How do you translate "Bless Your Heart" for a Spanish speaking Elizabethton Twin?

John Thompson • Aug 28, 2018 at 11:18 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Imagine going to work in a foreign country and not being able to speak the language. That’s a problem some Elizabethton Twins rookies have to face every summer.

In addition to adjusting to the demands of a higher level of baseball, some of the players every year come from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and other nations where Spanish is the spoken language.

Imagine these Spanish speakers — even those who have taken English — trying to understand a local fan when he says something like “over yonder.”

Or maybe “sit a spell,” or “bless your heart.”

That’s why Elizabethton High School students in the Spanish III class taught by Andrew Bentley decided a great class project would be to develop a guide to Elizabethton for the Spanish speakers on the Elizabethton Twins team for 2018.

“La Guia de Elizabethton” not only translates local slang and colloguialisms, but also provides a restaurant and shopping guide for Elizabethton.

“When Andrew Bentley approached us with this idea, we immediately thought it would be something that all Minor League clubs introducing their young Spanish speaking players to life in the United States would love to have,” said Mike Mains, Elizabethton Twins general manager. “His leadership and the students' creativity and hard work is something we should all be very proud of. We want to thank all those involved for the time they have spent putting together this wonderful guide. “

Mains said the guide is certainly needed. This year the team has 10 Spanish speakers on a roster of 31 players.

He said in the past the team had a wonderful asset to help Spanish speakers assimilate to Elizabethton: Donna and Dempsey Shell, who were fluent in Spanish and took all of the Spanish speakers on the team into their home. Not only did they provide assimilation, but the Shells provided some of the best home cooking the players could want.

They hosted 52 players for the Elizabethton Twins from 2008 through 2015 but she succumbed to cancer last year at the age of 55.

Mains said the Spanish-speaking players do take English classes, but even for someone who taken a lot of English, the translations of colloquialisms can be confusing.

Bentley’s class has stepped into the breach with the guide. Bentley said the students tried to make the guide useful to the players. The stores and restaurants close to the Joe O’Brien Field are featured first, with a half-page description on each one.

The students also used their understanding of Spanish to explain such terms as “Why the long face face?” or “I’m fixin’ to.” Finally, the students offered some recommendations to the players on experiences they enjoy most about Elizabethton and wanted to pass on. Such things as drinking a Dr. Enuf or visiting the Blue Hole, going to Watauga Lake or riding the zip lines at Off the Grid.

“We want them to enjoy Elizabethton instead of feeling lost in a foreign place,” said junior Ambria Turner. “We want them to feel welcome here. This also helped us with our Spanish a lot, and helped us put it together in a way that makes sense to a native speaker.”

Proud of their accomplishment, all of the students signed an illustration of a baseball that appears on the back of the guide.

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