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Hispanics Prefer To Be Addressed In Their Own Language
From El Diario
May 22, 2003

By Fernando Aqino

For those who didn't know why English speaking politicians make fools of themselves speaking, or pretending to speak Spanish, here is the explanation.

A study from the Tomas Rivera Political Institute in California, which analyzed the behavior of the Latin community towards the small screen, revealed that Hispanics like to be spoken to in their mother tongue, when talking about serious topics.

The study, which was revealed yesterday, concludes that half of bilingual Hispanic adults that watch television in the US in English and Spanish, "tend to pay more attention" to political candidates who speak in Spanish.

The study points out that 50 percent of the bilingual viewers also tend to watch news transmitted in the Spanish language.

The piece indicates that the favorite programs are transmitted by the principal series of Spanish television. Among the ten most watched programs were "Amigas y Rivales" ("Friends and Rivals"), "La Intrusa" ("The intrusion"), "Sabado Gigante" (“Giant Saturday”), "Laura," and "Cristina," and the news programs of the Channel Univision.

An interesting fact is that for watching movies and comedies, Hispanics prefer channels in English.
"Although it was unusual to see any candidate speaking in Spanish in 2000, now I think it is more normal", said Louis DeSipio, one of the authors of the study.

DeSipio is perhaps referring to politicians in California, because here in New York, this study is something like “discovering the formula for lukewarm water”; it is not fortuitous, because around here politicians don't do much more than sing the Macarena.

In the campaign for governor this past year, the Governor George Pataki was brilliant every time he directed the concurrences in Spanish.

The fever has made people border on the ridiculous, wanting to find a translation of their English names in Spanish, like the council member Bill Perkins, who goes around saying that his name is "Guillermo" when he's is in front of a Hispanic audience.

One can see this effort to attract Hispanics in their language in the Municipal council: Gifford Miller recently tried his first word in the language of Cervantes in front of cameras. We see also Council member Joel Rivera: although he is of Hispanic origins, it is work for him to order rice and beans in Spanish.

The best idea would be, perhaps, to follow the example of Senator Eric Schneiderman, who is working hard in an intensive Spanish course.

This idea is not preposterous if it is noted, as the study established, that 75% of Hispanic adults, that is to say about 16 million people, watch television as much in English as in Spanish, and it is projected that they will be 9 million of the voters in the 2004 elections.

In merely the electoral scope, the study reveals that 47% of the bilingual television viewers reported that they are more inclined to pay attention when political candidates address them in Spanish, while 45% said that they felt no difference.

“Many Latinos live in a bilingual world. And the television is part of that”, said doctor Harry Pachón, President of the Tomas Rivera Institute.

According to Pachón, this study shows that corporations and candidates that intend to reach Latinos are losing 25% of that community when they communicate in just one language.

Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Triggs


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