24 February 2009

Remy Ma and Ivy Queen

What can we learn about second-language writing from these lyrics in the rap duet "Bilingual" by Reminisce Smith (Remy Ma) and Martha Ivelisse Pesante (Ivy Queen)?

"what bitch is the baddest
miss remy con la queen
you need fire
tu sabes fuego esta aqui
vete pal carajo
nigga far from me
no es dificil pa' ver
it ain't hard to see
a four clip in the extra
yo soy la mierda tate quieta
this bitch got a bad temper
ustedes puta no pueda joder con nosotras

Would the effect of the lines be the same if every word were in English (or in Spanish)? For one thing, the rhymes wouldn't work (aqui/me/see, ver/temper, extra/quieta/puñeta). I am not sure, however, that bitch and puta need to be in different languages; the change in language does not seem to add much to the meaning. Translating an entire line (no es dificil pa' ver / it ain't hard to see) also seems unnecessary, despite the need to use ver and see for rhyme. One can argue, of course, that rap demands repetition (that's the whole point!), but writing is writing, in whatever form.

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