Cairaguas (cairaguas) wrote in songlations,

About Songlations; Introduction & FAQ; Notes

What is this? "Songlations" is a blog with English translations of Spanish song lyrics, intended for an audience that is interested in understanding the Spanish lyrics. I try to strike a balance between fidelity and transparency, i.e. to be literal, but also sound natural. However, the translations are meant to be educational, so I will err toward a faithful translation if necessary.

Who are you? I am Cairaguas Gonzalez, the translator, a fluent heritage speaker of Mexican Spanish (my home language). My parents are immigrants from Mexico. I was raised in California in a neighborhood with a dense Spanish-speaking immigrant population. I am currently a science graduate student who maintains a long-running interest in linguistics and translations.

Why do you translate? I started translating songs as a hobby because I wanted to maintain my Spanish vocabulary, spelling, and written grammar. This is one way of keeping up a constant practice. This blog is also a way for me to contribute to the knowledge pool of the internet, which I so often utilize. Plus, it is fun. I have discovered a lot of good music through people's translation requests.

Who is your intended audience? How do you translate? I am assuming that the people who look for these translations are not native Spanish speakers, but rather people who are learning the language. The translations here are faithful to the meaning and phrasing of the lyrics, so they should help you understand what is being said and how it is being said. The notes at the end of each song provide further clarification. Questions and comments are great, of course, and very welcome.

Can you change your translation style so I can do karaoke or a fandub? No. I do try to match the conciseness or wordiness of lyrics to help match the tempo of the music when I can. However, the goal of these translations is not to fit the melody 100% perfectly. Every few months, I'll get a critic looking for an adaptive rather than a faithful translation. That is not the purpose of Songlations.

Can I modify your translations so I can do karaoke or a fandub? Yes. If the final work is available online, I'd love to see it!

What other languages do you know? I studied French for three years. I can read French, understand a fair amount of French radio, and have simple conversations with patient people. I took a short introductory course in German and retained a little bit, but not enough to read, hear, or speak it. I watched enough subtitled anime during high school and college to remember some really common Japanese words and phrases. I can read some Japanese kana and recognize a handful of common kanji. Anime and manga translators influenced my translation style by helping me realize what I like in translations: e.g. notes, explanations of puns or wordplay, not changing the literal meaning too much, but also not using unusual words or syntax or being too literal, etc.

The only languages I am comfortable speaking and listening to at a normal pace are English and Spanish.

When did you begin translating? In 2004, I started posting occasional song translations to my Geocities website. In 2007, I opened Songlations at LiveJournal and became more organized and serious about translating. When people ask me how long I have been translating, I usually count from 2007.

Yahoo closed down all Geocities pages on October 2009, but some nice people started a Geocities archival project to preserve that portion of internet history. They happened to archive my old website here. I can no longer edit it, but you are free to browse. The old website has some Shakira songs that aren't on Songlations.

Have you translated ________?

The easiest way to find out is to do a Google search limited to Songlations. Here is an example that you can use for your own search.

What do the abbreviations in your posts mean?

lit. = literally (what the words say exactly)
alt. = alternative translation
noun, m. = masculine noun
noun, f. = feminine noun
col. = colloquial

How can I follow Songlations through social media?

Do you take requests?

I take most suggestions. Be aware, however, that the turnover time is very long since I am a graduate student and must focus on my work. Even when I do have time, I have a lot of songs that are in-progress, many of which are also requests, so new suggestions have to wait a while. Sorry! Don't let the wait time stop you from requesting songs, though! You can also request more than one at a time since I work on several songs at once rather than translate sequentially (i.e. I don't have a fixed queue of songs to work on). When I finish translations, I prioritize posting the requested ones first.

Things that delay requests: song has a lot of slang I do not know, cannot be found correctly transcribed online, uses a Spanish dialect that I rarely hear, has a line that does not make sense, uses very short phrases in a stream-of-thought style.

Things that speed requests: song has interesting lyrics, uses Spanish dialects that are easier for me to translate, lyrics use complete thoughts or sentences.

I have noticed that the easiest Spanish for me to translate comes from Mexico, Spain, Colombia, and maybe Ecuador (if Julio Jaramillo's music and's comedy sketches are good examples). If you request a song that uses these dialects of Spanish, I am more likely to take the request and post the translation sooner. I also like songs with good lyrics or stories, as opposed to songs that are just a few lines repeated over and over and over.

