Astronomy questions… now in Spanish!

By Phil Plait | June 20, 2008 11:00 am

OK, I was gonna put up a title in Spanish but I don’t want to include all the accent marks.

The point is, Lourdes Cahuich, an astronomy enthusiast and educator in Mexico, spent quite a bit of effort translating into Spanish all those videos I made answering questions from sixth graders. Amazing!

Here they are: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

I assume she did a great job, since my Spanish is limited pretty much to asking where the bathroom is and for a cold bottle of water. But Lourdes is very upbeat and dedicated, so I’m pretty sure she did well. I’ve chatted with her a few times via Facebook and she is pretty cool, so let me publicly thank her for doing this. If you are a science teacher who has a large class of Spanish-speaking kids, well, there you go. Enjoy!


Comments (31)

  1. CQT

    Has there been any articles or discussions about the ice crystals dug up this week on Mars? Seems pretty important.

  2. «bønez_brigade»

    Gracias, pero, no lo necesito.

  3. «bønez_brigade»

    twas sarcasmo, btw…

  4. Thomas Siefert

    Dos cervezas por favor.
    My Spanish is limited too, but it’s still better than yours. :-)

  5. Quiet_Desperation

    No tengo ni idea de c&ocute; mo escribir en espa&ñtilde;ol.

    Yo quiero Taco Bell.

  6. Quiet_Desperation

    Wow, that worked. :- I love ya, Phil, but your posting software still blows.

  7. I’m willing to translate the text into Dutch and put it on my weblog, if allowed. Although I’m fluent in Spanish too, I prefer to translate from the original English. Would the English text be available in written format anywhere?

  8. Gib

    Something of note: it’s been translated to Mexican, not Spanish. Please don’t insult the people of Spain by assuming the two are the same.

  9. João

    it still is Spanish, even if it has the Mexican peculiarities. And I don’t think anyone here in Spain would be offended by that. In fact, it is quite a motive of pride for most Spanyards to know that Spanish (or better, Castellano) is spoken throughout most of Central an South America.

  10. Randall

    No es la caja, es la pisa!!

  11. Quiet_Desperation

    Please don’t insult the people of Spain by assuming the two are the same.

    Ah, the official spokesperson for the citizens of Spain! Welcome! I must ask: Why are the people of Spain so easily insulted?

    And it’s called “Mexican Spanish” or, locally, just “Spanish” for short due to the low probability of it being confused with something generally spoken over 10,000 miles away.

    The differences between Mexican Spanish and “Spain Spanish” are about the same as the differences between American English and British English.

    The main language of Peru is also called “Spanish”. You going after them next? How about Nicaragua. Who told Spain to go all conquistador all over the place, huh?

  12. KaiYves

    Time to practice for that Spanish regents I have on Tuesday:
    !Phil Plait es un cientifico famoso!

  13. When we read Spanish, we assume it could be from Spain, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile, etc., etc… If we want to make a difference (for example, in some YouTube videos), we write ‘castellano’ or ‘español de España’ (Spanish from Spain). There’s no ‘Mexican’ as a proper language, as there’s no ‘USAn’ or something… (English would be only from England, remember)

    And having said that…

    I found a translation error when I read the first part… ‘Carbon’ was translated using ‘carbón’ (coal) instead of ‘carbono’ (the chemical element). I left a comment there about this :S

  14. Why are there 7 parts to the Spanish (“Mexican Spanish”?) version, but only 5 in English (“American”?)?

  15. Man I started doing the same thing (I even email Phil about it) but I got sidetracked and never got back at it. I was weak and now I feel bad because it could have been me up there :(

  16. As for the language comment. I think there is more difference in the Spanish-es within México, than with Spain’s. Which I personally believe is far less different than “American” and “British”. At least when is used without “modismos”.

    Oh, btw, just something I always want to clear up about how English-speaking people pronounce México. The x sounds like a h. It would sound something like Me-hee-co and the accent works so you put an emphasis in the first syllable. It’s not Mek-see-co.

    I hope I’m not being too annoying.

  17. Amazing news Phil, that’s just great! I’m looking forward to inciting my non-english-speaking friends on reading your blog, and this will be of great help.

    @ Juan: Perhaps there is more difference in the Spanish-es within México than within Spain’s (I’ve never been to México), but the problem in Spain is that there are several other languages apart from spanish (Catalán, Gallego, Vasco, and other regionalisms) and they greatly differ from each other.

