Multilingualism is a Tricky Bitch.

Article published on June 24, 2009
community published
Article published on June 24, 2009

Silvio Rodriguez - Ojalá

The other day, a guitarist transformed my bus journey. He sang this gorgeous Cuban song and all the Chilean passengers were mouthing the words. It was touching and simple; I nearly cried.

La Havana is more than 6000 kms away from Santiago de Chile, but this canción still reaches out throughout the hispanophone world, 40 years after Silvio Rodriguez wrote it.

Is there a timeless song that all the passengers of a European bus could sing along to, from Oslo to Sofia? I mean SING, share and relate to the words - not just hum along to.

Sure, melodies ignore borders and can move any heart, but the European anthem won't really stick with us if it remains a mere La La La. On the other hand, I am obviously all for keeping our rich and diverse cultures and languages thriving and all that - the Eurovision lost about 37% of its charm and interest when the rules change led to pretty much all countries' contestants singing in English.

I'm even prouder to see how far European integration went and goes despite its multilingual hurdle.