National anthem in other languages? Heard this before





President Bush, Congress and anyone else upset over the Spanish translation of the national anthem might be interested to know that the U.S. government gave its blessing to a different version 87 years ago.

That translation of "The Star-Spangled Banner," prepared by the Bureau of Education in 1919, has been available on the Library of Congress Web site for two years without so much as a sniff of disapproval.

Besides Spanish, the library has vintage translations in Polish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Armenian, among others. A little Googling will turn up versions in Samoan and Yiddish, too.

"What's sort of surprising for us here who've lived with 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is that everyone has their shorts in a bunch about it," said Loras Schissel, a musicologist at the Library of Congress. "It's old news."

Until last week, that is, when some Latino pop stars released a Spanish version with somewhat different lyrics ("The time has come to break the chains") called "Nuestro Himno," or "Our Anthem."

It landed in the middle of a heated debate over immigration. The song's producer and singers hoped to fire up the immigrant community. To critics, they might as well have torched a flag on the Capitol steps.

Musically speaking, the reaction was fortissimo. Once Spanish-language radio aired the song, talk radio, blogs and cable, along with members of Congress, reacted with outrage.

In contrast, the 1919 government-sponsored Spanish translation evoked a collective yawn, if anyone was paying attention.

"National airs and anthems were popular music at the time," Schissel said. "You bought them on 78 [rpm] records, and people sang them around the piano."



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Walter D. Kamphoefner - 7/10/2007

You missed the oldest translation of them all, an 1851 version by a Texas German. The Library of Congress has an image of an 1862 broadside. More at
http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/24557.html

This translation was still being sung in the bilingual public elementary schools of Indianapolis in 1917. So before you start criticizing today's immigrants, look back at our history rather than our myths.
Walter D. Kamphoefner


Walter D. Kamphoefner - 7/10/2007

You missed the oldest translation of them all, an 1851 version by a Texas German. The Library of Congress has an image of an 1862 broadside. More at
http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/24557.html

This translation was still being sung in the bilingual public elementary schools of Indianapolis in 1917. So before you start criticizing today's immigrants, look back at our history rather than our myths.
Walter D. Kamphoefner


Rob Willis - 5/11/2006

The problem was not with the language, it was that they changed the words, and the result was not anywhere near the intent of the original. It was, in fact, a bit hostile.


Lorraine Paul - 5/10/2006

I would be proud if any immigrant groups in Australia wanted a translation of our national Anthem. Even prouder if it was translated into one of the many indigenous dialects!

What is vastly wrong with the 'privileged' is that they never want to forego ANY of their privileges!!

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