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Spanish takes off in Croatia thanks to telenovelas

'Esmeralda' and 'Topazio' spur students to study the language

22 July, 16:47

(ANSA) - NAPLES - Spanish is ever more a second language of choice in countries like Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Ukraine. However, the choice is not usually based on a desire to study such classics as those by Cervantes and Garcia Marquez in their native tongue, as that to understand South American telenovelas (soap operas) so in vogue in Balkan countries, where they are broadcast in the original language with subtitles.


The discovery was made by a professor of Spanish from the University of Zagreb who, as El Pais reports, ''investigated'' a recent sharp rise in those signing up for her course, most of whom female: in the university, only one male per 60 females is signed up to the course. Some of the few young men who signed up also say they chose to do so due to telenovelas. ''I study Spanish,'' said Dominik Rajacic, ''because I watch 'Rubi', 'Acorrallada' and 'Mariana' with my mother.'' The same motivation was voiced by Ana Krce Ivancic, whose passion for the language is due to episodes from 'Esmeralda' and 'Pasion De Gavilan', the latter being the telenovela surpassing all competition in Croatian prime time.


Gordana Matic, who teaches at the University of Zagreb and is one of the organizers of the Zagreb Short Film Festival, admits that Spanish language and culture are widespread in Croatia mostly due to telenovelas. ''Our students,'' she said, ''come to us after having been 'seduced' by South American heroines. It is then up to us to introduce them to such South American authors as Leopoldo Marechal, Juan José Arreola and Augusto Monterroso.'' She added that even she had not missed a single episode of 'Kassandra', the most popular telenovela in the world - broadcast in 128 countries - and that even in the 1990s, during the war in the former Yugoslavia, the show gave rise to informal truces since no one wanted to miss an episode.


The university instructors said that the language was studied in the early twentieth century to read Cervantes, Quevado, Lope and Juan de la Cruz, while at the end of the century the attractions were works by Borges, García Márquez, Cortázar and Vargas Llosa, while it is now television that is helping to spread Spanish throughout the world. (ANSA).

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