¡Ask A Mexican!
By Gustavo Arellano
—Strunk & Brown
Dear Wab: Gracias for thinking that Spanglish is a legitimate form of communication—you just made the custodians of Cervantes and shepherds of Shakespeare get angrier than Joe Arpayaso surrounded by a group of Mexicans! But we’re talking two separate cosas here. 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 concept to gabacho audiences, but the words were used enough so that we no longer italicize them. 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—and eventually assimilate into the American lingua franca and cultura. And I don’t have to worry about any gabacho editors telling me when to use italics and when I can’t—I’m the pinche Mexican, for crying out loud. But even this cabrón cannot persuade the unforgiving pen of his copy editor, who can make the most grizzled reporter tremble with just a flash of the red pluma.
Do you have any idea why Univisión and Telemundo look so much sharper and better than any other HD programming on any other channel? They looked better even before HD was en vogue. My guess is that they don’t use filters that everyone else uses.
Dear Gabacho: Same reason porn is always at the forefront of technology: gotta make those chichis shine!
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? If so, where can I read more about it?
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 (which the modern-day Mexican state is named after) 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 (crypto-Jews) in New Mexico—while outside of northern Mexico and its concentration of Garzas, most of the other Spaniards just melted into the pozole. All the early Spanish immigrants ultimately left as a legacy in Mexico was Spanish, surnames and a taste for ultra-violence.