Venezuela seeks to root out English biz terms

Written by Agencies | Caracas, February 26: | Updated: Feb 26 2008, 15:11pm hrs
President Hugo Chavez's government is taking its battle against US "imperialism" into Venezuelans' vocabulary, urging state phone company workers to eschew English-language business and tech terms that have crept into the local vernacular. Through a campaign launched on Monday, newly nationalised CANTV hopes to wean employees and others from words like "staff" ("equipo"), "marketing" ("mercadeo") and "password" ("contrasena").

Stickers and banners printed up by the company exhort Venezuelans to "Say it in Spanish. Say it with pride." The Communications and Information Ministry said in a statement that Venezuelans must recover Spanish words that are "threatened by sectors that have started a battle for the cultural domination of our nations."

Other English words targeted include "mouse" ("raton"), "meeting" ("reunion") and "sponsor" ("patrocinador") all of which have become acceptable in business circles in various Latin American countries. A frequent critic of Washington, Chavez has sought to counter what he calls US cultural imperialism on all fronts, taking measures such as financing Venezuelan cinema as an alternative to the "dictatorship of Hollywood" and forcing radio stations to play more Venezuelan music. English is still taught in schools alongside other languages, however. And Chavez himself often breaks playfully into English during speeches, sometimes to salute his close friend and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro by saying: "How are you, Fidel"