Sunday, November 29, 2009

¿Dónde están las mujeres. . .?

My initial enigmatic answer to this question of "where are the women?" is: in the back of the magazine wearing skimpy dresses.

The magazine that I am referring to is this week's La Nación Revista, put out by the newspaper where I am currently getting my masters in journalism. It is the more conservative of the two popular newspapers and considered highbrow compared to the more popular daily, Clarín.

The cover of this week's LNR is 12 white men all holding their hand to their chins in a Auguste Rodin's "The Thinker" pose with an headline saying "The power of good ideas: the most creative Argentines reflecting about their politics, their consumption, their competition and the ethics of their pitches to "sell" a country brand"

It surprises me that the 12 most creative Argentines are ALL white men. It could be true, that of the top 100 creative people in Argentina, the first 12 are men, but I highly doubt it. The article, written by two women, Any Ventura and Mercedes Funes, is proceeded by an article about how Megan Fox is the newest provocateur, much like her fellow actress Angelina Jolie.

Being a journalist, I have very present the idea of balance in a story and being an American, I have very present the idea of diversity; this front page feature story breaches the two fundamental levels of who I am.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What month is it?

I can look at a calender and rationally understand that it is November, but I don't feel it. One of the most disorienting things about living in the Southern Hemisphere is the opposite seasons. Whereas in the U.S. many states are having their first snow falls and below zero temperatures, I am moving into the Argentine summer.

Summer being in June, July and August is one of those things that is instilled in you during kindergarden and December means snow; there is simply no discussion or admission that somewhere else in the world it might be different.

Walking down Santa Fe avenue in Buenos Aires in 80 degree weather I recently saw a happy holidays sign in the window of a restaurant and wearing shorts and a tank with my fan blowing on me, I'm reading the Sunday ads for Christmas decorations complete with models wearing summer clothing. It is my first summer in the Argentine capital city and it is simply incomprehensible.

I can handle the different language, because it is to be expected, I can deal with the laid back customs, because generally it means I don't have to work as hard, but on a Wisconsin-girl level, I simply cannot feel the holidays approaching and worse yet, I cannot physically comprehend what month I am living.

Someone really should have told me when I was five that December is not synonymous with cold.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The disadvantage of being a native English speaker

The title of this post may seem a little counterintuitive. In fact, almost everything about being a native English speaker is an advantage in an increasingly globalized world, where English is the international business language and the universal when-all-else-fails language. In fact, when I watch non-natives try to remember our proper usage of prepositions or phrasal verbs (such as the important differences between throw up, throw down, throw away, throw on and throw out), I am grateful that I innately understand the difference. So, I indeed am prefacing this blog saying that I would not want to be anything but a native English speaker.

However, with this luxury comes the fact that it is simply harder to learn Spanish unless one is really disciplined. First, everyone wants to practice their English. If I spoke Ukrainian or Korean no one would come up to me and ask to test out their conversational abilities. And, wanting to make friends and not be a jerk, I oblige much to my chagrin. The moment I started traveling, this fact became apparent, probably most marked when people in China would yell "Hello! How are you!?" as I walked by, or an example last night where a woman came over too our dinner table to ask me about our giant ice cream sundae-like creation and awkwardly asked "what is this?" only to be responded to, much to her disappointment, in fluid conversational Spanish. This is why I increasingly tell people that I am German, because my accent gives me away only as a foreigner and not necessarily as a 'yanqui', or North American.

The second and less expected disadvantage I am experiencing with English is that often the readings that are assigned in our classes at the Universidad Torcuato di Tella are either translations of a book originally written in English or are assigned directly in English, with no translation offered.
First, this seems strange to me because it suggests that my Spanish-speaking classmates are expected to speak college-level English, but no other language, showing just how much the English-speaking world is permeating into other countries.
Also, because we have so many different tasks in this graduate program, as much as I would like to spend hours pouring over readings in Spanish, it is simply done quicker if I read it in English.
Also, for books like Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, assigned last week, they lose some of their essence in translation, and it does not make sense for me to read it in Spanish.

My most recent professor Karina Galperín, who did her doctorate at Harvard, told me unsolicited that I could write my final project in English with no problem. Her class is almost exclusively English speaking authors, only one week with an emphasis on readings in Spanish, focusing on Argentine Rodolfo Walsh's Operación Masacre. However, she certainly would not have suggested that I write my final paper in Chinese if I was a native Chinese speaker.

My complaints are relatively unwarranted. The fact that I have the luxury to often be able to take an easier route linguistically and then later blame my slower progress in learning Spanish seems absolutely absurd. Nevertheless, I am convinced that if I spoke any other language besides English, my Spanish would be a lot better.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Colectivo. . . of deception.

