Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kahlúa es Delicioso and English is Boring

I love the Kahúa "Delicioso" campaign. I think Ana de la Reguera was a great casting choice (she was the nun in Nacho Libre). She declares in the tv ad that in Spanish, everything sounds more - intriguing. I love her list of completely ordinary objects - stapler, shoes, Robert, piano - that sound more intriguing in Spanish. And of course, by intriguing she really means sexy. Robert, if only he were Roberto, would actually be sexy. And Kahlúa is just so intriguing that the English delicious is simply not good enough to describe it.

Which is an interesting commentary on language. Languages tend to have personality traits attributed to them. French is romantic, German is stern, Italian is passionate and English is...well, what does the rest of the world think of English? It´s one of those things that is difficult to know as a native English-speaker. Even though I speak Spanish and Portuguese, I still have some idea of what those languages sound like when all you can hear are the phonemes. But I can never not understand English, so it´s hard for me to pick out those sounds that might dominate the way the language sounds to non-native speakers. I´ve heard people say it sounds like wah-wah-wah or that it sounds like we have marbles in our mouths. I´ve never heard anyone say that English is sexy.

English is becoming a universal language. Even French, Japanese and German tourists might use English to get around in a place like Mexico. This makes it very useful to native English speakers. But this also makes English less intriguing. If everyone speaks it, what is special about it? As language is often intricately intertwined with culture, do we lose a little of our culture as the rest of the world is capitalizing on our language? I envy people who have always been multilingual. Especially Africans. I really like the idea of speaking one language for business and another with your family. The language you speak to your loved ones must be elevated in your heart. But the language I use with my loved ones is the language of business.

With so many people learning English for purely financial reasons, it is easy to forget that English is the language of Shakespeare, of Lord Byron, the Beatles. For as much as I don´t like listening to Shakira sing in English, I was delighted to hear that she studied Beatles´lyrics to learn it. It shows that she actually cared about the musical culture of the language.

Of course English can be romantic, stern, passionate and sexy. English can be anything we need it to be. But it´s true, it´s more fun to say Kahlúa es delicioso.

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