Great Britain Not Serious About Spanish

Jordi   Tuesday, September 07, 2004, 20:26 GMT
I can assure you I've got a rich life and I congratulate you for your efforts in Spanish. Try and put "adiós cucaracha" in a Spanish road and see what happens o "caca de toro" in a Spanish breakfast mug. I know "respect" is an old-fashioned concept but I still think it should be there and there is more to a culture than just learning its language. Should we accept everything just as it comes? I would never suggest a mug with "American piss" for American kids nor do I think sales would soar in some kind of deep American belt. I know English and the American culture fairly well enough to know it doesn't need to mock its neighbourring countries to make people laugh.
Jordi   Tuesday, September 07, 2004, 20:41 GMT
neighbouring. I write far too fast.
Steve K   Tuesday, September 07, 2004, 21:31 GMT
Are you for real? What is wrong with a road sign advertizing a pest control company with the words"adios cucaracha". Look carefully, the sign is on behalf of a pest control company. I bet you that would cause no problems in Spain. Nor would a mug with "bull shit" in any language incuding Spanish. What do you know about the context of these pictures that you can get on your high horse.

The Spaniards I have met are not as paranoid as you are. Are you sure you are Spanish. I doubt it. You have too much Anglo self-guilt PC in you.

People make fun of all kinds of things. Sometimes in good taste and some times in less good taste.I remember reading a leading Spanish newspaper account of the visit of Real Madrid to Asia. It was full of the most blatant Asian stereotype jokes and cultural insensitivities , including an inpsection the reporter claimed to have made in Asian urinals to confirm the size of their p................

Do not preach "respect" and grow up.
mjd   Tuesday, September 07, 2004, 21:54 GMT
I don't think a mug that says "caca de toro" has any "sinister connotations" about it. These type of "sarcastic/supposed to make you snicker" phrases can be seen on coffee mugs, bumper stickers, posters etc. (think of the ever popular "shit happens" bumper sticker).

I'm still trying to understand the sinister connations of "no problemo"...I think it caught on because it rhymes...not to somehow denigrate Spanish-speaking people. It's just another corny and somewhat dated pop culture phrase.
Steve K   Tuesday, September 07, 2004, 22:11 GMT

Of course you are a voice of calm wisdom on this forum.

But in this PC age how can we continue to use the word "sinister" (Latin for left) to mean something bad. Can the thought and word police who have given us "fisher" instead of "fisherman" "chair" instead of "cahirman"etc. ad nauseam not do something about this slight against all lefties.(or should we consider "leftie" itself an unacceptable term, not to speak of "southpaw"!) Now that I think of it left as opposed to right could be perceived as a slight. Maybe we should start calling the left hand the right hand, as in the correct hand. Please help me Juan and Jordi.
Jordi   Tuesday, September 07, 2004, 22:27 GMT
?Como sabes tu que yo no hablo castellano? Tu puedes visitar mi sitio web y escucharme utilizando el idioma de Cervantes. Castellano me encanta, tanto como la cultura espanola.

¿Cómo sabes que no hablo castellano? Puedes visitar mi página web www. y escuchar como hablo el idioma cervantino. El castellano me encanta, tanto como la cultura española.

I just wrote it in a more refined Spanish way since I do happen to be Spanish and I live in Spain. As you can see I've got a Spanish keyboard and I perfectly know where to avoid personal pronouns and to put articles in Spanish. Since I've got a son of 16 and a daughter of 14 I hope I'll be a mature grown-up father for them. For the time being I'm quite happy with the results and my wife doesn't seem to complain. I speak 8 languages and my children already speak 4. I've got an active social life and I'm quite popular amongst my friends. Anyway, we don't know each other so why should you believe me.
The problem isn't so much the jokes in themselves but the use of the Spanish language for those jokes. Why on Earth, if not, should English-speaking people say "mañana" when they're lazy or are telling you that you might be the lazy one?
Well, really it doesn't matter. I work quite a few hours a day translating to several languages and Antimoon is the kind of place where I can write freely in English for a few minutes with people from all over the world.
I'm not paranoid but since Juan happens to live in some sunny southern US state I imagine he knows what he's talking about as a native Spanish speaker living there. It's hardly a secret you know. All the world happens to know and the net is full.
I went into your page and found it highly interesting although I wasn't able to hear your voice. I would have enjoyed doing so but could you please check if anything is wrong?
Were the cockroaches Mexican or were they native American? If so the ad should have been in English.
Steve K   Tuesday, September 07, 2004, 23:41 GMT
I am sure you have a rich and satisfying life. It would be nice to share a glass of wine with you one day.

