Should I Go to Spain to Learn Spanish?

[¡Ask a Mexican!] And should I call la migra on my neighbor's unsupervised children?

DEAR MEXICAN: After a year in Spain, I speak more-than-decent Spanish, and I want to get a job in the nonprofit field, where I can put it to use and pursue social justice and all that. Thing is, my Spanish is pretty peninsular. I maintained my seseo, thank God, but I may let loose an "¿os vais ahora?" every so often, and people have told me I have un acento andaluz (¡mentira!). Are Mexicans gonna laugh at me? Is this a totally neurotic fear? Love your column, by the way.

La Gallega

DEAR GALICIAN GABACHA: Going to Spain to learn to speak Spanish is like going to Mexico to learn good-government practices. Don't believe all the Barça and Real Madrid jerseys worn by hipsters or their sudden love for Jarabe de Palo: The number of Spaniards in the United States is miniscule—91,285, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey, and a bunch of them are undoubtedly Basques and Catalans who despise their adopted tongue. It'll all be fine, but Mexis will forever make fun of your lisp and your use of vosotros, and more important, you're going to get your curse words wrong, as will be evident in the following respuesta. . . .

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DEAR MEXICAN: Mi familia and I live in a mobile-home community, which seems to have its fair share of Mexis, along with Latino/a residents. Mi problema is this: For roughly all of last week up to and including today, some Mexican kids have been taking shortcuts through other people's yards (mine included), and since our next-door neighbors (who are also Mexicans) have two perros, the little hijos de putas love to get their jollies off by pestering the hell out of them! And after they've been chased out of the yard, they'll stand just outside the yard and torment the neighbor's dogs! As if that weren't enough, they have the nerve to pretend to not understand what's being said to them—in both Spanish and English. Mi pregunta: While we've already considered notifying the office about their pain-in-the-ass antics/tactics, I'm already well-aware the office won't do anything about it, since I checked with the management just to make sure. So, is calling la policia (and possibly threatening to alert la migra) my only course of action? What steps can be taken to ensure that these kids' lazy parents actually give a rat's culo about keeping their children in line, including being fully aware of what they are doing when not under parental supervision? In my opinion, as far as respeto is concerned, I believe people (all types/races/ethnic backgrounds, not just Mexicans) should have to show they actually deserve it instead of simply expecting and/or demanding it simply because they exist. If you're too lazy to prove yourself to be worthy of respect, you sure as hell won't get it from me, at  the very least.

A Know Nothing In Need of Wisdom


DEAR GABACHO: "Hijos de puta"? Methinks someone is spending too much time with Argies; the correct disparaging term in Mexican Spanish is "hijos de la chingada" (literally, "sons of the fucked one," but actually referring to Malinche, Cortés' translator, who's forever hated in Mexico as a whore—a puta—so you're technically correct . . . but still! You need to know your Mexican Spanish!). And while you call yourself a Know Nothing, you're obviously not—you care enough about your Mexi neighbors to watch out for their dogs, you understand the primacy of respeto in the Mexican psyche, and you seem to know more Spanish than some Chicano politicians. No need to call the police or la migra on this one (and besides, the kids are most likely what your supposed ilk would call "anchor babies," but the Constitution calls "American citizens"); instead, you and your Mexi neighbor should approach the parents and tell them what their chamacos are doing. If they don't care, then time to get nuclear: bust out the chancla.

 
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22 comments
poblano
poblano

I've been trying to brush up on my rusty Spanish via some excellent podcasts from www.notesinspanish.com, but they have a decidedly Castilian bias.  I'd be interested to know if there were similar tools for the rest of the Spanish-speaking world.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young

BTW you'll do the world more good by having 2-3-4 kids and passing on good genes rather than enabling  barely functioning 'Latino' families in the 'non-profit' field.Find yourself a stud 'Anglo' husband and get to work building your own family.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young

"The number of Spaniards in the United States is miniscule—91,285,"

 

And yet the Music Director of the LA Opera or a Spaniard, the most accomplished 'Latino' chef in the country is Ferran Adrià, and they had to get an Andalucian to play 'El Mariachi'. 

 

 

 

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young

"Jarabe de Palo"

 

¡Joder!. Atascado en los noventas.

lechon
lechon

To La Gallega:

Mis dos centavos o pesetas:

1) You are to be congratulated (and admired) for wanting to learn Spanish and to apply it constructively for social justice. I don't think one can ever learn enough languages or dialects. It allows one to appreciate other values, customs, and personalities. We can even like Basil Rathbone aka Sherlock Holmes or Downton Abbey.

2) As you know, besides speaking, language also includes reading and listening. Unfortunately, in the U.S., the gift of native speaking Spanish is not cultivated or enhanced due to myopic or nativist politics. Keep reading this column, authors like Denise Chavez and Urrea, and listening to Mexican music to improve your ear (although I like Ruiz Zafon).

3) In terms of Mexicanos or others who need assistance, the main thing is communication. They will not laugh at you. They will appreciated your effort. They rather you speak passable Spanish than they speaking bad English.

4) The level of Spanish proficiency runs the gamut, from pocho palabrotas to 12+ years bilingual education (e.g., Boricua). The Argentinians probably won't understand your Castellano or Mexican version anyway.

