Why Doesn't the Mexican Translate All His Spanish Words?
Dear Readers: Although many of you have loved and/or loathed my columna for years, the Mexican still finds new readers every week in the unlikeliest of spots (hola, Chattanooga! See you in August, inshallah!). As a result, I sometimes receive questions about the methodology of the column, questions all of us know the respuestas to but that bear refrying from time to tiempo. Without further ado
Dear Mexican: Ive been watching you speak about your ¡Ask A Mexican¡ column. Now you keep reiterating that this is supposed to be a joke, but I have a question for you: It would be OK for a Caucasian to speak in an insulting yet joking manner about Mexicans, right? When my daughter comes up to me and asks me why some of the girls at her school call her a white bitch, what am I to say when adults continue to press the issue that this is acceptable AND funny? She is the only one in her class that looks like her, but that's a non-issue because she's white. If it were the other way around, it would be a big dealI know this because it was when I was a child. I do not believe you understand the damage you are creating by making it socially acceptable to speak the way you do. Tiger Mom
Dear Gabacha: Ive never said my column is a pure jokeits a satirical response to the bigotry Mexicans must endure in this country. A jokes only intent is to elicit a laugh. For instance, did you hear the one about the guy who left a banjo in the back of his truck, only to return and find the windows shatteredand two banjos? Okay, so bluegrass-music humor isnt exactly Jerry Seinfeld territory, but there are no other ulterior motives behind the chiste other than an intra-group ridiculing of banjo playersno social commentary, no statement of facts, nada. Satire is humor laced with stinging facts and points to make specific commentaries attacking the status quothink Twain, Swift, Colbert, Chapelle, and the mess that I make trying to copy them. And when have I ever said its OK to make fun of gabachos for their race? I advocate logical, lyrical smackdowns of Know Nothings, who come in all colorsand if you dont believe me, try to figure out what Michelle Malkins maiden name is.
I read your column regularly, thank you. I do, however, have what I think should be a simple request of you. My Spanish skills are confined to the street slang that I learned growing up in Los Angeles County during the 1970s and '80sI'm not exactly what I would call proficient in polite company. Not surprisingly, you often use Spanish words and phrases in your column that are more appropriate for usage in the forum of public debate. I would appreciate it if at the end of each of your columns, you allot space to defining the Spanish words and phrases that appear in your articles. For most of us, the alternative will be to look it up on the Interneta translation done out-of-context. For instance, all this time I thought that I was a gringo, but maybe I'm a gabacho insteador too? Who knew? In any event, it would be nice to learn a little bit about the language at the same time, and in the same context, that we are learning about the Mexican culture through your column. Muchos Gracias (which means Thank You)
Dear Gabacho: No, youre very much a gringo and a gabacho. I do love slipping in español words whenever possible, but I also make it a point to make easy-to-decipher choices. For instance, look at the Spanish words Ive used so far. Tiempo? Use your cabezaits time, as in the idiom from time to time. Cabeza? Head, as in use your head. Pretty fácil, right? In the rare cases I do use palabras that you cant easily understand, keep readingIll explain it sooner rather than más tarde.
GOOD MEXICAN OF THE WEEK: The Coalition of Immokalee Workers have done the Lords work for the past decade organizing Mexican, Central American, and Haitian tomato pickers in South Florida to ask fast-food giants to pay an iota more to double the salaries of its members. More information at www.ciw-online.org.
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