Conquering English One Word at a Time

Dear Mexican: Grammar question/rant. If Spanglish is a legitimate dialect/language, why do you feel the need to italicize every instance of code switching? I seriously doubt that when you speak you emphasize every puta palabra (emphasis intended here), but that's what your article reads like. We all know that you are speaking Spanglish — not a foreign language — so tell the gabacho (no emphasis intended here) editors to back off and let you use italics for what they are intended for: emphasis. Strunk & Brown

Dear Wab: My linguistic goal with this columna isn't for America to accept Spanglish, but for American English and its speakers to pick up more Spanish words so that one day, I won't have to use italics on said words to differentiate their otherness. It's happened over the decades: At one point, editors italicized Spanish words like amigo, tequila, fiesta and siesta because they were foreign concepts to gabacho audiences. Think of it as a linguistic Reconquista, of Latin slowly beating down English's Germanic influences! The only way to teach an audience a new palabra, then, is to signify a code switch via the italics, but I make sure to use simple Spanish words that can possibly gain wider currency — gabacho, pendejo, desmadre.

I just learned that Nueva Vizcaya was "settled" by Basques and it got me to thinking: Are there any noticeable regional differences in Mexico based on the regions in Spain where the original Spaniards came from? Euskadi Enthusiast

Dear Gabacho: Nueva Vizcaya, of course, refers to the province of New Spain that nowadays roughly encompasses Chihuahua and Durango, and parts of Sonora, Sinaloa and other northern Mexico states, and was named by the Basque explorer Francisco de Ibarra after Biscay. Other Spanish explorers also named provinces in New Spain after their home regions — Nuevo Galicia, Nuevo León and the awesomely titled Nuevo Santander, after the city in the kingdom of Cantabria. But in terms of large-scale regional Spanish migration to particular areas of Mexico during the era of the Conquistadors, the Mexican is going to have to plead partial mestizaje on this one. The most famous mass settling of particular groups happened in what's now the United States — Canary Islanders in San Antonio, and marranos (crytpo-Jews) in New Mexico.

 
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