Photo: Archive of La Nación

Today during class, the editor of the General Information section of La Nación said: "La Presidenta miente constatemente [the President lies constantly]."  

My classmates nodded, not even batting their eyes at this statement that encompasses myriad problems with Argentine politics: deception, corruption, lack of democratic voice, for starters. 

The moment quickly passed, but I was left with an eerie feeling that no response was not a good sign.  If a journalism professor of mine would have said to the class that our president was constantly lying to us, some noise would have been made, someone would have protested.  Rather, this statement was met with a few nods, a few chuckles and some blank non-registering eyes.  

I asked the founder of an English language newspaper in Buenos Aires today in an interview if she thought that Argentine politics were particularly hard for foreigners to understand and she responded affirmatively, pointing out that this country is still in the process of maturing its democracy after a bloody dictatorship and that makes its recent history especially complicated and difficult.  However, she said, unless some fundamental changes are made with the current government, such as people accounting for their actions or taking responsibility for the issues that happen under their watch, this country is not going to progress.

The responses of my classmates, all graduate journalism students, the majority of them Argentine, makes me pessimistic that there is likely to be changes soon, despite the recent legislative elections.  Argentine citizens have taken as fact that their politicians lie, steal their tax money and take advantage of the poor and ignorant to continue in power.  And even when it's said out loud, no one denies it, all protests have ceased.  One male classmate says that Argentina is like a battered wife: she has been hit so many times that when she gets hit now, she just takes it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Multimedia en La Nación

This week we started the first week of four total weeks that we will spend focusing on the multimedia aspects of journalism.  

You can watch the progress of my group, featuring some of my favorite Argentines (Tucu, Yael, and Bilboa). . and a Colombian (Orlando): We are in a perpetual state of searching for our focus!

The other groups are linked off of the main La Nación graduate program multimedia page.

More to come. . . 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Horacio's Yerba Mate

A peculiar thing about my classmates is that they "tomar maté" or drink maté (pronounced ma-tey) during class; my Spanish roommate describes it "as if they think they are in their own living room". 

The drink is very communal and one person will make it and it will get passed around the room, after each turn getting passed back to the original person to be filled again with hot water.  Each time it gets filled, the person who it gets passed to will drink the entire contents of water through the straw until it makes a sucking noise and then pass it back.  The person filling the maté, known as the cebador, will often get up to leave the room and refill the thermos.  The professors become indignant if no maté is to be found in the room and will stop in mid sentence to growl their grievances.   

Maté is a tea that is typical of the Rio de la Plata Region of South America (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay) and it is not uncommon to see people drinking it on the street, although it is not nearly as convenient as a to-go cup, because one needs both hands: one for holding the gourd which holds the tea and the other for pouring the hot water.

Maté is very bitter, so often people will add sugar or sweeteners, but I take it plain, and from what I've seen, so do most people in my class.  Although each person has their own particular style when making a maté, my Uruguayan friend and classmate Horacio Varoli was willing to share his method with me.  The video is in Spanish so below I have a basic translation of what he says in the video. 

Horacio starts by telling us the materials needed to make maté: 
Yerba(the tea itself)
Maté (the gourd that the tea is poured into) 
Una Bombilla (a silver straw) 
A thermos with hot water
A small glass of cold water. 

1. Pour the dry yerba tea into the gourd.  Horacio says "you don't have to put much in," but this is an expert speaking who can easily eyeball it.  Usually the maté gets filled about 2/3 of the way with yerba.  

2.  Make a little hole with your fingertips on one side.

3. Take the cold water and put it in wetting the leaves--but not soaking them--and let it sit for about 3-4 minutes so that it absorbs the cold water.

4.  In the hole that was made at the beginning put the bombilla (silver straw) in as if digging a shovel but trying to maintain the little mountain of tea that is on the top made from creating the hole. 

5. Now, time to cebar or add the hot water on the side where the hole was and now the stem of the bombilla is.

6. Then, enjoy.  The first maté is the most bitter, but that's just the way Horacio likes it. 

** In the U.S., you can purchase mate at organic food stores, but often it is expensive and not as gritty and unrefined as what you find down here in the Southern Cone. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Deciphering (e)Spanglish

There are two types of Spanglish (a combination of Spanish and English) in Argentina:

1. Espanglish: This is spoken by native speakers of Spanish who may or may not know English, but use many English words which they have Spanishized to sound almost unrecognizable to an native English speaker. 

2. Spanglish: This is spoken by native English speakers who also have a relatively good command of Spanish, but when speaking to other people in either language stick a word from the other language because it either doesn't have a good translation or translates in a hilarious way.  

