A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My (Continuing) Spanish Education

One common belief in the recent immigration debate is that Hispanics come to this country, take American jobs and don’t even attempt to learn the English language. Some reports – buried deep in this country’s newspapers where no one will ever see them – dispute this last belief. Hispanics do try to learn English. Unfortunately they face the prospect of not enough class space to meet demand. Then state governments cut the funding for expanding these classes.

Of course, since we are all fair-minded Americans, we who speak English as our primary language are learning how to speak Spanish.

As Foghorn Leghorn would say, “That last sentence was a joke, son!”

As for myself, I’ve begun watching the Spanish language network Univision to see how much I can comprehend. I don’t watch the soap operas or the sports events, but I have seen the morning newscast. The version I see is actually a half-hour condensation of their hourly newscast originally produced the night before. The news is evenly balanced between serious stories (Univision dutifully sent reporters to New York and New Orleans to mark the anniversaries of the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina) and fluff.

So far I can say that I’ve learned two things in my continuing Spanish education. First, I am remembering more from my high school Spanish classes with each broadcast. Second, Univision has some of the hottest babes working on that side of the Rio Grande. I’m undecided as to which of these realizations has more relevance to my life.

The broadcast is usually co-anchored by two very attractive women with plunnnnging necklines. Once in awhile a guy in a suit and tie will be sitting front and center; he’s okay too. Otherwise females dominate the news team. Most of the field reporters, the main sports reporter and the meteorologist are women. Don’t get me wrong – I am not complaining.

I dare say that there has not been this much cleavage on a network news show since Jane Curtin ripped her blouse apart during a “Weekend Update” segment on Saturday Night Live. This got me wondering how dressing like this could have affected the broadcast icons of the past. For example, what if during the climax of his story on Joseph McCarthy, Edward R. Murrow suddenly crossed his legs to reveal that he was actually wearing fishnet stockings. How different would our perception of Vietnam have been if Walter Cronkite had worn a frilly pink chiffon cocktail dress? Or what if David Brinkley showed up one night wearing mascara and rouge? Fortunately, I don’t have to speculate on these thoughts for very long, thanks to the women on Univision.

The newscast does have a flashy-dressing male. He is their astrologer, Walter, who has his own segment, “Walter y la estrellas”. Many times Walter will dress conservatively in a nice suit, but most times he will be clothed in some outlandish outfit that he must have inherited from Liberace. Every time I see Walter I find myself thinking, “To hell with my horoscope! Bring on the el tiempo senorita!” Or it could be “senorita el tiempo”; I’ve forgotten which word order is correct or even comprehensible. The weather senorita is named Jackie. All I can say is that she could stand in front of her weather map, predict forty days and forty nights of rain, and I would still be smiling.

On the weekends I watch Univision’s version of American Bandstand. The songs are naturally up-tempo, but unfortunately the lyrics are sung too quickly for me to understand what they are singing. When this happens I just concentrate on the body language of the young dancers. I have no problems understanding what they are communicating.

As for my Spanish language skills coming, well, that may take awhile. I have relearned that nuevo means “new”, and that Philadelphia is spelled with the letter “f” instead of the letters “ph”. I doubt that Joey Vento would have a cow if he knew this; he’d go for the entire herd! My progress is slow, but I will continue my daily studies relearning the Spanish language. I feel it is the least I can do to make myself more aware of other cultures beyond my own. Many people might say that I would be a better man for honing my language skills. Still, others who know me very well might say that I would be a better dirty old man for watching Univision. To those I say, “Gracias!”


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