You are just too sensitive. People have fun with languages. Adios cucarachas is just a play on adios muchachos. People who know a little Spanish form hearing it all around them, or on the radio in the Southwest probably feel it is amusing and gives them a touch of sophistication to say something a little exotic in quasi Spanish. "no way Jose" is probably a good example. You cannot and should not censor that. Nor can you jump to conclusions about the attitudes of Americans any more than I could conclude from the article covering Real Madrid visiting Asia that all Spaniards are insensitive racists.

On my site you can hear me in Spanish and other languages by clicking on the section called Why The Linguist on the front page. Or if you enrol, which is free right now, you can click to hear the Introduction which explains the system and "Steve's Tips" on every page in different languages.
Elaine   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 01:48 GMT
I have to agree with Steve K -- some of you here are being to sensitive.

I am a second generation Mexican-American, born and raised in Yuma, AZ on the US-Mexican border. I moved to San Diego, CA in my teens and now live in Los Angeles. All my life I've lived in communities where the dominant spoken language is Spanglish. We don't think twice about combining Spanish and English in our everyday conversations because both languages are part of our heritage. So when our white friends say things like "No problemo", "Hasta! I'll see you mañana!", "Que pasa, dude?", or "Hey chica, what's for lonche?" we don't take offense because they're merely speaking our lingo. There's nothing sinister about that.

As for that website that Juan posted. I'll agree that there are some images on there that are questionable, but "caca de toro" is not one of them. Neither is "adios cucaracha" or "muchas grassias" because it's obvious to me that they're targeted towards the bilingual consumer with a sense of humor. I also don't find a mug with "peon" written on it to be offensive because I understand the context. In modern American-English or even British-English "peon" refers to anyone in the work environment (regardless of race or nationality) who is on the lower end of the totem pole. It would not be wise to call someone else a "peon", but the mug is meant to be self-deprecating humor, referring to oneself as a "slave" of the boss or job itself.

(peon - n. a person held in compulsory servitude to a master for the
working out of indebtedness - Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary)

As for the radio billboard, KOHT 98.3 is a bilingual station based out of Tucson, AZ. They have a morning program called "La Caliente" that plays both American Top 40 and Latin Pop. The deejays and guests themselves alternate between English and Spanish. So how is the slogan "Más música, less talk" racist when it's nothing more speaking the local vernacular?
Steve K   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 01:58 GMT
Thank you Elaine. Now after reading this post, my question to Jordi is: where is the situation of the recent economic migrant better, in the mean USA for Spanish speakers or in Spain for Arab speakers?
Dulcinea del Toboso   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 03:41 GMT
The two mugs are most likely coffee mugs intended as a gift for office workers. People have fake spray cans of "bullshit repellant" on their desks, so a cup with "caca del toro" is just another (faintly) amusing office trinket.

Looking at the other slides, how is something like "hair casa" racist? The business is just trying to distinguish itself with a catchy and unusual name. A stupid name, certainly, but not racist. If they refused to serve Mexican or Spanish people, that would be racist.