Requirement: I want to listen to the song when I translate lyrics. Usually the online lyrics have errors that I need to fix. Listening also helps me know which lines go together (important for cutting the stanzas and deciding the best meaning for ambiguous phrases). If the song is on YouTube, I can probably find it. If it isn't, let me know where I can hear it.

Leave a comment on any page or send me an LJ message and I will let you know that I received your request. After that, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for the translation to show up, depending on the song. Once the translation is up, I will reply to you by LJ or Twitter or Facebook or by whatever medium you used to request a song.

Stages a song passes before posting:
  • Lyrics are copied from the internet and proofread while listening to the music. I need to cut the stanzas and isolate the chorus (if the song has one) before I start translating.

  • 50% translated. I got hungry in the middle and left. Or I got tired of hearing the song on loop.

  • 98% translated. I have a few lines with slang that I need to look up or ambiguous wording that I need to think about. Sometimes I get stuck here if I don't know how to translate a word or two and dictionaries and the internet are not helpful.

  • Translation finished. Translation notes compiled. I need to fix the formatting for LJ and then I am done. Ready to post.

Usually, I have several songs in various stages. If I am in the mood to listen to music, I will start a lot of projects and work on correcting the online transcriptions. If I am in the mood to translate, I will work on draft translations. If I am in the mood for research, I will work on projects that are 95%+ finished or on translation notes. See the resources post for useful translation resources.

Can I re-post your translations on other websites?

No, please don't post the whole translation somewhere else. I put a lot of effort into my translations and I don't want to lose credit or control over them. Sometimes I go back to edit old translations if I find mistakes or change my mind.

I am fine with people taking quotes for art projects, music discussions, and things like that. You can also use translations for educational purposes. Please attribute the translation by linking back to or citing Songlations somewhere.

How do I cite you?

Formal citations for school reports and similar projects:

Let's say that you are writing a report on student protests in Latin America and you want to cite the translated lyrics of "Shock" by Ana Tijoux. Here is how you do it. Today's date is December 2, 2013. The translation was posted on March 31, 2012.

Style Citation format
MLA style Gonzalez, Cairaguas. "'Shock' by Ana Tijoux, English translation of lyrics." Songlations. LiveJournal, 31 Mar 2012. Web. 02 Dec 2013. <>.
APA style, website Gonzalez, C. (2012, March 31). "Shock by Ana Tijoux, English translation of lyrics. Songlations. Retrieved December 2, 2013, from
APA style, blog Gonzalez, C. (2012, March 31). "Shock by Ana Tijoux, English translation of lyrics [Web log post]. Retrieved December 2, 2013, from
Chicago/Turabian style Gonzalez, Cairaguas. "'Shock' by Ana Tijoux, English translation of lyrics." Songlations.

Informal citations:

If you are quoting part of a translation somewhere online, a simple link back to the post or the main page is sufficient to make me very happy. Yay, links! Here is the HTML to turn text into a link:

<a href="">Songlations</a>

Do you know of other websites like Songlations?

Yes! I keep a list of other websites with side-by-side translations at my resources page. If you have suggested websites, let me know.

What translation resources do you use? What dictionaries do you like?

I keep a list of useful resources that I like to use when I am translating. If you need monolingual or bilingual dictionaries, etymology websites, or Perl code to make every first letter of a line capitalized, go there!

How can I support Songlations?

Donate with PayPal

If you like Songlations and wish to donate, click on my PayPal donate button below!

PayPal Donate Button

Proceeds go toward hot chocolate, lunch, and stuff to make translating easier. For example, a new keyboard if I break my old one (this happened once when a book fell on my laptop keyboard), inexpensive but comfortable headphones (so my roommates don't think I'm weird for playing songs on repeat), Spanish books I can't get from the library, etc. I do not get donations often, but they make my day when I do get the e-mail from PayPal. Thank you!

Amazon referral link (ID: songlations-20)

If you wish to support Songlations a different way, I now have a tracking ID for Amazon referrals. Click the following link, buy anything within 24 hours, and I get a small percentage as commission:

Spread the word

Finally, just telling people about Songlations helps drive traffic to my blog. I don't use ads to make money (any ads you see are LiveJournal's), but more traffic usually means more comments, and that keeps me motivated.

Thanks for your support!

Why do Songlations layouts always have plant themes?

Because plants are my other passion! I love plants and nature. The Aloe vera in the title header is my houseplant. The Cacao tree in the Songlations Facebook page is from a visit to a botanical garden. See my nature photos at my Flickr account.

Tags: about

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded