Playeras Latinas ( Latino T-shirts)

May 26, 2008

Almost a year ago, Macy’s department store introduced the NaCo brand t-shirts to the U.S. market. The t-shirts, with their selection of catchy phrases, slogans and adaptations from Mexican slang, made the brand an instant success within the U.S. Hispanic population, especially among Latinos with Mexican roots.

Phrases like “Ser Naco es Chido” (Being Tacky is cool), Brown is the new White, and Se Habla Español (Spanish Spoken) that mock Latino tackiness garnered great attention from the public and the media, while some Latino-rights advocates considered the phrases racist.  In response, Macy’s pulled the shirts off the racks and issued a public apology.

But the fact is that these t-shirts were originally conceived and designed for the Mexican market, appealing to the Latino sense of humor and capacity to parody themselves. In Mexico, the NaCo t-shirts were perceived as a “cute” trend, adopted mainly by wealthy members of the society.

In Mexico (and Latin America), wearing a garment with a slogan doesn’t mean that the individual endorses or agrees with the statement, especially when these slogans are written in another language. For instance, I have seen Hispanic males and females both in Mexico and in the U.S. wearing garments from the RED Campaign or Walk for Breast Cancer without having a clue of the meaning of the message they were promoting.

Of course, the opposite is true when it comes to wearing sports team-related garments.  Those individuals are acutely aware of the symbolism of the slogans and colors they wear, and they will defend them with pride.

Meanwhile, another brand of Latino-themed t-shirts has entered the U.S. market, but this time the clothing is designed and created in Texas by a company called Siesta Tees.  Siesta Tees offers a line of garments with less “controversial” topics and designs that appeal first- and second-generation U.S Hispanics. Phrases like “ I © abuela” ( I © grandma),  Can you say chula? (cutie) and a couple of designs from their Ojo (eye) Collection, which, according to the company’s Web site:

… was inspired by abuela, tía and that egg they put under the bed. Mexican folklore believes that people who envy or are jealous of babies give them the evil eye, which causes the kiddos to get sick. To rid the little ones of the evil eye you pray over them with the egg and place it under their bed, and poof the little one is rid of the OJO.

Advertisements

Poll: 4 out 10 Mexicans have a family member living in the U.S.

May 6, 2008

A recent study by Mexican pollster Roy Campos from Consulta Mitofsky shows that 39.6 percent of Mexican nationals have a family member living in the United States.

When asked about the possibility of moving to the U.S. if they had the opportunity, 41 percent of the respondents said that they would. The number increases to 49 percent among men and 51 percent among young adults. Nearly half, 44 percent, of the Mexican middle-class said that they are willing to move to the U.S.

When asked about the possibility of immigrating under illegal conditions, 3 out of 10 respondents said that they would do so. Also, 39 percent of young adults, ages 18-29, are willing to immigrate under such conditions.

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 Mexican adults, aged 18+, conducted April 24-29, 2008. One can say with 95 percent confidence that the margin of sampling error is +/- 3.1 percentage points.

View the report here (in Spanish)


Adapting messages: Correct usage of Spanish Language (Part I)

March 3, 2008

Gonzalo Salvador (aka González), a PR colleague, just shared with me a presentation with great advice and insights that should be consider when adapting any English document or message into Spanish.

I. Assumptions to Avoid

A.-Not every person who speaks Spanish is an expert in the Spanish language.

B.-Not all Hispanics are equal. Usage of the Spanish language among U.S. Hispanics depend on different factors such as country of origin, generation, region of residence. Each group has its own vocabulary and its own colloquialisms.

If you are thinking about asking…

Q: What are the differences between Hispanics and Latinos and what is the right word to use?
A: This question could create a long discussion. Just as a reference in the East Coast is more widely used “Hispanics” while in the West Coast is “Latinos.”

Q: Is there a standard Spanish I can use?
A: No. But you can use neutral words and you can use the Real Academia Española (Spanish Royal Academy) dictionary as a reference. Remember to always use language appropriate to you target audience.

II. Common Grammatical Mistakes

A.-Try avoid the use of gerunds (-ando, -endo).
Example: Use “salta” (to jump) instead of “saltando” (jumping).

B.-Use active verbs when possible: Try to avoid the translation of the have + verb form into Spanish. Example: He has jumped (el ha saltado), might sound better as (el salta or el saltó)

C.-Avoid commonly misused words.

Quiz: Are the following translations correct?:

Protester: Protestante
A: Incorrect. It should be “manifestante.” Protestante means protestant (religious denomination)

Facilities: Facilidades
A: Incorrect. It should be “instalaciones.” Facilidades is related to easy.

Aplication: Aplicación
A: Incorrect. It sould be “solicitud.” Aplicación means “to apply towards…” such as to apply force.

Act: Ley
A: Correct. “Acta” in Spanish is a document.

D.-Always try to use alternatives to gender.
i.e. Avoid using she/he (ella, él)

E.-Check for the order of words in a sentence. (Nuevo Carro, Carro Nuevo)

F.-Avoid using too many articles (la, el). (leísmo)
Example: Women’s Health Center as Centro de la Salud de las Mujeres. It is better to use: Centro Médico para Mujeres.
By the way, the comas (,) are always located outside marks. (i.e. “”, not “,”)

To be continued…