Great Britain Not Serious About Spanish

Jordi   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 15:08 GMT
Dear Steve,
Reading your posts, I have reached the conclusion that the US Anglo Saxon society (let's call it that for lack of a better word) has no malice whatsoever and that they are a poor lot that is picked at with no real reason. I'm glad to hear that and I won't pursue any further. After all I live thousands of miles from a far away place we all know about thanks to Hollywood and now the Internet. I'd be stunned with surprise if ever I were to live in the US to be classified as anything but European although I've been told Spaniards are classified as Hispanics and, therefore, non-whites. I agree with you that terminology should change. Please tell my protection cream that since I have to put on a hat and shirt in the hot Catalan summer.
As far as national languages go in Spain I'm a speaker of Catalan myself, an official language in Catalonia and other parts of Spain, with something like 8 million active speakers in a country of 40 million. It is actually the first language I learnt and my home language, which we speak with our children and everybody around us. In Catalonia 2nd generation Spanish migrants also tend to adopt Catalan as their mother tongue. We happen to be proud Europeans too so I know what you mean although that doesn't make us better than the rest of the world. Furthermore, serious studies will confirm that Catalonia has the highest percentage of polyglot speakers in Spain since it is quite common amongst the younger generations to speak several B languages fluently, starting with Spanish and then English and French. Catalan is taught in schools and is fully co-official with Spanish. I can assure you we have no intention to switch to Spanish nor do I think that will happen in the nearby future. I don't believe, either, in switching to English although communication, a great enrichment, implies the knowledge of several languages. I'm sure that we would understand each other since you are a man of the world and you have travelled widely.
I believe the same goes for the Basque and Galician languages since some 40% of the Spanish population live in regions where there is another historical language that is not Castilian.
I have found this debate quite interesting but as we say in Castilian "no hay más ciego que el que no quiere ver." (Nobody is as blind as he who doesn't want to see.) I'm sure I've opened my eyes a little bit in the past few days and I hope to have been useful in some way.
With my very best and warmest regards,
Vytenis   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 15:57 GMT
I think that's the general disease of big nations: English, Russians, Chinese etc. Spanish I guess too: how many of them cared to learn the local languages of South and Central America when they migrated there after Columbus? Now the Brits show the same linguistic collonialism to them, so everything should seem only natural... We, Lithuanians have experienced the same from the Russians: in Soviet period hundreds of thousands of them migrated to the three Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) very much like Brits now migrate to Spain - in search of better climate or better living. Most of them they did not care to learn so much as a word of the local language either. I mean, even now - 13 years after the falldown of Soviet Empire many of them still do not speak local languages, especially in areas where they live in high concentration. Damian it's the way of the world...
Damian   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 17:28 GMT
<<it's the way of the world...>>


So it seems....quite sad, really. I have never been in that outside my homeland, except to go down to England to uni but I did make every effort to converse with the locals down there though, by saying things like "by the 'eck as like!" and "'ow do, luv!"

Seriously, if ever I did go to live in another country sometime in the future, I'm pretty certain I would at least try and integrate and use THEIR language to THEM on THEIR territory. I try to put myself in their position and wonder how I would feel if a Norwegian (for instance) stopped me in the street anywhere in the UK and asked me for directions in Norwegian. I guess I would be a bit miffed or think he or she was a wee bit bonkers. Ain't that sad? That's what would happen, though.
Random Chappie   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 23:35 GMT
How would you react if you were an English-speaking waiter in an Italian restaurant in the UK or the US and I, a English customer, spoke to you in Italian?
Elaine   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 23:39 GMT
>>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...<<

Of course native Spanish-speakers come in all shapes and colors, just as native English-speakers come in all shapes and colors. But when people in my community talk about "white people" we usually mean the Anglos (or the "gringos", if you will). The term "white" doesn’t necessarily have to refer to a person’s complexion but instead the whole culture that is associated with being "white." I too have fair skin and burn easily and avoid the sun as much as possible, but I don't go around calling myself white because that is not what I am. Sometimes you will hear people in the Chicano community talk about "Brown Power" or chant the mantra "Be Down with the Brown!" but you will see that many of them have light skin. "Brown" isn't so much a complexion but a heritage and culture. This past Labor Day weekend my friends and I got together and played a board game called Cranium. Two of my Chinese-American friends formed one team while the rest of us formed others. After they won the game they high-fived each other and shrieked, "Yellow Power!" I'm sure outsiders would be horrified at our lack of political correctness, but these "antiquated" labels are only offensive if you take them offensively. For many of us, these color labels are a way of declaring pride in our differences.

>>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.<<

I know you’re just being ironic, but I will respond anyway. Nobody ever said that Spanglish is a prestigious language. I would be a fool to think that it is and I would be an even bigger fool to go to a job interview and speak Spanglish to my prospective employer (unless he himself spoke Spanglish). But what Spanglish is is a language of the people, reflecting the mixed heritage of Latinos in the Southwest, Miami, New York City, etc. People may dismiss Spanglish as vulgar or a bastardized Spanish, but IMHO those people are just language snobs who belittle our mixed heritage. After all, what is Spanish but bastardized Latin mixed with local words and phrases? I’m sure that when the Latin-speaking intellectuals set foot on Spanish soil they were horrified by the mixed patois of the local population.

