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¿Quieres mejorara tu inglés antes de tu próximo gran paso?,
¿Te has dado cuenta de lo que saber inglés te puede aportar tanto a nivel profesional como personal, pero no tienes tiempo o la determinación necesaria para hacerlo? ¿te apetece hacerlo de una forma divertida y rápida? ¡Este es tu blog!
La idea es aprender inglés a través de series, películas, vídeos, charlas, canciones y pequeños documentos teóricos que a mí me han ayudado a aclarar dudas comunes. Sin más, espero que os sea de ayude y disfrutéis. Un saludo!

Si tenéis alguna duda, sugerencia,...y queréis poneros en contacto podéis mandarnos un mail a

martes, 28 de febrero de 2012

How to write about Africa...

Hola amigos! 
En Funny English tenemos una nueva propuesta y es la siguiente:
Por un lado os dejamos este vídeo en el que al famoso actor Djimon Hounsou, al que conoceréis por películas como Amistad, Gladiator, Las cuatro plumas o Diamantes de Sangre, lee un texto escrito por un famoso escritor keniata, Binyavanga Wainaina sobre como NO escribir sobre África; por otro os dejamos la transcripción del mismo.

Se trata de una descripción satírica de como no se debe pero, de hecho, se escribe sobre África
A poco que hayáis leído o visto películas que suceden (take place) en Africa, (leáse Memorias de África, Diamantes de Sangre, Hotel Rwanda, La Masai Blanca,...entre otros muchos ejemplos), sabréis de lo que habla.

Os dejo el vídeo y el texto original, para que empecéis por donde queráis. Lo ideal sería, lo que recomiendan en las cursos de preparación de exámenes es: escuchar el vídeo primero, para ver qué entendéis y luego acudir al texto para corroborar y ver las palabras escritas así como su significado.
Es un post más largo de lo habitual pero que sin dudad merece la pena. Espero que lo disfrutéis.
Un saludo.

"How to write about Africa."

Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title.
Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty (polvoriento) with rolling grasslands (rastrojos) and huge herds (rebaños, manadas)of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy (húmedo) with very short people who eat primates.

Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions (no te enredes con muchos detalles), Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving (muriéndose de hambre) and dying and warring (luchando) and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular (no específico/ concreto).

Make sure you show how Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls, and eat things no other humans eat. Do not mention rice and beef and wheat (trigo); monkey-brain is an African's cuisine of choice, along with goat, snake, worms (gusanos) and grubs (larvas) and all manner of (todo tipo de) game meat (carne de caza). Make sure you show that you are able to eat such food without flinching (estremecerse: he didn't flinch when he heard the news, ni parpadeó al oír la noticia), and describe how you learn to enjoy it—because you care.

Taboo subjects: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans (unless a death is involved), references to African writers or intellectuals, mention of school-going children who are not suffering from yaws or Ebola fever or female genital mutilation.

Throughout the book, adopt a sotto voice (voz baja), in conspiracy with the reader, and a sad I-expected-so-much tone. Establish early on that your liberalism is impeccable, and mention near the beginning how much you love Africa, how you fell in love with the place and can’t live without her. Africa is the only continent you can love—take advantage of this (to profit selfishly of something/aprovecharse): If you are a man, thrust yourself (arrójate) into her warm virgin forests. If you are a woman, treat Africa as a man who wears a bush (arbustos) jacket and disappears off into the sunset. Africa is to be pitied (Africa es para sentir pena por ella), worshipped (adorada/venerada) or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed (condenada, predestinada al fracaso).

1. Your African characters may include naked warriors, loyal servants, diviners and seers (vidente, profeta), ancient wise men living in hermitic splendour. Or corrupt politicians, inept polygamous travel-guides, and prostitutes you have slept with. The Loyal Servant always behaves like a seven-year-old and needs a firm hand (ncesitan mano firme); he is scared of snakes, good with children, and always involving you in his complex domestic dramas. The Ancient Wise Man always comes from a noble tribe (not the money-grubbing tribes like the Gikuyu, the Igbo or the Shona). He has rheumy eyes (ojos legañosos) and is close to the Earth. The Modern African is a fat man who steals and works in the visa office, refusing to give work permits to qualified Westerners who really care about Africa. He is an enemy of development, always using his government job to make it difficult for pragmatic and good-hearted expats (expatriados de buen corazón) to set up NGOs or Legal Conservation Areas. Or he is an Oxford-educated intellectual turned serial-killing politician in a Savile Row suit. He is a cannibal who likes Cristal champagne, and his mother is a rich witch-doctor (hechicera) who really runs the country.

