LondonSpanish

¡Regent Street en versión española!

El próximo domingo 6 de junio, Regent Street se disfrazará de española. Desde el mediodía hasta las 19:00 horas, danzas, músicas, sabores y olores típicos de España poblarán la céntrica calle londinense con motivo del festival A Taste of Spain.

Paella para todos, gazpacho, jamón, charangas, conciertos, productos a la venta, espectáculos de flamenco y mucho más podrás encontrar en la cita que Londres mantiene desde hace unos años con España y que acerca a los londinenses y turistas una pequeña muestra de algunas regiones españolas.

Las comunidades que participan son Andalucía, Aragón, Islas Baleares, la comunidad Valenciana, Madrid, Navarra más las ciudades de Valencia, Madrid y Segovia y la Isla de Gran Canaria. En el festival también participa la revista de cultura bilingüe Babylon Magazine. Todos los participantes contarán con un espacio en la ajetreada Regent Street, donde podrás encontrar información turística y disfrutar de los actos que han preparado para curiosos y amantes de la cultura española.

Web 'A Taste of Spain'En esta edición, además, Regent Street contará con una zona dedicada a deportes y cualquier persona que se anime podrá participar en actividades interactivas de numerosos deportes en los que España destaca en la actualidad, como tenis, baloncesto, fútbol, Moto GP, F1, golf…

La cita cuenta con el apoyo de la Oficina de Turismo española y suele reunir a alrededor de unas 500.000 personas cada año. Para consultar el programa completo de actividades y los actos concretos, visita la página web oficial del festival pinchando aquí.

Advertisements

May 28, 2010 Posted by | News & current affairs | Leave a comment

¡Súmate a los 450 motivos de celebración!

Imagen Juego del Español

Voy por las calles londinenses y a mis oídos de pronto llega un acento gallego. A la vuelta de la esquina, percibo un tono argentino. Sigo caminando y me encuentro con un grupo de andaluces charlando…

Londres no es sólo la capital de Reino Unido, sino también la capital de la multicultura por excelencia en la que dicen que se hablan cerca de 300 idiomas y en la que viven una gran variedad de etnias y razas diferentes. Una de esas lenguas es, sin duda, el español, que aumenta su popularidad progresivamente en Londres y no sólo por la cantidad de españoles y latinoamericanos que habitan por estas tierras inglesas, sino porque cada vez más extranjeros se sienten atraídos por aprender el idioma de Don Quijote.

Hace ya un tiempo, LondonSpanish os invitaba a celebrar la diversidad de nuestra lengua. Ahora, es el Instituto Cervantes el que nos anima a unirnos a una celebración mundial en la protagonista es la lengua castellana. Será el próximo sábado 19 de junio, el Día del Español, un día en el que por segundo año consecutivo las 73 sedes del centro, repartidas en 42 países del mundo de los cinco continentes, han organizado jornadas repletas de actividades para festejar la buena salud de nuestra lengua. 

Quizás por un incremento de popularidad en los últimos años, el español está cada vez más presente en todos los ámbitos internacionales. Ésto no es simplemente una pequeña  suposición por mi experiencia como española viviendo en Londres y mis encuentros continuos con sonidos españoles por cada rincón londinense. Los datos hablan por sí solos. El español es la segunda lengua en el mundo por número de hablantes; es también el segundo idioma de comunicación internacional y, según un reciente estudio de la Fundación Telefónica, se encuentra en proceso de arrebatarle el puesto al italiano como cuarta lengua más hablada en la Unión Europea.

Pero a lo mejor, el incremento de popularidad del español no es cuestión de suposiciones ni de cifras, sino de un reconocimiento como elemento cultural. El español es un lazo de unión entre dos continentes, entre dos hemisferios y un denominador común de una gran variedad de culturas separadas por miles de kilómetros.

Día EPor una cosa o por otra, lo cierto es que, en la actualidad, el español es un instrumento de comunicación hablado por más de 450 millones de personas en el mundo y según parece esta cifra está en pleno crecimiento…  Éste es el motivo principal para ser objeto de celebración. Tanto si eres uno de esos 450 millones, como si no, ¡celébralo con el Cervantes!

La sede en la capital británica ha programado actividades tanto culturales como académicas, desde talleres gastronómicos, degustaciones de productos típicos españoles y música en directo en los al aire libre en los jardines de Eaton Square hasta clases de español gratis para los que se animen a probar.

