By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
First, a disclaimer: Buzz doesn't speak Spanish. We tried to learn. Even got so far as to be able to hold a conversation, provided the person we were talking with: didn't speak; didn't object to a grown man babbling like a 3-year-old with a cleft palate; and could simply point in the direction of the nearest cuarto de baño. In sad fact, no one on the editorial staff of the Dallas Observer speaks Spanish.
So it is with an inordinate amount of hypocrisy (like that's ever stopped us) that we bring you this gem of a memo from The Dallas Morning News titled "Al Da Customer Service Tips." It concerns the News' new Spanish-language daily, Al Día, which we think was named after a former relief pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. Could be wrong on that. The memo--this is the truth, by the way--offers non-Spanish speakers phrases they can use to deal with Spanish-only customers, along with helpful pronunciation tips. Some examples:
"I don't speak Spanish, but I can help you" becomes No hablo español pero lo voy a ayudar. According to the memo, it's pronounced: No aw-blow es-pan-yol per-o loboy a ah-yoo-dar.
Then there's "Thanks for calling Dallas Morning News," or Grassy-ahss poor yam-are TDMN.
Given Americans' penchant for mangling foreign languages, one can't help but suspect that there will soon be a rash of incontinence-inducing laughter among the people doing the yam-are-ing.
Still, Buzz respects the News' effort--so much so that we've taken time to translate some other helpful phrases. Now, it's been several years since our Spanish classes, so these may be a bit off, but they should do in a pinch:
"No, I don't think our city columnists are dull as dishwater" becomes No pee-en-so kay ell kol-um day seen-yor blo steenks.
"We strive to be balanced in our coverage of the mayor" is Meese hay-fays pee-en-sahn ay-yah ess oon lee-burr-al bee-yotch.
"I don't know why we run the 'Love Is' comic" is Noo-ace-tross ree-dares son moo-ee old.
We hope these help, and really, there's no need to say grassy-ass. We welcome the newest addition to Dallas print media, as no doubt do the small Spanish-language papers that soon will join the suburban papers swallowed in the vast maw of the Belo Corp. (Yeah, yeah, our company closed its competitor, The Met. See our note about hypocrisy above.)
On the other hand, with boxes for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's own new Spanish daily, Diario La Estrella, popping up on street corners all over Dallas, it looks like the city could have an old-fashioned newspaper war on its hands. (It's interesting to note that it's easier now to find a copy of Diario La Estrella in Dallas than a copy of the Star-Telegram.) We'll report back on the war as soon as we find our English/Spanish dictionary.