Why can't Anglos Pronounce Spanish Words?

And why the love for UT?

Dear Mexican: In my hometown of Playa Larga (Long Beach, California), natives refer to a major avenida, Junipero Avenue, as Juan-a-pear-o. There is no "Juan" in Junipero, but that's how everyone in this town pronounces it. I even heard a former mayor pronounce it that way. Why do white Americans (and even some Guatemalan-Americans) bend over backwards to pronounce Junipero as Juan-a-pear-o to sound like they know how to pronounce it like a Spanish speaker, yet it is the most garbled malapropism of the word "hoo-NEE-pear-o"?

—Hombre Blanco de Playa Larga

Dear Gabacho from Long Beach: Gotta say that in my lifetime of living in Southern California, I've never heard nadie pronounce Junipero like you say people mispronounce it — the malapropism I hear is "June-IH-pear-oh," a fascinating medley of the proper accent placement on the third-to-last syllable in Junípero's Spanish incarnation and a rigid following of English grammatical structure. Thus is the wonderful world of the grammatical gabacho colonizing of the American Southwest, where Yankees decided to keep many of the original Spanish names but Anglicize them —"Tex-as" instead of Teh-haas," "Loss An-ju-less" instead of "Loce AHNG-heh-less," or "A-ri-zone-ah" instead of "Hell-on-Earth." Custodians of Cervantes, of course, cringe at gabachos' mongrelization of Spanish-language place names, and that's a beautiful thing: One of the few cardinal rules of this columna is that language is fluid, and anyone who tries to box it in or gets their chonis in a bunch about it as deluded as Rick Santorum.

Why is every overweight, tattooed, goateed, bead-wearing, late-model-Tahoe-driving, non-educated enchilada in Texas a University of Texas fan? And one more thing: Please stop becoming belligerently drunk and taking it personal when the team on your Walmart 3XL T-shirt loses. You have no personal ties with the team, so quit throwing up gang signs and using profanity in an atmosphere that's meant to be fun.

—Frustrated Educated Okie

Dear Gabacho: "Enchilada" as a slur against Mexicans? The 1950s called. They want their ethnic insult back. As for the fan question: same reason no one outside of Oklahoma gives a shit about the Sooners. Subway alumni like winners in football, and the Longhorns are the epitome of a winning program in the Lone Star State, while the Aggies, Red Raiders, UTEP Miners, Texas Christian University, the University of Houston, etc. haven't exhibited such gridiron dominance over the years. The Soooners haven't dominated college football since the days of Barry Switzer — you really expect non-Okies to give a damn about a third-rate university that just played in something called the Insight Bowl? What else can we expect from a university that named itself after invading illegals? Go Cowboys (both the Dallas and Oklahoma State variants)!

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

 
My Voice Nation Help
12 comments
callitfootball
callitfootball

My biggest pet peeve about Anglos is that sometimes they mispronounce an e in Spanish.  It's ridiculous.  An e in Spanish is ALWAYS a short e sound like in bed or red.  How hard is that to remember?


Macarena is maca- WRENa


Paredes is pa-red-es


Peña is pen-ya


deportes is deh-por-tes.


C'mon anglos, get your weight up.



online payday loan
online payday loan

Written languages use visual symbols to represent the sounds of the spoken languages, but they still require syntactic rules that govern the production of meaning from sequences of words.

Athena427
Athena427

It is my observation that some...note "some" Mexican-Americans have as much difficulty pronouncing English words as Caucasion-Americans have in their pronunciation of Spanish words. The main reason is grammatical background. As English speakers, we learned phonics which is completely different in the two languages. Without a formal education in the "other" language, one will...without malice aforethought ...use the phonetical teachings to try and pronounce the words or names they are seeing. Many times, both are doing the best they can. Another problem that contributes to angst of mispronouncing unfamiliar words is that without practice...our tongues are lost as to what to do when we try to roll an "r". They flail around in our mouths thinking we have disconnected our minds from our mouths. I love the Spanish language and being a native speaking Anglo, I find myself working hard to try and say words correctly in Spanish. I'm getting better! But, sometimes when I speak in Spanish...I will see a look of discontent on the listener (though not often...because usually it is appreciated that I am at least trying,) It goes both ways...Heck...My maiden name is Choate...I used to get Shoate...Shultz...Shot...and my favorite... "Choke"....Go figure...I'm white...and these were white folk. It's not a racist thing... It's ignorance. Note I didn't say "stupidity"....

Side thought...aren't there more important issues in the world?

la prieta
la prieta

DO, please print this column again...it was one of the very few reasons I went out of my way to read you!!!

bestwaytolearnspanish
bestwaytolearnspanish

Many have some differences in pronunciation because of tone dialect that’s why some are hard to give the better accent in speaking. Thanks for sharing this post. It has a lot more fun when Im able to speak the word.

best way to learn Spanish

Guestguy
Guestguy

When will the Observer drop this racist screed?

Jennifer Jackson
Jennifer Jackson

My favorite Anglo-propism comes from Austin. The main drag right through the middle of town, and not coincidentally The University of Texas, as well, is Guadalupe. My parents and grandparents, all born before WWII, pronounce it "God-A-Loop." At least you know His address now, Aggies.

callitfootball
callitfootball

@Athena427 Mexicans can pronounce English.  WHites can't really pronounce Spanish, tho.

el gringo
el gringo

RACISM came from the white man...if you learn how to properly pronounce names such as "Herdandez" as "her-naan-dus" maybe you woundn't have to get all offended about the column.

Paul
Paul

Don't you understand, remarks are only racist when they are said by white folks ....

GringoSalado
GringoSalado

That's GWAD-ah-loop.

Also there is San Jacinto, LaMesa, Bexar, and Manchaca (following given directions I once drove around for 20 minutes looking for "Man Shack" ave. in Austin)

callitfootball
callitfootball

@el gringo But it's Her-nan-dez, not dus.  Where did you get the dus from?

 
Dallas Concert Tickets
Loading...