The U.S. National Anthem in Spanish… wow. Who would have thought this could stir up so much emotion?
Back in 2006, the immigration issue was dominating headlines. Everyone was talking about it and everyone had an opinion on the issue. Even people in middle America where immigration wasn’t as big of an issue were still drawn into the debate.
And one of the side issues relating to immigration was the U.S. national anthem, and specifically, a Spanish version of the anthem that was titled “Nuestro Himno.”
National Anthem in Spanish
The Spanish version of the anthem is a hip-hop-style remix sung by various Spanish artists such as Wyclef Jean, Pitbull, and Carlos Ponce, and was a hit on the Internet and among many Latinos in the U.S. and abroad.
While this isn’t the first Spanish translation of the U.S. national anthem, the reason it sparked so much controversy was due to its timing with public debate on U.S. immigration laws and policies. In fact, there have been many different Spanish versions of the anthem, but none garnered the controversy that this one did.
Many people viewed the translation of the national anthem in Spanish as a way to show the diversity and melting-pot of the United States. However, others viewed it as an attack on the unity of the United States.
Whatever side you lean towards on the debate, it is interesting to translators because it shows that translating song and music into another language can be tough. Many times you can’t remain fully faithful to the original, but when you don’t people can get pretty upset. Even if you do remain faithful, some will always to object to your intentions, no matter how good you think they are.
Star-Spangled Banner Lyrics
Here are the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner in English:
Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Nuestro Himno Lyrics
Here are the lyrics to the national anthem in Spanish:
Amanece, ¿lo veis?, ¿a la luz de la aurora?
Lo que tanto aclamamos ¿la noche al caer?
Sus estrellas sus franjas, flotaban ayer
en el fiero combate, en señal de victoria.
Fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertad.
Por la noche decían:
“¡Se va defendiendo!”
¡Oh decid! Despliega aún
Su hermosura estrellada
sobre tierra de libres,
¿la bandera sagrada?
The video below is a version of the national anthem in Spanish. Click on it and see what you think. Do you agree that it is a harmless issue, or do you see it as something that goes against the fabric of what the U.S. represents?
Of course, it’s on the first verse, but since most Americans don’t even know that there are more verses to the Star-Spangled Banner, let alone know the lyrics, I guess we can live with just a single verse in Spanish.
Latin America National Anthems
Even though “Nuestro Himno” caused quite a stir in the United States, it’s not the only Spanish national anthem out there. In fact, every country in Latin America has a Spanish national anthem. Here are a few:
Argentina – “Marcha Patriótica”
Brazil – “Hino Nacional Brasileiro”
Chile – “Himno Nacional de Chile”
Colombia – “Himno Nacional de la República de Colombia”
Cuba – “La Bayamesa”
Ecuador – “Canto a la Patria”
El Salvador – “Salve, Oh Patria”
Guatemala – “Canto Nacional de Guatemala”
Mexico – “Himno Nacional Mexicano”
Panama – “Himno Istmeño”
Paraguay – ” Paraguaios, Escuchad el grito sagrado”
Peru – “Himno Nacional del Perú”
Uruguay – ” Himno Nacional Uruguayo”
Venezuela – “Gloria al Bravo Pueblo”
As you can see, there are quite a few Spanish national anthems out there. Each one has its own unique history and meaning.
Spanish Translation of the National Anthem
If you’re interested in translating the U.S. national anthem into Spanish, or any other language, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Remain Faithful to the Original Meaning
First, when translating a song, it’s important to remain true to the original meaning and intent of the song. This can be difficult to do, especially with something as patriotic as a national anthem.
Know Your Target Audience
Second, you need to be aware of the target audience. Are you translating the song for Spanish speakers in the United States? Or are you translating it for Spanish speakers in other countries? The answer to this question will determine how you approach the translation.
Know the Purpose of the Translation
Similar to the point above, you need to be aware of the purpose of the translation. Are you translating the song for a Spanish class? Or are you translating it for a performance? The answer to this question will also determine how you approach the translation.
Be Ready for Controversy
Finally, be prepared for controversy. Even if you do everything right, there will always be people who object to your translation. This is especially true with something as emotionally charged as a national anthem.
The translation of the U.S. national anthem into Spanish is a controversial issue. Some feel that it’s a harmless way to include Spanish speakers in the patriotic tradition of singing the national anthem. Others feel that it’s a sign of the growing influence of Spanish culture in the United States. No matter what your opinion is, there’s no denying that the translation of the national anthem into Spanish is a hot-button issue.
FAQ – National Anthem in Spanish
Do all translations of patriotic songs cause controversy?
No, but the translation of “The Star-Spangled Banner” into Spanish has been especially contentious. Critics say that the translation changes the meaning of the original song, while supporters argue that it makes the anthem more accessible to Spanish speakers.
Does a country’s national anthem have to be in the country’s official language?
No, there is no hard and fast rule. For example, “O Canada” is the national anthem of Canada, but it is sung in both French and English.
What other famous texts have been translated into Spanish?
The Bible, the Koran, and the works of Shakespeare have all been translated into Spanish. In addition, the Gettysburg Address has been translated into Spanish.
How do you translate “rocket’s red glare” into Spanish?
One possible translation is “el resplandor rojo de los cohetes.” This captures the meaning of the original phrase while still being understandable to Spanish speakers.
What is the difference between a translation and an interpretive translation?
A translation is a word-for-word or literal translation of a text. An interpretive translation is a translation that takes into account the cultural context and intended meaning of the original text. For example, the phrase “Let’s go!” can be translated literally as “¡Vamos!” But if the intention is to be more colloquial, the translation might be “¡Vámonos!”
How do you translate “de bombas estruendo” into English?
This phrase can be translated as “the bombs bursting in air.” It could also be translated more literally as “the noise of the bombs.”