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Anonimo

Apr 2, 2009, 3:20 AM

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Mexican Newspaper Language

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I've been reading some Mexican newspapers on line and on paper lately, and I find that their language is a sort of stilted, circumlocutious style.

What's with that? Why don't they just write simply and clearly, or are they trying to fill up empty space?

Examples on request.

"En Boca Cerrada No Entran Moscas."

Saludos,
Anonimo



jerezano

Apr 2, 2009, 9:06 AM

Post #2 of 28 (9198 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Hello Anonimo,

You asked about newspaper language: >>>>>>>>What's with that? Why don't they just write simply and clearly, or are they trying to fill up empty space?<<<<<<<<<<<

That's a good question to which there is no answer. But like you, I find newspaper articles here in Mexico to be frustrating. Unlike American newspapers where the answers to the questions Who, What, Where, Why, When and How are usually found in the first paragraph, one or more of these questions may never be answered in several paragraphs of dense and confusing language.

First of all, Spanish is a much more polite language than English. Secondly to go directly to the nut of something is discourteous in the Spanish culture. Everything must be approached gently and gradually. Many times the information goal can be lost in the circumlocutions used. Too, if the article is translated from English, that translation may be bad.

For example the local newspapers blared the other day in títulos de ocho columnias (Headlines) that Obama had declared that violence in Mexico was out of control. I listened to the interview (Channel 54 in English on Megacable) as well as later reading newspaper reports in English of the interview. What he said was that the violence in Mexico was spilling over into the border states and was getting out of hand [here in the US]. He said this rather carefully because both he and his Secretary of State had been denying a statement by a subordinate that violence in Mexico was out of the Mexican government's control.

My own personal problem with Mexican reportage is that many times one can find an article of several inches in length which is just one sentence. Ouch!

jerezano


tonyburton


Apr 2, 2009, 9:54 AM

Post #3 of 28 (9193 views)

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Re: [jerezano] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Quote: títulos de ocho columnias (Headlines)
Question: columnias, columnas, or (perhaps even better?) calumnias...


stina

Apr 2, 2009, 10:17 AM

Post #4 of 28 (9185 views)

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Re: [tonyburton] Mexican Newspaper Language

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This post was quite timely for me!!!

I've been sitting here this morning, trying to translate (Spanish -> English) a 161 word long sentence. (Yes, that's right-161 words long.) I've been doing some translation for a professor at a university here in Guad, who wants to publish some studies he's done in US publications. This particular sentence is a summary statement for one of his papers.

I was just talking to a Mexican friend of mine who's fully bilingual and bi-cultural, and was whining to her about how flowery this man's language is- as is Mexican writing in general- and how this is not just a translation job, but an editing one to boot.

That's OK with me, but I'm wondering how to say "flowery" or "verbose" in Spanish? I'm aware that neither one of those words is very nice in English, by the way. I won't drop that one on the prof, but it's for my own info.

I feel like I need to explain that the academic style of writing in Mexico is very different than in the US, and as a result I need to edit. Of course I don't want to offend him. I may choose to say nothing and edit away, but I'm wondering if there's anything I might say that won't ruffle his feathers. Thoughts?

Back to word 96....... and maybe a 4th cup of coffee.


sergiogomez / Moderator

Apr 2, 2009, 10:26 AM

Post #5 of 28 (9176 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Can you post some examples of what you mean? I don't read Spanish-lang. newspapers much for two reasons. One, some articles have a gossipy tone that I don't find appealing. Two, much of the news, like news in any language, is dismal stuff that I feel better if I don't read.

That said, I think a lot of the frustration you have with articles not being written simply and clearly is due to cultural differences. Spanish speakers consider it polite and desirable to "beat around the bush," so to speak, and give lots of side details and background information before getting to the point. While English speakers tend to get right to the point to show respect for the other person's time, Spanish speakers do the exact opposite to prove that their interest in the other person is genuine. So long digressions aren't meant to be annoying, but to build rapport by letting people know that you care about them enough to spend large amounts of time with them.


sergiogomez / Moderator

Apr 2, 2009, 10:28 AM

Post #6 of 28 (9174 views)

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Re: [stina] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Flowery language--lenguaje florido.

Verbose language--lenguaje verboso or difuso, with the last word being more commonly used.


esperanza

Apr 2, 2009, 10:38 AM

Post #7 of 28 (9168 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Mexican Newspaper Language

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There's a special language in Mexican newspapers that I call, for lack of a better word, journal-ese. Olivia (sergiogomez) is right: often it's written in lenguage florido, and uses lots of words that aren't common in spoken Spanish.

I read three or four Spanish-language newspapers every day: La Jornada (Mexico City), La Voz de Michoacán and Cambio (Morelia), and El Informador (Guadalajara). Reading newspapers from several sources gives me different points of view about a particular incident, an insight into what's happening in various parts of the country, and, of course, additional vocabulary.

