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Residente Calle 13 "Atrévete, te, te" [20060119|14:22]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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As part of my ongoing effort to learn Spanish, I've decided to do weekly translations of some of my favorite songs. I chose a difficult one to start. It's filled with strange Puerto Rican constructions, pronunciation and subtle cultural references. (I'm not cranky because it took me most of the freakin' day to translate. Oh, no. However, the next translation will be a salsa song featuring clear pronunciation and correct grammar.)

It belongs to the genre called reggaeton, or Latin hip-hop. The song is catchy, upbeat and funny. You can download and listen to it here (MP3, 4.6 MB, and the usual YouSendIt restrictions apply), or simply read the lyrics and translation beneath the cut. It's not a strictly literal translation. I tried to make it about the same level of colloquial English as it is in Spanish. I welcome feedback and constructive criticism.

Residente Calle 13 "Atrévete, te, te"

Aaah, mumia
(Rrr. Zombie.)

Atrévete, te, te
(Dare yourself)
Salte del closet, te
(To leave the closet)
Escápate, quítate, el esmalte
(Get out, take off the polish)
Deja de taparte que nadie va a retratarte
(Don't cover up, no one's gonna take pictures)
Levántate, ponte hyper
(Get up, go crazy)
Préndete sácale chispas al estárter
(Turn yourself on, get sparks from your starter)
Préndete en fuego como un lighter
(Turn yourself on like a lighter)
Sacúdete el sudor como si fuera un wiper
(Shake off your sweat like a wiper)
Que tu eres callejera, "Street Fighter"
(Cos you're a homegirl, Street Fighter)

Cambia esa cara de seria
(Change that serious face)
Esa cara de intelectual, de encyclopedia
(That intellectual, encyclopedic face)
Que te voy a inyectar con la bacteria
(Cos I'm gonna inject you with a virus)
Pa'* que des vuelta como machina de feria
(That'll give you a turn like a funfair ride)
Señorita intelectual, ya se que tienes
(Smart lady, you already have)
El área abdominal que va a explotar
(A belly that's gonna explode)
Como fiesta patronal, que va a explotar
(Like a feast of saints that's gonna explode)
Como palestino...
(Like a Palestinian…)
Yo se que a ti te gusta el pop-rock latino
(I know you like Latin pop)
Pero es que el reggaeton se te mete por los intestinos
(But reggaeton gets inside you)
Por debajo de la falda como un submarino
(Under your skirt like a submarine)
Y te saca lo de indio Taíno
(Pulls out your Taíno roots)
Ya tu sabes, en taparrabo, mama
(You know how it is, in a loincloth, baby)
En el nombre de Agüeybana
(In the name of Agüeybana)
No hay mas na',* para na* que yo te vo'a** mentir
(There ain't no more, I'm not gonna lie to you)
Yo se que yo también quiero consumir de tu perejil
(You know I also wanna eat your parsley)
Y tú viniste amazónica como Brasil
(And you've come like an Amazon from Brazil)
Tú viniste a matarla como "Kill Bill"
(You've come to slay like "Kill Bill")
Tú viniste a beber cerveza de barril
(You've come to drink beer from the barrel)
Tú sabes que tú conmigo tienes refill
(From me, you know you'll get a refill)


Hello, deja el show
(Hello, stop the show)
Súbete la mini-falda
(Lift your mini-skirt)
Hasta la espalda
(Up to your back)
Súbetela, deja el show, más alta
(Raise it – you're not on stage – a little higher)
Que ahora vamo'a** bailar por to'a** la jarda
(Cos now we're gonna dance for the whole yard)
Mira, nena, ¿quieres un sipi?
(Look, girlie, you want a taste?)
No importa si eres rapera o eres hippie
(It's not important if you're a rapper or a hippie)
Si eres de Bayamón o de Guaynabo City
(If you're from Bayamón or Guaynabo City)
Conmigo no te pongas picky
(You don't have to be picky with me)
Esto es hasta abajo, cogele el tricky
(This is all the way down, figure out the trick)
Esto es fácil, estoy es un mamey
(This is simple, I'm easy)
¿Qué importa si te gusta Green Day?
(Who cares if you like Green Day)
¿Qué importa si te gusta Coldplay?
(Who cares if you like Coldplay)
Esto es directo, sin parar, one-way
(This is straight-up, no stopping, one-way)
Yo te lo juro de que por ley
(I swear to you that this is the law)
Aquí to'a las boricuas saben karate
(All Puerto Ricans know karate)
Ellas cocinan con salsa de tomate
(The ladies cook with tomato salsa)
Mojan el arroz con un poco de aguacate
(Moisten their rice with a little avocado)
Pa'* cosechar nalgas de 14 quilates
(So they can reap their 14-carat asses)

(Chorus x 2)

Aaah, mumia
(Rrr. Zombie.)

