Why Doesn't the Mexican Translate All His Spanish Words?

[¡Ask a Mexican!] And does he advocate calling young girls a "white bitch"?

DEAR READERS: Although many of you have loved and/or loathed my columna for years, the Mexican still finds new readers every week in the unlikeliest of spots (hola, Chattanooga! See you in August, inshallah!). As a result, I sometimes receive questions about the methodology of the column, questions all of us know the respuestas to but that bear refrying from time to tiempo. Without further ado . . .

Dear Mexican: I've been watching you speak about your ¡Ask a Mexican¡ column. You keep reiterating that it's supposed to be a joke. I have a question for you: It would be okay for a Caucasian to speak in an insulting-yet-joking manner about Mexicans, right? When my daughter comes up to me and asks me why some of the girls at her school call her a white bitch, what am I to say when adults continue to press the issue that this is acceptable AND funny? She is the only one in her class who looks like her, but that's a non-issue because she's white. If it were the other way around, it would be a big deal—I know this because it was when I was a child. I do not believe you understand the damage you are creating by making it socially acceptable to speak the way you do.

Tiger Mom

DEAR GABACHA: I've never said my column is a pure joke—it's a satirical response to the bigotry Mexicans must endure in this country. A joke's only intent is to elicit a laugh. For instance, did you hear the one about the guy who left a banjo in the back of his truck, only to return and find the windows shattered—and two banjoes? Okay, so bluegrass-music humor isn't exactly Jerry Seinfeld territory, but there are no other ulterior motives behind the chiste other than an intra-group ridiculing of banjo players—no social commentary, no statement of facts, nada. Satire is humor laced with stinging facts and points to make specific commentaries attacking the status quo—think Twain, Swift, Colbert, Chapelle and the mess that I make trying to copy them. And when have I ever said it's okay to make fun of gabachos for their race? I advocate logical, lyrical smackdowns of Know Nothings, who come in all colors—and if you don't believe me, try to figure out what Michelle Malkin's maiden name is.

 

DEAR MEXICAN: I read your column regularly, thank you. I do, however, have what I think should be a simple request of you. My Spanish skills are confined to the street slang I learned growing up in Los Angeles County during the 1970s and '80s—I'm not exactly what I would call proficient in polite company. Not surprisingly, you often use Spanish words and phrases in your column that are more appropriate for usage in the forum of public debate. I would appreciate it if at the end of each of your columns, you would allot space to defining the Spanish words and phrases that appear in your articles. For most of us, the alternative will be to look it up on the Internet—a translation done out of context. For instance, all this time, I thought that I was a "gringo," but maybe I'm a "gabacho" instead—or also? Who knew? In any event, it would be nice to learn a little bit about the language at the same time—and in the same context—that we are learning about the Mexican culture through your column.

Muchos Gracias (Which Means "Thank You")

DEAR GABACHO: No, you're very much a gringo and a gabacho. I do love slipping in español words whenever possible, but I also make it a point to make easy-to-decipher choices. For instance, look at the Spanish words I've used so far. Tiempo? Use your cabeza—it's "time," as in the idiom "from time to time." Cabeza? Head, as in "use your head." Pretty fácil, right? In the rare cases I do use palabras that you can't easily understand, keep reading—I'll explain it sooner rather than más tarde.

 

GOOD MEXICANS OF THE WEEK: The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has done the Lord's work for the past decade organizing Mexican, Central American and Haitian tomato pickers in South Florida to ask fast-food giants to pay an iota more to double the salaries of its members. More information can be found at www.ciw-online.org.

This column appeared in print as "Special RefriedEdición."

 
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19 comments
astrevino
astrevino

your view's are true..... other comment's say so are  because their ur are true....and have to said something to feel other wish..... love ur voice to speak out ....

Albert Barlow
Albert Barlow

You guys must have a full time staffer deleting unapproved thought.

