Saturday, September 27, 2008

English for Spanglish speakers

At Mr. Ts's blog, there's an interesting article where the author touches upon a mention of the "ambition of John McCain" in a comment left on his blog about last night's presidential candidates debate.

Words in English do not carry the same connotation than they usually convey in Spanish.

Ambition, for example, is commonly accepted in English as a character trait generally viewed in a positive light, as in a person who is always taking his/her standing grounds of today as the departing point of tomorrow for the goal of personal betterment.

In the limited Spanish of some, or in Spanglish, "ambición" is just taken and understood in a way that is not only related -or not related at all- to the English accepted usage, but to a limited accepted usage of its Spanish equivalent: the unskilled Spanish speaker will only recognize it as a synonym of "greed", in Spanish "avaricia". I have seen many Spanglish speakers cringe -and yes, there's such a thing- when one talks about one's ambitions; they automatically assume that one is taking about being greedy.

Of course, greed is one type of ambition, but not all ambitions are about greed.
The personal ambition John McCain has to become President of the United States, for example. Or to be fair, the ambitions harbored by B'rak Hussein Obama while he is vying for that very same position. Of course, John McCain looks ambitious in his presidential goals, and B'rak Obama looks as ambitious as John McCain, but his particular ambition looks spiced and spiffed up with the arrogance and cockiness of those who are out there to steamroll others to death. And that's worse than greed.

Ditch the Spanglish. Learn Spanish and English. And enrich your vocabulary in both languages.