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January 21, 2004


Ben & Jen: Linguistic Marvels

This bit is a few days old, but it just hit WENN today, and there's some stuff in it worth pointing out:

Ben Affleck speaks better Spanish than his fiancee Jennifer Lopez, even though she was raised by Puerto Rican US immigrants. The Daredevil hunk -- who has just returned from a vast European tour promoting new movie Paycheck -- stunned journalists in Madrid by holding a press conference in Spanish. His Latina fiancee, however, reportedly struggles to converse in her parent's native tongue. Ben says, "Many people think that Jennifer has taught me but I learnt it at 13 because I lived in Mexico when I was a teenager." [source]
First of all, the part of the story about J. Lo not speaking Spanish is about 1,000,000 years old, and goes back to her role in Selena, because Selena, like J. Lo, also had trouble with Spanish.

Next up: Ok, look, PUERTO RICANS ARE NOT IMMIGRANTS.* They have been citizens since 1917. If she grew up in Texas, would they have written "she was raised by Texan US immigrants"?

Finally: "Learnt"?? At first I was going to excoriate Ben for it, but then it occurred to me that WENN is a British (I think) service, and they must have Britified Ben's diction for their own imperial purposes. So fine. But that in itself raises some interesting issues about what reporters are supposed to do when interview subjects speak in non-standard English. My English teacher in high school told me that newspapers in the old days would do things like quote people who said "It was her" as saying "It was she." I don't know to what extent this is still done, although I imagine it goes on in some cases. Maybe somebody who is a practicing journalist can write in and say. And it also makes me wonder whether the Spanish journalists covering Affleck's "fluent" press conference cleaned up his Spanish conjugations for him.

*My friend Van proposed this exact phrase as a t-shirt slogan a few years ago while I was pushing my line of defunct dot-com apparel. Coincidentally, Van is also the subject of a post from earlier today about his new movie in Times Square.

categories: Celebrities
posted by adm at 4:20 PM | #