What Is Mock Spanish?

[¡Ask a Mexican!] And how many Mexicans can fit into a car?

DEAR MEXICAN: Where did the notion that adding an o to the end of an English word makes it a Spanish word come from?

Juanito


Details



Ask the Mexican at themexican@askamexican.net, be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or ask him a video question at youtube.com/askamexicano!

DEAR WAB: "Anglos have long held power in making Spanish and Spanish-speaking culture invisible," writes University of South Florida assistant professor of foreign-language education Adam Schwartz in his excellent essay "Mockery and Appropriation of Spanish In White Spaces: Perceptions of Latinos in the United States," published in the 2011 publication The Handbook of Hispanic Sociolinguistics. "But Spanish can be made selectively visible for the purposes of Mock Spanish," a term popularized by legendary University of Arizona anthropologist Jane H. Hill to refer to what gabachos have deemed acceptable Spanglish—think terms such as "vaya con Dios," "cojones," "mañana, mañana" and "chinga tu pinche madre, pinche puto pendejo baboso." As Schwartz points out in his work, the addition of the masculine suffix to Mexicanize English arose both from its widespread use in popular culture (think "No comprendo" or "Drinko de Mayo") and by gabachos taking Spanish classes in high school and college and only remembering one part of the language's grammatical structure to bend for their racist needs. "This reclamation by Anglo monolinguals of the Spanish language itself is indeed a fashionable act—there is something oddly chic and cool about embracing the stereotype of ignorant gringo," Schwartz writes. And full disclosure—he was kind enough to cite this columna in his piece, which we find awesome-o!

*     *     *

DEAR MEXICAN: Being one of two gabachos in my neighborhood off Federal in Denver, I'm wondering exactly how many Mexicans can fit in one car? This is a broad question, so assume that in a two-parent family, there are six kids, three of which have three kids. The age range will be from around five months to 50. We'll also assume it's a Sunday, and as many family members as possible need to get out on Federal. The car would most likely be a two-door Chevy truck or a Saturn sedan on 20-inch rims.

Craving Some Chubbys!


DEAR GABACHO: Depends on the situation. A Mexican car expands and contracts according to need as would the Mexican male panza. Car goes to church? Only women can fit in—and since they're prim and proper, the max is 10. Going to a party? Then 25. To school? Just one adult, and all the neighborhood chamacos that can fit themselves in the footrest part of the carro. And if a car is going to a Republican function? It magically doesn't fit anyone other than the vendido cousin driving it.

*     *     *

DEAR MEXICAN: As are my Mexican co-workers, I'm a migrant to the City of Angels. In my home state of Louisiana, there is an integral distinction to be made among folks whether one is Protestant or Catholic. But ask a Mexican what a non-Catholic Christian is, and they will tell you "Christian." But a Catholic is a Christian. I've inquired, and Mexicans don't seem to have a word for Protestant. In fact, there are many words that are basic to my vocabulary that don't seem to translate into Spanish, i.e., "self-esteem" and "desk drawers." Why is this?

Bayou Billy


DEAR GABACHO: Of course a Catholic is a Christian—can you tell that to evangelicals? As for your translation queries: A Protestant is a protestante, desk drawers are cajones del escritorio, and "self-esteem" is tequila.

 
My Voice Nation Help
29 comments
Loli
Loli

I had a co-worker, a staunch Democrat, non-racist, liberal, Westsider who always used to joke about it:  "I can speak Spanish, listen, 'Open-o the door-o.' You just add an 'o'!"  I don't think telling jokes makes a person a racist, but it kind of bugged me. I mean, did he think Spanish was some kind of derivative language? 

At some point my mom and I were planning to go to Italy, and I bought "Learn Italian" CD's to play in the car.  My mom, who doesn't speak English, would listen and repeat some of the phrases, then one day, after the lesson involving trains, she observed, "You know, Italian is almost identical to Spanish, but with an 'o' added on."  I almost crashed the car, I was laughing so hard.  So I forgave my co-worker -- I mean, seriously?  What could I say, after my own mother said something like that?  It still makes me laugh.

Speaking of Italy ... the reason that so many Mexicans refer to Protestants as "Cristianos" is that it's how they evangelized in Mexico. They claimed that Catholics weren't Christian, and distinguished themselves by claiming Christianity as their exclusive description.  By the way, Catholics in Mexico (at any rate, the ones I know) don't refer to protestant groups as "churches"; we call them "sects." 


scottsdalebubbe
scottsdalebubbe

Gustavo Arellano -- Are you related to the Gus Arellano who wrote and drew the "Gordo" comic strip published in the Los Angeles Daily News and later in the Los Angeles Times many years ago?  The "bubbe" in my screen name is Yiddish for "abuelita" and my memory hasn't turned to cr*p yet.

