Sunday, July 29, 2007

Globalization: The BBC pays Spanish speakers to speak Spanish in America

The British Broadcasting Corporations' BBC Mundo (the Spanish version of BBC World) has sent two bi-lingual Spanish-English speakers traveling across the USA speaking only Spanish. Reporter Jose Baig and video producer Carlos Ceresole are going from Florida to California over the next week days in a rented truck on a project called "¿Hablas español?" Their goal is, "to cross the country without uttering a word of English."
Baig claims that, "there are a lot more Spanish speakers in the US than one tends to think. It's just a matter of asking: 'Do you speak Spanish?' "
There are certainly a lot of Spanish speakers in the US, but it's still a relatively small minority of the entire population. Therefore, I think these guys will be severely tempted to fall back on their English at times, despite their having chosen a route along the frontier with Latin America, where the heaviest concentration of Spanish speaking immigrants and their descendants live.
I wonder if they know they're following a route similar to Cabeza de Vaca's; although, he only made it from Florida to Arizona - and it took him eight years, instead of eight days! Regardless, Baig's and Ceresole's latter day version should be interesting, if rather rushed.
Readers of Spanish can follow their progress via Baig's blog. If you are a Spanish speaker living in one of the places on their itinerary, they would like to hear from you and, who knows, maybe even do an interview. And they are interested in hearing from anyone who speaks Spanish, not just native-speakers. The cities and towns are:
St. Augustine, FL (sorry, they were there yesterday);
Tallahassee, Fl;
Mobile, AL;
New Orleans, LA;
Houston, TX;
San Antonio, TX;
Pecos, TX;
El Paso, TX;
Nogales, AZ;
Yuma, AZ;
Los Angeles, CA.
(There are four stops in Texas, yet they are totally ignoring New Mexico and completely bypassed Miami!)
If you live in one of these locations (or know someone who does) and are interested in talking with the pair, go to this link, look for your location and click on the appropriate spot to send a message. The link also lists the date they will be in each place and a little about why they chose it.
I've but my two cents in, here as well as by submitting a comment to their blog. Why don't you do something similar, here, there or on both?
Chao amig@s,
It's interesting that they use the familiar "tu" form in the project title. I wonder if they'll find that US Spanish speakers are more likely to use the formal "usted" form with strangers.
I wrote them that I wanted to do a similar trip across Spain, only speaking English. Do you think the BBC would take me up on a "Do you speak English" tour of España? If not, do any of you have any contacts at PBS or NPR? ;-)

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