El centro ofrece además durante toda la jornada descuentos en las matriculaciones de los cursos de verano. Un 10 por ciento para todos los que se apunten y hasta un 25 por ciento si ya eres alumno del centro y convences a un amigo para apuntarse contigo (quien tendrá un 10 por ciento de descuento).

Todas las actividades que se desarrollarán son gratuitas y todo el mundo está invitado a participar y a traer a amigos y allegados (tanto si forman parte de las 450 millones de personas que hablan español como si no), pero se requiere confirmación en seclon@cervantes.es, por el aforo limitado de los jardines. Pronto podrá consultarse el programa completo de actividades que ha organizado el Cervantes en Londres en su página web.

Hasta la celebración del Día del Español, desde LondonSpanish os animamos a pasar unos entretenidos y divertidos momentos desafiando vuestros conocimientos del idioma con el “Juego del Español” y votando vuestra palabra favorita (¡ya hay más de un millón de votos!) en la plataforma que el Cervantes ha puesto en marcha por segundo año consecutivo, www.eldiae.es.

May 26, 2010 Posted by | Instituto Cervantes en Londres, News & current affairs, Spanish language | Leave a comment

Young people should know about history, warns Herminio Martínez, former child refugee from the Spanish civil war

Herminio Martínez, niño de la guerra

Herminio Martínez

By Bárbara Mulberry, El Colectivo Londres Magazine *

CHILDREN’s eyes record images that adults can’t see, enriching our understanding of history. Herminio Martínez was one of the young Basque children who in 1937 arrived in England after fleeing from the Spanish civil war. Their eyes saw everything. Now Herminio has recalled the story of his childhood, a story shared by many others who left Spain and came to Britain in search of a home.

“I live near Highgate cemetery. Do you know where it is? And do you know who is buried there?” This was how Herminio gave me directions when we arranged our interview, and his cosy flat is indeed just a stone’s throw from where Karl Marx lies.

Herminio was one of the 4,000 children who on May 21 1937 boarded a ship to set sail for Southampton. “It was a terrible crossing. We were 4,000 children in a ship for 400 passengers. I was seven and my brother 11. We slept on the floor. We ran into a storm in the Bay of Biscay and that was a horrifying situation, rolling on the floor, throwing up, and many kids crying out to go back to Bilbao with their parents…”

They arrived on May 23. Hundreds of people were waiting to welcome the children as the Salvation Army band played. But neither Catholic Church nor British government were so exalted. “The British government didn’t like us; it had refused to accept civil war refugees after signing a non-intervention pact. It said helping children meant there were fewer people to feed in Bilbao, and in this way they could better resist the franquistas.  So that would be to go against the pact.”

Herminio highlights the English people’s solidarity. “A support movement

Barco La Habana

Barco La Habana

 emerged among all English people, from workers to aristocracy, and set up a committee to help Basque children. Duchess Atholl was the president while Lady Cecilia Roberts ran a foster home in northern England.”

Then, Herminio explains, the Franco government started demanding the children be sent back. “In many cases the claims were false,” he says. “In the end, about 440 children were not demanded by anyone, some because their parents had died or were in prison and some others, like in my case, because their families didn’t have the resources to support them – my mother had five other children to feed.

“Some of us were taken in by British families. I was taken in when I was 10 by Methodist Christians from the Midlands. I started to go to school with them and to learn English. They were good to me but they had financial problems and they gave me back to the foster home.”

Suddenly, Herminio seems to need an answer before continuing with his story. “Are you Catholic?” he asks. When I reply that I am, he says: “Look, 100 teachers, some auxiliaries and 15 priests arrived with us from Spain. When some children were repatriated, the Catholic Church in England thought the priests should also return to Spain, even though some of them were in danger. I have a letter from a priest called Orbegozo, begging the bishop for a job here in England because someone had told him he would be killed if he went back to Spain. But the bishop’s answer was categorical: ‘Go back home!’”

I ask what happened to the priest, and discover that Orbegonzo did indeed return to Spain, but nothing more is known of him.

Herminio speaks an excellent Spanish: rich in vocabulary and with an accent made in Spain. His knowledge of the history that he lived through is understandable, but the rest… who brought up him?

“I was in eight different foster homes and with all these travels was impossible to bring up. And I also began to work when I was 14. Our upbringing was terrible, but on the other side we were lucky. We spent a lot of time with young Republican intellectuals who had arrived in England when the war finished, people such as Luis Portillo (father of the Conservative politician Michael Portillo) and the journalist Marcelino Sánchez.”

