Thursday, June 04, 2009
That's the theme of this article here which treats the matter as a bit of a puzzle: with the huge Spanish-speaking population in the United States, why is publication of serious novels falling far behind the growing population, and the increase of tv and radio along with it?
It may not be that complex a matter though, and likely has something to do with the difference between spoken and written language. Languages on the whole are easier to read than they are to speak (especially when they use the same alphabet), and that means there is a large population of people that are capable of reading English titles and newspapers but not all that confident in carrying on a conversation in the language. I'm the same way with French and Spanish, as are many others. Reading content that someone else has written is always much easier to follow than writing your own. And at the same time, if you are partially or mostly fluent in English (to the extent that you can read it mostly without difficulty) it really isn't all that much fun to read anything translated into Spanish if it was originally written in English, since translations never feel quite right when you have direct access to the original. I don't think I could ever stand to read something like Natsume Souseki's 夢十夜 in English for example (make sure to check out dream #7 if you can read Japanese), and I'm sure those fluent in Russian just don't feel right reading Dostoevsky in English either.
Then again, I could be wrong on that - perhaps the reasons have to do with wealth and lack of leisure time instead. It's been noted that one reason for the huge success of Spanish radio might have to do with the fact that radio is cheap and unlimited - you can turn it on when driving to and from work, relaxing at home, wherever, so even those working brutal hours can still put in a bit of time to listen to the radio. TV is also the same as it is usually used to wind down in the evening.