Jose Amaro
Jose Amaro

That's what someone close to me used to say when she converted to Chritianity....that we Catholics are idolaters. Although not to the extent as Jehovah's Witnesses, my observation is that the evangelical church places a high value on actively recruiting new members. One way to achieve this is to try to find fault in person they are trying to recruit's existing faith. I've heard evangelical Christians not only bash Catholisicm, but also the practices of different Christian sects...claiming that other churches aren't practicing Christianity correctly.

Meliton Arriola
Meliton Arriola

On a college trip to Juarez to help out with missions one of the guys gets off the bus and tells some Mexican kids that he was cool in Spanish by adding an "o" to the English word. When the kids started laughing he couldn't figure out why and he asked one of us what was going on. My friend Danny says " I think you just made yourself an ass (culo)"

Guillermo Mendiola
Guillermo Mendiola

That's because the Catholic Church has traditions that smack of paganism, traditions you wouldn't find in the Christian communities of the New Testament.

itchy
itchy

some of gus's answers sound a lot like george lopez riffs

William Justin
William Justin

...members of marority do all kinds of things that make them look dumb, I was thinking how the Native Americans where described by anglo historians as having sort of *weak* immune systems for not being able to stand up to the white man's disceases. The anglo history put it on the natives rather then putting it like this: "The native immune system had never encountered filth such as this...and many died as a result". Magority people get to spin the history and re-shape the language! Sad, dumb, but true.

esoj1211
esoj1211

Yes, evangelico is probably the equivalent for non-Catholic, but keep in mind that many recent immigrants arent really exposed to the middlebrow mainline protestant churches like Presbyterianism, Methodists or Lutherans, usually only the hard-core evangelicals, weird pentecostals and those abhorent septimo dia people.  And when those mainline prot churches do try they embarass themselves with mocked-up appropriations of la virgen y los santos. 

Matt Miller Sr.
Matt Miller Sr.

You found your sense of humour again! WooHoo! Good ?'s and answers.

Jose Amaro
Jose Amaro

I agree but tell that to the Spaniards or other "purists" of the Spanish language. They look at how we're "evolving" the language with equal contempt.

Ben Van BLaricum
Ben Van BLaricum

I really don't know about adding o's onto other words to Spanishsize it, but rather, I embraced what is Spanish [after all, I dated a hispanic lady for a long time, and we still get along, and I work with numerous people from Venezuela, Mexico, etc. and even played rugby with a gente de España who even agreed with me that Argentineans are facing a cultural collapse within their country]. So instead of making it invisible, I assimilated to it and accepted it for what it is, and didn't loose my own.

Joel Sanchez
Joel Sanchez

The difference is that when we use these words, we're creating an idiom amongst ourselves that is used just like another language. Spanglish is different than gabachos just lazily putting o's at ends of words to pretend to speak Spanish. As the article points out, it's a mockery. Same thing is done when people add ee to the ends of words to mock Chinese.

Jose Amaro
Jose Amaro

what about the words the we make up ourselves..."Parquea" tu "troca" en la calle. No se te olvide poner la "breka" de mano. Di le a tu hermana que tiene que "mapiar" el piso de la cocina. Si vas a "mistiar" tu cita con el doctor tienes que llamar un dia antes.

mojosweets
mojosweets

I seem to recall Lucy Ricardo aptly and hilariously using "mock Spanish" on "I Love Lucy.: It was ground-breaking and culture-shifting television.

Gabby Gonzalez
Gabby Gonzalez

Jajajajajaja btw Gustavo self-esteem = tequila... not in all cases. Pinches borrachos que se ponen hasta las manitas y empiezan a lloriquear que nadie los quiere.

Gabby Gonzalez
Gabby Gonzalez

Oh, c'mon! I'm not saying two wrongs make a right but we do it too. Yo queroshion que todoshions digan la verdashion. O no?

elvagotrago
elvagotrago

Say the word "evangelico", its the same as protestant to a mexican.  And why do mexicans always appropriate English words like "computer" to "computadora"  Can't those flojos come up with their own lengua?  Un gente sin mente.

Christine Ferreira
Christine Ferreira

I have heard students question whether Catholics are Christians many times over the years as a teacher. I have always felt that somehow the evangelical church has essentially been teaching that Catholics are not Christians.

Guillermo Mendiola
Guillermo Mendiola

I first saw "awesome-o" in South Park, but it was a spoof of the Japanese robot Asimo, which was named after Isaac Asimov.

Joel Gomez
Joel Gomez

Tequilo mucho bueNoh...... :) im drunko already... :)

Virginia Mariposa Dale
Virginia Mariposa Dale

Muchos! How many mejicanos can you fit into a tequila bar (and a gringa) - muchos muchachos = no somos machos pero somos muchos! :)

Gerard Iribe
Gerard Iribe

No problemo. Oh, wait. Puras mamadas. ;)

ElZorlak
ElZorlak

@elvagotrago Computer comes from the latin word "computare." spanish is an evolution of the latin language, so saying that mexicans appropiated the word makes you look as the gabacho pendejo that you probably are.

 
Anaheim Concert Tickets

Around The Web

Loading...