Pathetic.

clipsentuboca
clipsentuboca

Dear Mexican: was pico de gallo created by white people? I'm pretty sure it was as it's so bland and unexciting. You can't call it a real mexican restaurant unless they have red seeded hot sauce. Can I get an amen, mexicano?

Michael Harris
Michael Harris

I just discovered your work and really appreciate it. I have been unable to get a really definitive answer to a question and hope that perhaps you might be able to provide some insight. Here goes: Why don't Mexicans buy Life Insurance? (OK, it's not like they don't at all; they do represent a small fraction of the life insurance buying public). When compared to the rest of the sub cultures in our market (Whites, blacks asians etc.) the purchase of life insurance by Mexicans is very much disproportionate to their demographic presence. As a stark contrast, take the Philipinos (My son calls them the "Beaners of Asia"), the Philipino community very much believes in and buys life insurance products. The two Mestizo cultures are so similar but not when it comes to life insurance. The Mexicans love their families too; they work hard to support them and yet don't protect them with life insurance.?????1-800-UN-SEGURO. Michael Harris tugringoloco@yahoo.com

Allen D. Wilson
Allen D. Wilson

I still boycott YUM brand on account of Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Liana
Liana

Apart from the humor and cultural analysis, one thing I love about your columna is your code switching between English and español. However, I'm not so sure it's as easy as you say it is for non-español-hablantes to logically figure out the Spanish words from the context.

I think you should test your assertion on some monolingual speakers, and report back to us. How much of the español did they figure out correctly?

together
together

The double standard still sucks though you can't just keep ignoring it

Cesar Chivo
Cesar Chivo

Pinche Pocho Baboso,

"And when have I ever said it's okay to make fun of gabachos for their race?" Overtly? Rarely.Yet your constant slagging of Chapines makes up for it. Hatred of one on the basis of their national origin is called bigotry and would be unacceptable for a light skinned person. Yet, the morenitos get a pass? Bienvenidos a Mexifornia, Carajo!

Bill T.
Bill T.

I come across english palabras a veces que no entiendo. I just pull out my trusty diccionario. Think of it as un oportunidad de entender. I would actually appreciate correction when I make one of my (many) errors, but I suspect that el Gustavo has better things to do with his time, but possibly from one of the lectors (???) latinos (did babble fish steer me right here?).

Chicana
Chicana

what double standard. Let's see were ancher babies, were dirty, we steal jobs, we invade. The whole media ignores latinos, you bash and humiliate us. Theres no double standard.

Lcpeters
Lcpeters

With your spelling, diction, and punctuation skills (or lack thereof) is it any wonder you don't garner much respect?

909Jeff
909Jeff

Chicana,

You also forgot the one about how you all take ESL classes and or drop out of school as evidenced by your feable stab at the English language. And the media does not ignore latinos... Just the ugly ones... Just ask Sophia Vergara. Also would you plaese expand on your incomplete thought? "We Invade"... Invade what? I believe you didnt translate it in your head correctly. I THINK what you meant to say was "We Invaded your State and are draining your economy". And before you complain that we invaded your land I want to point out that it was the Spanish that came over and gave your people syphilis and typhoid... We kicked the Spaniards asses and kept the land for ourselves. They taught that in history, which is a class that... Nevermind!

See Gustavo, other people can use satire too!

Chicana
Chicana

Because I point out reality.

Chicana
Chicana

I didnt like your comment when I put reply, it gave you the like!

Chicana
Chicana

Did you forget the fact that California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Utah...and so on, where part of mexico. That the U.S. gorvenment aquired it illegally, and it also incouraged illegal immigration as to out number the mexican population. You mean basic history classes that glorify the anglo in disney like fiction. Actually I'm about to get my BA and apply to grad school. I thinks its hilarious you name on Latina, and I bet you, you can name at least 20 or more white actresses. And, I'm to be pround bc some baboso can name one Latina actress. Mastering the english language useful and nessary skill does not make some one intellegent, dyslexic infact can be very intellegent and they lack those skills.

 
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