Spanish & Portuguese in the United States

The Sirocco winds begin in the Sahara Desert and can be understood as a metaphor for movement across nations, cultures, and regions. They carry African sands, seeds, dust, and sediment as they regain force in their transit across the Mediterranean. Trade ships were also carried by these winds. Ideas and memory are carried by these winds. Even architectural forms have been designed around the Sirocco, from Sicily as far east as Iran.

These winds also serve as a metaphor for the movement of languages through migration and exchange.

Though reports vary, the United States has either the second or third largest Spanish-speaking population on the planet. If the Spanish-speaking population continues to increase (roughly a 13% increase in 2015), then the United States could be the largest Spanish-speaking country on Earth. The United States does not have an “official language” in its constituton, much to the dismay of those in favor of erecting walls and supporting “English-only” language policies.

In numerous Massachusetts and Rhode Island communities, Portuguese (Continental and Brazilian) and Portuguese-based Cape Verdean Criollo are the second and third most widely-spoken languages, ahead of Spanish. Check out this interactive map based on U.S. Census reports from 2011.

This language diversity, despite what could become an increasingly hostile culture for immigrants with a new president-elect, is something that must be celebrated. It is an enormous opportunity, particularly for the younger generations who come from monolingual English-speaking homes, to hear and live with and capture the joy of the sound of languages like Spanish and Portuguese. It is an unparalleled moment of language contact, from the big cities of the U.S. to even the smaller towns.

For this reason (and of course to share stories in written form that will inspire) one of the SiroccoBlue projects is to develop a trilingual series of short stories that explores language use and the joy of the sounds of Portuguese and Spanish for children. It will include other languages too: the language of dreams and memories, of music, and even animal companions who speak across Cambridgeport streets.

While the winds serve as a metaphor for the movement of language through migration, the Sirocco can also be seen as a symbol for exchange. Global education and exchange initiatives have always been at the core of the SiroccoBlue services. And soon, with the e-book project “Study Abroad: A Guide for Program Developers,” an all new website will be launched specifically for international education program development. More to come on that work soon!

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Travel the World via Radio Map!

This is one of the most interesting Sirocco-esque voyages across the globe that I’ve seen. Move across the planet via live broadcasts on Radio Garden!

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I went from Guadeloupe to Casablanca to Amman. What an incredible tool for teachers!

Like SiroccoBlue on Facebook to get the latest writing and updates! I’ll be exploring this


“Kings of This Music”: From Camarón de la Isla to Pedrito Martínez

When Pedrito Martínez sings for Yemayá—as he did at the beginning of his show in Boston last week—the crossroads open: oceanic crossroads, lived crossroads, crossroads of transformation, crossroads rooted in Cayo Hueso, Havana, where Pedrito grew up, Elegguá’s crossroads where choices are made, destinies are reversed, and intention translates into meaning. A man seated in the back of Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, feeling the space change with the music, Continue reading ““Kings of This Music”: From Camarón de la Isla to Pedrito Martínez”

Los Cuentos del Sirocco

Este cuento es dedicado a los granadinos y linguistas que, hace poco en su conferencia,  discutieron el artículo que escribí sobre el mensaje urgente de Flamenco en un momento de tanta transición e inestabilidad, un momento que nos recuerda de épocas del facismo.

This is dedicated to a recent conversation at a Linguistics conference in Granada, Spain. The article, Flamenco for the Future, helped catalyze discussions and that really is the point of SiroccoBlue. 

Los Cuentos del Sirocco

“Cuenta los cuentos del Sirocco,” me dicen, “del viento que es invisible, que nos trae la lluvia y los aguaceros de nuestra memoria.”

Escucho al aire y empiezo a transcribir:

Continue reading “Los Cuentos del Sirocco”

Stories of the Scirocco

On a recent trip to New Haven, watching so many Sicilian and Neapolitan families gather to celebrate birthdays at a local restaurant, I felt inspired to re-visit the work of Mario Trimarchi and started to re-write an earlier article on this great artist. You may recognize the photographs from before, but the writing takes on a new directions.  “Products,” and by this Trimarchi means his jewelry and drawings, “mainly tell stories. They are not just shapes.” This brief article explores pieces of those stories—stories and aspects of storytelling that Flamenco also engages, embodies, and transmits.

Continue reading “Stories of the Scirocco”

Flamenco for the Future | Stories & the Arts in Troubled Times

Flamenco is a music and dance of resiliency and protest. It has been, at times, an urgent call to gather and unify in the face of systematic oppression and genocide. At the height of its expression and expressivity, Flamenco endured (and continues to endure) the same rise of fascism that the world is currently moving towards.

Continue reading “Flamenco for the Future | Stories & the Arts in Troubled Times”

Tomatito: Legend of Time | Concert Review

Led by legendary Flamenco guitarist, José Fernández Torres (known around the world as “Tomatito”), and accompanied by his son (José Fernández “Tomatito Hijo”), a royal Roma lineage tore through Boston’s Berklee Performace Center on Sunday night.

Continue reading “Tomatito: Legend of Time | Concert Review”

Following Gatlif’s Sirocco: Ancestral Winds & Cycles in “Vengo” (2000) | Series, Part 1

Moving between North Africa, Andalusia (the southern region of Spain), and the history of Gitano family feuds that joins the living and dead, Tony Gatlif’s film, Vengo (2000), is a narrative of multiple crossroads. In this story, water, wind, and the cyclical nature of these natural forces are guiding metaphors that illuminate Andalusia as the land where Roma (“gitano” or “gypsy”), West African, Greco-Roman, Berber, Gnawa, Catholic, Sufi, and Sephardic religious systems and cultures meet. Continue reading “Following Gatlif’s Sirocco: Ancestral Winds & Cycles in “Vengo” (2000) | Series, Part 1″

Sirocco: A Culinary Exploration

What would the food of the Sirocco look and taste like? Which flavors would emerge, which spices would be used? How does the Sirocco translate into smell and texture? Sabrina Ghayour, author of Sirocco: Fabulous Flavors From the Middle East (2016), provides some possibilities in her new cookbook. Continue reading “Sirocco: A Culinary Exploration”

Mario Trimarchi | Artist of the Sirocco

After the Sirocco Micronation discovery—if the Federal Commonwealth of Sirocco and Siroccan language exists, if it matters if it exists, if it can exist in the digital world alone and still be a Micronation—an incredibly beautiful jewelry collection by the Sicilian designer, Mario Trimarchi, was brought to my attention by a SiroccoBlue honorary reader. In fact, she is our first reader and commenter but I haven’t asked permission to use names so I’ll wait on that! Continue reading “Mario Trimarchi | Artist of the Sirocco”