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He Announces Baseball Games in Spanish. It is Not His First Language.

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He Announces Baseball Games in Spanish. It is Not His First Language.

Bill Kulik is a longtime Spanish language radio broadcaster for the Philadelphia Phillies. But listeners tuning in wouldn’t all the time know that.

Instead of calling baseball’s championship by its Spanish identify, “La Serie Mundial,” he calls it the World Series. He just lately described a participant’s up and down profession as “a roller coaster” as an alternative of “una montaña rusa,” the right phrase in Spanish. And when saying one thing was fairly humorous, he mentioned “bien funny.”

This is the distinctive linguistic world of Mr. Kulik, a broadcaster nicknamed El Gringo Malo (The Bad Gringo), whose on-air persona is irreverent and even foolish. Though most of what Mr. Kulik says in entrance of a microphone is in Spanish, he sprinkles in beneficiant doses of English and Spanglish, a mixing of the 2 languages.

Of the 16 groups — out of 30 in Major League Baseball — with some type of a Spanish language broadcast, the Phillies’ is in contrast to every other, largely due to Mr. Kulik.

He was born in New Jersey, and took just one Spanish class, in highschool, he mentioned, however first discovered the language whereas spending 9 childhood years in Colombia and Argentina, the place his household lived due to his father’s work with a chemical manufacturing firm.

Many listeners cheer Mr. Kulik’s fashion. He is, in any case, in his nineteenth season as a member of the Phillies’ Spanish broadcasting crew. But his twist has irritated some Spanish audio system and raised questions on language and tradition in a rustic with roughly 63 million Latinos.

Mr. Kulik — whose radio associate, Oscar Budejen, is a local Spanish speaker — makes errors in Spanish, stumbles over a pronunciation or typically makes literal interpretations that don’t fairly imply the identical. He turns to English to raised convey sure ideas or information.

He intentionally makes use of Spanglish, he mentioned, partially to raised join with the various Puerto Ricans within the Philadelphia space and with newer generations of Latinos within the United States who’ve grown up talking each languages.

“There is no way we are going to appease everybody,” Mr. Kulik, 61, mentioned. “Oscar is going to give you more of the old school and the Gringo Malo is going to bring you the new school. And hopefully in between you’re going to like our broadcast because we’re going to be different.”

Of the six million folks within the Philadelphia area, an estimated 11 p.c are Latino, with Puerto Ricans representing the biggest group. As the variety of Latinos within the United States has soared, the share of Latinos age 5 and older who communicate English proficiently at residence has additionally grown, whereas the share who communicate Spanish at residence has declined, in line with the Pew Research Center.

“El Gringo speaks Spanish very well and at times when he uses English, I see it as normal since I’m bilingual,” Yolanda Fernandez, who listens to Mr. Kulik’s broadcasts, informed The New York Times. “I’m Puerto Rican. We speak Spanglish by nature.”

But one other Phillies fan, Elvis Abreu, who’s from the Dominican Republic, mentioned Mr. Kulik’s Spanish has made him tune in much less to his radio broadcasts.

“It’s bad,” he mentioned. “If you’re broadcasting a baseball game for a Hispanic community, you have to bring the message to the people very clearly about the plays and the game in Spanish because the channel is obviously in Spanish.”

Because baseball was popularized within the United States after which unfold to Latin America, a number of phrases utilized in Spanish are borrowed from English. A house run, for instance, is formally a “cuadrangular” however many Spanish audio system say “jonrón.” Left area is technically “jardín izquierdo,” however many nonetheless go for the previous. Mr. Kulik does all this, too, and extra.

“The light switch just turns on and off, and I generally just go with it,” he mentioned.

Mr. Kulik has been going with it for many years. After a few years in Boston working in advertising, cable tv and producing an area baseball present in English, he pitched the Red Sox on a Spanish language radio broadcast to enchantment to town’s rising Latino neighborhood.

In 2001, he established a broadcast firm referred to as the Spanish Béisbol Network, initially pondering he would solely function a producer, however finally transitioning into an on-air position.

He earned his nickname in 2003, when he identified that Sammy Sosa, a Dominican and a star hitter for the Chicago Cubs, was dishonest when he was caught utilizing a corked bat. That’s when the opposite announcer, defending Mr. Sosa, jokingly referred to as him Gringo Malo.

Two years later, Mr. Kulik moved to Philadelphia, the place he not solely calls the video games, but additionally buys the Spanish language radio rights from the Phillies and procures advertisers and airtime for all 162 regular-season video games.

Over the years, Mr. Kulik mentioned, he has leaned on his broadcast companions for assist cleansing up his calls. “Oscar comes in,” he mentioned, and “gives the purest Spanish explanation of what just happened.”

Mr. Budejen, who’s from Venezuela and joined Mr. Kulik in 2021, mentioned each males perceive and respect their roles. “The objective is that it’s the Phillies in Spanish,’’ he said. “But we use Spanglish because of the dynamic that exists in the group. And when it’s needed to do the translation, I translate. I have no problem with that.”

Robert Brooks, the Phillies’ supervisor of broadcasting since earlier than Kulik’s arrival, mentioned he used to get cellphone calls from folks complaining about the way in which Mr. Kulik spoke Spanish. He would clarify that it was Mr. Kulik’s thought to determine the Spanish radio community and there wouldn’t be a Spanish broadcast with out him.

“He’s giving them what they want, even if it’s not the way they want it,” Mr. Brooks continued. “I appreciate the fact that he stumbles through it, and when you’re speaking Spanglish to Spanish speakers, every once in a while you’re going to get dinged and you’ve got to be able to roll with that, and he’s good with it.”

Some listeners mentioned they loved Mr. Kulik’s broadcasts and his makes an attempt to chronicle video games in his less-than-perfect Spanish.

“I love that someone who has such difficulties speaking Spanish accepts the challenge to teach people about baseball speaking how he can,” mentioned Gustavo Beitler, who listens from Uruguay and have become a Phillies fan due to a cousin who lives within the United States. “For him, it would be easier to broadcast a game just in English. So it takes effort to do this.’’

Martin Altuve, a listener in Venezuela, said “it wasn’t ideal” to make use of English or Spanglish on a Spanish language broadcast past baseball terminology however “it’s accepted.”

“Here in Venezuela, I’m not speaking Spanglish where a lot of people don’t speak English,” he mentioned. “But at the baseball level, and with friends who understand what I’m saying, sure I use it. I say ‘leadoff’ and ‘closer.’”

Jose Tolentino, a Mexican and a former Spanish language broadcaster for the Los Angeles Angels, mentioned a baseball program is leisure, not an English or Spanish class.

“People want to be sitting down in their living room with a guy that knows the game,” he mentioned. “If Spanglish is your language, there’s a market and there’s a certain comfort. Yeah, some people aren’t going to understand some parts and some people aren’t going to understand the others.”

Mr. Tolentino continued, “I’m very proud that I speak very good Spanish. My dad would kill me if I didn’t speak good Spanish. But baseball is American. You can say ‘jonrón’ and ‘cuadrangular.’”

Source web site: www.nytimes.com