Bloomberg’s Hurricane Irene Warning Typifies Spanish Outreach
- August 30, 2011
- 3 Comments
During Hurricane Irene, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to give a speech in Spanish to alert Hispanic residents about the dangers of the hurricane. However, an honest effort to reach Spanish speakers turned into a typical misunderstanding of Spanish and led Bloomberg to be criticized around the Web. The goodwill attempt was considered “disastrous” because of his bad accent which was later parodied by a Twitter user who already has amassed more than 15,000 followers.
Transcribed below is one short Spanish warning he issued in one of the press conferences:
- Spanish: “Por favor, ya no salgan a las calles, quédense en sus casas o en los refugios.”
- English: “Please, don´t go out on the streets yet. Stay at home or in a safe place.”
In the following message Mayor Bloomberg quickly reads the Spanish message. The beginning of the statement is difficult to understand but with some help the message is translated below:
- Spanish: “En la calle, esta tarde (-not sure about these words-) la tormenta nos ha dificultado la limpieza, pero estamos haciendo todo lo posible y estamos usando todos los refuerzos que podemos. Este es el esfuerzo más grande que han visto nuestros ciudadanos”.
- English: “On the street, this afternoon (-not sure about these words-) the storm has made the cleanup effort difficult, but we are doing everything possible and using all the support we can. This is the largest effort that our citizens have ever seen”
Viral Twitter Feed
These efforts to speak Spanish have been parodied by Rachel Figueroa-Levin, a 25-year-old native New Yorker that created the Twitter account @Elbloombito to entertain friends while the Hurricane hit New York. @Elbloombito began tweeting in “Spanglish” from a fictional mayor called Miguel Bloombito, and the caricature has spread out so fast that has rapidly attracted the growing number of 15,000 followers.
In an interview with the New York Observer, Rachel Figueroa-Levin described mayor’s Spanish as “laughable” and added that “if he really wanted to get a message across to the Latino community he should have stepped aside and had someone who speaks Spanish fluently deliver the message”.
This is a prefect example illustrating how companies and public officials put in sub-par attempts to create dialogs with the Latino community. Although Bloomberg’s speech caught attention because of his position and the emergency of the storm, companies should ask: “Is our Hispanic outreach ‘laughable’?”. If not we’ll soon see similar parodies like @El_Old_Spico_Man or @Senor_Dirito.
This post is also available in: Spanish
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