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Language academics have expressed their discontent as Ruth Lorenzo will be singing in English for Spain in Copenhagen
19.03.14 - 10:15 -
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Eurovision language woes
Ruth Lorenzo switches from Spanish to English in her song. :: RTVE
The first verse of the song Dancing in the Rain chimes out in Spanish: “Puede que no salga el sol/ aunque llueva, tú y yo sabremos bailar/ nadie nos puede parar...” (The sun may not come out/ although it rains you and I know how to dance/ no one can stop us).
It is no major work of poetry, but that is not what has riled academics at the RAE (Real Academia Española). This next part however has annoyed them: “Keep on dancing in the rain, the rain, the rain.”
The problem is not so much that it is repetitive, it’s that it’s in English. The royal academy, the official institution with the job of overseeing the use of the Spanish language, has sent a letter to RTVE (Spain’s national radio and TV broadcasting company) to express its “discontent and certain concern” at the song that will represent Spain in the Eurovision song contest with its chorus in English.
The Murcia singer, Ruth Lorenzo, known in the UK for her appearance on the British TV show ‘X Factor’, will compete on 10th May in Copenhagen with the song ‘Dancing in the rain’, which has three short verses in Spanish and the rest inEnglish. The RAE’s complaint, as well as giving publicity to a festival that was losing popularity, has served to reopen the English-yes or English-no debate.
José María Íñigo, Spain’s long-standing Eurovision commentator, has made his view clear: “In a competition in which 40 countries compete, singing in Spanish is a way of making sure than no one understands you. The majority of the artists are going with a song in English and I don’t know why Spain can’t. It is the international language of music and the rest is nonsense,” he said.
In RTVE they are still “working on the definitive version”, and so there is still a chance that the song could end up being sung entirely in English, in Spanish or a mixture of the two languages, as it is at present. It was with this bilingual version that Ruth Lorenzo beat the favourite Brequette in the qualifying gala.
Íñigo is in favour of this mixture: “We need to understand what is said in the song and at the same time keep people who speak English happy.”
It is a formula that Spain has used in the past without any concerns from the RAE. Rosa sung ‘Europe’s living a celebration’, D’Nash went to Eurovision with ‘I love you mi vida’ and even La Década Prodigiosa sang ‘Made in Spain’ in 1988.
The right tone
In an attempt to stop the controversy from growing, RTVE has abstained from commenting on the letter, which was signed by director of the RAE, José Manuel Blecua. President of RTVE Leopoldo González-Echenique said, “It is neither a public nor an official communication. We are not making any comment on the subject because if the letter exists it is private.”
The television company admits that the letter does exist but says that it has not been interpreted as a complaint. “They say that at the last meeting [of the RAE] several academics said they did not agree that the song should be sung in English at Eurovision,” said RTVE.
Whether the song is in English, Spanish or both languages, there are two things that everyone can agree on: Ruth Lorenzo is a great singer, but the song isn’t that great.
“She is excellent and will do a good job, but I wouldn’t dare to predict where she’ll finish,” said Íñigo.
The song does “allow the singer to show how good she is”, but “it’s not the best in the world. You need to listen to it two or three times”. Ruth Lorenzo will only have one chance.