Today's new word from La Voz: estiaje. Literally, it means low tide. La Voz used it in an article about water rationing to describe the coming season of scarcity of water in regional dams.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









jerezano

Apr 2, 2009, 10:40 AM

Post #8 of 28 (9167 views)

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Re: [stina] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Hello Stina,

Flowery is floreado
Verbose is ampulado or bombástico

You might start by explaining to the professor that in English not even an academic will read a sentence of 161 words. At the same time point out that many Mexicans cannot read a sentence in Spanish that long without becoming confused. Cut that sentence into many sentences by eliminating conjunctions such as and. Start new sentences. Then do some more editing and get the whole thing into as short sentences as possible. Then go back and smooth it out so it doesn't sound jerkey. Then show him the process you went through and if he is akamái (Hawaiian word for sharp or smart) then he will begin to adjust his Spanish writing into shorter sentences and be pleased with his own result.

I have an English student whose writing in Spanish has improved greatly just by getting him to break his long sentences into shorter ideas. Each new idea needs a new sentence. He is now writing guest columns for the weekly paper.

The next step is to teach him--yes teach the professor-how to group those sentences into short paragraphs. Each paragraph covering a new idea and its explanation. Explain to him that there can even be one sentence paragraphs.

If the professor shows interest you might even show him the FOGG index for English. (I haven't found one for Spanish). The importance of short sentences is basic in that index.

Hasta luego. jerezano


Rolly


Apr 2, 2009, 10:47 AM

Post #9 of 28 (9164 views)

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Re:Mexican Newspaper Language

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I read our local paper, El Siglo de Torreón, online every day. Usually the national stories are pretty well written, local stories much less so, and readers' comment posts are usually incomprehensible.

Rolly Pirate


sergiogomez / Moderator

Apr 2, 2009, 11:04 AM

Post #10 of 28 (9150 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Re:Mexican Newspaper Language

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Which explains why spoken Spanish can be so much work to listen to. I don't know why, but one thought seems to flow into another and another and another. When you're speaking, it's not always so bad, but when in writing...Dios mío! It doesn't help that the grammar is so flexible. Run-on sentences are somewhat acceptable, and when you throw in semicolons, colons, dashes, ellipses, and quotes, you can easily end up with a monster sentence that's 161 words or longer. I remember one of my Spanish profs complaining about the page-long sentences in a famous book. And she was a native speaker. I've pretty much given up reading comments on blogs in Spanish because people ramble so much it's hard to sort out what they mean.


Anonimo

Apr 2, 2009, 1:57 PM

Post #11 of 28 (9140 views)

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Re: [sergiogomez] Mexican Newspaper Language

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O.k,; an example:


Quote
Atacan casa de coordinador de la Ministerial

SUS DOS ESCOLTAS RESULTARON HERIDOS ASÍ COMO DOS CIVILES

Gustavo Ruiz / La Voz de Michoacán


Un comando armado de al menos 10 sujetos atacó la tarde de ayer la residencia del coordinador de la Policía Ministerial del Estado, Ignacio Ochoa Oseguera; en el atentado resultaron lesionados dos escoltas del coordinador y dos civiles quienes quedaron atrapados en la refriega.

Los hechos se registraron al filo de las 15:30 horas sobre la avenida del Campestre en donde Ochoa Oseguera tiene su domicilio.

De acuerdo a las versiones de las autoridades de la Procuraduría General de Justicia (PGJ), a la hora mencionada un grupo de al menos 10 sujetos fuertemente armados quienes viajaba a bordo de dos camionetas con los vidrios polarizados y quienes circulaban de norte a sur sobre avenida del Campestre, comenzaron a disparar contra la fachada del domicilio del Coordinador de la Policía Ministerial y contra la camioneta de los escoltas la cual se encontraba estacionada frente a la vivienda.



(etc)

"En Boca Cerrada No Entran Moscas."

Saludos,
Anonimo


esperanza

Apr 2, 2009, 7:07 PM

Post #12 of 28 (9124 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Mexican Newspaper Language

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O.k,; an example:


Quote
Atacan casa de coordinador de la Ministerial

SUS DOS ESCOLTAS RESULTARON HERIDOS ASÍ COMO DOS CIVILES

Gustavo Ruiz / La Voz de Michoacán


Un comando armado de al menos 10 sujetos atacó la tarde de ayer la residencia del coordinador de la Policía Ministerial del Estado, Ignacio Ochoa Oseguera; en el atentado resultaron lesionados dos escoltas del coordinador y dos civiles quienes quedaron atrapados en la refriega.

Los hechos se registraron al filo de las 15:30 horas sobre la avenida del Campestre en donde Ochoa Oseguera tiene su domicilio.

