Do Other Immigrant Populations Mix Languages the Way Mexicans Do?

Plus, Scotch that last complainer

Dear Readers: My recent column regarding the dissimilarities between Scots and Mexicans provoked a surprising amount of angry responses. Here's the best reader carta:

Having just read Great Scot's question and your response, I can't help but think that he is one of those Americans who calls himself Scottish because his surname starts with "Mc" or "Mac" or his great-great-granny once drank a whisky. These are the types of people who are so insecure about being American that they have to latch on to any European heritage to feel like they have some history. As I was born and raised in Scotland 'til the ripe old age of 21, I can tell you this: There is NO Scottish person that I've ever heard of who identifies with Celtic history who would ever boast about the 1707 Acts of Union. So, Great Scot has given himself away as not being a Scottish person at all but rather an American who so desperately wishes he were Scottish. There's nothing that annoys me more than when people find out I am Scottish, and go on to tell me how they are Scottish, too, with their American accents. I even had one dumb-as-dirt female respond with a flick of her ginger locks: "Oh, I'm Scottish, too. Can't you tell?" No, because hair colour isn't really the best indicator of national origin. Nice try, Great Scot. Maybe you should try passing yourself off as another type of foreigner in the U.S.A. because as far as acting and sounding Scottish, you're just about as bad as Sir Sean himself. —A Non-Fraud Scot (PS: America would be shit without Mexicans!!!!!!)

Dear Thrifty Gabacho: I didn't realize you Scots were as jingoistic, macho, and rambling as us Mexicans—gracias for the clarification and love!

Mark Dancy
Mark Dancy

I accidentally broke out some Spanglish at an inappropriate time the other day, which elicited strange looks from my gabacho co-workers. It got me thinking: Do other immigrant populations mix languages the way Mexicans do? Do Koreans always find themselves accidentally slipping into the native tongues of their parents? How about when Italians were the new wave of immigrants—did their kids grow up speaking their own form of hybrid English? And what about immigrant populations in the rest of the world? —No Es Very Bueno

Dear Wab: Yes, ne, sì, sí. Don't believe the custodians of Cervantes: Spanglish is a beautiful cosa, as is every other pidgin tongue. Such mongrelization is inevitable, which is proof that a language is alive, that a culture can not only adapt to new environs but thrive and even enrich the host nation. I don't know about language patterns among immigration populations save for those who invaded America, and their impact on American English is what makes it so vibrant—on that subject, I defer to H.L. Mencken's pioneering The American Language or the recent How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads. Buy those gems after buying my recently released paperback!

 
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