Friday, September 28, 2012

A new old translation of the US national anthem into Spanish

In 2006, a new Spanish version of the US national anthem generated some controversy. In particular, the 2006 version included a new, original second verse.

A forgotten 1945 version, translated by a Peruvian immigrant to the US, Clothilde Arias, was recently recovered. Curator Marvette Perez researched the translation for three years, preparing the exhibit for the Smithsonian Institution. The story is printed here and here.

Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” to secure allies in Latin America during World War II, the State Department initiated exchanges of artists, musicians, poets and writers. As part of that cultural diplomacy, they began a competition with the Music Educators National Conference to create an original translation of the national anthem that could be sung and shared abroad.
“I found it fascinating that different political times demand different political things to happen,” Perez said.
Arias won the competition and a contract paying her $150. It specified the translation must be as close as possible to the English song in rhyme, verse and meter.
“For example, the word we say is ‘flag,’ or ‘bandera.’ But she used ‘pendon,’ which is literally banner,” Perez said. “That’s the exact word in English. In that way, it’s faithful.”
The Washington Post article has an image of the draft of Arias’s version of the anthem, but no printed final version. Perhaps it will be published after it has been performed.

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