“What did they live on?” I ask. “From the little money they earned to stay with us. And from some casual work: peeling potatoes, washing dishes…” War, even when it doesn’t ruin lives, interrupts careers. Luis Portillo, for example, had been Professor of Civil Law in Salamanca since 1934, but war turned him into a poorly-paid potato peeler.

The intellectual and political activity of these young Republicans included Herminio and the other children, who grew up under the influence of publications such as Mundo Obrero (Workers’ World) or El Socialista (The Socialist). “The English press, for example The Daily Herald, also reported the Spanish situation. Sometimes there were even demonstrations and protests outside the Embassy’s door.”

Juan Negrín

Juan Negrín

Herminio also remembers with special affection Juan Negrín, the last Republican president. “He was very good to us. He founded the Hogar Español (“Spanish Home”), a centre where refugees were taken in. We organised some parties, meetings and cultural activities. Negrín set up grants so that Republican youngsters could study too.”

Herminio also remembers another side of the Civil War: Republican soldiers who had crossed to France. “Their lives were hugely difficult. They had to join the French army in order not to be repatriated to Spain, where they would have been put in prison or killed. The French army used them as shock troops against Germany.”

Our interviewee is a mine of memories, and we move forward in time to the 1960s and 70s and economic migration from Spain. “Spain’s poorest arrived to survive as they could. They did the jobs the English people didn’t want: cleaning, food industry, agriculture… They didn’t have a choice because the British government forced them to accept any job for five years and thereafter they could do whatever they wanted.”

“What is the difference between that generation and yours?” I ask. “War children had a bigger cultural development. Economic emigrants were illiterate. Even now there are some of them learning to read and write in the adults’ social centre where we meet up.”

The young Spanish professionals who have arrived in London in recent years certainly can read and write, but Herminio believes we lack other qualities.  “You are materialist and you don’t have the cultural basis you should have. We are richer in experiences, while you are not open-minded. You have no political interests. At university you learn without asking yourself what you are studying. Today’s young generation should know history. They should know what happened.” His tone of voice is firm yet friendly. I observe him in silence and can see how he frightened away evils on his own. “Many pages of our history have been torn out but now they are starting to be known.”

* This article has been translated and adapted from the original, which appeared in El Colectivo Londres Magazine. To read the full version in Spanish, click here.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | History | Leave a comment

Moor to it than meets the eye

La Alhambra

“THERE’s no fate worse than being blind in Granada,” a Spanish saying goes. But not all eyes can read what they see.

Granada’s incredible Alhambra, probably the most famous monument in all of Spain, has long been an object of fascination for historians, writers, artists and people in general.

Yet this beautiful palace-fortress still hides thousands of secrets, in particular the Arabic inscriptions that were written centuries ago. In fact, efforts to translate and interpret these inscriptions began almost as soon as the last Moors left Granada in 1492 after the Catholic monarchs completed the Reconquista of Spain.

Just nine years later, in 1501, a translation institute was established in Spain. Naturally, much of its work involved translating the Arabic left behind by centuries of Moorish rule.

Ever since, countless experts and visitors have been trying to decipher the meanings of the inscriptions which cover so many of the Alhambra’s walls, roofs, arches and other features. Foreign travellers, in particular the British artists of the 18th century, also attempted to study and catalogue the many thousands of verses and sayings.

Unfortunately, these works either failed to truthfully represent what was found, or covered only small parts of the Alhambra. In other cases, sadly, the work was lost.

Now experts from the School of Arabic Studies at the CSIC (Spanish Higher Council of Scientific Research) are compiling and studying one by one every single inscription that is found in the Alhambra. They reckon there are about 10,000 of them.

Alhambra wallOne of these experts, Juan Castilla, visited the Instituto Cervantes London to talk about the project, called Corpus Epigráfico de La Alhambra. The event was part of the seriesDeciphering the Alhambra’ organised by the Instituto Cervantes in London and Poet in the City.

Interpreting these inscriptions is a long and difficult task. As Castilla points out: “Even Arabic people can’t read what the inscriptions say.”

One of the challenges lies in the fact that there are different styles of Arabic writing found in the Alhambra. There are two basic types – one without marks, küfi, and another with marks, nasjí. “In the Alhambra we can find both, but also a mix of them, so three types of writing in total,” Castilla revealed.

That goes some way to explaining why this work is so hard, as does the fact that one of the functions of such Arabic writing is ornamental. It’s a challenge just working out what is ornamental and what is word.