De acuerdo a las versiones de las autoridades de la Procuraduría General de Justicia (PGJ), a la hora mencionada un grupo de al menos 10 sujetos fuertemente armados quienes viajaba a bordo de dos camionetas con los vidrios polarizados y quienes circulaban de norte a sur sobre avenida del Campestre, comenzaron a disparar contra la fachada del domicilio del Coordinador de la Policía Ministerial y contra la camioneta de los escoltas la cual se encontraba estacionada frente a la vivienda.

(etc)

Why is this an example? It looks completely normal to me--but then maybe I am used to the style.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Anonimo

Apr 2, 2009, 7:24 PM

Post #13 of 28 (9123 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Mexican Newspaper Language

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I'm probably not used to what seems to me a more formal, perhaps academic form of Spanish.

"Los hechos se registraron al filo de las 15:30 horas." I never hear anything like that in everyday speech. What does "al filo" mean in this context?

Why are grenades called "artefactos"? (Not in this example, it's true.)

"vivienda": a fancy word for "casa"?


esperanza

Apr 2, 2009, 11:10 PM

Post #14 of 28 (9114 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Al filo: on the dot (filo: sharp edge of a knife)

Artefactos: used to avoid repetition of granadas in the article

Vivienda: a common word used to avoid repetition of casa

Just like English, Spanish has many, many synonyms for words. Learning some of the synonyms expands your vocabulary and gives you the ability to speak better, more fluent Spanish.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Anonimo

Apr 3, 2009, 5:17 AM

Post #15 of 28 (9112 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Gracias por la explicacíon.

What about "se registraron"? Is that something like "was duly noted", or "took place"?

Saludos,
Anonimo


esperanza

Apr 3, 2009, 9:26 AM

Post #16 of 28 (9098 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Se registraron: happened

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









jerezano

Apr 3, 2009, 9:40 AM

Post #17 of 28 (9098 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Hello all,

Esperanza asked: >>>>Why is this an example? It looks completely normal to me--but then maybe I am used to the style<<<about the following article posted by Anonimo.
-----------------------------
Atacan casa de coordinador de la Ministerial

SUS DOS ESCOLTAS RESULTARON HERIDOS ASÍ COMO DOS CIVILES

Gustavo Ruiz / La Voz de Michoacán


Un comando armado de al menos 10 sujetos atacó la tarde de ayer la residencia del coordinador de la Policía Ministerial del Estado, Ignacio Ochoa Oseguera; en el atentado resultaron lesionados dos escoltas del coordinador y dos civiles quienes quedaron atrapados en la refriega.

Los hechos se registraron al filo de las 15:30 horas sobre la avenida del Campestre en donde Ochoa Oseguera tiene su domicilio.

De acuerdo a las versiones de las autoridades de la Procuraduría General de Justicia (PGJ), a la hora mencionada un grupo de al menos 10 sujetos fuertemente armados quienes viajaba a bordo de dos camionetas con los vidrios polarizados y quienes circulaban de norte a sur sobre avenida del Campestre, comenzaron a disparar contra la fachada del domicilio del Coordinador de la Policía Ministerial y contra la camioneta de los escoltas la cual se encontraba estacionada frente a la vivienda.


First of all this is one of the better written articles found in Mexican newspapers. It has short sentences. The paragraphs are well separated. The words used are commonly used synonyms for overused words in our basic vocabulary. So esperanza is right, why is it used as an example? Remember that Anonimo has just started to read the newspapers so he apparently enountered a whole new vocabulary. Good. He is learning. So should the rest of us.

I suggest that all our beginners try to translate the article into English and when they need help ASK US. All posters here are here for one reason only. To help each other learn Spanish as spoken and used here in Mexico. For example what does refriega mean? The dictionary say clash, brawl, skirmish. But translating loosely and in context I would use crossfire or gunplay or maybe even hail of bullets.

And the much used así como: as well as

Que tengan Uds. un buen día. jerezano


(This post was edited by jerezano on Apr 3, 2009, 9:56 AM)


mazbook1


Apr 3, 2009, 12:05 PM

Post #18 of 28 (9086 views)

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Re: [jerezano] Mexican Newspaper Language

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A friend of mine who is a bilingual journalist (gringo) and has written (in Spanish) for Mexican newspapers told me this about newspaper articles in México.

Not only are the journalists paid by the word (for the most part), and this encourages verbosity, but there seems to be a sort of unofficial competition between the journalists writing for any one newspaper to see who can use the most obscure words possible in Spanish. Also, ALL writers in Spanish are taught that it is THE WORST POSSIBLE SORT OF SIN to use the same word for something twice. This particular fact I have verified many times with university students and other Spanish language writers. Sure, we do have the same sort of instruction in English writing, but it's more in the way of a suggestion rather than an absolute rule, since the absolute rule leads to things like calling a grenade an artifact. Ridiculous!