Espanglish for a North American is especially funny because often after saying the English word in the sentence of Spanish words, the Argentine speaker will look at the foreigner slyly as if they are sharing a language secret together.   From my experience, either the word does not make a lot of sense in the context of the sentence or I was not aware that the word was actually borrowed from English because of a completely unfamiliar pronunciation.  There are exceptions to this: words like internet and router have become so much a part of the everyday speech that I scarcely think of them as borrowed words anymore.  However, there are cases where the words although still spelled the same in English are pronounced differently because of letter pattern that does not exist in Spanish.  An example of this is modem or .com, which are pronounced "moden" and "punto con" because there are no original words in Spanish that end with an n sound.  

In my journalism graduate program, one of my professors Gabriel Pasquini recently explained interviews to us.  On the record and Off the record are used and seem to be more or less widely understood.  However, the most hilarious phenomenon happens whenever English words are borrowed but contain more than one word (or even more than one syllable).  On the record becomes on and off the record becomes off.  My favorite example of this is Playstation which is just called play.  Thinking about that in English it would sound quite silly to say "I am going to play the Play", but in Spanish because the verb for play is jugar, it sounds fine and it is easier to say.  Pasquini recently apologized to me for his pronunciation of words in English during class, but admittedly, sometimes the words were butchered so sufficiently that I just assumed it was a word that I didn't know in Spanish rather than an English word stuck randomly into a phrase.

Although not necessarily Espanglish, English speakers have endless problems with understanding names of bands or actors in Spanish.  Groups as common as  Led Zeppelin or Bob Dylan, become a mash of Spanishized words, and the confusion turns to disbelief when you wrongly admit to not knowing the famous icon of American history, but only because you simply do not know what is being said.  

Espanglish in Argentina is much more prominent than in Spain; I notice words such as background, feeling, full, etc. used more often in the Southern Cone than in Europe.  My theory is that because Spanairds are more rigid about speaking proper Castilian Spanish, stealing random words from English is not exactly upholding tradition.  There is a pride and sometimes arrogance from Argentines about their way of speaking, but the rules are often more relaxed than in the Iberian Peninsula where Spanish was born.

Spanglish, often spoken here by me with other North Americans or Argentines whose English is at a native level, is not done of out custom or habit, but rather done of out of a playful appreciation for the language or a frustration in translating certain words that do not have an exact translation in the other language, but rather a less concise way of explaining the concept.  An example of this is the word glare.  If I am speaking with a native English speaker in Spanish and want to describe someone squinting their eyes in anger, I will simply say: "Me estaban glaring las mujeres grandes." for example.  This is only possible because the person I am speaking with knows both languages.  Similarly, if we are speaking in English, one might say that they have ganas, because it is simply a concise way of saying that you want to or you feel like doing something.  When I take notes in lecture in either language, I always use the word según which means according to, because it is shorter and quicker. 

Spanglish is especially fun to use to translate things that make zero sense translated from Spanish to English or visa versa or have a sexual connotation.  For example, the ubiquitous "I'm excited" in English when said in Spanish "Estoy exitada", means that you are horny, so ojo (be careful).  Someone with a command of both languages knows that "I have hungry" or "it is making/doing cold outside" is not right but very chistoso [funny].  Or simply conjugating English verbs in Spanish provides for language fun; I have countless said "te loveo" or "te misso".

For people not familiar with Spanish, I want to briefly explain why the first type of Spanglish I am donning Espanglish and the second is simply Spanglish.  In Spanish, native speakers cannot pronouce words that begin with "sp" and "st", so my last name Stingl becomes Estingl.  This makes sense because it is Spain in English is España in Spanish.  Or as a North American friend pointed out last night, when she says Scalabrini Ortiz (an important street in Buenos Aires), she is often not understood until she says Escalabrini Ortiz.  Thus, Espanglish for Argentines and Spanglish for me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Máster en Periodismo en La Nación/Universidad Torcuato di Tella

Monday, April 13th marked the beginning of my Mastér en Periodismo (Journalism Master) at the most well-known paper in Argentina, La Nación.  Every morning, our profesores exigentes (demanding professors) insist that we arrive at 9a.m. to read the newspaper before class starts, and class starts at 9:30a.m. on the dot, which for the normal Argentine timetable is an impressive requirement.  This blog PeriodiSTINGL will follow the only non-native Spanish speaker (me) throughout a year-long persuit to improve my professional Castellano (what Argentine people call Spanish), become a better journalist, and as the director of the program Carlos Reymundo Roberts said today, become bien informada (very informed).  Although he recited the six most essential aspects of journalism today, his entire first lecture surrounded the aspect he considers the key to being a good journalist: tener mucha información (to have a lot of information).  This means readings a lot of newspapers and magazines as well as having contacts who can give you good information.

