TLAXCALA تلاكسكالا Τλαξκάλα Тлакскала la red internacional de traductores por la diversidad lingüística le réseau international des traducteurs pour la diversité linguistique the international network of translators for linguistic diversity الشبكة العالمية للمترجمين من اجل التنويع اللغوي das internationale Übersetzernetzwerk für sprachliche Vielfalt a rede internacional de tradutores pela diversidade linguística la rete internazionale di traduttori per la diversità linguistica la xarxa internacional dels traductors per a la diversitat lingüística översättarnas internationella nätverk för språklig mångfald شبکه بین المللی مترجمین خواهان حفظ تنوع گویش το διεθνής δίκτυο των μεταφραστών για τη γλωσσική ποικιλία международная сеть переводчиков языкового разнообразия Aẓeḍḍa n yemsuqqlen i lmend n uṭṭuqqet n yilsawen dilsel çeşitlilik için uluslararası çevirmen ağı la internacia reto de tradukistoj por la lingva diverso

 23/06/2018 Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity Tlaxcala's Manifesto  
Date of publication at Tlaxcala: 26/11/2016
Translations available: Français 

The Power of Soaps

Ronald C. Flores-Gunkle


My wife and a large portion of the population of Puerto Rico are fans of telenovelas, the Latin equivalent of soap operas. At one time, they were produced locally. One in particular, “Cristina Bazán,” nearly brought the island to a halt during the hour it was broadcast every weekday in 1978.

Local production eventually waned and novelas made in Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia replaced them. They were not much different than the soaps that preceded them or from those that dominated daytime television on the mainland: love, sex, avarice, jealousy, intrigue, fame and fortune, unhappiness and joy — the rocky romance of life.

They shared a similar culture and language. Spanish, as spoken in the Americas, is understandable by all. You can easily distinguish a Cuban from a Mexican by their accents, but the differences are not really much greater than, say, between English spoken in New York and Alabama.

The settings were somewhat exotic (think Chicago versus Miami), but the essentials of daily life are easily transferrable or at least recognizable. A jilted lover or a homicidal boyfriend in one Hispanic country acts and reacts about the same as in another.

I am not sure why, but these serial sagas have also begun to disappear. They have been replaced by soaps that were made in Turkey, translated and dubbed into Spanish. They have thousands of followers in Puerto Rico — including the one I am married to.

Turkey? They are dubbed in Spanish so the language is not an issue. The settings are certainly exotic — Istanbul is not Caracas. But then Lima isn’t Havana.

Language and setting are only a small part of culture. Aren’t the situations different? Doesn’t a Muslim paterfamilias (or materfamilias) interact differently than, say a Roman Catholic machista? Isn’t love, sex, avarice, jealousy, intrigue, fame and fortune, unhappiness and joy — the rocky romance of life — different in a country halfway across the world, one that straddles Europe and Asia?

“Nope,” my wife answered when I asked her. “No difference whatsoever.”


“Ninguna,” she said. “Now don’t interrupt me again. Mustafa is about to propose to Fatima.”

During the next commercial, I persisted. “Is there really nothing different, nothing at all?”

She thought about this for a moment. “Many of the novelas are based on true stories. That’s different. They drink a lot of tea in small glasses, not coffee. Oh, and they say ‘Ay, Alláh,’ a lot, instead of ‘Ay, Diós.” Now go back to your writing.”

What an amazing lesson is being learned through a popular soap opera that happens to be Turkish! Muslims — at least in Turkey — look, feel, act, suffer and interact just like us! Astounding!

If only more people (including certain Republicans in the north) could tune in! What a better world this might be.

Courtesy of 100 Naked Words
Publication date of original article: 26/11/2016
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Tags: TelenovelasSoap operasGlobal culture

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