better for certain ideas. In the version that starts with Spanish, the anger is worked into the language. In the version that starts with English, that anger is dissipated.

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