A Staff Report from academicpursuits.us Science Advisory Board

Followup: To dance "La Bamba," do you need to be funny or graceful?

Dear Straight Dope:

This has bugged me since I read it a while back, but I let it go, thinking that the SD Science Advisory Board wouldn't blatantly print something absurdly incorrect ... I guess I was wrong. My problem: Someone asked what the song "La Bamba" was all about, and requested translated lyrics, which I believe were mostly correct, but here's what SongBird said:

Now the words that were translated here were, "Para bailar La Bamba, para bailar La Bamba, se necessita una poca de gracia, una poca de gracia por mi, por ti, y arriba, y arriba," etc. Let me first say that I'm fairly sure that the "you need to be a little bit funny" is not even close to the correct translation. Anyone with high school Spanish, or even a dictionario can tell you that the CORRECT translation is:

"To dance the Bamba, to dance the Bamba, you need to have a little bit of grace, a little bit of grace, for me, for you, and up and up," etc. I am assuming that the error here was that the Spanish word for "funny" being "graciosa" (or even "divertido," also meaning funny), was mistaken for the Spanish word for "grace" being "gracia" ... which, by the way, makes SO very much more sense anyway. But I'm wondering why nobody ever corrected this SD staffer?

Thank you for your response, SC. I guess no one corrected me because we still think it's the right answer. I, too, took Spanish in school (for five years) and also thought that "gracia" must mean grace. However, striving to maintain the high standards of academicpursuits.us, I did not trust myself and consulted with friends who have spoken Spanish all their lives and with a mariachi band player, all of whom tell me that La Bamba is a song which plays on words.

As with so many words (regardless of language), "gracia" has several translations, and if you pick up that Spanish/English dictionary we all probably used in high school (and mine's pretty dog-eared), you'll find that it can mean: "grace, gracefulness, benefaction, graciousness, pardon, mercy, remission of a debt, witticism, wit, joke, joker, jest ..." Further down in the dictionary, "tener gracia" means "to be witty; to be funny" (though the songwriter did not use this actual construction).

Since the song is a play on words (see my answer in Cecil's Mailbag again), it makes sense that the voice speaking in the song is trying to be funny/witty. In fact, "wit" is probably the best translation of "gracia" in this context, since it suggests both humor and skill. So: "se necessita una poca de gracia" - "one needs a bit of wit." It's a pun, OK?

Thanks for writing in to us. It's always good to double-check facts.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Staff Reports are written by academicpursuits.us Science Advisory Board, Cecil's online auxiliary. Though the SDSAB does its best, these columns are edited by Ed Zotti, not Cecil, so accuracywise you'd better keep your fingers crossed.

Last Articles

trimps perks guide counter melodies eilish holton today booksamillion dupont leitmotif vs motif bug deflector purpose mydeviceinfo comcast midas brakes cost iocain powder monocular define willy wankers communal showers men oz gays prescribed alcohol steam booster pack best military toasts legos patent surveying land kitten crazy buttcrack showing dlsv rating hdx germicidal bleach best buy commission mre toilet paper nurse engineering punjabi night rider winston is back 700 mb cd nib urban dictionary pawn stars lowball bouncing leg turned out good red theater curtains what are washers for unlimited music downloads monthly fee what is the difference between ma and ms why do i never get headaches did the romans have steel mountain dew pepsi or coke what does kratom taste like do celebrities get paid for interviews great value crunchy nuggets stephen king books for kids how long do bench warrants last can eating soap kill you palm trees florida native how much does an electrician charge to change an outlet what do you feel would be a minimally acceptable rate of pay? brake pedal slowly goes to floor no leaks is chip foose dead furnace damper open or closed what does hci stand for in medicine 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate are humans more closely related to dogs or cats accidentally took 2 claritin 24 hours pmi 126 uc davis is captain morgan good statues on front of ships what is the salad dressing used in japanese restaurants reason for leaving if still employed opposite of a pedophile size of france compared to california smoking in non smoking hotel room white man in spanish razor blade disposal slot pants with one leg cut off say very good in italian

Recent Additions:

A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff Ken,
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff Doug, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff Chronos, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff Doug, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff ScottInLA, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff Jillgat, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board