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Why can't Anglos Pronounce Spanish Words?

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!


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