Everything's Better with an O

Dear Mexican: Where did the notion of adding an -o to the end of an English word and assuming it makes it a Spanish word come from? Juanito

Dear Wab: "Anglos have long held power in making Spanish and Spanish-speaking culture invisible," writes University of South Florida foreign language professor Adam Schwartz in his essay "Mockery and Appropriation of Spanish in White Spaces: Perceptions of Latinos in the United States." "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 like "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 -o suffix to Mexicanize English arose both from its widespread use in popular culture and by gabachos taking Spanish classes in high school and college and only remembering one part of the language's grammatical structure.

Being one of two gabachos in my neighborhood in Denver, I'm wondering exactly how many Mexicans can fit in one car? 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. Car goes to church? Only women can fit in, and since they're prim and proper, the max is 10. Going to a party? Twenty-five. To school? Just one adult. And if a car is going to a Republican function? It magically doesn't fit anyone other than the vendido cousin driving it.


Ask a Mexican

Like my Mexican co-workers, I'm a migrant to L.A. In my home state of Louisiana, there is an integral distinction to be made 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 asked, 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, like "self-esteem" and "desk drawers." Why is this? Bayou Migrant

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.


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