Friday, April 25, 2008

For English, press Mexico

I'm supposed to write something today, right? I didn't post yesterday and won't do over the weekend--especially since we're celebrating Emiliano's seventh B'day at Sea World on Sunday--and, believe me, I've been trying to come up with something witty and fun at the same time, but haven't been able to so far.

I wanted to, somehow, comment on the wonderful reportage The New Yorker ran this week about the last-minute efforts of the Chinese government to teach as much English as it can to the people of Beijing for the already controversial Olympics but, what the hell's that to do with Mexican young professionals migrating to Western countries, you will ask. Very less, I think, unless, I started to rumble, I'd talk about how the Mexican government wouldn't be in need to do such thing if the Olympics were in Mexico.

Honestly, do you know a dude in Mexico that doesn't speak English - at all? It's impossible, right? I mean, English is almost part of Mexicans' DNA. It's everywhere. Oh, I see. You don't believe me. Try two things then. Ask a gringo friend to tag along with you and go visit any Mexican city. The moment the paisanos see him or her coming, they'll switch to English, like this. No matter if you're talking about the señorita who waits tables at any taquería or the guy who drives any form of taxi you may find there. They will always make you feel home by trying some English words.

If this experiment doesn't provide you with enough evidence, travel to Spain and ask the gachupines there what do you mean by saying, in Mexico's unique Spanish, folder, boiler or clutch. They won't get it, unless you go carpeta, caldera or embrague. That's because since the time of the Franco dictatorship, there was an official war on the English language --or any other language but Spanish to that extent. Even other languages spoken within the Spanish State territory like Catalá, Basque or Galician were forbidden in public, so the families could only risk to speak them at home.

As for the Hollywood movies, the Franco regime would not only translate them, but in many times alter the plot if they'd consider it was not appropriate for a Catholic-oriented authoritarian set of rules.

So, nowadays, if you go to the movies in Spain most of the foreign films there are released only in Spanish--and you don't really want to hear Hannibal Lecter (as I did with El Silencio de los Corderos, one of the first American movies I unfortunately happened to see in Madrid) saying stuff as if he were born in Carabanchel.

In Mexico, as in mostly any other Latin American country, we've managed to stay away from such lunacy, unless is already happening in Hugo Chávez's Venezuela. I mean, if the guy is against all things American as he claims to, that wouldn't surprise me.

Anyway, Mexican dudes use to freak out the first time they go to the movies in Spain. Ironically enough, most Spanish fellas don't feel comfortable watching the movies with subtitles. Let them be.

The point is, we Mexicans are speaking English half the time. Nothing surprising, if we happen to be on this love-hate relationship with el gabacho since the eighteenth century. But that doesn't do for a post, right? I'll keep thinking about it and let you know if something comes up.


Diego Gonzalez joven said...


me encanto tu blog... lo tienes muy al dia...

Graias por toda tu ayuda y ojala nos veamos cuando regresemos de la "escalada".. para que te cuente de lo que vivimos


Anonymous said...

Si, claro, es que en el DF hasta las empleadas de hogar te dicen que en lugar de usar "lejía" usan "bleach". Pero maestro bloggero, eso no las hace bilingües, you know? Y además, sería más válida la crítica, si pudieras asegurar que el castellano que se habla y (sobre todo) se LEE en México fuera el propio de Carlos Fuentes (por citar a alguien que ha hecho de la lengua su forma de vida), pero resulta que lees el diario de mayor tirada en la tierra del tequila y las faltas de ortografía campan a sus anchas.
El bilingüismo está fenomenal, y ojalá en España se hiciera más democrático el acceso a él, pero antes que nada y desde mi punto de vista (humilde, muy humilde) antes de rasgarse tanto las vestiduras por el desconocimiento de lenguas ajenas, cuidemos un poco más las propias, y recordemos a todo el mundo que el español o castellano, a diferencia del inglés, tiene acentos y tildes, que enriquecen el idioma y diferencian unas palabras de otras. Sin olvidar por supuesto, a nuestra querida Ñ. Si los que nos criamos con este idioma como lengua materna, no respetamos ni siquiera su ortografía, ¿cómo nos quejamos porque nuestros vecinos no hablan inglés?
Les recomiendo que entren al suplemento Letra Ñ del periódico Clarin, para que vean un especial sobre la querida letra.
Saluditos. Muy bueno el blog.