You know how the song goes in Spanish. Now it's time to see the La Bamba translation into English.
But first, some thoughts on translating music.
I find that translating songs is surprisingly one of the hardest types of texts to translate. This might not seem apparent at first because many Spanish song lyrics don't really match up word for word with their English counterparts. Some might think that because this is the case, a translator has more freedom to come up with an adequate translation without being forced to stick to the original words and meaning so much.
While it is definitely the case that you have more freedom to come up with corresponding lyrics in Spanish (or in English if the original song is in another language like Spanish), you are also have more constraints placed on you than you would have if you were just translating a boring text document.
For example, songs usually have music that the text has to match up with. A translator has to make sure that the text he or she has used will match up with the music. If not, the translation is no good, no matter how well the translated lyrics are. If you can't sing along with the translation, it's not going to work.
Take Christmas songs in Spanish, for example. When you match up the Spanish translated lyrics with their English counterparts, you can tell that effort was made to not only make sure the musicality of the song remains in tact, but also, that the overall meaning of the song is similar. Sometimes, translators have to stray a bit from the meaning in order get the music flowing right, but the trade-off is worth it to make it sound right when sung.
OK, Back to La Bamba
Ritchie Valens made famous this traditional Mexican song in the 1950's and it will forever be remembered as one of the first Spanish songs to become popular among the English-speaking audience of the United States.
Spanish crossover artists are obviously more frequent and well-known nowadays, especially with the likes of artists such as Shakira, the late Selena, and the well-known Santana. However, the popularity of Spanish music in the 1950s among the English-speaking crowds in the United States wasn't as high as it is now. Ritchie Valens really had to bust through a barrier but he really did with the introduction of La Bamba. And then he was gone at only 17 years old. Sad.
Translating La Bamba
The song isn't a very complicated song linguistically to translate. No long sentences or grammatically difficult pieces; however, one thing that makes the song challenging to a certain degree is context, or lack of context.
Songs are usually written about something: some event, a person, a place... something. However, it can be difficult sometimes to figure out exactly what the song is about. And one of the things that helps translators the most figure out the best way to translate something (especially something like a song) is to know the background or backstory behind the piece.
So, figuring out what La Bamba is all about will help us know how to best translate it.
So now, the Spanish lyrics.
Para bailar la bamba Para bailar la bamba Se necesita una poca de gracia Una poca de gracia para mi para ti Arriba y arriba, Arriba y arriba Por ti seré, Por ti seré Yo no soy marinero, Yo no soy marinero Soy capitán, Soy capitán, Soy capitán
There are lots of different ways to translate this song, and for the most part there is no 100% right way to translate it. For example, below is one translation into English:
In order to dance the Bamba In order to dance the Bamba A little humor is needed A little humor for me and for you Faster and faster, Faster and faster I'll be for you, I'll be for you I'm not a sailor, I'm not a sailor I'm captain, I'm captain, I'm captain
What do you think? How close to (or far away from) the original is the translation? Like I said, translations can vary and while there is usually not one right answer, there can definitely be incorrect ways to translate something. Below you'll find some translations that other people have done for the song. Check 'em out and see how they're similar and different to the translation here.
In the meantime, though, here are some other translations of La Bamba in different languages. The first translation is from Spanish to German, and was submitted by Caleb White:
Um das Bamba zu tanzen, Um das Bamba zu tanzen, Man braucht ein bißchen Gnade, Ein bißchen Gnade für mich und für dich, Schneller und schneller, Schneller und schneller, Werde ich für dich, Werde ich für dich, Ich bin kein Matrose, Ich bin kein Matrose, Ich bin Kapitan, Ich bin Kapitan, Ich bin Kapitan.
The next translation is La Bamba in Flemish, and was submitted by an anonymous person:
Als je de la Bamba wil dansen Als je de La Bamba wil dansen Is een beetje humor nodig Een beetje humor van jou en mij Sneller en sneller, Sneller en sneller Ben ik er voor jou, ben ik er voor jou Ik ben geen zeeman, ik ben geen zeeman Ik ben kapitein, Ik ben kapitein, Ik ben Kapitein
Now I'm not sure if anyone has actually sung these lyrics to the La Bamba music, but at least they're here in case anyone gets any ideas.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Translation of La Bamba
I've got an issue with the translation of La Bamba that is posted on the site, and specifically with the following: Se necesita una poca de gracia Una
Translation of una poca de gracia
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The Spanish word Gracia is a very difficult word to translate. However, according to many native Spanish speakers I have talked to, it basically translates