A privilege that I now boast is having access to La Nación headquarters located on Bouchard Street in Puerto Madero. . .Here is my badge to prove it: 

What most worries me, both before coming and now, is that my Spanish will not hold up against all of my 25 classmates who have as many as 30 years language practice more than I do, but time will test if this is a legitimate fear.  

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Happiest Hour of Radio

Manuel (Españaird) and I (gringa), stayed awake the entire night from 1 a.m. until 6 a.m. imparting our wisdom on others as well as playing some great tunes. These hours allowed the Europeans and North Africans who wanted to listen a more convenient time. Manu's friend, Manuel, called in from Spain. If you love speaking in Spanglish, this is for you:

Five hours of bilingual radio:

Kate Finley disclosed to me during our weekly Skype date that she dreams of being a tango singer and a Zumba instructor.  Here is how one gets started on at least the latter part of this goal. . .Manu is singing tango: Copa Rota.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Entrevista con cantautor español Carlos Chaouen

Para escuchar al Podcast: --> "Open UW Madison on iTunes U" --> "The Fez Hour" -->Spain supplement: Interview with Carlos Chaouen (In Spanish)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

¡Feliz Navidad, Elise!

When my dad hears Spanish, he has a tendency to just think of whatever word it sounds like in English and go with that.  So to him "Buenas Noches" is actually "Buenos Snowshoes."  

However, my favorite example of this is with my friend Elise Heitkamp who when she was young thought that the Puerto Rican José Feliciano rendition of the song "Feliz Navidad" was actually  singing about her and her parents saying "Elise, Mom and Dad."  

. . . She did, however, point out, that it was unfair that she had a song and that her sibling didn't.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's easy to get a radio show in Madison. . . just go to the training!

WSUM is looking for people who are interested in becoming part of our radio station experience. We are particularly interested in freshmen and sophomores, however all students are invited to train.

WSUM is the student radio station at UW-Madison, operating at 91.7 FM and licensed to the University of Wisconsin. The station manager and all staff aside from the general manager and technical director are students.

Here are the preliminary requirements to becoming a WSUM DJ:

1. Write a concise but illuminating statement of interest (why I want to be a part of WSUM). Generally, let us know if you are more interested in a talk show or a music show. Please avoid "both" as an answer, as it effects how we train you. Send your statement

2. In that email, include your availability during evening hours Sunday-Thursday. Please be as flexible as you can be in setting your availability schedule.

3. Come to the station at 8, 8:30 , 9 , or 9:30 any weeknight between January 20th and Febuary 8th for a tour. Ask for the Traffic Director. Tours are given on the half-hour. Make sure the traffic director gets you name. Hope to meet you soon!

Our seventh anniversary of over-the-air broadcast is February 22nd.  We have already become one of the best free-form stations in the state, if not the country. Our goal is to be an alternative to commercial radio stations in Madison, so we are looking for DJs who are excited about playing underrepresented music and talk show hosts that want to inform the Madison community on pertinent issues. With your time and commitment, we can continue to maintain our position as one of the best free-format radio stations in the U.S.

In the Spring of 2009, we have 60 slots open for trainees. To be assured one of these slots, you MUST read and follow the requirements.

The following information was taken from the WSUM Web site and was NOT written by me.

The Fez Hour

Perdido en el Siglo

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Fez Hour: Student Radio in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

I am starting a new radio show on WSUM 91.7FM Student Radio this semester called "The fez hour: international talk with Carly." The show is on Wednesdays from noon-1pm and is right before my Spanish music show, "Perdido en el Siglo"(1-2pm) The basic format for the show is I want 2-3 people from a specific country to come on and talk about their county including, but not limited to, the government, holidays, the culture, the food, the music, the perceptions of the U.S., how the perceptions of the U.S. changed after you got her, opinion of Madison, news, conflicts, history, etc. Each show I will ask each person to bring their favorite song from their country to share on air, keeping in mind that it is only an hour show. 

This is an opportunity for international students to have an experience on the radio, talking from their expertise of being an foreign student studying or living in the U.S., to practice your english and to share a little bit with the entire Madison community. Also, your friends and family can listen online. And. . it will be really fun!

Thus, please facebook message me (Carly is Carly) or email me ( with your interest AND please tell your international friends. I want to represent a new country every week. The first show will be on January 21st at noon and every subsequent Wednesday following.

Anyone with the internet in any country can listen at WSUM.ORG
Noon-1pm: "The fez hour": International Talk with Carly
1pm-2pm: "Perdido en el Siglo": Spanish music show with Carlita