The Colorado Department of Transportation is nearly as good at releasing smartphone apps as it is at pissing off the state's English-only crowd.
In December 2009, CDOT released R U Buzzed?, the cheekily named iPhone app designed to push the agency's ongoing effort to remind people not to drink and drive. Created by local firm ID345, the free app allows imbibers to enter their weight, sex, the number of hours they've been drinking, and the number and kind of drinks they've slammed (if they can remember) in order to calculate an estimate of their blood-alcohol level. It has been downloaded 200,000 times.
Last week, in advance of Labor Day Weekend, CDOT released "Estás Tomado?," a Spanish-language version of the app — although this one is for the Android Market. The new version lets users choose between English or Spanish, as well as pounds and kilos, "making the app culturally relevant for Hispanics," according to CDOT. The app also provides the phone number for Yellow Cab (which advertises on the app) and will call the number for you — not that 777-7777 is a brain-melter.
The word "tomado" is a rough translation of "buzzed," although CDOT spokeswoman Heather Halpape says it doesn't translate directly. There are also rough translations for the three categories of drunkenness in the original app: "No hangover expected" becomes "Ninguna resaca"; "You're buzzed!" is "Estás tomado!"; and "Don't even think about it!" has morphed into "Ni lo pienses!"
CDOT decided to create the app because one in every five Coloradans is Hispanic. The Latino population is also the fastest-growing market for smartphones, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. (Seventy-six percent of Hispanic adults were using cell phones in 2010.) It paid ID345 $3,000 to create the app.
Back in 2009, CDOT commissioned a $15,000 TV advertisement in Spanish warning people to buckle up. Eighty Latinos had died in traffic accidents in Colorado the year before, roughly one quarter of the total number of people killed in car crashes; of the eighty, 59 were unbuckled. But Dave Schultheis, a Republican state senator at the time, criticized CDOT for the ad, telling the Denver Post, "All these ads are going to do is provide one more assimilation off-ramp for new arrivals. Bilingualism in our buckle-up ads — just like bilingualism in our schools — will only encourage the further balkanization of our culture, reduce the pressure on new immigrants to learn English and make it harder in the long run for immigrants to become Americans."
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So far, CDOT "hasn't heard a word" from the English-only crowd about its latest attempt to reach Spanish speakers, Halpape says. But the agency has definitely heard from R U Buzzed? users. "A lot of people say they didn't realize how few drinks it takes to get them to that level, to .08," she notes, "so this gives them a better understanding of what it is or how it feels to be at the legal limit."
Buzzkill: Last week, Funkwerks Brewing, a relatively new and innovative brewery in Fort Collins, sparked an international incident when some of New Zealand's native Maori people bashed the name and label on Maori King, a saison that Funkwerks had just released. After a weekend of tortured debate on the brewery's Facebook page and in the New Zealand media, Funkwerks announced on Monday that it will change the name of the beer from Maori King to Southern Tropic. "Our goal at Funkwerks is to make good beer for our customers," owner Brad Lincoln and Gordon Schuck said in a statement. "Our intention was not to disrespect the Maori people or their culture in naming our Maori King beer. Out of respect, we are re-branding this beer as Southern Tropic."