*pa' = para, na' = nada. Puerto Ricans often drop the last syllable.)
**vo'a = voy a, vamo'a = vamos a, to'a = toda. Puerto Ricans often drop the last consonant in a word.

Other notes: The Taíno Indians were the indigenous people of Puerto Rico. The Spanish wiped them out pretty quickly. Agüeybana was one of their leaders.

[User Picture]From: omniana
2006-01-19 14:58 (UTC)
I'm very impressed. I think hip-hop songs have more words/minute than any other style. I don't know Spanish so I can't critique, but I'm more interested in the process. Are you taking a class or teaching yourself? I've wanted to learn Chinese, Spanish, or French, and haven't really gotten far into this goal.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-01-19 17:15 (UTC)
Teaching myself. I took Spanish classes in high school and college, and my reading comprehension is decent and I think my writing isn't terrible. But as for speaking it, buh. I need lots more practice.
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[User Picture]From: nationofsheep
2006-01-19 16:39 (UTC)
I did this kind of thing with Pablo Neruda. I got a book of his poems with the English and the Spanish and was able to see how close I got. It was seriously difficult.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-01-19 17:09 (UTC)
Yeah, poetry and song lyrics are probably the most difficult things to translate. Especially if you try to stick to the rhyming scheme or the rhythm. I didn't try especially hard to do that here, except at a couple of points where it was easy.

I don't think anyone's put much effort into translating reggaeton so maybe if I do enough of the songs I can set up a little database. That might be kinda neat.
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[User Picture]From: nationofsheep
2006-01-19 17:22 (UTC)
Yeah. That would be kind of cool. I am always looking up lyric sites. I sometimes think about how amazing it is that I haven't looked up a song that I couldn't find yet. This makes me want to go back to doing this kind of thing. I love languages. Believe it or not, it's also why I love programming. But I tell ya, I am not about to start trying to translate Cantonese songs. Forget it.
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[User Picture]From: taische
2006-01-19 16:49 (UTC)
That's excellent work; you did a great job of staying as close as possible to the meaning of the lyric while avoiding a stilted, strictly literal translation. The truth is, there are probably few functionally fluent bilingual speakers who would manage to pull that off. There's one small point that's worth mentioning regarding the translation of por, as in:

Que ahora vamo'a** bailar por to'a** la jarda
(Cos now we're gonna dance for the whole yard)

I'm not familiar the word jarda- I suspect it's a colloquial form of jardín as I couldn't find it in my smaller Larousse. If it is a place through, such as a garden or yard, the meaning of "por" changes to something more like "through". In the case of "por toda", the construct would mean "throughout". Now, if jarda is being used to mean something like "the yard and the collection of people in the yard" then the "for" translation is closest. The translation works either way, but since this variation in the meaning of por is sometimes initially missed by new speakers, I figured it would be worth discussing just to be on the safe side.

A+ work, cutting you no break whatsoever! Really.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-01-19 17:21 (UTC)
"Jarda" wasn't in either of my two dictionaries (one of which is the Larousse) or my very useful "Speaking Boricua" book. So I guessed, based on the context and the same reasoning you used.

Thank you for pointing out the potential differences in meaning! I made the assumption that the setting for the whole scene was a party, and so the dancing would be taking place in front of a bunch of other people. That's why I chose "for." But it was really useful to read about the other variation.
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[User Picture]From: taische
2006-01-19 16:58 (UTC)

Pastafarian Pride

Oh- and salsa de tomate is regular tomato sauce- the kind used to make spaghetti sauce, for example!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-01-19 17:14 (UTC)
You're right! I think Marco even told me that one a while back and I forgot. It's a bit confusing. Kind of like "leche de coco". It translates literally as "coconut milk" but if you want to purchase the same stuff in the States, you have to look for "cream of coconut."
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(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-01-21 19:56 (UTC)
If you listen to the song, there's a tiny break in it right after he says "Como palestino..." Almost as if he's sat back and reflected, "Hm, what's that whooshing sound? Oh, it's the passing of the line I wasn't supposed to cross."
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