Cultural Translations, pt. 1: Barrio Sésamo

Vincent: [Y]ou know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
Jules: What?
Vincent: It’s the little differences. I mean, they got the same shit over there that they got here, but it’s just there it´s a little different.

I have always found this quotation from the movie Pulp Fiction to be very on-point. It´s obviously no big surprise that both America and Europe both enjoy access to the same material goods and cultural luxuries, but one can gain great insight into key social differences by taking a moment to examine certain manifestations of Vincent Vega´s assertion.

There is hardly any American from my generation who has not at some point enriched themselves (new euphamism for a child pooping their pants?) with the brilliant program, Sesame Street. What not everybody knows is that the same can be said for twenty-something Spaniards. Just over here, it´s a little different. Barrio Sésamo is the Spanish version of the popular children´s show, which translates to ¨Sesame Neighborhood.¨ As attached as I am to the title I grew up with, I actually believe that the Spanish translation is even more appropriate. Semantics is everything in titles, and the difference between a street and a nieghborhood is marked. While the American title is a snappy alliteration, it does not itself convey the sense of community and harmony implicit in the Spanish name. A street is a rigidly defined physical space with set limits and orientations. Ironically, the Spanish notion of ¨street¨ often refers to a place for public gathering, not just a paved route for transit, but the producers still opted for ¨neighborhood.¨ (In Latin America the show is named Plaza Sésamo.)

This being said, let´s take a quick look at what exactly is different in the Spanish version.

Some name changes of interest are:

Bert and Ernie = Blas y Epi

Kermit the Frog = La Rana Gustavo

The Cookie Monster = Triqui, el monstruo de las galletas

Here are the principle autoctonous Spanish inhabitants of Barrio Sésamo:

From left: Don Pimpón (an old-school farming monster whose true species is disputed, and while owl and bear are the two most popular theories, neither would really need to wear snow pants), Espinete (a hedgehog), Chema (a baker…panadería means ¨bakery¨), and Ana (who is everybody´s friend)


The Spanish version of the program is a mixture of the world inhabited by these, and other characters, and dubbed segments from the American version. Don Pimpón never met Big Bird. But maybe Maria should´ve guest starred in the Spanish version?

There you have it. Barrio Sésamo is pretty much the same idea as the American original, just here in Spain it´s a little different.  


~ by lincolnbrody on April 24, 2008.

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