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31 March, 2020
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BBC’s wrong translation of ‘Fuego’ highlights Eurovision reality

Journalists try to keep up with a cultural melting pot that defines the Eurovision Song contest


An error on BBC that got the translation mixed up in Cyprus’ Eurovision song title “Fuego” shows it can be a daunting experience for the media trying to keep up with different languages and cultures all at once.

Sputnik News spotted the blunder on Thursday in a story on BBC online, when Eleni Foureira’s “Fuego” was identified incorrectly as being a translation from Greek.

“'Fuego' does mean 'fire' — but in Spanish,” said the article on the Russian site.

But the mistake raised a bigger issue, which is part of a broader discussion in recognizing the increasing amount of cultural mesh that goes on during the Eurovision song contest, where foreign nationals from one country can represent another country and even sing the lyrics in yet a different language.

No national language rule

A decision in 1999 abolished, once and for all, a previous rule that required countries to perform songs in their national language, or one of their national languages.

Some critics of the new language rule said this was having a negative impact on showcasing each country’s unique history and culture, while others believed the choice was important for countries that wanted to reach a bigger audience using one of the more dominant languages, typically English.

This is the case for Cyprus this year, which appears to be going for the big prize in Saturday night’s Eurovision song contest final, after Foureira put up a fiery performance Tuesday night during the first semi final and quickly became a top favourite.

Cultural diversity on display

Foureira is an Albanian-born Greek pop star representing the Republic of Cyprus in the 2018 Eurovision song contest in Lisbon. She is singing “Fuego” with English lyrics, despite Cyprus having only two official languages, Greek and Turkish.

But the melting pot doesn’t stop there.

The song is actually a collaborative work by Alexandros Papakonstantinou, a Greek-Swedish music producer known as Alex P who has worked with world-famous, award-winning producer Red One, who is himself a Moroccan-Swedish artist whose real name is Nadir Khayat.

Alex P also worked with Elena Paparizou of the music band Antique, who also represented Greece in the Eurovision contest years ago.

Other artists also jumped on the Fuego song for Cyprus, including Geraldo Sandell, Viktor Svensson, Anderz Wrethov and Didric.

Brining nations closer together

The Eurovision Song Contest started in 1956 with the aim of bringing post-war Europe closer together.

But as cultural interactions evolved, the one-nationality one-language formula has been shaken to its core, with new and often exciting combinations popping up on stage once in a while.

While politics and other criteria often play into deciding the winner, on Saturday, May 12, Cyprus and 25 other countries will take centre stage to present what best they can offer as they entertain millions of people around the world and uniting them in their love for music.

Cyprus  |  Eurovision  |  Fuego  |  Eleni  |  Foureira  |  Lisbon  |  culture  |  Europe  |  language

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