 

Guerro
Guerro

Gustavo, I can't believe how deculturated you have let yourself become.  Not a mention on your homepage. Today is Noche De Muertos -the real deal-not this anglicized sugar skulls and storytelling bullshit.  Why are you not pimping this rad fiesta?  Tonights the night broder where your antepasados  are waiting for you to come to cemetary.  Get the flores y velas, hang with your familia.  Or are you hitting some Korean/Cajun taco truck?  Que lastima pocho vendido.

mazbook
mazbook

Si tiene acento andaluz, that means that you have the accent of Andalucia, which is where the large majority of the Spaniards who emigrated to México came from. Since the acento andaluz is the basis for Mexican Spanish (particularly the seseo), that's why you have been told that you have the acento andaluz. If you truly have retained the seseo, I'm certain that you have no need to be worried about the "lisp", as the "lisp" is a castellano pronunciation (ceseo) of the C and the Z.  You will definitely get some double takes using "os" and "vosotros" in México, though. Those haven't been taught in school here for a long, long time.

Be very, very careful with your use of the verb "coger" though; it just shouldn't be used in México at all, as it is the "nasty" word for "f--k". Here we "tomar" un taxi or autobus (camión), we definitely do NOT "coger" un taxi o camión! LOL

 

Mazbook

I_Have_Black_Immunity
I_Have_Black_Immunity

Owebama is a true racist. Why does the US President hate the advancement of the standard of living for Mexico’s poor? Barrack Hussein Obama; how dare you deprive Mexico these young educated and motivated people? Aren’t Mexican citizens the greatest assets Mexico has? Why rob Mexico of these assets? These US educated and motivated illegal alien occupiers (brought to the US as babies) now in the US are the only hope for Mexico and you want to keep them here in the US. They could start businesses, create jobs, and improve the standard of living for the poor people of Mexico. Yet you want to be selfish and deprive Mexico of these talented youth who could make life better for all the people of Mexico. SHAME ON YOU! Have you no compassion for the poor now living in Mexico?  Gustavo Arellano, Steve Gallardo, Nicky Diaz Santillan, and La Raza need to insist that all these young educated and talented Mexicans be sent back to Mexico to help improve the standard of living for the poor Mexicans. Are you with us for the good of Mexico and its people?

DonAlbertoDoyle
DonAlbertoDoyle

American English is now the world's standard, and even the OED has switched its spelling and pronunciation to reflect that.  Most Portuguese dictionaries have now adopted the Brazilian standard, much to the motherland's dismay.  It's a matter of numbers of speakers, not "culture" -- of which I would also argue Brooklyn has much more than London. 

 

Mexicans definitely snap the LLs and Ys, as Puerto Ricans do, looking for the chahvays to their coches in Nueva Jork, and I can't tell you how many times I've asked, re spelling, "Bay o Vay?", with the response inevitably being "Bay", even if it's a V.  My dog comes when my landlord says BAIN.

 

But Venezuela and Colombia are really close to High Castilian, while Argentina and Chile have their own distinct pronunciations, and say bueno dia/buena tarde and gracia, no plurals.  Meanwhile the Cubans are incomprehensible, dropping all their S's -- KoMayTa rather than como estas, etc.

 

Yeah, they'll make fun of your lisp in Mexico, but down below the isthmus it shows up again.

Jungfrau
Jungfrau

About that language. If a foreigner wanted to learn English and they had a choice of learning proper English in London or going to Brooklyn, what would be better?

If you want to wallow in social services with people from New Yaak, then go to Brooklyn. If you want to be cultured, go to London.

bsinatra
bsinatra

hijo de puta is commonly used by michoacanos especially sahuayeneses, c'mon Gustavo as someone who spends so much time in sanTana ...I'd expect you to know this 

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

Gallega,

True enough about expecting to get teased on the accento, but what I've seen is that by at least trying to speak la espanol you're demonstrating a willingness to try to meet people on their own ground and the respect returned will surely swamp any kidding you'll get. No subtsitute for courtesy and respect.

lechon
lechon

 @Mitchell_Young 

OMG. I must have misread the NY Times. I thought that Arthur Jensen had passed away a few days ago. Didn't know that he had changed his name.

fnarf
fnarf

 @Mitchell_Young The most accomplished chef in which country? Adria still lives and works in Spain, not in the US. He's never worked here.  The most accomplished Latino chef in North America right now is one of the pioneers of Tijuana, I'll betcha. Javier Plascencia, probably.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young

 @DonAlbertoDoyle "of which I would also argue Brooklyn has much more than London. "

 

Riiiight. It's not like London has, you know, the University were DNA was actually discovered (Kings, London), the British Library, the British Museum, a music scene that produces far more than the entire East Coast of the US, spawned the whole 'celebrity chef' deal, and so on.

 

I'm sure the hipsters in Williamsburg are nice in their own quaint way, but its like comparing the Elsinore Storm to the Giants.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young

 @DonAlbertoDoyle " Meanwhile the Cubans are incomprehensible, dropping all their S's -- KoMayTa rather than como estas, etc."

 

Which points the way for the above letter writer, who supposedly has an Andalucian accent. The Andalucians also drop the 's', and also elide the 'ado' and 'ido' to ao,  and io. As in 'Er Beti' ha ganao'. 

Guerro
Guerro

 @DonAlbertoDoyle Try listening to a Nicaraguan.  They drop multiple syllables from the end of words and mash them together.  Estados Unidos becomes "Staonio"

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

 @bsinatra See, us jerezanos don't consider those from Sahuayo Mexicans haha!

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young

 @GustavoArellano  @bsinatra 'Jerezanos'? WTF. You don't ride fine horses, have no appreciation for seis toros seis, and wouldn't know a Fino from a Manzanita from a Pedro Ximenez.

 

 
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