I've seen the Cole Porter song title, "Begin the Beguine" translated into Spanish as "Volver a Empezar". http://lyrics.wikia.com/Julio_Iglesias: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.)

  • 2
    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. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 16:44
  • @hippietrail: Why don't you post your comment as an anwer
    – Tom Au
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 16:54
  • 1
    Mainly because it's just an opinion I can't back up and I personally don't like opinions as answers on Stack Exchange. Commented Nov 16, 2011 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
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 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
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 14:54

4 Answers 4


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".

  • No, begin and beguine are not pronounced in the same way at all.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 18:11

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.


Comienza el baile

Given that "beguine" is a dance.

  • See here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beguine_(dance)
    – CesarGon
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 14:44
  • @CesarGon There is a mistake in your link, the second ) should be in the link too :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 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
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 20:03

It is obvious that the right translation for "begin the beguine" is: "Comenzar el beguine" meaning the beguine the popular dance from Martinica and Guadalupe Caribbean islands. The evidence is that there's a verse ahead in the lyrics of Cole Porter's song saying: "oh yes, let them begin the beguine make them play". Of course, "them" are the musicians of an orchestra playing a piece with a beguine rhythm.

  • 1
    Can you say why you think that the accepted answer is wrong? It seems much more likely to me that this is an attempt to reproduce the play on words of the English version.
    – mdewey
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 11:12

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