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Praises be, we’ve all made it to Friday!

My speaker today is Patrick Elliot.  Patrick was born in Beunos Aires, Argentina.  His father is Argentine of British descent…which explains why my Spanish speaker is named “Patrick Elliot” :)  His mother is Argentine but learned English in school; the family eventually moved to the US, though Spanish was the only language spoken in Patrick’s childhood home.

Patrick says that Spanish is a widely-spoken language but there are many different dialects and accents in different parts of the world.  Patrick speaks porteño (a word derived from Buenos Aires’s  importance as a port – puerto.)  “My friends from other countries and I like to exchange and joke about how many things are said so many different ways – sometimes in ways that are innocent in one dialect and vulgar in another,” he says.  For instance, ” ‘bicho’ in porteño means ‘bug’ but in some Caribbean countries refers to the male sexual organ.”

Patrick says that since he was raised outside of Argentina, he was at first reluctant to maintain his language.  “It’s a lot of work,” he notes.  “But I eventually changed my view; I began to see my language and accent as a point of focus and pride. Even now, when I visit Argentina, I measure my accent against my relatives. It’s never good enough.”

Around where I grew up, and where I live now, the Spanish I hear is mostly Central American, and before I got to hear Patrick I’m not sure I’d ever heard an Argentine accent.  He points out that “since I was raised most of life outside Argentina, a native Spanish speaker would eventually notice that I wasn’t raised my entire life in Argentina. But I hope I brought an accent that’s unique within the Spanish language.🙂 ”

The clip Patrick is sharing with us today is an excerpt from La Biblioteca de Babel, a story by Jorge Luis Borges.  He says “Borges is a well-known Argentine author, and this is one of his best-known works. I wanted to pick something people could relate to!”  I will confess, I adore Borges, and when I found out Patrick was from Argentina, I secretly hoped that he would pick one of his stories!  It sounds different than any Spanish I’ve heard, and the idea that this is how the author would have spoken is pretty thrilling for me.  I hope you enjoy it as well!

Cuando se proclamó que la Biblioteca abarcaba todos los libros, la primera impresión fue de extravagante felicidad. Todos los hombres se sintieron señores de un tesoro intacto y secreto. No había problema personal o mundial cuya elocuente solución no existiera: en algún hexágono. El universo estaba justificado, el universo bruscamente usurpó las dimensiones ilimitadas de la esperanza. En aquel tiempo se habló mucho de las Vindicaciones: libros de apología y de profecía, que para siempre vindicaban los actos de cada hombre del universo y guardaban arcanos prodigiosos para su porvenir. Miles de codiciosos abandonaron el dulce hexágono natal y se lanzaron escaleras arriba, urgidos por el vano propósito de encontrar su Vindicación. Esos peregrinos disputaban en los corredores estrechos, proferían oscuras maldiciones, se estrangulaban en las escaleras divinas, arrojaban los libros engañosos al fondo de los túneles, morían despeñados por los hombres de regiones remotas. Otros se enloquecieron… Las Vindicaciones existen (yo he visto dos que se refieren a personas del porvenir, a personas acaso no imaginarias) pero los buscadores no recordaban que la posibilidad de que un hombre encuentre la suya, o alguna pérfida variación de la suya, es computable en cero.

English translation:
“When it was proclaimed that the Library contained all books, the first impression was one of extravagant happiness. All men felt themselves to be the masters of an intact and secret treasure. There was no personal or world problem whose eloquent solution did not exist in some hexagon. The universe was justified, the universe suddenly usurped the unlimited dimensions of hope. At that time a great deal was said about the Vindications: books of apology and prophecy which vindicated for all time the acts of every man in the universe and retained prodigious arcana for his future. Thousands of the greedy abandoned their sweet native hexagons and rushed up the stairways, urged on by the vain intention of finding their Vindication. These pilgrims disputed in the narrow corridors, proferred dark curses, strangled each other on the divine stairways, flung the deceptive books into the air shafts, met their death cast down in a similar fashion by the inhabitants of remote regions. Others went mad … The Vindications exist (I have seen two which refer to persons of the future, to persons who are perhaps not imaginary) but the searchers did not remember that the possibility of a man’s finding his Vindication, or some treacherous variation thereof, can be computed as zero.”

(Note: this translation, as well as the full text in English, is available here.)

Thank you so much for sharing, Patrick!