Interestingly, while it is widely held that Islam prohibits images of humans and animals, Castilla contends that: “This is not really true. Islam doesn’t promote such images, but that is not exactly the same as to prohibit.”

Castilla ended his lecture by showing examples of these inscriptions,

Palacio de Comares
Palacio de Comares

complete with translations and interpretations, which can be viewed and studied on a comprehensive and interactive DVD.

So far, the CSIC team have studied 3,116 inscriptions found in the Palacio de Comares. Now they are working in a second phase that includes the study of one of the most famous parts of the Alhambra, the Palacio de los Leones.

“In 2011, or 2012 at the latest, we hope to have concluded the study,” assured Castilla.

While the CSIC seeks to end our blindness in regards to the Alhambra, the Instituto Cervantes-Poet in the City series continues with a concert celebrating the music and poetry of the medieval Islamic mystic and philosopher Ibn Arabí. This concert takes place at Canning House on Wednesday June 23 (6.30pm) and tickets cost £10 (£6 for members). Click here to book.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Books, poetry and theatre, History, Instituto Cervantes en Londres | Leave a comment

Have we got a party for you…

Día E

El Día del Español (El Día E) – Spanish Language Day – Saturday 19 June 2010

COME and join in the worldwide celebration of Spanish Language Day on Saturday June 19 as more than 70 Instituto Cervantes centres in 40 countries put on a host of special activities and entertainment.

Spanish is the official language of no fewer than 21 countries, so here in London we’re busy organising with ACALASP a programme that includes activities, exhibitions, demonstrations and music from several Latin American nations.

We’re also looking forward to the authentic flavours of Spain with gourmet tastings and workshops provided by Ibérica, one of London’s finest Spanish restaurants, and, of course, Wines From Spain.  Pre-registration is ESSENTIAL for these tastings and workshops, which take place in the Eaton Square gardens between noon and 4pm. For full details see the Instituto Cervantes website.

But the main point of the day is the Spanish language, so we’ll be launching a ‘word shower’ to open the event at 10am, and offering activities including the Spanish Game, a crossword-type contest designed to test your Spanish skills. Juego del español - The Spanish Game

And here’s the best bit … we’re offering all current Instituto Cervantes London students the chance to win a luxury tour of Andalucía, visiting all the major sights and staying in some of the region’s finest hotels.

This fantastic prize awaits the winner of our Spanish Game tournament. Heats will be held on Friday June 11, with the final taking place on Día E. There will also be runners-up prizes, and everyone who enters the competition will receive a souvenir T-shirt. Full information on how to take part will be available in the centre soon. In the meantime, you can practise playing the Spanish Game at www.eldiae.es.

We also want you to vote for your favourite Spanish word, and tell us any new Spanish word you have invented or heard. Thousands of people all over the world have already done so at eldiae.es.

After last week’s election exertions LondonSpanish isn’t ready to cast another vote just yet, but we like the look and sound of cachivache (junk) – one of the early frontrunners on eldiae.es – and internautas, which brilliantly encapsulates the idea of navigating one’s way through the vast expanses of the internet.

We’ll be making our choice at eldiae.es some time before June 19, and having a go at some of the other interactive fun and games there. We hope you’ll do the same…

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Instituto Cervantes en Londres, Spanish language | Leave a comment

A starring role for Instituto Cervantes students

TV crews are like buses, it would seem. After ages without a visit from any of the major broadcasters, we’ve had no fewer than three groups filming at the Instituto Cervantes London in the space of 48 hours.

First up was a news team from La Sexta Noticias in Spain as some of our students made headlines on Thursday discussing the British elections in Spanish.

At about the same time our head of culture Olvido Salazar was with a crew from the BBC, helping them make a forthcoming programme that is due to be broadcast as part of the coverage of the London 2012 Olympics.

Then on Saturday a team from Extraordinaire TV were at the Instituto Cervantes centre, filming for a new internet TV series to be called Virtual Vacation. The idea of the series is to show how you can experience the language and culture of a foreign country without leaving London – better for your wallet and your carbon footprint – and LondonSpanish is delighted to report that Spain has been chosen for the pilot programme.

We’d also like to say a big thanks to all the Instituto Cervantes students, visitors and staff who either took part in these broadcasts or helped make sure everything went smoothly. LondonSpanish will post more details of the BBC and Virtual Vacation shows as soon as we have them.

May 9, 2010 Posted by | News & current affairs | Leave a comment

Move over, flamenco!