>>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).<<

I don’t mind if you call me Elena. My abuelita and a few of my tiós and tiás call me Elena. But the name on my birth certificate is Elaine. My little brother’s name is Joe, not José, and my older brother’s name is Steven, not Esteban. I also have Latino friends name Ashley and Kevin, Asian-American friends named Judy, Tiffany, and Michael, and African-American friends named George and Carole. Should we all change our names to reflect our heritage? Well if we’re going to call ourselves Americans, shouldn’t we be entitled to the same names that our Anglo-American friends have?
Juan   Thursday, September 09, 2004, 01:03 GMT
Elaine sez:
<<Well if we’re going to call ourselves Americans, shouldn’t we be entitled to the same names that our Anglo-American friends have?>>

You can do whatever the hell you please. You don't have to explain your actions to anyone.
Juan   Thursday, September 09, 2004, 01:17 GMT
Jordi sez:
<<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.>>

No, I'm Salvadorean. LOL! Haven't I made that clear enough?
Juan   Thursday, September 09, 2004, 01:26 GMT
First a point of English.
Don't be so naive" in reply to a post of mine means you are saying to me "you are naive, please stop it", no? >>

YOU'RE NAIVE: You're indefinitely an ignoramus, AND WILL REMAIN THAT WAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! That's what saying YOU'RE NAIVE implies
Juan   Thursday, September 09, 2004, 01:29 GMT
<<Let me guess, you are a teacher in the public school system and regularly go to anti-racist meetings to tilt at windmills and feel good about yourself>>

I don't get the meaning of this????? What's that your attempt at humour/sarcasm/irony or something?
Juan   Thursday, September 09, 2004, 01:32 GMT
<<But in the meantime calm down and get a life.>>

Was that really necessary? And anyways is it any of your concern what Jordi does/doesn't do in his spare time????
Steve K   Thursday, September 09, 2004, 01:50 GMT
Thank you Juan. Your English was so good and your reaction to the absoutely innocuous signs on your link was so ridiculous that I thought you were some kind of PC Anglo. I was wrong. I am sorry.
Jordi   Thursday, September 09, 2004, 05:38 GMT
"I’m sure that when the Latin-speaking intellectuals set foot on Spanish soil they were horrified by the mixed patois of the local population. "

Querida Elena,
I'm sure they were as much surprised as those Latin intellectuals were when they set foot on British soil (also a part of the Roman Empire). The English language's greatest changes (from Old to Middle English) mainly came under French influence and power(the Norman conquest) and languages only mix heavily when there is a superior language above. Spanish also heavily borrowed from Arabic at a given time (although not as much as English from French). That is a fact of life and has been thoroughly studied elsewhere. I think real pride consists in being aware of all this and more. If Hispanic children in the US were really given bilingual education, in a normal scale, they would speak both languages equally well.
If Spanish is to disappear, as a spoken language from the US, in a couple of generations or three I understand the process since these processes are both exterior and interior (from within "bastardisation of a language and impoverished vocabulary and syntax" and from outside "abandon of the language at home and adoption of the superior language"). The fact is both processes can be clearly seen in the Spanish-speaking community of the US. I'm not saying that is good or wrong, I'm just describing the process. If Spanish is to continue, and unless you want to codify it as a different variety, it links US American-Spanish speakers to the rest of the Spanish-speaking world (and most important of all to themselves) and I don't see that as being snob at all; unless some are allowed to be snobs (unity of the English-speaking world and language, even between the UK and the US; even them learning Standard Spanish when they choose to do so as a foreign or commercial language) and others aren't (breaking-up of the Spanish language community and denying them to be fully bilinguals when they are the natural "bilinguals" in the continent, with all the advantages that could give them in the future). These are basics I haven't invented at all.
I realise I speak as a European and that I don't fully understand words that are usual in the US. Take "white" for example. Nobody uses that in Europe (except some residual racists who would only class Norwegians as white and old Nazi films) and people are known by the name of their nationalities regardless of their colour. For me, you seem to be "estadounidense". I suppose it's a question of semantics. I suppose I'd have to answer European Spanish or even more Catalan (an old proud nation since the 11th century) in the US, because I feel as proud of my European condition as you feel of your "mixed heritage". And, I certainly would feel bewildered at having to play cards in a "White" or "Hispanic" team. I'd probably want to play in both because I am both.
Con todo mi afecto y cariño,
PD I thought you were a salvadoreño living in the US. Sorry for that.
Mi5 Mick   Thursday, September 09, 2004, 06:28 GMT
>> ... in a "White" or "Hispanic" team. I'd probably want to play in both because I am both. >>


"Hispanic" doesn't normally apply to Europeans, ie. you who are Catalan or from Spain; only to those from Latin America.
Mi5 Mick   Thursday, September 09, 2004, 06:32 GMT
So there's nada problem no more? Am I free to continue my existence as White trash? (PC permitting of course)

I'm so glad 'cause now I can enjoy my pipi del brewski with a clear conscious, then wake up with No Problemos.
Jordi   Thursday, September 09, 2004, 06:45 GMT
Mi5 Mick,
I would like US citizens to confirm this, please. Hispanic originally means from Hispania (the Latin name of the Iberian Peninsula, including the sovereign states of Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar). The word España is the evolution of Hispania. I have been told by Spanish friends, who have lived in the US, that they have been classed as Hispanics because they speak Spanish. If you speak Spanish at home you're Hispanic.
Mick, Spanish studies (language and literature) are called "Filología Hispánica" in all Spanish universities, and it can include, latu sensu, the study of all the other languages spoken in Spain because they are as Hispanic, in origin. as Castilian. Of course, we are "hispánicos" the same way the English are Brits (from Britania). As a matter of fact, we are the most "hispánicos" of all because the name refers to our country and, yes, we are Europeans and most of us what Americans would call "white". The fact is the great-grandson replica of a blond blue-eyed German who migrated to Paraguay and a couple of generation later to the US wouldn't be classed as "white" and would be classed as "Hispanic". You must admit, seen from outer space, that it seems a strange division indeed. At least, I feel much better now because I know that American society doesn't pretend to be mean about this. Since I'm from another world it's a bit hard on me but I'll recover.