Among your characters you must always include The Starving African, who wanders (wAnder: vagar/ wOnder:preguntarse) the refugee camp nearly naked, and waits for the benevolence of the West. Her children have flies on their eyelids and pot bellies, and her breasts are flat and empty. She must look utterly helpless. She can have no past, no history; such diversions (desviación, false friend!) ruin the dramatic moment. Moans are good. She must never say anything about herself in the dialogue except to speak of her (unspeakable) suffering. Also be sure to include a warm and motherly woman who has a rolling laugh and who is concerned for your well-being. Just call her Mama. Her children are all delinquent. These characters should buzz around (to talk excitedly or incessantly) your main hero, making him look good. Your hero can teach them, bathe them (bañarlos), feed them; he carries lots of babies and has seen Death. Your hero is you (if reportage), or a beautiful, tragic international celebrity/aristocrat who now cares for animals (if fiction).

Bad Western characters may include children of Tory cabinet ministers, Afrikaners, employees of the World Bank. When talking about exploitation by foreigners mention the Chinese and Indian traders. Blame the West for Africa's situation. But do not be too specific.

Broad brushstrokes (amplias pinceladas) throughout are good. Avoid having the African characters laugh, or struggle to educate their kids, or just make do in mundane circumstances. Have them illuminate something about Europe or America in Africa. African characters should be colourful, exotic, larger than life—but empty inside, with no dialogue, no conflicts or resolutions in their stories, no depth or quirks (singularidad, peculiaridad) to confuse the cause.

Describe, in detail, naked breasts (young, old, conservative, recently raped, big, small) or mutilated genitals, or enhanced genitals. Or any kind of genitals. And dead bodies. Or, better, naked dead bodies. And especially rotting (podridos) naked dead bodies. Remember, any work you submit in which people look filthy (mugriento, roñoso) and miserable will be referred to as the ‘real Africa’, and you want that on your dust jacket. Do not feel queasy (mareado) about this: you are trying to help them to get aid from the West. The biggest taboo in writing about Africa is to describe or show dead or suffering white people.

Animals, on the other hand, must be treated as well rounded (plenamente desarrollados), complex characters. They speak (or grunt (gruñir) while tossing their manes proudly (agitan su melena/crin orgullosamente) and have names, ambitions and desires. They also have family values: see how lions teach their children? Elephants are caring (los elefantes se preocupan) and are good feminists or dignified patriarchs. So are gorillas (También los gorilas). Never, ever say anything negative about an elephant or a gorilla. Elephants may attack people’s property, destroy their crops (cultivo), and even kill them. Always take the side of the elephant. Big cats have public-school accents. Hyenas are fair game (blanco de burlas) and have vaguely Middle Eastern accents. Any short Africans who live in the jungle or desert may be portrayed with good humour (unless they are in conflict with an elephant or chimpanzee or gorilla, in which case they are pure evil).

After celebrity activists and aid workers, conservationists are Africa’s most important people. Do not offend them. You need them to invite you to their 30,000-acre game ranch or ‘conservation area’, and this is the only way you will get to interview the celebrity activist. Often a book cover with a heroic-looking conservationist on it works magic for sales (esto funciona genial para las ventas). Anybody white, tanned and wearing khaki who once had a pet antelope or a farm is a conservationist, one who is preserving Africa’s rich heritage (patrimonio). When interviewing him or her, do not ask how much funding they have; do not ask how much money they make off their game. Never ask how much they pay their employees.

Readers will be put off (disuadidos -de seguir leyendo-) if you don’t mention the light in Africa. And sunsets, the African sunset is a must (es obligatorio) . It is always big and red. There is always a big sky. Wide empty spaces and game are critical—Africa is the Land of Wide Empty Spaces. When writing about the plight (dificil situación) of flora and fauna, make sure you mention that Africa is overpopulated. When your main character is in a desert or jungle living with indigenous peoples (anybody short) it is okay to mention that Africa has been severely depopulated by Aids and War (use caps).

You’ll also need a nightclub called Tropicana, where mercenaries, evil nouveau riche Africans and prostitutes and guerrillas and expats hang out (pasar el tiempo).

Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care

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