    Oh, and another, perhaps bigger, problem, is the one showed by Gib. There’s a great pride here in Spain, and there’s a general missconception of superiority among, especially, South America’s Spanish-es.

    Going back to Astronomy: Keep on making friends and spreading science as far as possible. How about making a subtitled version of the whole thing? I think that’s way better than just translating 😉 I’ll look into it and see what I can do to subtitle them.

    PS: No se olvide de visitar mi blog para encontrar algún que otro texto rebuscado, jejeje, (only recommended for fluent spanish speakers :'( )

  18. Mexican-Spanish Geographer


    And Mexico, which happens to be in NORTH America…

  19. Chido! (Mexican for cool!)

    I use to show the BA videos to mi 8 years old kid (who enjoys everything related to space and technology), and I have to translate them not so fast. This will be usefull for us.

    Buena onda de Lourdes Cahuich.

  20. I must say that I thought about it, putting subtitles to the videos would be great for a bit of astronomy to the spanish community. But for that I would have needed experience on subtitling and a lot of free time.

    Anyways, muchísimas gracias para Lourdes, que la verdad se le agradece.

    Phil: If you want, you can change the title to this one: “Preguntas de astronomía… ahora en Español!”

    I must assume that for a person with an english keyboard would be extremely complicated to put the accent marks and the Ñ.

  21. DarkSapiens, thanks for the correction, it’s done.

    Serenitiet: there’s no english text, I did the translation watching the videos over and over

    Thank you Phil and all of you, for your kind words, you can agree with me that all the things posted in the BA blog are worthy to be shared, no matter the languaje spoken.


  22. «bønez_brigade»

    ‘Tis not complicated at all. Here’s some handy ASCII Alt-codes for typing letters in Spanish.

    (Hold the Alt key and type on the number pad on the right side, not the number strip above the letters)

    Alt + ###:

    160 = á
    130 = é
    161 = í
    162 = ó
    163 = ú
    164 = ñ
    165 = Ñ

  23. João

    Mexican-Spanish Geographer:
    quite right my friend. I’m sorry for the left-out. It’s totally my fault for putting Mexico in Central America. It won’t happen again. :)

    Mexico in English is pronounced as mek-si-koh. Even though it’s written the same way as in Spanish it’s pronounced differently. A different thing happens with Brazil. It’s written with a “z” in English but it’s written with an “s” in Portuguese. So, it’s pronounced the same way but it’s written in a different way. I’m not an expert in philology but I’m sure there’s a name for this kind of things.

    Anyway, a big thank you for Lourdes Cahuichon. Anyone who works with video translations knows how much work this means.

  24. Quiet Desperation

    ‘Tis not complicated at all. Here’s some handy ASCII Alt-codes for typing letters in Spanish.

    It’s not complicated, but it seems every site has its own quirks. We need a W3Org standard for formatting in message boards.

  25. JamesTCA

    Is she speaking Castillian Spanish or that butchered version they speak in Mexico and other points south?

  26. Santiago

    Oh, come on Phil, there would have been a single accent mark required for “¡Preguntas de Astronomía, ahora en español!”, although I suppose the “ñ” might be more complicated. And does anyone know how the hell you say “eñe” in English?

    Also, just to clarify again, the language is called Spanish (fine, or Castellano, if you prefer) even if it’s spoken in Mexico or Argentina or wherever, unless you also want to distinguish between English English and Canadian/Australian/South African/etc…

    Oh, and João, thank you for including Mexico in North America, but it is my understanding that everything north of Panama is technically in North America.

    Mil gracias Lourdes, es bueno ver que en México si tenemos personas que disfrutan y aprecian la astronomía y la ciencia!

  27. andyo

    Well, I think whatever Gib meant, it came out as pretty pedantic and actually ignorant. Since some time ago the Real Academia has accepted español as interchangeable with castellano, meaning that it’s not mexicano, it is just plain español. Maybe it has mexicanismos in the text, but it’s still Spanish.

    Now, I don’t think our pedantic friends would like to go against THE Royal Academy, would he?

  28. Hi Phil,

    I am now doing the same as Lourdes, but in the Dutch language. The first part is already on line. You can find it here:

    The subsequent parts will follow in the coming days and weeks…

    – Herman –
    P.S. I am also the Dutch translator of the Skepdic’s Dictionary (

  29. Qué tal?. Muy buen artículo, te agregaré a mi lector de noticias RSS. Hasta luego!


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar