Barack Obama's new video is all in Spanish. Plus Romney in French again.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The last time I can remember Barack Obama recording a video entirely was in Spanish might have been the Puerto Rico primary, but there may have been others. This one is the most recent, released just a few hours ago:

His (prepared) Spanish is quite interesting, with the following oddities I noticed:

-- personifica as persónifica
-- s in presidente as in English and other Romance languages (voiced)
-- votar as vótar

but still not at all awkward as is often the case when someone records a prepared speech in another language. Bloomberg, for example, with Jon Stewart recently characterizing his Spanish as being akin to “walking in on your rabbi practicing with Rosetta Stone.” Comments below every video of Bloomberg speaking in Spanish seem to be divided between 1) horrible, horrible pronunciation please stop and 2) who cares, it's the thought that counts and you can still understand what he's saying anyway.

And since the election is on Tuesday, here's a reminder of Romney's French:

Quite similar to Obama's Spanish in that it's not particularly hard on the ears, and he's not afraid to pronounce it the way a French speaker would (the letter r for example) instead of falling back on the comfortable but incorrect way many English speakers prefer. You can get away with a trilled r in French (since it is pronounced that way in certain regions), but a classic English r sounds terrible. Interestingly, even for a language like French where the stress is always on the last syllable, he stresses some words like organisation on the wrong syllable. Students of Spanish learn early on that all infinitive verbs are stressed on the final syllable, but for Obama and Romney in these videos habit took over and it was vótar and organisátion, not votár and organisatión.


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