Being paid by the word leads to the common thing in crime stories, "The criminals, who were originally from Durango, Guadalajara and Ajijic, were captured when the police stopped their vehicle, a 2006 Honda Civic model color silver with the licence plate number ABC-3257 from the state of Nayarit." Ridiculous!


Rolly


Apr 3, 2009, 12:23 PM

Post #19 of 28 (9083 views)

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Re: [mazbook1] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Thanks for that insight. It answers questions I have had reading stories where there seemed to be an inordinate amount of non-germane details.

Rolly Pirate


jerezano

Apr 3, 2009, 4:44 PM

Post #20 of 28 (9066 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Hello esperanza et. al.,

estiaje--from the word estío [summer] The lowest level of water in a river when in summer. Or, yes, a time of hardship [a bit far-fetched but I have seen it], or the time or period when the water in the rivers is lowest. I have also seen the word used occasionally as a substitute for verano or for estío. So now we have various meanings instead of just the one of low tide.

See what good dictionaries can tell you. The RAE is on line. Pequeño Larousse is available nearly everywhere in Spanish speaking countries, and the Oxford Spanish/English dictionary gives both verano and estío as translations of the word summer and indicates verano as the most common.

The Larouse says estiaje is derived from estío. The RAE says it is derived from the french étiage. No matter it means the same in both.

Que tengan Uds. un buen día. jerezano


(This post was edited by jerezano on Apr 3, 2009, 4:56 PM)


raferguson


Apr 3, 2009, 5:57 PM

Post #21 of 28 (9058 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Mexican Newspaper Language

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I agree that this is a normal Mexican newspaper article. But that does not make it a bad example of the point.

Note that the final sentence has 80 words! When was the last time you read an 80 word sentence in English? A Fogg index for a sentence like that would be well above graduate school level.

I checked an article in my local US paper, and found that the longer sentences were around 30 words long.

I happen to belong to a Mexican email list-server, so I went back and looked at a couple of postings there. The longest sentence that I found was 42 words. By English standards, many of the emails, even in the informal atmosphere of a list-server, are written very formally, including long sentences.

Quote
Los paisajes son tan interesantes como aparecen en las películas, la gente sumamente hospitalaria y amable, la comida de primera, y la amistad que estamos dejando en esta comunidad es como para sentirnos tan acogidos como la comunidad veracruzana nos ha recibido.

Those that read a Spanish newspaper every day are accustomed to it, but obviously it is easy to get lost in a sentence of 80 words. And of course the formal language is part of the problem.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


esperanza

Apr 3, 2009, 6:39 PM

Post #22 of 28 (9050 views)

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Re: [raferguson] Mexican Newspaper Language

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I agree that this is a normal Mexican newspaper article. But that does not make it a bad example of the point.

Richard

I didn't say it was a bad example, I just asked why Anónimo thought it was an example.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Anonimo

Apr 4, 2009, 5:09 AM

Post #23 of 28 (9037 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Mexican Newspaper Language

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¿"Dar a conocer"? It seems to be used a lot when describing meetings or press conferences. I'll guess it means "informed" or "told".

"Occiso" = "dead".
"levantado" = "kidnapped", or literally, "carried off"?

I should say that I need to increase my understanding of Mexican newspaper language in order to get a better grasp of local current events.

Saludos,
Anonimo


raferguson


Apr 4, 2009, 8:06 AM

Post #24 of 28 (9032 views)

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Fogg index for Spanish

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I found a source for a reading difficulty index in Spanish.


Quote


This tool gave a readability index for the newspaper article of 70, which they graded as "Fairly easy", despite the 80 word sentence.

SMOG index


Quote


Gave a readability index of 31, when a post-graduate education level was listed as 19, so very hard to read. The SMOG index was designed for English, so may not be ideal for rating Spanish texts.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


(This post was edited by Rolly on Apr 4, 2009, 8:11 AM)


sergiogomez / Moderator

Apr 4, 2009, 3:51 PM

Post #25 of 28 (9012 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Mexican Newspaper Language

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Reading newspapers is definitely a great way to expand your vocabulary. One of the fun (and tricky) things about Spanish is the abundance of synonyms. Native speakers love word games and constantly play them, trying to come up with as many different words as possible to say the same thing.

Oddly enough, the average Mexican newspaper reader, who probably has a 5th or 6th grade education at best, has much less difficulty reading and understanding an 80-word sentence than the average American reader--newspaper articles in the US are written for an 8th grade audience. My thinking is that the constant word play and experimentation from the time a child is old enough to speak exercises the linguistic area of the brain and makes long sentences easier to process.
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