Obamacare Spanglish Is Not The Real Story

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco

Sometimes non-issues turn into big to-do’s. Sometimes we need to point at those big to-do’s and say “it’s a non-issue.”

It turns out that the Associated Press has been wrongly reporting that the Spanish language Obamacare website is riddled with grammatically incorrect language. The AP has reported that instead of proper Spanish, the site includes instances of (gasp!) Spanglish and other grammar faux pas. According to the report

” … the translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated — the name of the site itself can literally be read “for the caution of health.”

When you’re as large an organization, with as deep a reputation as the AP, you can’t go calling something clunky and Spanglish without expecting push-back.

A corner of the Internets has been especially stirred. Pundits, commentators and requisite internet ax-grinders have rightly blown the whistle on the AP.  The Cuidadodesalud.gov site isn’t the language swamp that the AP reports it is. The problem is that when the mighty AP growls, the noise echoes and ripples through editorials, blogs, news feeds, and social media shares.

But there are two issues here: the fact that the AP got the story wrong; and the fact that it really doesn’t matter.

The first issue is growing in decibels. In the corner of the Interwebs where Latino writers, thinkers and people who read them tend to hang out, there is a growing indignation. Not only did the AP get it wrong, but they were caught doing it wrong. And not only were they caught doing it wrong, the mistake was reproduced in ever-widening circles.

The fact is the Spanish Health Care site isn’t clunky, or Spanglish. And the report has created a false narrative that’s taken a life of it’s own.


The false narrative doesn’t affect the people who use the site. And that’s the second issue.

There are sporadic reports that Spanish speaking people aren’t signing up for Obamacre as quickly and in the numbers that were expected. The White House won’t say how many Latinos have signed up. But that has little to do with the site and more to do with a general distrust of the government (not in the Tea Party sense of distrust, but in the old-country experience of corruption and “us vs them” sense of distrust).

There is no line to be drawn between a faulty report of a clunky website and the number of Latinos signing up for Obamacare. One has nothing to do with the other. One is reverberating in the corner of a room, believed as true because of who is saying it. The other is a real problem that has, so far, gone unreported.

All the pundits and writers and thinkers huddled in the echo-corner could be asking why.

[Photo by NewsTaco]


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