Anyone who speaks more than one language is certain to have come across a strange translation that at best is a bit off or at worst, completely butchers the original meaning. It’s frustrating when an idea, a word, or phrase in one language falls short of accurately conveying a certain feeling, nuance, or concept in another.
I was reminded of this when I received an email about a digital storytelling project that’s starting up, Radio Ambulante. According to the site:
Radio Ambulante is a monthly Spanish-language radio program showcasing compelling human stories from around Latin America and the United States. It is the first of its kind in Spanish, and will be launching soon.
As explained in the video, the creators aim to model the program after shows like
“This American Life”, but for Latinos with the “sophistication of public radio in the U.S.”. The production team is bilingual, but the stories will only be told in one language.
The goal of the creators is to:
[E]xpand the dialogue, to move away from portrayals of Latinos as villians or victims and to tell stories that are uniquely Latin American which demonstrate that although we have a common language, we are a broad, and most of all, diverse continent.
While I’d prefer the option of being able to listen in English and Spanish, the team’s reasons for keeping the stories monolingual became apparent when I listened the some of stories that have been posted on the site.
In particular, the story about the descent of one of Argentina’s most beloved soccer teams, River Plate, struck a chord in me for personal reasons. It’s an interview with the team’s official sportscaster intercepted with the actual broadcast from the day the legendary club lost a crucial game, and their prestigious ranking in Argentine soccer.
Listening to the announcer’s cries as the team spiraled downward, that distinct accent peppered with an unmistakably Argentine intonation, made me think of all the people I knew in Buenos Aires who went crazy watching that particular game and a few who got caught up escaping the subsequent stadium riot. I felt like I was back in the Southern Cone for a brief, fleeting moment.
The program is in its nascent stages, currently raising money for it’s full launch later this year. Plans are in the works to start a monthly podcast and to distribute the show to radio stations all over the Americas. Portions of episodes can be streamed online at the site and so far, I like what I hear. For Spanish speakers, Radio Ambulante is an audible window into the lives of Latinos around the world. And for those who don’t speak Spanish, it’s a great excuse to learn.[Screenshot And Video By Radio Ambulante]