If anything, this type of thing is exposing more people to the Spanish language and assimilates elements of the language into our culture.
Jordi   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 06:48 GMT
Dear friends from the US and Canada,
I'm perfectly opened to changing my mind if I'm convinced since it's part of my nature. You can be assured I know a lot more than I did a couple of days ago. I thank you for that. I'm not overly nationalistic and I only defend cultures and languages, not political agendas and, even less, national one. I try to be critical about my country and the rest of the world.
Nevertheless, I wouldn't imagine anyone mixing his English in a job interview for a major US firm, regardless of his proud Spanish-American background. If you wish to speak Spanglish go ahead but that is well studied in sociolinguistics and I'm not writing an essay on what can be easily found elsewhere about A and B languages and terms such as diglossia. I studied that at Uni since I'm a professional linguist and the auhors have much more authority than I will have have. Most of them are Americans, in the US sense of the word.
When a language mixes heavily with another "hay otras razones", there are other reasons. I hardly expect Anglos in your area speaking Spanglish as well as you can switch to English even if they live in a majority Spanish-speaking neighbourhood. By the way, I can remember a poster in Antimoon saying he wouldn't learn the Spanish in his (your?) area for the same reasons you seem to be so proud about. If you read me could you please repeat you arguments? I answered that guy --it's in Antimoon-- that the worst Spanish is the one that isn't spoken at all and I suggested he mingled with the Spanish-speaking people of his southern US state and that he would move on to literary Spanish, should he wish to so do, more easily.
If Spanglish is such a highly respected linguistic prestigious variety why not write to us in such a fashion? It could become a bridge language and, perhaps, the future language of the US. Please don't frown on me I'm just being too witty for my own good. I am convinced that bilingual speakers will find it really interesting. May I call you Elena or would you rather stick to Elene? As you can see my name is in Catalan (Jordi) and not Spanish (Jorge).
Regarding the situation of Arab immigrants who've been flooding into Spain in the past few years you targeted, dear Steve, the wrong person since I have very little influence. The previous Spanish Government, known throughout the world for giving support to the US Administration in all its "rightist" policies, was really hard on these people although I can assure the Spaniards are a friendly lot and gave them much more support that their government. I've managed not to use "sinister" as you suggested since my daughter is also a "southpaw" and she's the girl I love the most after her mother. The present Spanish government --I don't have to vote for them either since there are more than two parties campaigning in Spain-- has decided to give papers to half-a-million illegal illegal residents in Spain. It's all over the Spanish papers in the past fortnight and I'm sure you can check all that online. Bearing in mind we've suffered as much as you have from Islamic terrorists (please remember the Madrid deaths) it does say a lot about Spanish "grandeza" whilst still in mourning. We haven't closed all our airports and stopped giving visas to anyone who bears a Muslim surname. We must, of course, try to plan something as any civilised country should try to do to avoid future social problems.
We can, of course, be as vile as the rest of the world since you and I belong to the same species (don't forget that either). I've seen your picture and you look quite similar to a lot of people I know around here. You could even be a member of my family.
"Hombre, el que tienes que tranquilizarte un poco eres tu, ¿no te parece?" or "Dude, el que tienes que easy down un poco eres tu ¿don't you parece?"
Please excuse any typos I'm off to work.
Jordi   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 07:14 GMT
Sorry Elaine since I wrote Elena.
You said: "So when our white friends say things like "No problemo".."

What do you mean your white friends? Are Spanish-speaking people all black? You left me wondering since I know lots of Mexicans, Central and South-Americans and many of them are as "white" as many Americans I know and a lot are of pure European descent... Needless to say I burn like a crab under the sun because of my pale European skin and I sincerely wish it was darker. I just remembered Hispanics aren't classed as white in the US; the only civilised country I know that classes its citizens by races.
Juan   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 10:04 GMT
But hey, just as long as the "jokes" not on you, we can all laugh, right..???
Margaret   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 11:41 GMT
< As a proud Scot have I come over as anti-English? ... Maybe I tend to look at the English from a historical perspective.>

Or an ignorant and prejudiced view of history perspective? Anti-Englishness is the last permitted bigotry, serving the same purpose as all bigotry by shifting all the ills of society (lack of language teaching, parochialism) on to the 'other' while retaining all the good bits (culture, achievement etc) for oneself.

The British have been channeled into ghettoes in Spain as in other tourist-focused countries. The question of whether that's what host nations want, or whether they want them roaming all over the 'real Spain' or wherever in search of genuine local culture is for them to decide – and market.

And the English tend to stick at 'Yes' 'No' 'Please' and Thank you' in any language they essay because those are generally the only words they use to strangers in England. If you can provide the phrases for 'Nice day' and 'Nasty weather' too, we're all set.
Steve K   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 14:32 GMT
It is only normal that the language of immigrants will gradually die out in favour of the dominant language of the country. Perhaps Spanish will last a little longer in the Southwest, and maybe because of the proximity of Mexico and the sheer numbers of immigrants it will establish a foot hold and become a Spanish speaking enclave. It is unlikely that a majority of the dominant group will learn Spanish, unless the Spanish speakers are in control and impose it. What is so unique about that. How does it work in Spain with the regional languages?

White has come to have a political meaning. White means the dominant ethnic group, those that can be criticized and vilified freely, and who are not allowed to express pride in themselves. "Of colour" means victim group, not be criticized, whose culture is to valued under "multicutural "policies and ideology. Thus the Mexicans can call their ethnic association "La Raza" a term which would be forbidden to the whites. There are groups that are neither perceived a dominat not victim and just go about their business doing well in the US. Koreans, Armenians etc.

Mexicans come in various shades of skin colour. The upper class, which provides politicians and business leaders, look European. The bulk of the immigrants to the US look more Indio or Mestizo. I do not like the name White, and in time the term will disappear as more and more people will be Mestizos of one type or another. But in the meantime the term white does seem to be commonly used, and often, as in Elaine's post, without any malice or prejudice.