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I've seen the Cole Porter song title, "Begin the Beguine" translated into Spanish as "Volver a Empezar".

"Beguine," in English is a dance. "Volver a Empezar" means something like "Lets's Go Back to the Beginning," not "Let's Begin the Dance."

What would be the purpose of translating "Begin the Beguine" as Volver a Empezar? Perhaps it has something to do with the Spanish lyrics, which begin "Quiero sentir, las cosas de siempre"? (I don't know the rest of it.)

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Sounds like it's just a mistranslation, or they decided "beguine" was too obscure for a Spanish speaking audience and went for a non literal translation in this case based on a similar sounding word. – hippietrail Nov 16 '11 at 16:44
@hippietrail: Why don't you post your comment as an anwer – Tom Au Nov 16 '11 at 16:54
Mainly because it's just an opinion I can't back up and I personally don't like opinions as answers on Stack Exchange. – hippietrail Nov 16 '11 at 16:56
Is your question, "What is the proper translation of "Begin the Beguine", or "What would be the purpose of translating "Begin the beguine" as "Volver a Empezar"?. One of those questions is answerable - the other is quite subjective. – razlebe Nov 18 '11 at 13:41
@razlebe: I'd say the question is, is "Volver a Empiezar" a "plausible" translation of the song title, even allowing for some poetic license. – Tom Au Nov 18 '11 at 14:54
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think that the translation to "Volver a Empezar" was made to mantain the sense of the original title: "Begin the Beguine" here, if you pronounce the title you have something like "begin the begin" like "comenzar el comienzo".

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The original "translation" by María Grever (which appeared on the sheet music back in the '30s, along with Cole Porter's English lyrics) doesn't have all that much to do with the English lyrics. Lyrics websites being generally pretty horrible I don't want to link to one, but you can find them by searching for something like Jorge-Negrete Begin-the-beguine.

The version you've come across appears to be the "new" (1981) "translation" by Julio Iglesias which also has little to do with the English lyrics, apart from containing the English title twice. However, every stanza ends with either Quiero volver a empezar or Para volver a empezar, so it's a logical title.

Whether the origin was Julio Iglesias' misunderstanding of Cole Porter's lyrics or a deliberate play on words is something which you'd have to ask him (or find discussed in an interview), and even then I don't know how you'd know whether he was telling the truth.

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Comienza el baile

Given that "beguine" is a dance.

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See here – CesarGon Dec 9 '11 at 14:44
@CesarGon There is a mistake in your link, the second ) should be in the link too :) – Alenanno Dec 9 '11 at 15:18
@Alenanno: You are right. I pasted the link straight into the comment edit box and that's the outcome. As far as I know, I can't change it now. :-( The correct link is this. – CesarGon Dec 9 '11 at 20:03

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