Pauline en la playa

Pauline en la playa

SPANISH music, other than flamenco, has been hard to find in Great Britain – until now.

More and more Spanish groups are coming to London to perform and share their music with a new audience.

And this month there are plenty of opportunities for fans of Spanish music to put on their dancing shoes and paint the town red.

Lafonoteca, an exciting new project bringing Spanish music to London, is now organising monthly live sessions at Camino, one of our favourite Spanish bars in London.

This Sunday, May 9, they will be bringing us Pauline en la playa from Gijón. This group consists of two sisters, who take pop as their starting point but mix it with other types of music.

The gig starts at 7.30pm, and includes other groups as well as Lafonoteca DJs until midnight. Best of all, admission is free. 

As LondonSpanish has already told you in recent posts, there are mLosDelinquentes. Recuerdos garrapateros de la flama y el carrilore Spanish groups coming to London soon, including Los Delinqüentes and Hombres G.

The former is a pop-rock-flamenco group who will be performing their unique ‘garrapatero’ style next Saturday, May 15, at the O2 Academy Islington. Hombres G, a Spanish pop-rock group, will be with us in London Hombres G. Todo esto es muy extrañoat the end of the month, on Saturday May 29 at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire.

So if you like Spanish music, or just want to listen to something new, get yourselves down to one of these gigs … and then let us know what you think.

May 5, 2010 Posted by | Music and flamenco | Leave a comment

¡El estilo garrapatero llega a Londres!

Con un estilo propio, unas letras atrevidas y un aprendizaje en la calle, Los Delinqüentes se han configurado como uno de los grupos españoles actuales más conocidos, y no sólo en España. Ya han traspasado las fronteras y se han hecho escuchar en países Latinoamericanos, e incluso,  en el norte de África.

Ahora, estos chicos andaluces, que casi podría decirse de ellos que nacieron con una guitarra de palo debajo del brazo, se atreven con la Pérfida Albión y harán sonar sus peculiares canciones en la capital británica.

Será el próximo 15 de mayo en el O2 Academy Islington, cuando sus ritmos, de estilo garrapatero (como lo llamó Miguel Benítez, er Migue, uno de los miembros del grupo que lamentablemente falleció en 2004 a los 21 años por un paro cardiaco), cautiven la escena inglesa. Las puertas abrirán a las 18:30 horas y a las 19:00 horas romperán el silencio los teloneros El Puchero del Hortelano, un grupo de Granada de flamenco rock.

La banda de Los Delinqüentes se formó con un par de chicos que iban juntos al instituto, er Migue y Marcos del Ojo, er Canijo de Jerez, que comenzaron a quedar en el campo o en la estación de ferrocarril de Jerez de la Frontera (cualquier sitio valía) para tocar juntos. Más tarde se uniría al grupo Diego Pozo, er Ratón.

Tras la grabación de algunas maquetas a finales de los 90, en 2001 Los Delinqüentes sacaron su primer disco a la venta, El sentimiento garrapatero que nos traen las flores. Todo un éxito. Al público le gustaron tanto sus “nubes de pegatina” y “farolas de serpentina” que el disco llegó a ser de oro, vendiendo más de 50.000 unidades.

Quizás fue su estilo propio, una fusión de flamenco pop y rock, y sus letras desvergonzadas, atrevidas y vacilonas, pero que, en cierto modo, conservan el lenguaje popular de su tierra natal, lo que les permitió triunfar desde su primer álbum. A éste le siguió Arquitectura del Aire en la Calle, en 2003.

Tras el trágico golpe de la muerte inesperada de er Migue, el grupo decidió continuar con su andadura musical, creando nuevas letras y ritmos que han mantenido el espíritu garrapatero con el que comenzó. Dos discos más, El verde rebelde vuelve (2005) y Bienvenidos a la época iconoclasta (2009), y una recopilación de grandes éxitos Recuerdos garrapateros de la fama y el carril, (2006) completan la discografía del grupo.

En su recorrido musical, han contado además con amplias colaboraciones de artistas, como Kiko Veneno, Raimundo Amador, Tabletom, Muchachito Bombo Infierno, Julieta Venegas y Bebe, y han realizado varias bandas sonoras de películas, entre ellas, la de  Mortadelo y Filemón: Misión salvar la tierra, en 2008.

La entrada cuesta £18 y ya puedes comprarla aquí.

¡A garrapatear se ha dicho!

May 4, 2010 Posted by | Music and flamenco | Leave a comment