Why Do Mexicans Speak With Accents Even After Their Family Has Lived in U.S. for Generations?

Why Do Mexicans Speak With Accents Even After Their Family Has Lived in U.S. for Generations?EXPAND
Mark Dancey

DEAR MEXICAN: I'm listening to a podcast on "Gravy." The segment is bluegrass tacos. You were interviewed, and a few statements bothered me, among them "The U.S. can take half of Mexico. They can make us peons, force us to move up north." Is this a common view of America(ns) in your community? If so, it's very disappointing that in 2017, you would express this bias/prejudice against this amazing country. How were you forced to move north? Do you recognize/appreciate all the opportunities that this country has given you and other Mexicans who have come here? I would like to know your views. My initial opinion of you is that you are holding onto the idea "We are an oppressed people and can't believe what America has done to us." There is a "great" country to the south that offers so much more without the oppression that has openings for residency. Let me know what you think.

Ticked Off in Tulsa

DEAR GABACHO: You know what I think? You're a pendejo. The podcast is called Gravy, and it's an extension of the James Beard Award-winning food journal, for which I write a column about the Latino South called "Good Ol' Chico." And what you call "bias/prejudice" are straight-up facts. The United States did steal half of Mexico, but you don't have to take my word—just ask Ulysses S. Grant, who said that the Mexican-American War was "one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation." I don't have to hold on to the idea that Mexicans are oppressed—we know it's true every time whiny gabachos such as yourself insist we love this country just like you. The cool thing, though, is that we don't let pendejos such as you get in the way of creating a better America. Finally, ever heard of a little chingadera called NAFTA—you know, the one thing Donald Trump gets right? It not only stole jobs from American workers, but it also upended Mexico's economy, forcing millions of people to el Norte. And, yes, they were forced—just like the Irish were forced to leave Eire because of the brutal British, or the Jews who fled pogroms, or the Okies who got out of the Dust Bowl for a better chance at life. My, how quickly Oklahomans forget their own history—sad that a Mexican has to teach you about your own people, but that happens only in America.

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DEAR MEXICAN: I always noticed that some second-generation, even third-generation Mexican-Americans speak English with an accent. I understand that English might not be their first language. But why do some Americans, such as Cheech Marin and Danny Trejo, who've been here for more generations, still have an accent, while a first-generation wab like me has been told I speak English like a white person—whatever that means?

Pocho Pero Paisa

DEAR POCHO: Trejo and Cheech have an accent the way a mick in Southie has an accent, or the way characters on Fargo speak in their own unique way. It's regional American English—in their case, Chicano English borne by generations of assimilation in the Southwest. We children of modern-day Mexicans sometimes get that accent because we learn English as a second language, not as our primary one. The most prominent practitioner of Chicano English is George Lopez, who once tried to make this column into a television show, then let the option lapse. Hey, George: Let's take more meetings, you know?

Ask the Mexican at themexican@askamexican.net, be his fan on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano and Instagram @gustavo_arellano!


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